These Crispy Sweet Potato Latkes are the perfect side dish for Easter, or if they’re made with matzo meal, for Passover. These guys are sweet and soft on the inside, salty and crispy on the outside. If you have a sweeter palate, serve with sweetened yogurt, but if you’re into sweet and salty, serve with seasoned lemon Greek yogurt. Either way, you’ll keep coming back for more.
Sweet Potato Latkes
Sometimes I do this thing where I come home, and I’m so hungry I eat everything in sight – literally. Last night, I came home, and before I’d even taken off my jacket, I’d eaten two leftover artichokes , the remnants of this pasta, a hunk of leftover stinky cheese, and a few other things I want to block out.
And then I proceeded to make these sweet potato latkes, and the eating bonanza continued. Because when you have irresistibly crispy sweet potato edges that are salty, crunchy and all things wonderful paired with an almost creamy, starchy center, well, that’s not something I’m not willing to walk away from.
What are latkes?
If you’ve never heard of a latke, they’re basically a potato pancake, but instead of composing of mashed potato, they’re made of shredded, most commonly, russet potatoes. They’re typically mixed together with onion and garlic, an egg for binding, and a starch of sorts to create the fritter formation.
The latkes are formed into haphazard patties, and pan-fried in just enough oil to make the edges crispy and brown.
The latkes origin was in a few of the Eastern European countries, and was actually a food the underprivileged ate often because potatoes were so inexpensive. Of course, we also associate latkes with the Jewish religion and Hanukkah, and back in the 18th and 19th century when they were first introduced, they actually had cheese in them. These days, the ingredients are simpler and more straightforward, but you better believe I’m going to jump on that cheese latkes idea next time.
Of course, our version of a latke isn’t traditional. We swap out the russet potato for sweet potato, becoming a hybrid between a classic latke and a sweet potato pancake. You can go one of two ways when serving the sweet potato latkes – sticking with a sweet flavor profile or riding the line between salty and savory.
Oh, and if you’ve ever wondered what the latkes pronunciation is, here you go. Lot-kuhs.
What are latkes made of?
Sweet potato. Sweet potatoes tend to retain quite a bit of moisture, so it’s hard for them to get as crisp as a russet or Yukon gold potato. Instead of shredding them and adding directly to the rest of the ingredients, put them in a thin dish towel and squeeze out all the excess moisture. When we release that moisture, it allows them to crisp up perfectly.
Egg. We need one egg to bind everything together and keep them in a sweet potato cake form.
Flour. If you want to make these for Easter, a simple app, or just an average day, use regular all-purpose flour. If this is something you’re wanting to serve for passover, make sure to use matzo meal to keep them kosher. You should be able to switch the ingredients out seamlessly.
Onion. I like to grate the onion into the sweet potato to evenly disperse the onion flavor. I also don’t like to bite into a large piece of onion, and grating the potatoes helps to integrate them into the sweet potato latkes a little bit better.
Garlic. Same thing with the garlic, grate it or chop it finely enough so it almost resembles a paste.
Olive oil. You could fry the sweet potato latkes in just about any fat (coconut oil would be lovely), but I like the flavor olive oil gives the latkes, and how beautifully it crisps them up.
How to make Sweet Potato Latkes
Shred the potatoes. Use a the large side of a box grated to grate the potatoes. Transfer the potatoes to a thin dish towel and use those muscles to wring out all of the moisture you can.
Mix everything together. Add the potatoes, egg, flour, salt, garlic, and garlic powder to a medium bowl. Use a fork to gently mix everything together. If you’re not afraid of the raw egg, give the potatoes a quick taste to make sure there’s enough salt.
Cook the sweet potato latkes. Use your hands to form the latkes into six large latkes or 10 small appetizer portions. I don’t like for them to put super compact, you want a few scraggly sweet potato strands to escape from the latke so they get super crispy on the edges.
Heat a large cast iron on non-stick skillet to a medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add olive oil. Test the oil to make sure it’s hot enough by pinching off a tiny piece of the latke, if it sizzles, it’s ready to go.
Add the latkes and cook until golden brown and crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and do the same thing on the other side. Make sure to control the temperature at a medium heat, you don’t want them to brown too fast, otherwise the inside won’t cook through.
Remove and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately! I like to spoon a little bit of cinnamon-laced Greek yogurt on top, but applesauce, garlicky greek yogurt or even sour cream would be lovely.
Can you make sweet potato latkes in advance?
You can prepare the sweet potato latkes in advance, but I wouldn’t cook them in advance any more than an hour or so ahead of time. They’re best served right away, but if you’re serving them within the hour, you can cook them, and place them on a cookie cooling rack on top of a sheet pan. About 5-8 minutes before you’re ready to serve, heat them up in a 375-degree oven until crisp and hot.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- It’s SO important to get as much moisture out of the sweet potatoes as possible. The less moisture there is, the crispier they will get.
- Again, you can swap out the flour for matzo meal.
- When the sweet potato latkes come off the stove, sprinkle them with a little bit of Maldon sea salt if you have it. I love the salty bite it gives them.
- Add in minced green onion for texture. Cinnamon for a little hint of warmth. Or even a little bit of dijon mustard for some tang.
What to serve sweet potato latkes with
- These Juicy Apple Cider Pork Chops would be the perfect compliment to sweet potato latkes. They’re super easy to prepare, so juicy, and have the most delicious, slurp-worthy sauce.
- My favorite chicken of all time is this Creamy Chicken with Olives and Sun-dried Tomatoes. The sweet potato latkes would be the perfect way to soak up some of that luscious sauce.
- Creamy Lemon and Mushroom Chicken would also go with these sweet potato latkes perfectly. Another great creamy sauce to spoon over the latkes.
- 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
- 1/2 small onion, shredded
- 1 small garlic clove, grated or finely minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup honey greek yogurt
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Mixing bowl
- Large cast iron skillet
- Place shredded sweet potatoes and onions in a thin dishtowel. Squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Place in a medium bowl and stir with onion,garlic, egg, flour, garlic powder and salt until just combined.
- Form the sweet potato mixture into six large patties or ten small ones. Be sure you don't pack them in too tight, you want them to be a little flat with scraggly edges.
- Heat a large cast iron or non-stick skillet over a medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add oil. When the oil is hot, add a tiny bit of the potato mixture and if it sizzles, it's ready. Add the latkes. Be sure to not overcrowd the pan, if needed, work in batches. Cook the sweet potato latkes until crispy and golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side, it should take a little bit less time.
- Remove the latkes from the oil and drain on paper towels. Serve with yogurt.
- While the latkes cook, mix the honey yogurt with cinnamon. Season with a little bit of salt if desired.