Friday, April 5, 2013

How to Make Grandma's Potato Pancakes

There's nothing like cooking with those you love.  My friend Jessica and I had a blast together while making my family's recipe for potato pancakes.

I have probably eaten thousands of these since I was a child, yet, I never tire of them.

Grandma and Mom always made these because they were inexpensive. Plus, it was often requested for Lenten Friday dinners. It takes a little work and time to grate the potatoes (less if you have a food processor with a grater attachment, and/or a good friend), but it is worth it. It is SO worth it.

We have always used Russet potatoes for this recipe, so I have no experience the texture or tenderness others may provide.

This recipe has never been written down before, it has always been done as we go - a little of this, a little of that until the consistency is right.

For a reference, consider that a medium-sized Russet will make two medium pancakes.  One to two are filling for a side dish, three to four are a meal for myself, but my husband and other hungry guys may prefer more.

We ended up making 20 for five of us with eight potatoes, two of them large.

This recipe is for about a dozen pancakes:

6 medium or 4 large Russet potatoes, peeled and shredded

2 small or 1 medium onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika (or paprika of your choice)

2 large eggs, beaten

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 cup all-purpose flour  (I guess whole wheat or any flour could be used, too - for those who would prefer)

Canola or vegetable oil for frying

Salt and pepper to taste after frying

After shredding the potatoes squeeze out the excess liquid, ESPECIALLY if you grate them by hand.  I grew up helping Mom and Grandma on box graters.  For some reason, the potatoes are not as soggy when I've grated them in a food processor.  You want them moist, but not soggy and wet.

Once the potatoes are drained, add the rest of the ingredients.

You want a consistency that looks like your potatoes are coated in a pancake batter.

If it's too thick, let it rest for 5 minutes, then stir.  If still too thick, you can drizzle a little water or milk in a tablespoon at a time.  Don't let it get too thin.  After frying your first few pancakes you will see that more liquid from the potatoes will be released and the batter will eventually be thinner.  You can always add a bit more flour to thicken it up if necessary.

Have a pan on medium high (8) heated with a light flavored, medium to high heat capacity oil like canola or vegetable oil coated on the bottom.  Do this even if you have non-stick, and especially if you have not made this before.  In order to do this 'traditionally,' you need to bind this mixture quickly at high heat.  I have tried this with no oil in a non-stick pan, and it did not turn out the same.  I wound up making hash browns.  Tasty? yes. Pancakes, no.

Sometimes making something quickly at high heat is difficult.  Not for Jessica.

She's been around the kitchen before.  She knew her way around a fry pan.  And, as a vegetarian for over 15 years, she knows a bit about 'taters, too.  I made the first couple of pancakes, then she took over, making the rest of the batch.  The batter did get thinner at the end.  But, if the pan and the oil are hot enough, it should be fine. You can always add a little more flour if necessary.

Fry about 2 minutes on both sides.  You can flip again until they are brown and firm when lightly pressed with a spatula.

You will want a crispy outside and a moist inside.

Serve with ketchup, sour cream, or traditional applesauce.

You can also customize your pancakes by adding a teaspoon or two of your favorite herb.  Jessica brainstormed using all kinds of herbs such as dill or rosemary.



  1. Great blog, lady!
    When I made these at home (after being tutored at your house) I left the skins on when I grated the 'taters. I also added a bit of dill. I served them with sauerkraut and vegetarian 'sausage'. Yummy! :)
    Thanks for letting me in on a family recipe!

    1. Awesome, Tiki. This was a fun day! Can't wait until our next cooking adventure!

  2. I love this recipe, it's a favorite of my family as passed on to us by our elders. Thanks for sharing the how-to's in detail :)

  3. Thank you very much! And, you're welcome!