Sweet Potato Rutabaga Latkes

Pancakes aren’t just for potatoes anymore.   I love potatoes, don’t get me wrong…but there is something endearing about the Underdog.  The humble rutabaga, or ‘Swede’ as the Brits call it, it has become a forgotten vegetable in our culture, looking huge and weird in the produce section like an ugly duckling.

Rediscover those Roots, that’s what I say!  Taste the Tubers..



“…Prior to the introduction of the potato to the Old World, latkes were, and in some places still are, made from a variety of other vegetables, cheeses, legumes, or starches, depending on the available local ingredients…” (wikipedia)

Aha!  Next I will do a Black-eyed Pea and Sweet Potato Latke topped with Peach Chutney and Greek Yogurt. I give myself full permission to stretch definitions, break boundaries.  I give you permission too.



The not-so-ugly duckling!

These little cakes can be made vegan or with eggs.  Feel free to use eggs (it’s easier) but it’s fun when you can pull it off and learn a new trick.   Amaze your vegan friends.  Amaze your college-age offspring who has transformed into a vegan while away at school, and now is coming home wanting you to cook for them and three vegan friends they are bringing along!



Tip #1  Soak the rutabaga and sweet potatoes in salt water to remove the starches, then drain in a towel and squeeze to remove moisture.


It isn’t necessary to soak the vegetables in salt water, though I think they behave better and crisp nicely in the pan.  But if you are crunched for time, don’t worry about it.


Tip #2  Finely grated vegetables will stick together better than coarsely grated ones.  You can also pulse chop them in a food processor.  The finer the chop the more dense and smooth the texture.

For these I used a coarse hand grater, which gave it a more layered look.



Last year I served 90 people Potato Yam Pancakes at an off-site dinner.

With so many last minute tasks, I needed to prep the cakes ahead of time.  So I grated the potatoes and the yams, blanched them, then drained and refrigerated them overnight covered with plastic so minimal oxygen could get in.

Hmm, I wonder if this will work…

I finished them off the next day, and the little cakes held up like troopers.

Whew!  There is no certainty when experimenting.


Why am I telling you this?  Because you can cook the vegetables if you want to.  It will be different, but it will be good.  The cooked tubers will help hold things together—another handy tip if you are not using eggs.


Perhaps they will be more like a croquette than a potato pancake, but they will be tasty.

Leftover cooked root veggies in your fridge?  Toss with eggs and seasonings and fry them.  Yum.


So which is it, a yam or a sweet potato?  I use both terms.

What we often call yams are actually sweet potatoes with a deep orange color, and are in the morning glory family.  Real yams are from a different botanical family and are related to lilies.  In the U.S. you might only find true yams in African or Central American food stores.

I just like the word “yam”, so I use it.


This recipe is a melding of many minds.

The yam and leek idea came from a 2002 Bon Appétit magazine, the rutabaga came from my interest in a non-nightshade cake, and the rice part came from my friend Britney who made it without eggs.

Have fun!



Sweet Potato Rutabaga Latkes

Prep Time: 20-30 minutes    Cook Time: 20-30 minutes


Peel and grate, or chop in a food processor:

2 cups Sweet Potato (a.k.a. yam—Garnets or Jewels have a nice deep orange color)

1 1/2 cups Rutabaga

Soak them in a bowl of salt water for a few minutes

Drain in a strainer.  Then use your hands or wrap in a towel and squeeze out the moisture.

Small dice or chop in food processor:

1 1/2 cups Leeks

Combine all vegetables in a bowl with:

3 – 4 Tbsp Rice Flour

1/2 tsp Sea Salt

1/4 tsp Pepper

1/2 tsp Nutmeg



1 1/2 cup sticky Arborio rice, or leftover rice pulse-chopped in a food processor with 2-4 Tbsp water

1 1/2 Tbsp Cornstarch or Arrowroot


3 eggs


Mix well.  Let sit 15 minutes.

It may not hold together perfectly at this point, but it will when fried.

Heat Canola or Coconut Oil in a skillet, medium heat—hot enough to sear the cakes, but not so hot that they  burn quickly. 

Shape into 2 inch patties and place onto the hot oil.

Fry long enough that a crispy crust forms on the bottom, at least a few minutes.   Carefully flip and fry the other side.

Add a little more oil when frying each batch.

Keep them warm in the oven, 250 degrees.  

The vegan ones aren’t quite as firm as the ones with eggs, but they do hold together.


Serve with:

-Greek Yogurt or Drained Yogurt and Pear Apple Chutney

-Cranberry Sauce and Feta

-Sour Cream and Apple Butter or Applesauce

-Cooked Pears sprinkled with Smoked Paprika or Ground Chipotle



1 thought on “Sweet Potato Rutabaga Latkes”

  • oh my you certainly are going all out….so tremendous..photos
    great and fun to reed…I really like it but can imagine the
    work but as you say it would really be fun….tsm

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