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How to turn Thanksgiving leftovers into Hanukkah latkes

Hanukkah is right after Thanksgiving this year, so you should be turning those leftovers into latkes.
Brussels sprouts, stuffing and even pumpkin pie make great additions to latkes.
Brussels sprouts, stuffing and even pumpkin pie make great additions to latkes.Frances Largeman-Roth

Hanukkah often coincides with Christmas — or is at least in the general vicinity of the biggest holiday of the year. But occasionally, those eight crazy nights arrive a bit earlier, often when you’re not ready for them. This is one of those years, friends. We’ll be lighting those Hanukkah candles the evening of Nov. 28, just three days after we carve our Thanksgiving turkeys.

At first I was stressing about prepping for Hanukkah so close to such a major feast like Thanksgiving, but then a lightbulb went off in my head. I could use my Thanksgiving leftovers in my latkes! Think about it —latkes are basically fried potatoes, with some onion and egg thrown in. And just like french fries work with about every meal, so too do latkes work with various flavors and ingredients.

I started with my basic potato latke recipe, which was handed down to me by my mother. She admonished me to never add flour to my latkes to keep them light and crispy, never dense, and to always hand grate the potatoes and onion for the best texture. It’s a fair amount of work and your hands smell like onion for days, but latkes are a labor of love and making them the traditional way, fried in olive oil, ensures love and appreciation from your guests.

Classic Potato Latkes

Classic Potato Latkes

Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN

For all of the leftover additions, usethe recipe above, adding the leftover ingredient to the bowl at step 3.

Brussels sprouts

To my delight, roasted or shredded Brussels sprouts have become a staple of the Thanksgiving table. I absolutely love them and usually have leftovers. If you have roasted Brussels, simply chop them up. If you served shredded sprouts, they’re ready to go. You can add 1/2 cup of your chopped or shredded sprouts to the potato mixture.

Latkes made with leftover Brussels sproutsFrances Largeman-Roth

Pumpkin pie or puree

Before you raise your eyebrows at me, let me just say that this flavor combo absolutely works. Yes, latkes are savory, but the combo of potatoes and onion are still fairly neutral and work well with the warm spices, like cinnamon and nutmeg, in pumpkin pie. If you have pie leftover, scrape out the filling from two slices and add it to the latke mixture. If you have plain pumpkin puree, use 1/2 cup. You will not regret this!

Latkes made with leftover pumpkin pieFrances Largeman-Roth


One thing that everyone always has leftover is stuffing. I used a cornbread stuffing to make my latkes, but you can use any bread-based variety. If you’ve added large chunks of anything, like nuts or dried fruit, I recommended giving the stuffing a rough chop before adding it to the potato mixture. You can add 1 cup of stuffing to your latkes. The stuffing really ups the flavor of the potato pancakes, taking them from appetizer to main dish status.

Latkes made with leftover stuffingFrances Largeman-Roth

Mashed sweet potatoes

Similar to pumpkin puree, mashed sweet potatoes will add a subtle sweetness to your latkes, which pairs well with a topping of applesauce. Add 1/2 cup of leftover mashed sweet potatoes to your latke mixture.

Latkes made with leftover mashed sweet potatoesFrances Largeman-Roth

Kale or spinach salad

I find that the salad at Thanksgiving often gets passed up in favor of more enticing offerings. But that’s fine, because these leftover greens work extremely well in latkes, adding extra nutrients, as well as a pop of color. You can add 1 cup of loosely packed kale or spinach leaves to your latke base — just be sure to remove any tough stems before adding. If your salad also included onion or any other ingredients, chop it up before adding.

Latkes made with leftover spinach saladFrances Largeman-Roth

I hope these fun ideas help you enjoy your Hanukkah celebration this year. And since there are eight nights, you’ll have plenty of time to try out every flavor mashup!