I grew up eating latkes, usually when my mom worked a long day and needed a quick dinner for my sister and I. She made German potato pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer) but always called them latkes in English, and I don’t think she ever used sweet potato. She did sometimes mix in other veg like carrots, so this is just a slight variation on that, really.
Sweet potato latkes are a little different from those made with starchy potatoes, mostly in that the texture is slightly different. These do (optionally) use egg, which helps with the crispiness factor, but the key thing is to use a hot pan and the right oil.
You can make these really quickly if you have a large pan, or can have two pans going at once. Top with applesauce (traditional), yogurt, or ketchup if you want to go crazy. My omi does not approve of ketchup on latkes but I like it every once in a while – a side effect of growing up in Canada!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Sweet potato: the obvious substitution is regular potatoes, of course. You can do half-half if you prefer a more traditional tasting latke.
- Chickpea flour: If you don’t have chickpea flour, you can use wheat flour (whole wheat is best) or buckwheat flour. You will need a little bit more to balance out the absorbing factor, so go by look. The cooking time will change slightly. This is the best egg substitute so if you’re making the vegan version, use chickpea flour.
- Egg: to make these vegan, simply leave out the egg and add the water instead. They’ll still hold together and fry well without an egg (thanks to the chickpea flour) but are not as crispy without it. These options are noted in the recipe card.
How to Make Potato Pancakes
1. Prepare: shred the sweet potato and onion into a large bowl, using the large side of a box grater, and add the remaining ingredients.
2. Mix: use a wooden spoon to mix until very well combined.
3. Cook: fry the potato pancakes in a hot pan for a couple of minutes each side and serve.
I’ve never put my latkes onto a paper-towel lined plate after cooking them. I also don’t have paper towel in the house. You shouldn’t need to do this unless your pan is too cold, as if it’s the correct temperature, the latkes shouldn’t be absorbing much of the oil and they shouldn’t be greasy.
Some readers have noted that the batter is too wet for them – this is for a couple of reasons. One, chickpea flour soaks up a lot more water than other types of flour (like wheat flour) so if any changes have been made in that regard, the batter will be wetter. Chickpea flour also varies a bit from brand to brand.
The other is sweet potato types – some are drier than others, and the water content tends to be higher when they’re out of season. If your batter is too wet – refer to the step-by-step photos – then simply add more flour.
Make Ahead and Storage
Make Ahead: to make these ahead of time, make the batter the day before and refrigerate in a sealed container to be cooked the following day.
Storage: the cooked latkes can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated in a frying pan (don’t microwave them!). They will keep for a couple of days.
Freezing: these can be frozen in an airtight container and reheated in a frying pan. I often heat up from frozen, as you would with store-bought Kartoffelpuffer.
- Preheat the pan: it is very important that the pan is hot. The latke mixture should sizzle as soon as it hits the pan and cook very quickly – if it’s taking ages, you need to turn up the heat (a cold pan = greasy latkes).
- Don’t crowd the pan: same as above, really, as crowding the pan will cause it to cool too much.
- Only add water if needed: as mentioned above, sweet potatoes will vary in how much moisture they contain, and you might find that you don’t need to add any water for the vegan version. Check the consistency against the above picture (step two).
More Sweet Potato Recipes
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Sweet Potato Latkes
- 160 grams sweet potato, shredded (a medium sweet potato)
- ½ small yellow onion shredded
- 25 grams chickpea flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
- Coconut oil for cooking
- Water for the vegan option see note
- Apple sauce or yogurt for topping
- Shred the sweet potato and onion into a large bowl. Add the chickpea flour, egg (or water), oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
- Use a wooden spoon to mix very well, making sure no streaks of flour remain. Set aside to rest while the pan heats.
- Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Make sure the pan is hot before starting to cook the latkes or they won’t crisp.
- Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the latke mixture into the hot pan, flattening slightly with the back of the (metal) spoon.
- Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the bottoms are golden, then flip and flatten with the spatula. You may need to add more oil at this point. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until both sides are golden and crisp.
- Cook three or four latkes at a time, but don’t crowd the pan. Repeat until all of the batter has been used.
- You can place the finished pancakes into a warm oven to keep warm until they’re finished cooking. Serve hot with your desired toppings.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
This post was originally published in January 2018. It has been updated with new step-by-step photographs, changes to the text, and some slight alterations to the recipe, as of September 2020.