Home Desserts 23 Traditional Jewish Desserts

23 Traditional Jewish Desserts

I’m willing to bet you’ve tried a few Jewish desserts already, even if you don’t know it.

Babka is the first thing that comes to my mind, as it’s one of the first yeast doughs I learned to bake!

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Rugelach Cookies with Chocolate Filling

I’m sure you’ve tried rugelach and challah bread, right?

Even if you’re not celebrating Rosh Hashanah or Passover, these incredible desserts can often be found year-round in the stores. 

Many Jewish holidays are centered around family and food, so there are plenty of tasty treats to choose from.

To save you some time, I’ve collected 23 of my all-time faves!

If you’re looking for some authentic ideas for the main course, try these traditional Jewish foods.

1. Chocolate Babka

Babka is a yeast-based dough traditionally braided and has a sweet filling, such as chocolate or cinnamon. 

I happen to think chocolate babka is dangerously addictive, so I don’t make it too often.

Once you see how stunning it looks and take that first bite, you’ll see what I mean. What willpower?

For the best results, make the dough the night before so it can rest in the fridge.

Then, the following day, it will be the perfect rolling consistency.

2. Lekach (Honey Cake)

This sticky-sweet cake is mainly made to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, and it’s best when you make it in advance so the flavors can mature.

Between the ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, this cake is quite similar to a gingerbread recipe.

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But the added honey and apple juice give it a much sweeter finish.

This cake is wonderfully moist, so it doesn’t need a glaze. Plus, the honey gives it plenty of sugar, so a sweet glaze might be too much for some.

If you want to add something to the top, try scattering over chopped nuts. 

Coconut Macaroons

3. 5-Ingredient Chewy Coconut Macaroons

Coconut macaroons are such a fun and simple little treat. They need just five ingredients and are gluten-free!

After whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks, you’ll very gently stir through some honey, vanilla, shredded coconut, and salt. 

I like to toss the coconut a little before adding it to the egg whites so it’s not clumpy before going into the bowl.

This will help it to evenly mix in without you having to overwork anything. 

Once they’re baked, a super simple way to dress them up is to drizzle them with dark chocolate.

4. Apricot Hamantaschen

These hat-shaped Purim cookies are a staple in my house during the holidays. 

I love the buttery shortbread and the cute little package it turns into with the jam. It’s almost like a tiny galette!

When making your shortbread, be sure to stop processing when the dough looks like large breadcrumbs.

Unlike pastry, you won’t want to mix it into a ball of dough. 

To keep it perfectly crumbly, finish working it on the counter, pressing everything together gently until it all sticks. 

5. Mandel Bread

Much like biscotti, these cookies are crispy and perfect for dipping in your morning coffee. 

Made using a similar method, these babies are twice-baked: once in a large, flat log to the point it’s just about cooked, and then they’re sliced and baked again to get that crunchy finish.

Though this recipe calls for chocolate chips, you can so easily swap them out for dried fruit or nuts if you prefer. 

6. Sufganiyah (Hanukkah Jelly Donut)

Sufganiyot are round jelly donuts, much like you’re used to seeing.

They’re most traditionally served for Hanukkah but are delicious any time of year when you have the time to make them.

This dough needs to be rested twice but it can be made and enjoyed on the same day.

After the first rest (which is about two hours depending on the temperature in your home), these get rolled and cut before a second rest. 

This second rest is what makes these big and fluffy!

I like to use up the scraps like donut holes and toss them in sugar right after they come out of the hot oil.

For the larger donuts, be sure to let them cool before filling.

7. Easy Halva Recipe

Halva is an Israeli gluten and dairy-free candy made with sugar and tahini.

It’s very dense and a little like a super moist fudge recipe, only there’s no condensed milk in sight.

Since this sets pretty fast, make sure you have everything scaled out and ready to go before you start.

8. Molly’s Sweet and Spicy Tzimmes Cake

If you’re a fan of carrot cake, you’ll love this lightly spiced cake.

Not only does it include shredded carrot, orange zest, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves, but it also contains sweet potato and apple for maximum flavor.

Using sweet potato in this cake will act much like bananas in banana bread: it will make it super moist!

Since it’s so moist, you don’t need to add frosting to this. That said, cream cheese frosting would be the perfect way to finish it!

9. Rugelach

If I had a dollar for every single rugelach I’ve ever made, I’m pretty sure I could buy an island!

These little crescent-shaped cookies are to die for, and they’re crazy easy to make!

The dough is very similar to shortbread, only it’s enriched with eggs for something a little more pliable. 

The filling of brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, and walnuts isn’t too sweet and just slightly nutty.

Of course, you can always throw in chocolate or other fruits, too.

10. Hanukkah Gelt (Homemade Golden Chocolate Coins)

As the name suggests, this chocolate “gold” is a typical Hanukkah gift, and you’ll need this mold if you want to get them just right. 

Of course, you could always use a regular circular mold, but they won’t have the star or menorah designs. 

If you use regular chocolate, it would be best to temper it, so the coins won’t melt. 

11. Candy Dreidels

You’ll need just four ingredients to make these cute little dreidels, and they’re all store-bought and ready to go.

The most you need to do here is melt some chocolate!

The pretzels make nice, edible sticks, but you can also use lollipop sticks (cake pop sticks) if you want something more solid. 

Since you can never have enough chocolate, I think the chocolate dipper “dreidels” are the best option.

I even found some Hanukkah sprinkles for cake decorating, which are the perfect finishing touch!

12. Jewish Apple Cake

This Jewish apple cake is very typical of what you would get in Germany or France.

It’s not overly sweet, and it’s loaded with fresh apples for taste and texture.

You’ll use oil instead of butter here for maximum moisture, and interestingly, the recipe also calls for orange juice, which adds a subtle citrus flavor to the crumb. 

13. Dreidel Surprise Cookies

These dreidel cookies are super cute by themselves, and if you’re in a rush, they will be a hit at any party. 

But if you have the time to go the extra mile, you’ll be the talk of the town!

It’s as easy as stacking a few cookies together and filling them with candies.

Another great option would be to fill them with Nutella, peanut butter, marshmallow Fluff, or caramel for something a little messier but just as tasty.

14. Egg Kichel (Jewish Bow Tie Cookies)

Egg Kichels are a type of cracker that is so light and airy, they’re also known as “nothings.”

You’ll notice the recipe calls for a lot of eggs. It’s not a typo.

You do need that many, and since this dough needs to be worked for around 20 minutes, you’ll definitely need a stand mixer. 

Then it’s just a matter of rolling the dough in sugar and giving the strips a little twist to achieve the bow shape.

15. Chocolate Toffee Matzo Crack

There’s so much to love about this recipe! First of all, it’s ridiculous how easy it is to throw together. 

But mostly, you just can’t beat the combination of crispy cracker with salted toffee and smooth chocolate over the top. 

You do have to make caramel for this, but it’s very straightforward.

All you’ll do is add brown sugar and butter to a pot and let it come to a boil.

There’s no need to watch it like a hawk or use a thermometer. 

I like a mix of dark and milk chocolate here, so you’ll get some fun color contrast, and I’ve even been known to drizzle over some peanut butter, too!

16. Sweet Lokshen Kugel

I remember digging into a piece of this at a potluck once, thinking it was some kind of cheesy, savory lasagna-type dish. 

Boy, was I wrong!

This unique Jewish dessert is very much a sweet treat, using soaked raisins and a sweetened blend of cream cheese, sour cream, and cottage cheese.

It’s almost like a cheesecake filling in that regard.

Once baked, the filling has the same custardy consistency you would get in a bread pudding, only it uses pasta to hold everything together. 

17. Parve (Adaptable Shabbat Torte)

I was pleasantly surprised by this simple little recipe and how easy it is to modify.

You really can make it in a matter of minutes and use whatever fruit you have on hand that day.

I’ve made this with everything from plums and peaches to spiced apples and a blend of colorful berries. 

Just remember to thaw and drain frozen fruits and toss them in a bit of flour, so they don’t sink.

18. Chocolate-Filled Hamantaschen

Using real chocolate in these cookies is great, but sometimes, it can burn if it’s not of great quality. 

That’s why I love this clever recipe!

Not only will you get a rich and chocolatey filling, but it’s almost like two desserts in one!

It’s sweet and buttery shortbread, plus an intense pop of chocolate brownie in the middle.

19. Hanukkah Dreidel Surprise Loaf Cake

Full disclosure: this recipe will take a little time.

You’ll have to make one cake (the blue cake) and let that cool completely before you can cut it. 

Top tip, use a cookie cutter to make sure they’re all perfectly sized. 

Next, you’ll make the vanilla cake. Once it’s ready, pour half of the batter into a lined loaf pan and then line the dreidels down the middle. 

Cover the blue cake with the rest of the vanilla and bake! 

When it’s cool, cut into the cake to reveal the hidden blue dreidels. 

20. Chocolate Challah Bread

Challah bread is a soft, white dough made using eggs for an even richer taste.

It’s usually braided and is excellent for sandwiches, bread pudding, or your morning avocado toast.

But it’s incredibly scrumptious when you add chocolate to the mix. 

The dough itself is very easy to make, but the braid can get a touch complicated.

That said, so long as your lines cross over each other, I’m sure it will look fantastic!

21. Tahini Cookies

Made from ground sesame seeds, tahini has a very mild nutty flavor that is pretty savory and wonderfully smooth. 

You’ve probably used it in hummus before and maybe a sauce for your chicken, but I promise, using it in cookies is a game-changer!

Of course, these cookies are sweet, buttery, and very moreish, but the tahini adds something special that’s hard to explain. 

You’ll just have to give them a try to see how good they really are.

22. Chocolate-Matzo Layer Cake

Icebox cakes are a fantastic way to make something sweet and impressive with minimal effort. 

And using matzo just means you’re skipping a step (making cookies), and it’s kosher to boot!

Between the coffee-soaked matzo and the creamy chocolate filling, this recipe is a lot like a tiramisu.

I like to top mine with a simple Baileys whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate ganache. 

23. Marak Perot (Compote)

Marak Perot is a “fruit soup” used as a light and sweet way to end a heavy celebratory dinner. 

The simple mix of dried and fresh fruits, water, and sugar gets gently simmered until it all reduces into a syrupy mix of sweet and plump fruits.

Lemon juice is added at the end to brighten the flavors.

This is best served chilled, and I like mine with a dollop of whipped cream. It’s also great with a slice of pound cake.

23 Traditional Jewish Desserts

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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