Latkes Everybody Can Love

Gluten-free, egg-free and low-carb versions of the potato pancake

Latkes for Hanukkah
Latkes for Hanukkah. Photo by Kristina Vanni, Recipe by Lauren Katz

Latkes, the delectable potato pancakes fried in oil, are a favorite Hanukkah tradition. But traditional recipes contain ingredients that children with diabetes, celiac disease, or allergies to wheat or eggs will need to avoid. How can you keep the tradition alive while accommodating food restrictions, allergies, and sensitivities?

The good news is that you can make variations of latkes that make substitutions and eliminations while still upholding the tradition.

You don't even have to use potatoes.

Gluten-Free Latkes

Traditional latkes use wheat flour or matzo meal, which contains wheat flour or other gluten-containing grains such as barley, spelt, and rye. This is a problem for people who are on a gluten-free diet. You can make substitutions for wheat flour that will ensure your latkes are gluten-free.

You may want to make your matzo meal from gluten-free matzo or make your own from gluten-free oat flour, almond meal, and potato starch.

Some substitutions for wheat flour include rice flour, chickpea flour, and gluten-free flour blends. These are easy to find in your supermarket since many people have adopted a gluten-free diet. You can modify your favorite basic latke recipe simply by making the flour substitution. You may want to experiment with different non-wheat flours until you find the one that produces the results you like the best.

Allergy-Friendly Latkes (Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Vegan): This recipe uses potatoes, onion, chickpea flour, rice milk or water and canola oil.

It is vegan, egg-free, dairy free. Be sure that the chickpea flour you purchase is labeled gluten-free.

Egg-Free and Vegan Latkes

You may be avoiding eggs due to food allergies, dietary restrictions or as part of a vegan lifestyle. In traditional latkes, the egg helps bind the shredded potatoes and onions into a patty.

You can make substitutions with vegan egg replacer, xanthan gum, or include a little baking powder.

This vegan baked potato latke recipe uses white spelt flour and ground flax seeds. They are baked rather than fried, although oil is still used on the baking sheet.

Diabetes-Friendly and Low-Carb Latkes

Fried potatoes may not fit into a diabetes-friendly diet. There are substitutions you can make so your latkes are less of a problem.

You don't have to use potatoes to make latkes. Cauliflower is a great substitution for potatoes. You can use a cauliflower latke recipe and eliminate the potatoes. 

You may want to try substituting grated zucchini or carrots for some of the potatoes, such as in a Polish zucchini-potato pancake. You can keep increasing the amount of zucchini to potato, such as three zucchini to one potato, and see how you like the results.

Many of the calories in traditional latkes come from frying them in oil. You can lighten your recipe by baking rather than frying. You can spray your latkes lightly with oil or use an oil-sprayed baking sheet. Bake them in the oven at 450F for approximately 15 minutes on one side and 10 minutes on the other. The light amount of oil will help them become crisp.