Sweet potato latkes are a sweet and savory twist on the classic potato pancake. They're a great dinner on their own or with an egg on top and also make a fabulous party platter.
Why we love this recipe
Classic potato latkes have been among my favorite foods since childhood. I'd argue that they're high on the list of the best foods in the world, period. Our sweet potato latke recipe derives from our best-in-class version of potato pancakes. They are:
- Well-balanced between the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes and the savoriness you crave from a latke
- Crisp on the outside, tender on the inside
- Equally great as a two-bite hors d’oeuvre or a meal in itself
- A great way to use up a LOT of sweet potatoes, should you ever need to
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe.
- You can use any kind of orange sweet potatoes (often labeled "yams" in the supermarket — click the link to learn more) that you would normally bake and eat. White sweet potatoes are fine, too.
- We use a combination of matzoh meal for its crispness and classic flavor, and regular flour. Our classic latkes don't contain any flour, but with sweet potatoes we find that the flour is necessary to bind the other ingredients together. If you don't have matzoh meal, you can leave it out, but don't omit the flour.
- Scallions and onions contribute layers of savoriness to balance out the sweetness of the sweet potatoes. Be sure to remove the excess moisture from the onions after grating.
- Safflower oil is our go-to for neutral taste and high smoke point. You could substitute another oil that meets those criteria, like canola, peanut, corn, or a vegetable oil blend.
How to make it
Here's what you'll do to make a great batch of sweet potato latkes. You can see all the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post. And get all the details in the recipe card below.
- Grate the sweet potatoes and the onion in a food processor or on the large holes of a box grater. Unlike white potatoes, sweet potatoes don't need to be drained of their moisture before mixing. Onions do, though — so grate them separately and then place between layers of paper towels to absorb excess liquid before adding them to the mix.
- Add all the ingredients except the oil and sour cream to a really big mixing bowl.
- Mix well to make sure all the ingredients are distributed.
- Heat a thin layer of oil and fry the latkes in batches until crisp on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve.
Expert tips and FAQs
Like our classic latkes, this recipe makes a very large batch. I like to serve them on a big platter at parties, and they tend to disappear with almost alarming speed.
It's also a great way to use up an enormous quantity of sweet potatoes, which can descend upon you all at once when you're a member of a CSA.
You can feel free to halve the recipe if you'd like to make a smaller batch. No further changes are necessary.
It's a little bit unusual to find a combination of matzoh meal and flour in a latke recipe. I've included both because the matzoh meal contributes a nice crunch and inimitable flavor, while the flour binds the ingredients together.
You can leave out the matzoh meal if you don't have it, but the flour is necessary. Unlike white potatoes, which have enough starch to make convincing fritters without additional flour, grated sweet potatoes are difficult to manage without a little bit of help from flour.
In an ideal world, you would make these fritters right before serving. But yes, you have a couple of options for making them in advance if that's what you've got to do.
First, you can make the mixture up to a day in advance, cover it tightly, and keep in the fridge. Then fry them right before serving.
If you'd like to fry them in advance, you can do that. They're tasty at room temperature, or you can re-crisp them by popping them into a 250°F oven for a few minutes before serving — either all at once or in batches.
Once cooled, you can keep leftovers tightly sealed in the fridge for up to a week. Rewarm and re-crisp them in the toaster oven or in a 250°F oven before serving.
More of our favorite fritters
- Zucchini corn fritters
- Colcannon cheddar skillet cakes
- Spinach, fava bean, and quinoa cakes
- 5 pounds (2268 grams) sweet potatoes
- 1 large yellow onion
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup sliced scallions
- 1 cup (120 grams) flour
- ½ cup (60 grams) matzo meal
- 6 tablespoons (84 grams) good salted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Safflower oil (or other high-heat vegetable oil) for frying
- Sour cream
- Peel the sweet potatoes and cut lengthwise into quarters. Peel and quarter the onion.
- Set up a food processor with the grating blade. Grate the sweet potatoes in two batches and add them to a very large mixing bowl. (Alternatively, grate on a box grater.)
- Grate the onion and place on paper towels to absorb excess moisture. Then add to mixing bowl.
- Mix in beaten eggs, scallions, flour, matzo meal, melted butter, salt, pepper, and baking powder.
- Pour safflower oil into a large frying pan to a depth of about ⅛ inch. Heat oil over medium-high until it thins and becomes shimmery. Use a soup spoon to scoop little mounds of the sweet potato mixture into the skillet (3 tablespoons at a time makes nice, diminutive latkes). Gently flatten the pancakes. Don't crowd the skillet — leave an inch or so between latkes.
- Fry until the underside is crispy and golden brown, then flip and fry until the second side is crispy and golden brown, about 5 minutes total. Remove cooked latkes to paper towels to drain. Continue cooking, adding more oil as necessary and adjusting the heat to keep oil hot but not smoking, until you've used all of the sweet potato mixture.
- Sprinkle with additional sliced scallions and some flaky sea salt and serve with sour cream.
- Any variety of orange or red sweet potato or "yam" that you would normally bake whole and eat should work fine in this recipe.
- You can make your own matzo meal by grinding matzo in a food processor, or buy it premade. I almost always do the latter. You can leave out the matzoh meal if you don't have it, but don't leave out the flour. It's necessary to bind the latkes together.
- Besides safflower oil, other good neutral-tasting, high-smoke-point oils for pan frying include peanut, canola, and vegetable oil blends.
- You can fry the potato pancakes several hours ahead of time and crisp them back up in a 250° oven before serving if you like. They are also great at room temperature.
- Keep leftovers tightly sealed in the fridge for up to a week. Reheat and re-crisp leftovers in a a warm oven or toaster oven before serving.
- This recipe is adapted from the Nikki Russ Federman's potato latke recipe via the December 2014 issue of Food & Wine Magazine.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 451Total Fat: 25gCarbohydrates: 50.1gFiber: 7.3gSugar: 4.2gProtein: 8.6g