Standing over the stove for hours frying latkes isn’t exactly my favorite activity, and probably isn’t yours either. But there’s nothing that quite compares with homemade fried potato latkes. (Though, yes, there are a number of pretty decent frozen latkes you can buy pre-made, and other latke hacks to try if making from scratch just isn’t your thing, no judgement).
But when it comes time to host a Hanukkah celebration, you may want to prepare your latkes ahead of time to avoid the lingering smell of fried potatoes, and so that you can actually enjoy your own party!
Luckily, latkes are one of the best Jewish foods to prepare and freeze ahead of time since they reheat beautifully. With just a few expert tips, your latkes will taste like you stood at the stove all day, but your house won’t smell like the inside of a deep fryer, and you will feel rested and ready to celebrate.
One more preparation tip: You can also make your applesauce and freeze that ahead of time, too!
1. Slightly Undercook Your Latkes
If you are planning to reheat your latkes after freezing, you may want to slightly undercook your latkes — just so they’re a little less brown and crispy than you would prepare if you were serving them the same day. This will ensure when you reheat them, they won’t get too crispy or — God forbid — burnt!
2. Cool Completely Before Freezing
Whenever you freeze a baked good or anything cooked, always make sure to let the dish cool completely before placing in the freezer, otherwise you may trap extra moisture and liquid which will cause the latkes to become soggy. Cool latkes on a wire rack for 1-2 hours before freezing.
3. Freeze In a Single Layer
When your latkes are cooled, place them on a piece of parchment on a baking sheet and freeze the latkes in a single layer on the baking sheet for 2 hours. Once frozen, layer the latkes in between pieces of parchment paper and place in a freezer bag, container or Pyrex dish.
4. Reheat From Frozen
Don’t defrost your latkes! If you let your latkes defrost at room temperature or in the fridge, they will become soggy and gummy. Instead, reheat your frozen latkes directly from frozen at 400°F for around 10 minutes. Make sure to watch the latkes closely or put a timer on because you don’t want them to get too dark and crispy. Once crispy and reheated, you can turn the oven down to 225°F to keep warm until ready to serve.
5. Reheat on a Wire Rack
I know a lot of people like to reheat directly on a sheet pan, but I would strongly urge you to try reheating on a wire rack placed on a baking sheet, this way air can circulate all around the latke ensuring the latke is crispy all around. If you reheat directly on a baking sheet, you may end up with a soggy-bottomed latke.