Grandma’s Potato Pancakes Recipe (Eastern European) (2024)

Jump to Recipe

Any Eastern European knows the comfort and joy that comes with fresh potato pancakes. Packed with potatoes, onions, eggs, and spices, they’re just perfect!

Grandma’s Potato Pancakes Recipe (Eastern European) (1)

One of my fondest memories of growing up in Ukraine was preparing potato pancakes. After each potato harvest, my siblings and I would take turns grating potatoes for hours on end in anticipation of getting to sink our teeth into one of our favorite treats. When it came time for my mother to cook the pancakes, I would often ask her to fry mine a bit longer to make the edges extra crispy. If you love unique pancakes, give our ricotta pancakes or oladi pancakes a try, too!

Note: While you can always grate the potatoes by hand using a cheese grater, we typically use a blender or food processor to speed the process up significantly!

The Difference Between Potato Pancakes & Latkes

Oftentimes latkes and potato pancakes are referred to as the same thing. Although similar, they do have stark differences – especially when it comes to texture.

  • Potato Pancakes: Potato pancakes require you to grate potatoes on the smallest slots of your grater. This is more time-consuming and results in a liquid-like pulp. To speed things up, I use a blender or food processor. You then combine the potato pulp with eggs, onions, and a dash of seasoning. The result is similar to a traditional pancake – round, fluffy, and smooth in texture.
  • Latkes: Latkes require you to grate potatoes on the larger shreds. Typically, latkes are made with the same ingredients as potato pancakes, except for the addition of flour or matzo. The result is an irregularly shaped pancake that is crunchier in texture due to the larger shreds of potatoes.

Choosing the Right Potatoes for Potato Pancakes

Russet potatoes are by far the best potato for making potato pancakes. They have a superior level of potato starch (hello, crispy outer crust) and are incredibly cheap. Typically, you can get a 5-pound bag of russets for just a couple of bucks! In a pinch, you could probably use Yukon gold potatoes, but the starch level just isn’t the same.

Potato Pancakes Video

How to Prepare Authentic Potato Pancakes

Preparing perfect potato pancakes is a very straightforward process – all you have to do is grate the potatoes, season the batter, and fry it in pancakes until golden brown.

  • Prepare the Potatoes: First, skin potatoes and peel the onion. Grate the potatoes with a box grater into a large bowl or quickly grate them with a blender, food processor, or a grinder.
  • Season the Pancake Batter: Next, add the eggs into the bowl with the potatoes and season with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Stir until well-combined.
  • Fry the Pancakes: Then, preheat a skillet with oil over medium heat. Using a tablespoon, portion small amounts of the potato mixture into the pan. Fry each side until golden brown and enjoy immediately!

Hot Tip: Add a little garlic powder to the potato mixture if you like it zesty!

Grandma’s Potato Pancakes Recipe (Eastern European) (2)
Grandma’s Potato Pancakes Recipe (Eastern European) (3)
Grandma’s Potato Pancakes Recipe (Eastern European) (4)
Grandma’s Potato Pancakes Recipe (Eastern European) (5)

5 Tips for Making Potato Pancakes

Follow these simple tips to help you get a perfectly crispy potato pancake with a soft silk center.

  • Drain out any excess liquid. After shredding your potatoes into a big bowl, drain the liquid that gathers at the bottom. Too much liquid prevents the pancakes from crisping up and turns them soggy. You can even place the potatoes into a cheesecloth and wring out the excess liquid even more.
  • Adjust the salt to taste. Don’t be afraid to play around with the salt levels until you reach a level that works for you. Some people like to do light salt because they use saltier toppings, while others opt for a dollop of sour cream and a saltier pancake.
  • Test one pancake first. Start by testing one pancake in your oil. This will give you a good idea of whether or not you need to turn the heat up or down on your skillet.
  • Don’t over-flip your pancakes. Try to refrain from over-flipping your pancakes. You want them to develop even crispiness on the outside. Fiddling with them too much will cause them to fall apart and become a mess. Patience is the key!
  • Drain the excess grease on a wire rack. Invest in a drying rack (don’t forget to put a paper towel underneath it!). This will help drain off the extra oil from your pancakes, keeping them crispy, and not soggy.
Grandma’s Potato Pancakes Recipe (Eastern European) (6)

Serving Suggestions

If you want to be a traditionalist, serve your potato pancakes with a dollop of fresh sour cream or some milk at brunch. You can also top them with pieces of cold smoked salmon, dill sauce, and minced dill or green onion. They also make for a wonderful side dish topped with applesauce and sour cream and served alongside various proteins like air fryer pork chops, Thanksgiving turkey, or spatchco*ck chicken.

Serving these pancakes to kids? Our boys love them topped with cheddar cheese and bacon bits.

Storing & Make-Ahead Tips

Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah or just making potato pancakes for friends and family, you can make your life easier by preparing them ahead of time.

  • Refrigerator: To keep your potato pancakes on hand for up to a week, keep them stored in an airtight container in the fridge. To do so, fry your pancakes up and let them cool down completely. Then, store the pancakes in an airtight container, separating each layer with parchment paper to prevent sticking.
  • Freezer: If you want to freeze your pancakes for later snacking, store them in an airtight container, separating each layer with parchment paper. Freeze them for up to two weeks.

Reheating Potato Pancakes

When you are ready to serve refrigerated pancakes, preheat your oven to 350°F and lay the pancakes on a baking sheet for about 5 minutes or until they return to their deliciously crispy state! To reheat frozen pancakes, bake them in the oven at 400°F for 10 minutes.


Are potato pancakes and hash browns the same thing?

While potato pancakes and hash browns have similarities in their ingredients list, they are different in texture. Potato pancakes tend to be made with eggs, potatoes, and light spices, while hash browns are typically made with shredded and salted potatoes fried in oil or butter.

What is the best oil for frying potato pancakes?

Stick to canola oil or peanut oil, which both have high smoke points and are perfect for frying both potato pancakes and latkes. If you don’t have either, use high-quality vegetable oil.

How do you keep potato pancakes from getting soggy?

There are two ways to keep your potato cakes from getting soggy: 1) not frying them long enough until they’re golden brown on the outside and 2) not draining them of excess grease when they come out of the fryer oil. You also don’t want to store them until they completely cooled down, as they will stream into the container.

Are potato pancakes gluten-free?

For the most part, potato pancakes are naturally gluten-free and made without any flour at all. However, you should check each recipe closely, as some do incorporate all-purpose flour.

Can you use leftover mashed potatoes to make potato pancakes?

While you can use mashed potatoes to make potato cakes, fresh potatoes are the only way to have a traditional potato pancake. However, if you want to use your leftovers to make potato pancakes, go for it. Because you probably used a lot of butter in your mashed potatoes, you will need to add an egg and a bit of flour (around ¼ cup) to prevent the butter from making your pancakes spread in the skillet.

More Tasty Potato Dishes to Try

  • Oven-Roasted Potatoes – 3-ingredient roasted potatoes
  • Ranch Roasted Potatoes – Zesty, 3-ingredient roasted potatoes
  • – Whole baby potatoes with dill and salty bacon
  • Mashed Potato Pancakes – A delicious way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.
  • Crispy Smashed Potatoes – Parmesan, bacon & herb smashers


Grandma’s Potato Pancakes Recipe (Eastern European) (7)

Grandma’s Potato Pancakes Recipe (Eastern European)

Print Pin


5 servings

Prep Time 30 minutes mins

Cook Time 20 minutes mins

Total Time 50 minutes mins

Recipe contributed by: Natalya Drozhzhin

These Eastern European potato pancakes only take a handful of ingredients to make. They turn out crispy and comforting, making a real treat!


  • 5 large potatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 egg
  • 1/2 tbsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Oil for frying


  • Skin potatoes and peel onion. Use a large bowl and grate potatoes and onions on small slots. You can also use a blender, food processor or a grinder.

  • Add eggs to the mixture, season with salt & pepper. Whisk to combine everything together.

  • Preheat skillet with oil on a medium heat. Place batter with a tablespoon into the skillet.

  • Fry each side until it's golden brown.

Nutrition Facts

Grandma’s Potato Pancakes Recipe (Eastern European)

Amount Per Serving

Calories 159 Calories from Fat 18

% Daily Value*

Fat 2g3%

Saturated Fat 1g5%

Cholesterol 65mg22%

Sodium 745mg31%

Potassium 936mg27%

Carbohydrates 29g10%

Fiber 6g24%

Sugar 1g1%

Protein 8g16%

Vitamin A 95IU2%

Vitamin C 26mg32%

Calcium 79mg8%

Iron 7mg39%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Grandma’s Potato Pancakes Recipe (Eastern European) (2024)


What are pancakes of Eastern Europe called? ›

Blini (plural blinis or blini, rarely bliny; Russian: блины pl.), singular: blin, are an Eastern European pancake made from various kinds of flour or buckwheat, wheat, etc. They may be served with smetana, tvorog, caviar and other garnishes, or simply smeared with butter.

What country invented potato pancakes? ›

Although many Americans associate potato pancakes with Hanukkah, they have more broad origins. They originated in the eastern European countries of Germany Austria, Russia and Poland as a peasant food. Potatoes were cheap, plentiful and easy to store, making them a staple and necessitating inventive potato recipes.

What is the difference between potato pancakes and latkes? ›

Potato pancakes have a creamy, almost mashed-potato-like center, with a thin, golden, crisp exterior. Latkes, on the other hand, should have a deeply browned crust, with wispy, lacy edges. Latkes also aren't hash browns.

What cultures eat potato pancakes? ›

Potato pancakes are associated with various European cuisines, including Irish (as boxty), German and Austrian (as Kartoffelpuffer, Reibekuchen, Reiberdatschi, Erdäpfelpuffer and Erdäpfellaibchen), Dutch (as aardappelpannenkoek, reifkoeken, reifjes), Belarusian (as дранікі draniki), Bulgarian (as patatnik), Czech (as ...

What country has the best pancakes? ›

France – Crêpes

You can't possibly make a list of the world's best pancakes and not include France. Crêpes are unavoidable throughout the country. There are two main types of French crêpes – sweet ones (crêpes sucrées) and savoury ones (crêpes salées). Savoury crêpes are commonly known as 'galettes'.

What do British call pancakes? ›

In the UK, the word pancakes refers to the same thing, but the word flapjacks refers to something entirely different: a baked good made from oats, resembling what elsewhere may be called a granola bar or oat bar. The word flapjack is traced back to the late 1500s.

Why do Jews eat latkes? ›

Why latkes? The simple answer is that they're meant to remind Jews of the miracle of the oil associated with Hanukkah.

What is another name for potato pancakes? ›

Potato pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer, Draniki, Tortitas de patata, and so on).

What is the name of the potato pancake in English? ›

/ˈlɑtkə/ A latke is a small pancake usually made with grated potatoes. Latkes are traditionally eaten during Hanukkah. Most latkes are crispy little potato pancakes that are served with apple sauce or sour cream during the eight days of Hanukkah.

What are the crepes in Eastern Europe? ›

Eastern Europe: Blini and Palacinke

In Eastern Europe, crêpes are known as Blini in Russia and Palacinke in Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Blini are traditionally served with sour cream and caviar, while Palacinke are usually filled with jam, chocolate, or cheese.

Are European pancakes just crepes? ›

Crêpes in European culture

In Norwegian, crêpes are called pannekake, and in most German regions Crêpes (referring to a wide and flat crêpe, as opposed to the smaller and thicker native Pfannkuchen pancakes). In Swedish, a crêpe is called pannkaka in southern regions while being called plättar in the north.

Why do Europeans call crepes pancakes? ›

Crepe is a French word that means pancake. It is pronounced "crap" (rhyming with sap) and is derived from the Latin crispa, meaning "curled." Therefore, it could be thought of as a thin pancake — or a thick blintz — and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

What are pancakes called in other countries? ›

Pancakes around the world:
65 more rows
Mar 3, 2015

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Otha Schamberger

Last Updated:

Views: 5650

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (75 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Otha Schamberger

Birthday: 1999-08-15

Address: Suite 490 606 Hammes Ferry, Carterhaven, IL 62290

Phone: +8557035444877

Job: Forward IT Agent

Hobby: Fishing, Flying, Jewelry making, Digital arts, Sand art, Parkour, tabletop games

Introduction: My name is Otha Schamberger, I am a vast, good, healthy, cheerful, energetic, gorgeous, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.