Home Recipe Roundup 20 Traditional Jewish Foods

20 Traditional Jewish Foods

Often, when people think of Jewish foods, they think of matzo ball soup, brisket, rugelach, and latkes.

In short, they think of “traditional Hanukkah foods.”

Bagels and Lox with Cream Cheese
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While those foods I just mentioned are typical Jewish foods, they aren’t the only delicious recipes that are part of Jewish tradition.

For this list, you’ll find plenty of Hanukkah foods, but you’ll also find everyday Jewish recipes, such as Israeli salad and potato knishes.

These are warm, filling foods that bring a wonderful dose of nostalgia.

There is definitely some crossover here with Hanukkah foods, but either way, they’ll all taste so good, you won’t really care when you’re supposed to eat them. 

1. Latkes

These crispy potato pancakes are a staple in most Jewish homes. They take about an hour to make, but the ingredients list is short and straightforward. 

They’re a simple food for simple meals, but that doesn’t make them any less tasty. These are pure flaky, onion-flavored, deep-fried deliciousness. 

2. Bagels and Lox

As long as you have the ingredients on hand, you can whip up a few savory lox bagels in 5 minutes or less. All you’ll have to do is assemble them.

Start with a toasted Everything Bagel; then pile it high with smooth cream cheese, some smoked salmon or lox, onions, cucumbers, capers, and any other toppings you want.

It’s a small meal, but it’s packed with flavor and unbelievably filling.

These bagels taste good any time of day, but they seem to be the biggest hit when served for brunch.

3. Matzo Brei (Fried Matzo)

You can make this classic Jewish dish with only four ingredients, plus salt and pepper to taste.

It’s basically just scrambled eggs with fried matzo, but you can jazz it up however you like.

If you want to add flavorful spices or top it off with cheese and green onions, you can.

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Since it’s so easy to make and takes only 10 minutes, it may just become your new favorite breakfast dish.

4. Chocolate Babka

This bread is sweet, tender, and oh, so chocolatey.

You’ll love the cinnamon and chocolate swirl through the middle, and the sweet and crumbly streusel topping adds both taste and texture. 

Despite its appearance, it tastes more like cake than bread, making it the ideal dessert for dinners with the family or special occasions. 

Because it looks so lovely, you could also bake it and give it as a gift, particularly during Hanukkah.

5. Potato Knishes

These potato knishes are a popular type of Jewish pastry, but that doesn’t mean they’re sweet.

If you love savory pastries, this recipe will blow your mind. 

Potato knishes are warm, flaky balls filled with potatoes and caramelized onions and covered with a generous sprinkling of herbs and seasonings.

If you could take all the best parts of pastries, Everything Bagels, and White Castle hamburgers and mix them, you’d have something close to potato knishes. 

The caramelized onions are what really make this recipe for me. They’re so yummy.

6. Noodle Kugel

Typically served on Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashana, noodle kugel is sweet, creamy, dense, and filling. 

It looks like a casserole, but thanks to the raisins, orange juice, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract, it tastes more like dessert. 

It takes only 20 minutes to pull together, but the actual cook time is over an hour, so be sure you plan ahead if you want to have this tasty dish at your next family dinner.

7. Onion Kugel 

If you’re looking for a more savory kugel option, try this onion kugel instead.

With onions, onion soup mix, and mushrooms, this kugel is dense, filling, and very earthy. 

It has an interesting, almost rice-like texture, and the top and sides crisp up nicely. 

As you can imagine from the ingredients, it smells wonderful while cooking (if you like onions), but chopping all those onions isn’t a super fun task.

You may want to delegate that part if you can.

8. Apricot Hamantaschen

If you take apricot pies, shrink them, and turn them into triangular-shaped cookies, you’ll have apricot hamantaschen. 

Each one of these little cookies is only a mouthful, but it contains a massive amount of flavor.

Aside from maybe the apricot jam, you should have everything you need in your pantry.

With the jam, flour, eggs, sugar, salt, butter, and water, you can make 30 of these cookies in about an hour and a half. 

Don’t worry, though; they’re easy to make. Of that hour and a half, 50 minutes of it is just letting the dough chill. 

9. Challah

This shiny gold braided bread is some of the prettiest bread you’ll ever see. The crust is slightly crispy, and the inside is soft, fluffy, and tender. 

It has a subtly sweet taste, and you can make it sweeter by adding a bit of homemade honey butter if you like.

Either way, this bread is sure to turn heads and please stomachs.

10. Hanukkah Jelly Donut (Sufganiyah)

Let’s take a second to be real here. 

Is there anything better than donuts? Sugary-sweet, deep-fried, and insanely decadent, donuts are just delicious.

They may not be healthy, but they taste so good that no one cares.

And these particular donuts also have jelly fillings and are dusted in powdered sugar for that extra oomph of yum. 

Trust me, when I tell you that Krispy Kreme has nothing on these scrumptious sufganiyot. 

11. Rugelach

Rugelach look like crescent rolls and taste like heaven.

You’ll make the dough with five simple ingredients, and the filling requires five more. 

Their outsides are warm and soft, and the fillings are sugary, cinnamony, nutty, and totally amazing. 

Serve them for dessert or as a sweet appetizer. Either way, you won’t be disappointed. 

12. Brisket

Brisket is now a pretty mainstream food, but if you want an authentic brisket that’s tender, juicy, and full of flavor, you’ll want to use a Jewish recipe to make it. 

For this recipe, you’ll also saute onions, celery, tomatoes, a little brown sugar, and plenty of seasonings. 

The result is a complete meal that smells incredible and tastes even better.

It does take quite some time to cook, though, so don’t expect to make it on a whim an hour or so before dinner. 

13. Charoset

If you have 10 minutes and know how to mix and stir, you can make classic Jewish charoset.

If you’ve never had it, you’ll want to give it a try.

It’s almost like baked apples, only there’s no baking involved.

Simply mix your diced apples, honey, cinnamon, raisins, walnuts, red wine, and lemon zest. Then add a pinch of salt and stir thoroughly.

Let it sit for half an hour, and you’ll have a yummy, chunky, sweet treat that everyone will love. 

14. Jewish Fried Artichokes

I’m a woman who loves her vegetables, and raw, garden-fresh veggies are some of my favorite things to eat. 

That said, I won’t turn down a golden, deep-fried artichoke heart any day of the week.

These are crispy and slightly zesty, with just a hint of natural sweetness at their centers.

Best of all, you can make them with only four ingredients. 

15. Tzimmes

This chunky, colorful dish is one of my favorites for fall.

Traditionally made from root veggies and dried fruits or berries, it’s a mildly sweet side dish that’s perfect with any meal.

This recipe for tzimmes uses yams or sweet potatoes, carrots, dried apples and cranberries, pitted prunes, and more.

Aside from the dried fruits, honey, brown sugar, and cinnamon also add sweetness to the starchy, earthy root veggies, giving the whole dish a complex sweet but savory vibe.

16. Israeli Salad

Naturally vegan and gluten-free, this colorful salad is a healthy lunch option any time of year.

It tastes best when you make it with plenty of fresh-from-the-garden veggies.

It takes 20 minutes or less to make and requires no cooking – just chopping and tossing the veggies in herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil. 

It’s cool, crisp, and incredibly good.

17. Carrot Kugelettes

Carrot kugelettes are another marvelous kugel dish, but they’re on a smaller scale.

These make an excellent side item, and you can make them with onions, carrots, and a few pantry staples.

They’re a healthy, crispy, naturally vegetarian-friendly, and gluten-free option for any dinner or family get-together.

18. Jewish Apple Cake

If you like rich, dense cakes that you can have in the oven in 20 minutes, you’ll love this recipe for Jewish apple cake.

It’s thick and filling and tastes like apples, apples, and more apples, with just a tiny hint of cinnamon thrown in for good measure. 

The outside is a little dry and crumbly, but the inside is moist, soft, and delectable.

19. Farfel

Although it looks a bit like rice or quinoa, farfel is actually a tiny, round egg noodle. 

It’s a fairly common dish in most Jewish homes, probably because you can make enough to feed ten people in less than 30 minutes.

It’s mild and tastes faintly of garlic, and it pairs well with any type of protein and most veggies.

20. Kichel

Also known as Jewish bow tie cookies, kichel is a light, airy snack that’s covered in sugar and is melt-in-your-mouth good.

Kichels are just as light, crunchy, and sugary sweet, but they also have a hint of rum and vanilla that the cinnamon twists don’t have. 

20 Traditional Jewish Foods

These Jewish foods are rich with tradition and have been passed down for generations. From latkes to matzo to noodle kugel, you’ll love these authentic dishes.


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author avatar
NaTaya Hastings
NaTaya Hastings is a food and recipe writer for Insanely Good Recipes. She’s an educator, boy mom, dog mom, and whatever-stray-enters-the-yard mom. As a result, she's constantly cooking for both humans and animals.

Luckily, she enjoys it!

Though born, raised, and still living in Alabama, her specialty is NOT down-home Southern cooking. Instead, she loves to experiment with Asian, Mexican, Italian, and other ethnic cuisines. She has two mottos when it comes to cooking. “The more spice, the better!” and “There’s no such thing as too much garlic!”

She’s also pretty good with desserts. Especially the easy, no-bake ones.

Her favorite things are cuddling with her four giant dogs, traveling, reading, writing, and hanging out in nature. She’s also pretty excellent at Dominoes.

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