Why You Should Grate Onions For Latkes

There's nothing better than a crispy latke — except maybe a crispy latke topped with sour cream or homemade applesauce. Food52 explains that latkes, a beloved Jewish treat, are typically made with a few staple ingredients: potatoes, onions, eggs, and matzo meal. While there is an ongoing debate about whether potatoes should be grated or shredded, there's similar controversy when it comes to onions. We've done some research, and it turns out that you should opt to grate your onions ... that is, if you want to make the absolute best latkes.

Though many might think of the latke as a potato pancake, they're not exactly the same thing. Unlike the wispy, crispy strands of potatoes characteristic of latkes, Serious Eats explains that potato pancakes have a creamier, more mashed potato-like interior.

Although it might be hard to beat your Bubbe's homemade latkes, there are a few tricks to keep in mind. Along with choosing the right potato (Russet), Allrecipes recommends making sure to drain potatoes and onions of their moisture before frying in a cast iron pan as this will result in the crispiest cakes. Another hack? Make sure to grate those onions.

Grating onions means more even flavor distribution

Making a good latke is all in the technique. Starting with the potatoes, The Guardian notes that grating the spuds by hand (and risking scraping your knuckles) makes for a more textured bite in comparison to shredded potatoes, which will produce a creamier interior. As for onions, there is also a big difference between dicing and grating.

Most latke recipes tend to call for diced onions, because larger pieces will have more bite and create less moisture in the latke (via Serious Eats). However, given that you'll be straining your ingredients before frying anyway, grating can actually be a better choice, as it will break down more of the onion's cell walls, leading to more powerful and even onion flavor. Likewise, Southern Living also explains that grated onions will be better distributed throughout the potato pocket, ensuring a balance of flavor in every bite.

While there isn't a steadfast rule for which onions you should grate into latkes, it can be fun to experiment with different flavor profiles. Why not add a mix of white onions, purple onions, and shallots to your next batch of crispy latkes?