10 Traditional Hanukkah Foods to Enjoy in 2021
An authentic Hanukkah celebration means indulging in a delicious spread of traditional Hanukkah foods prepared in the spirit of gratitude. These dishes are meant to be comforting and to remind observers of the ancient miracle that allowed the Jewish Maccabees to light their temple lamps for eight nights when it appeared that there was only enough oil for one.
But the holiday celebrates more than just divine providence; it also celebrates abundance. And there’s no better way to celebrate abundance than with food!
What are the traditional foods for Hanukkah? A proper Hanukkah food list includes an array of savory and sweet dishes served both as small bites and full courses. Fried foods are emphasized to commemorate the oil of the original miracle. It’s a buffet of flavors representing the culinary history of the Jewish people, blending European traditions with customs from long ago.
Is it possible to prepare an authentic Hanukkah menu in your home kitchen? It certainly is. All you need are the right dishes!
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- Learn to Make Traditional Hanukkah Foods
- Roasted Chicken
- Matzo Ball Soup
- Apple Sauce
Learn to Make Traditional Hanukkah Foods
The thought of preparing an authentic Hanukkah feast can seem a bit challenging, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the dishes. If you’re reluctant to give it a go on your own, consider an assist from a world-class chef. With cooking classes in Dallas, cooking classes in Boston and in other cities around the country, you’ll learn to prepare a selection of traditional Hanukkah foods. There are cooking classes near you and other gourmet holiday experiences, like private chefs, aimed at helping you get your holiday meal just right.
If you can’t attend in person, you’ll find online holiday cooking classes to get you on your way without having to leave your home kitchen. If you’re feeling adventurous and you’re ready to jump into the menu now, the 10 dishes included in the Hanukkah food list below will give you a solid start.
These fried potato pancakes are possibly the best-known Hanukkah food. The oil used to fry them is a commemoration of the oil in the temple lamps. Made of shredded potatoes and onions much like hash browns, they’re traditionally topped with applesauce and served as a side dish.
Kugel is a sweet casserole that originated in Central Europe, made using egg noodles baked with sugar, eggs and sour cream. Raisins can be added, as well as spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. It’s a rich dessert that tops many people’s lists of favorite Hanukkah foods and provides the flavor of many beloved holiday memories.
Jewish Hanukkah food frequently includes this delicious beef roast as the main dish, adopted by tradition due to its affordable cost. A perfectly prepared brisket is seasoned with savory spices like thyme and sage and simmered in a wine stock. When done well, it’s a tender, juicy entrée that everyone will savor.
Sweets are a must-have Hanukkah food, and this version of traditional European pastries is a treasure. Originating in Poland, rugelach is a bakery staple. These flaky crescent pastries are filled with nuts, dried fruits or chocolate, and the dough includes sour cream and cream cheese to impart an undeniably rich flavor.
This quintessential Jewish bread, representative of manna sent by God to sustain the Jews as they wandered the desert in Biblical times, is easily recognized on a standard Hanukkah table. Made crisp and brown with an egg wash on top and shaped in a thick braid, it’s both crusty and fluffy and makes a perfect side for soaking up delicious brisket juices.
6. Roasted Chicken
A simple but undeniable pleasure, roasted chicken is served for Shabbat dinner but also makes its way into many Jewish celebrations, including Hanukkah. Any preferred cut prepared with creative savory seasonings is ideal. You can even include potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables in the roasting pan to cook up some ready side dishes.
These traditional jelly-filled donuts are plump and pillowy, topped with a dusting of powdered sugar and served as a dessert treat. They’re another fried Hanukkah food that commemorates the importance of oil in the Hanukkah celebration. The filling can be flavored in a number of ways; though fruit jelly is standard, sweet custard can be substituted if preferred.
8. Matzo Ball Soup
Matzo is unleavened bread, reflective of the same bread taken by the Jews as they fled Egypt. Though this Jewish comfort food is usually served at Passover, many families celebrate the Festival of Lights with matzo ball soup among their Hanukkah foods as well. Traditional recipes include a salty broth and matzo meal formed into balls, but a heartier version with chicken and vegetables included could be served as a main dish at any Hanukkah table.
This loaf-style sliced cookie is a close cousin of Italian biscotti, created without butter or milk to keep them pareve by kosher food law. Though the ingredients vary slightly, the result is strikingly similar: a long, crisp cookie filled with almonds, chocolate chips or dried fruits, baked twice to give that trademark crunchy crust. These are a great Hanukkah food to serve as an after-dinner treat with coffee or tea.
A humble yet beloved sauce served as a topping for latkes, applesauce is present in any proper selection of Hanukkah foods in place of sour cream to keep the meal kosher. Fresh applesauce from scratch is a must and is easier to prepare than it might seem. It makes a world of difference when presenting a truly homemade Hanukkah spread.
The array of flavors and textures available in a spread of traditional Hanukkah foods make for a delicious and varied holiday banquet. With so many different dishes possible, enlisting friends and family to help with the cooking is certainly encouraged.
When the table is finally set, you can light the menorah, be thankful for the miracle and celebrate the goodness of life with your loved ones while enjoying a feast to remember!
For even more fun ways to celebrate the holidays, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.