How to Make Vegan Latkes
With our recipes and tips for egg- and dairy-free latkes, vegans won't have to miss out on one of Hanukkah's tastiest traditions.
Hanukkah is a festive time of year, and a traditional part of the festivities is latkes, fried potato pancakes. Latkes are naturally vegetarian, but often an egg is used to bind the potato pancakes together when they are fried, which prevents vegans from indulging. They are most often topped with applesauce (which is fine for vegans) or sour cream (which is not).
Good news: There are plenty of latke recipes that use delicious substitutes so everyone can savor this holiday tradition. Here are some tips and tricks for the best vegan latkes (and toppings!) for eight scrumptious nights.
Skip the egg
Some traditional latke recipes, like this one, don't call for an egg. Instead, the liquid from the potatoes and a little bit of flour are used to help bind the potatoes and onions together. Just be careful — too much flour can end in disaster, so make sure to just add a tiny bit at a time until the mixture is easy to form into pancakes and fry.
Aquafaba — bean liquid — has become a popular substitute for eggs when it comes to baking for vegans, and it works well in latkes, too. Zsu Dever, author of the book Aquafaba, shares her latke recipe made with aquafaba. She also provides a recipe for homemade aquafaba in her book, but in a pinch, she recommends using the liquid from organic, low-sodium, canned chickpeas. To do that, strain the liquid using a fine-mesh strainer (note how much liquid you get). Add it to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by one-third. Cool the aquafaba completely before using.
From there Dever uses the aquafaba just like an egg in her latke recipe: first drying out the potato shreds, then adding in onion, aquafaba, potato starch, parsley (optional), salt, baking powder and black pepper, and mixing it all together well before frying. The recipe uses potato starch, not flour or matzo meal, for extra crispiness, so it's gluten-free as well as vegan.
Use chia seeds and flax seed to bind
Executive Chef Clifford Crooks, culinary director of E Squared Hospitality, uses chia and flax seeds as a binder for his version of vegan latkes. He combines 3 pounds of shredded russet potatoes, 2.5 cups of diced yellow onion, 2 tablespoons of ground flax seed, 1/4 cup ground chia seeds and 1.5 teaspoons of fine sea salt, mixed well and formed into potato pancakes perfect for frying. This version, too, is both vegan and gluten-free.
Get the sour without the cream
Sour cream is one of the traditional toppings for potato latkes. Even though a vegan diet doesn't allow for sour cream, there are a few ways to still get that tangy topping without the dairy. Using the cream top of full-fat coconut milk combined with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and sea salt can give a similar taste and consistency. Cashews can also serve as a sour-cream-like base: Soak cashews in water overnight, drain them and blend them with 3/4 cup of water, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and a pinch of fine sea salt. Blend it all together until smooth and then transfer the mixture to an airtight container to chill in the fridge until you are ready to use it.