Slice of Life: Lighter Latkes (and Lighter You)

December 19, 2011
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Please note: Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer. The Orthodox Union makes no endorsements or representations regarding kashrut certification of various products/vendors referred to in her articles, blog or web site.

My favorite Chanukah tradition is not eight nights of gifts, lighting the menorah (a close second), marathon games of dreidel or even the time spent with my family and friends. It’s stuffing my face with those warm, crispy (and calorie-filled) potato latkes…topped with sour cream and applesauce, and, more calories, of course.

We all know the story: upon returning to the Temple after their deliverance from Greek oppression, the Macabees found only enough oil to light the Menorah for one day. The miracle of Chanukah is that the oil lasted eight days.

It follows then that the significant ingredient used in cooking for Chanukah is oil, and, more specifically, that we’re supposed to eat as much of fried anything that we can. (Okay, so that’s my own personal interpretation, but it works.)

Traditional potato latkes are great, but there’s nothing that says you can’t have a lighter, less caloric, sweet potato pancake topped with raspberry applesauce or a dollop of hot salsa on a healthy veggie latke. I say that latkes are like studying Talmud: there is always room for another opinion.

So, my Chanukah presents to you are these deliciously daring and different latke recipes. Enjoy!

Low-Fat Latkes (pareve/dairy)

8 to 10 servings


  • 3 lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 medium onion,  peeled
  • 1/3 cup matzah meal or unbleached white flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup egg substitute or 2 eggs plus 4 whites
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil spray (or 2 Tablespoons olive oil)
  • No- or low-fat sour cream for serving (optional)
  • Applesauce for serving (optional)


  1. Place a couple of non-stick baking sheets in the oven and preheat to 450°F.
  2. Peel the potatoes and onion and coarsely grate in a food processor fitted with a shredding disk. Grab handfuls of the grated potato mixture and squeeze tightly between fingers to wring out as much liquid as possible.
  3. Transfer the grated and drained vegetables to a mixing bowl and stir in the matzah meal, baking powder, egg substitute parsley, and plenty of salt and pepper. (The latkes should be highly seasoned.)
  4. Spray the hot baking sheets with oil (or drizzle the oil on it and spread with a wooden spoon).
  5. Spoon small mounds of potato mixture onto the baking sheet to form 2½ inch pancakes, leaving 1 inch between each.
  6. Bake-fry the latkes until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes per side, turning once with a spatula. (When you turn the latkes, try to flip them onto spots on the baking sheet that still have oil.)
  7. Transfer to plates or a platter and serve immediately with sour cream and/or applesauce.

Corn Latkes (pareve/dairy)

6 servings (3x 2½ inch pancakes per serving).


  • 3 cups frozen corn kernels
  • ½ teaspoon salt for cooking the corn, plus ¼ teaspoon for batter (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3 Tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 4 to 6 teaspoons canola oil
  • No- or low-fat sour cream for serving (optional)
  • Strawberry preserves for serving (optional)


  1. Place a couple of non-stick baking sheets in the oven and preheat to 450°F.
  2. Cook the corn in 1 quart boiling salted water until tender, 2 minutes. Drain the corn in a colander and let cool.
  3. Puree ½ cup of the corn kernels in a food processor. Add the salt, sugar, and nutmeg (if using) and egg whites and process just to mix.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and stir in the flour, then the remaining corn kernels. (Don’t mix them in the food processor, because you want to keep the remaining kernels whole.)
  5. Spray the hot baking sheets with oil (or drizzle the oil on it and spread with a wooden spoon). Spoon small mounds of corn mixture onto the baking sheets to form 2½ inch pancakes, leaving 1 inch between each.
  6. Bake-fry the latkes until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes per side, turning once with a spatula. (When you turn the latkes, try to flip them onto spots on the baking sheet that still have oil.)
  7. Transfer the cooked latkes to a plate lined with a paper towel. Continue cooking the latkes in this fashion, stirring the batter before using and adding fresh oil as needed.
  8. Serve the latkes hot with the sour cream and/or the preserves.

From Faye Levy, author of “1000 Jewish Recipes”.

Potato Crispy Cakes (pareve)

4 servings

These are very thin and crispy potato pancakes that use very little oil to fry.


  • 4 large potatoes, grated
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ to ¾ cup oil


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the grated potatoes, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, paprika, flour and pepper. Mix very well.
  2. Coat a medium skillet with 1 to 2 Tablespoons of oil and heat on medium-high.
  3. Using a fork or spoon, quickly spread a thin layer of potato mixture over the entire bottom of the pan. Make the pancake as thin as possible, without gaps or holes.
  4. Fry for 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip with a spatula and cook on the other side.
  5. Keep the pancake warm and then repeat with remaining potato mixture.

Vegetable and Feta Latkes (dairy)

Yields 10 to 12 latkes


  • 2½ cups grated zucchini
  • 1 cup peeled and shredded potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¾ cup matzo meal
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil


  1. Place the zucchini, potato and carrots in a colander. Place paper towels or a cheesecloth over the top and squeeze out as much moisture as possible.
  2. Sprinkle salt over the vegetables and let them drain for 15 minutes.
  3. Squeeze vegetables again in paper towels.
  4. In large mixing bowl, combine eggs, vegetables salt and pepper. Mix well.
  5. Stir in matzo meal or flour, parsley and feta.
  6. Heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan. Place vegetable mixture, formed into pancake-sized cakes, in hot oil and fry until golden brown on both sides. (Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side). Add more oil as needed to keep cakes frying up well.
  7. Drain fried latkes on paper towels.

Chanukah Apple Pancakes (pareve)

4 servings


  • 4 tart or sweet apples
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons brandy, dark rum, or fruit liqueur
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 good pinch of salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 7/8 cup water
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Cinnamon/sugar mixture for sprinkling (optional)


  1. Core and peel apples. Cut each into 4 thick slices.
  2. Put slices in a shallow dish with the sugar and brandy, rum, or liqueur. Turn them so that they are well-coated.
  3. Leave for at least 1 hour, turning the slices over occasionally so that they absorb the spirit.
  4. For the batter, beat the yolks with the oil and salt then stir in the flour. Mix well.
  5. Beat in the water gradually and vigorously, squashing any lumps. Leave for an hour.
  6. After 1 hour, fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.
  7. Heat at least ¾ inch of oil in a large frying pan.
  8. Dip the apple slices in the batter, about 5 at a time, making sure that they are well covered with batter. Lift each one out carefully and lower into the hot oil. (The oil must be sizzling but not too hot, or the fritters will brown before the apple is soft inside.) Fry in batches, and turn the slices over to brown both sides.
  9. Lift out with a slotted spatula and drain on paper towels before serving. You can serve with a cinnamon/sugar mixture to sprinkle on top.

Zucchini Parmesan Latkes (dairy)

4 to 6 servings


  • 2 lbs. zucchini
  • ½ lb. russet potatoes, peeled
  • ½ Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ Tablespoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 medium eggs
  • Peanut oil for frying


  1. Grate the zucchini and potatoes and place them in a bowl.
  2. Add the lemon juice and mix well (this prevents the potatoes from discoloration).
  3. Squeeze the zucchini and potatoes through towels or a sieve. It is imperative that you get almost all the moisture out of the vegetables.
  4. Add the green onions, cheese, garlic, ½ cup of the parsley, salt and pepper, sugar, flour and eggs and toss to make sure that the ingredients are well mixed.
  5. Heat ½ inch of peanut oil in a pan until hot.
  6. Add thin silver dollar-size pancakes, frying over high heat until golden brown and crispy.
  7. When serving, sprinkle with a little more salt and the remaining chopped parsley.

Eileen Goltz is a freelance kosher food writer who was born and raised in the Chicago area. She graduated from Indiana University and the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in Paris. She lectures on various food-related topics across the U.S. and Canada and writes weekly columns for the Chicago Jewish News, and the OU Shabbat Shalom Website. She is the author of the Perfectly Pareve Cookbook (Feldheim) and is a contributing writer for the Chicken Soup for the Soul Book Group, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press and Woman’s World Magazine. You can visit Eileen’s blog by clicking: Cuisine by Eileen.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.