Cheese Latkes

Mitchell Davis

James Beard Foundation, NYC

Though it may sound like latke blasphemy, according to The Mensch Chef author and JBF staffer Mitchell Davis, the first latkes may actually have been made from cheese, not potato. This recipe yields sweet, breakfast-like pancakes that bear little resemblance to the usual Hanukkah fare. Try them sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or doused in maple syrup.


  • 1 cup (7.5 ounces) farmer cheese
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter for frying


In a mixing bowl, combine the farmer cheese with the cream cheese, mixing with a wooden spoon until smooth. Beat in the eggs, milk, matzo meal, salt, sugar, and vanilla.

Heat a tablespoon of the butter in a large frying pan (cast iron works best) set over medium-high heat. Drop 1/4-cupfuls of batter into the pan to form pancakes, being careful not to crowd the pan. When the pancakes have browned on the bottom and begun to bubble slightly, about 4 minutes, carefully flip them over to cook the second side. They should take an additional 2 or 3 minutes of cooking. Remove to a clean plate or cookie sheet and keep warm.

Continue frying the latkes, adding more butter as necessary and being sure not to let the pan get so hot that the latkes burn before they are cooked through. (You might want to take the pan off the heat for a minute or two between batches.) The batter will thicken as it sits, so you may have to spoon the last few latkes into the pan and spread them out a little with the back of a spoon.


16 3-inch latkes