These Cheddar and potato latkes are made like a traditional latke but with the notable (and indulgent) addition of plenty of gooey melted Cheddar. They’re served with a homemade brown sugar applesauce to complete this easy Hannukah (or weeknight) meal.
Crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and pretty damn indulgent through and through. That’s what to expect from these lovely little Cheddar and potato latkes. Also in terms of what to expect, you may be on the receiving end of some nasty glances or curt remarks if you serve these Cheddar and potato latkes to a kosher crowd come Hanukkah when the table is also laden with beef or chicken, seeing as the dairy renders the meal non-kosher if meat is present. So maybe reserve these as an indulgent weeknight dinner any other time of year or a cocktail party come holiday season.–Renee Schettler Rossi
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Cheddar and Potato Latkes FAQs
What is the difference between all-purpose flour and matzoh meal?
Matzoh is a product that’s been toasted, giving it distinctive flavor and texture. Regular matzoh meal is coarse, great for fillings and breading meat or vegetables. Matzoh cake meal is much finer and meant to be a substitute for flour, and works in cakes, cookies, and thickening sauces and soups. All-purpose flour is raw, smooth, and very fine, and while it is an adequate substitute for these latkes, that’s not the case for every recipe.
Can I use a different type of potato for latkes?
We don’t recommend it. Red or white-skinned potatoes (also known as waxy potatoes) don’t contain the starch necessary to make a successful latke without additional ingredients for binding. They also contain more moisture than their starchier counterparts, which in this application, is problematic. Idaho, Russett, and even sweet potatoes have the highest starch content of all, making them the perfect choice for latkes.
Cheddar and Potato Latkes
For the brown sugar applesauce
- 5 1/2 cups peeled, coarsely chopped tart apples such as Granny Smith
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice strained
- 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
For the Cheddar and potato latkes
- 2 pounds baking potatoes (such as Idaho or russet) peeled and grated
- 1 cup finely chopped white onion
- 2 cups grated mild Cheddar
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or matzoh meal
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 8 grinds black pepper
- About 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil for frying
- Sour cream for serving (optional)
Make the brown sugar applesauce
- Dump the apples, cider, brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat slightly and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the apples become very soft, 6 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Mash the apples with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon until the applesauce is the desired consistency. You should have about 2 cups. Cover to keep warm.
Make the Cheddar and potato latkes
- Dump the grated potatoes and onions in the center of a large, clean kitchen towel. Gather the sides of the towel on top of the potatoes and onions and squeeze the mixture tightly—as tightly as you can—over the kitchen sink to remove any excess liquid. Transfer the grated, drained potatoes and onions to a large bowl and stir in the Cheddar, flour, eggs, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.
- Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 10-inch sauté pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add as many 1/4-cupfuls batter as will comfortably fit, flattening each circle a bit with the bottom of the 1/4-cup measuring cup or a spatula. (Don’t try to fry more than 5 latkes at a time.) Cook until the first side is golden brown and crisp, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until also golden brown and crisp, about another 3 1/2 minutes. Transfer the finished latkes to a paper towel–lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining latke batter, not letting the pan go dry (you’ll probably only need another 1 tablespoon oil). You should have about 12 latkes.
- Serve the latkes with the applesauce and sour cream, if desired.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Holy wow! These Cheddar and potato latkes were everything you’d want in a potato pancake—crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, and pretty failproof. And given how many recipes and combinations I have tried over the years, “fail-proof” has real meaning here. These were really, really good potato pancakes! I used flour instead of matzoh in the latkes.
The applesauce was great, too, though you could substitute any homemade applesauce. (I typically make mine without added sugar, so this brown sugar version—while 100% delightful—seemed almost decadent to me. Or was that the guilt talking?) I recommend the addition of the cider vinegar—it adds a little punch that marries with the latkes and sour cream for a real mouthwatering dish. I used about 6 large Granny Smith apples. Granny Smiths are a really tart apple and don’t readily mash up into a creamy sauce, so you may want to take that into consideration if you like your sauce smoother and sweeter.
I served these with pork tenderloin, and I think a simple main dish is the way to go here, as the latkes will overshadow everything else on the plate.
This is an easy and simple Cheddar and potato latkes recipe. From start to finish, you can have delicious latkes in 30 minutes max, including cleanup. Use a food processor for grating, and it will go even faster.
I didn’t take the extra time to peel my potatoes, and I thought they tasted great. Try to use a white onion if you can, as it lends a nice flavor to the latkes. Don’t forget to rid any excess moisture from the shredded potatoes and chopped onion in a kitchen towel. Removing the excess liquid helps produce a nice end-product. I have some well-seasoned cast-iron skillets, so 2 tablespoons per pan was enough to get these going. I didn’t need to add more oil to the pan. This recipe yielded 12 latkes using a 1/4-cup measuring cup as a scoop.
I started making these 40 minutes before leaving the house to attend a brunch event. The ladies loved them. I also cooked a second batch on Saturday afternoon for an easy breakfast on Sunday morning. All I needed to do on Sunday morning was cook the eggs and reheat the latkes in a pan or oven sheet tray. I didn’t make the applesauce, but I can only imagine how wonderful these two would pair together. And sour cream? That would take it to the next level. For seasoning, I used half of the salt and all the pepper, and the latkes were perfectly seasoned (well, almost on the verge of too much pepper, but I enjoyed it because I love black pepper). For the second batch, I omitted the salt and pepper and used about a half teaspoon of Toronto seasoning, which is what my favorite breakfast restaurant uses to season their home-fried potatoes. I loved the flavor of that version even more than the salt and pepper version. (This is not a plug for Whole Foods, but they do make a good Toronto seasoning blend.)
Sometimes in the case of making oven fries or French fries, a pre-soak of cut potatoes in water yields a crisper, cleaner-tasting end result. I tried 2 methods to satisfy my curiosity about rinsing the starch off the potatoes. I thought maybe the unrinsed potato mixture might be too gummy, but I actually liked the recipe just as is, with no rinse or soak. The rinsed version was also good, but you could taste the individual shreds of potato and onion more, whereas the unrinsed version—which is the recipe above—had an ever so slightly more moist and luxurious mouthfeel.
These are the latkes that I wish I’d grown up with. I actually don’t think that I grew up with potato latkes, but I should have, or rather, I tasted these Cheddar and potato latkes and wished that they were a memory. I only made a half batch, and it was more than enough for 2 people. We actually had a few latkes left over. Even though I was able to get the leftover latkes to crisp up nicely when I reheated them, I do not feel like they were as good the second day.
The applesauce was wonderful, too. Friends picked Gravenstein apples for me from their trees in their vineyard. You can’t get much fresher than that. Gravensteins are crisp and tart with marvelous flavor. I used 6 apples, which weighed between 5 1/2 and 6 1/2 ounces each. I cut the apples into 1/3- to 1/2-inch chunks and cooked them for only 7 to 8 minutes, as I wanted a chunky sauce.
The only casualty in this recipe was the kitchen towel that tore while squeezing out the great deal of liquid from the potatoes and onion. I suggest that you don’t use a thin towel. The oil in my pan hovered between 350°F and 400°F. Using a 1/4-cup measure, I could only fit 3 latkes into my 10-inch cast-iron skillet. You’ll want to pay close attention to the latkes while they’re cooking. Cooking them for 3 1/2 minutes per side would’ve been far too long. After 2 1/2 minutes, mine were ready to turn. After cooking the first 3 latkes, which I had measured with the 1/4 cup, I just spooned the rest of the latkes into the skillet. I did not need to add any extra oil to the pan, but I was using a very well-seasoned cast-iron pan. It was very easy to flatten the latkes in the pan using my metal spatula. By spooning the latkes into the pan, I was able to cook them all in 3 batches. I served the latkes with room-temperature applesauce.
I want to try this recipe again, without any cheese for some of the latkes, and then adding a bit more cheese to the others, just to compare and see if we have a preference. I’d like these to be a tradition in our home. Oh, and as I was eating the latkes, “Oh Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah” kept playing in a loop in my head. I was kind enough to not sing out loud.
This latkes recipe is straightforward. I used 2 large russet potatoes with a combined weight of 2 1/2 pounds. I used more oil than stated because I used a 12-inch pan and just poured in about 1/4 inch oil. Prep is really quick and easy and only took about 15 minutes. I used flour sack cloths to drain the liquid and found this to be very effective, although a tea towel will also work if you want to make sure the excess moisture is removed. Heating the oil to about 350°F produces a nice, golden brown latke that is crisp on outside and very tender and cheesy inside. In all fairness though, I did make my latkes a lot bigger—they were about 4 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch thick—so I only got 10 latkes, but they were oh so good. I didn’t have any trouble flattening them in the pan. I needed to go a little longer on the cooking time ‘cause I like my latkes big.
These were a big hit with the applesauce. This applesauce is really, really good. If you’ve never tried to make your own, this recipe should be the one to try. Again, it’s very straightforward with no guesswork required. I went ahead and used Granny Smith apples. The applesauce is better a little warm, but it’s also delicious cold on its own with a dash of cinnamon.
Combined, these recipes make a great side and can be done in about an hour, making the recipe good for a weeknight treat. The applesauce can be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge, covered with water and a little lemon juice. Both recipes are now in my rotation.
Cheese in latkes is an oxymoron for a Jewish dish that’s usually served during Hannukah with brisket, as they’re not kosher when served together, but hey, this Cheddar and potato latkes recipe is reason enough for me to become reformed!
The applesauce was delicious. I used 4 medium apples, diced into 1/2-inch chunks. It only took about 6 minutes for them to soften. I accidentally bought sparkling apple cider, and it worked out just fine. No need to buy the huge jug of apple cider found in the stores. My husband would have liked to add a pinch or two ground cinnamon.
For the latkes, an unusual part of the recipe was squeezing the chopped onion with the potato to extract as much liquid as possible. Usually onion isn’t added to the potato to squeeze together. I’m not sure much liquid came out of the onion, but the shredded potato gave off a little. I squeezed the mixture in a towel, then got another clean, dry towel and squeezed it again, which did the trick. At this point, I didn’t follow the recipe’s instruction to combine all the ingredients. It made more sense to me to whisk the eggs with salt and pepper, pour the egg over the onion and potato mixture and combine, add the flour, mix thoroughly, and finally mix in the Cheddar cheese. To check if the pan is ready, heat it on medium-high, and after about 30 seconds, add 1/8 teaspoon water to the pan. It’ll probably evaporate. Wait a few more seconds and add another 1/8 teaspoon water, and it might explode into tiny little balls. Wipe out the pan, wait a few more seconds, and try again. Finally, when the water makes what looks like a mercury ball, wipe out the pan and pour in your oil. The oil will very quickly be “wavy” looking and register 325°F or so. Now you’re ready to add the latke mixture. I lightly packed the potato mixture into a 1/4-cup measuring cup and dumped it into the pan. I flattened the latke with the back of the cup. At this point, lower the heat to medium so the latkes will brown beautifully instead of burn. After 2 1/2 to 3 minutes, peek under the latkes with a spatula to see if they’re golden brown, and flip them as they become ready. The other sides cooked a little faster.
After transferring the cooked latkes to a paper towel-lined plate, I sprinkled a touch of Maldon salt on top to give them that nice little salty crunch. These were a huge hit and were so delicious with the Cheddar cheese. I could definitely see making these latkes very small and serving them with a little applesauce and a dollop of sour cream for a fabulous hors d’oeuvre.
Originally published December 22, 2019