Whether you are preparing for your first Passover seder or your 31st, this post is full of tasty Passover recipes, tips, and holiday information to help you gather, learn, and celebrate with your friends and family.
Want to deep dive into matzo, check out my matzo page.
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What is Passover?
At Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew), Jewish people around the world celebrate the freeing of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. The seder, the Passover meal eaten on the first two nights of the holiday, requires planning and preparation but it is so worth the effort.
So much of the story of Passover is told symbolically through the food we eat. The salt water represents tears. The charoset (chopped fruit and nuts) represents the mortar the slaves used to hold the bricks together.
And of course, the matzo represents the speedy exit of the freed Israelites - no time to let the bread dough rise.
What is a Haggadah?
The Haggadah is the book used to run the seder meal and tell the story of Passover. Jewish and non-Jewish guests enjoy how the food becomes part of the storytelling and how the seder meal becomes interactive as we read through the Haggadah. Haggadahs have come a long way since the free Maxwell House version we suffered through when I was a kid. These are a few of my favorites:
A Different Night, The Family Participation Haggadah
by David Dishon and Noam Zion
This creative haggadah offers a myriad of choices of how to conduct each section of the seder, drawing on alternative views and interpretations as well as art, humor, modern societal relevance and so much more. This version is flexible, instructive, educational, and always encourages lively conversations.
Why on This Night?: A Passover Haggadah for Family Celebration
by Rahel Musleah
A great option if you have young kids or an interfaith family, this book offers a modern retelling of the Passover story at a level that your elementary age children or really impatient family member will appreciate.
by Rachel Anne Rabbinowicz
The conservative movement's updated approach to the seder including extensive commentaries in the margins, Hebrew and English readings (no transliterations though) and beautiful artwork.
30-Minute Seder: The Haggadah that Blends Brevity with Tradition
I haven't used this book yet, but in my family, there is always someone who wants the seder to go faster and someone who still wants to go through the traditional service. This sounds like a great combination of both!
Symbolic Foods for Passover
The center of the seder table is the seder plate, with small indentations for symbolic foods. For example, we dip parsley in salt water. The parsley represents the coming of spring and the salt water represents the tears that were shed.
We eat a fruit and nut mixture called charoset which represents the mortar the Israelite slaves used for brick-building.
The roasted egg on the seder plate represents rebirth and renewal. And the roasted shank bone (zeroa) reminds us of the ancient ritual of a sacrificial lamb.
We eat matzo crackers to symbolize how quickly the Israelites fled, leaving no time for the bread to rise. Instead, they baked it unleavened and hence the flat, crispy matzo crackers or as it is often called: the bread of affliction.
Why do we need special recipes for Passover?
If you keep kosher for Passover, then you have 21 or 24 meals plus snacks to eat “chametz” free. Chametz is food that contains:
When these grains come in contact with water and ferment for longer than 18 minutes, they are considered “leavened”. Why does this matter?
The story is that when the Jewish people fled Egypt and slavery, they left in a hurry without time for their bread to rise and matzo was born. That's why matzo, the traditional unleavened bread eaten on Passover, is watched over to be sure it is baked in under 18 minutes or before the flour can begin to rise. Need even more detail about all the matzo products available for Passover - check out my Matzo page for the unleavened truth!
Passover Recipe Inspiration
So much of this wonderful holiday is about the food. So let's dive into some delicious ideas for both the seder menu and the rest of the meals you'll be eating throughout the weeklong observance. Below are lots of Passover recipes for you to add to your mix.
The Best Passover Recipes
Whether you prefer a traditional passover meal or an updated variation, these Passover recipes will help you conquer the challenge of creating a seder menu, bringing a dish to another host’s home, or just feeding your family throughout the 7 (or 8) days of Passover.
Traditional Seder Menu Items
Some of the dishes we look forward to while we read through the Hagaddah.
Homemade Matzo Ball Soup
Matzo Ball Soup - the quintessential Passover dish and year-round comfort food. Find a recipe for fluffy matzo balls and homemade chicken stock.
This small batch Ashkenazic style charoset is perfect for a small seder or double the recipe for a bigger crowd. Traditional but with a couple of twists to add texture and flavor.
Turkish Haroset for Passover
This Turkish charoset recipe straddles the line between a traditional Ashkenazic style and a more complex Sephardic style that incorporates dried fruits and different nuts.
Matzo Farfel Kugel for Passover
One of the most popular posts on my blog, this matzo farfel kugel recipe will put you on the road to kugel mastery.
Apricot Apple Matzo Farfel Kugel
This version is inspired by a recipe a reader sent to me. It offers some lightened up options if you are feeling overwhelmed by the number of eggs in your Passover preparations.
Savory Matzo Farfel Kugel
This savory matzo farfel kugel is easy to make, light and full of flavor. Finish it under the broiler for a crispy top to accent the soft, pudding-like inside.
Potato Kugel with a Twist
Potato Kugel is a perfect side dish for your Passover seder. This crispy kugel uses carrots, parsley, and some dried herbs to brighten and lighten it up. All the best of the traditional dish with some tasty twists.
Breakfast and Lunch Passover Recipes
Don't forget the rest of the meals!
Bubbe’s Bubula - Recreating my Grandma's Puffy Matzo Meal Pancake
You’ll love the light fluffy result of this simple Passover staple. Make this matzo meal pancake your own by pan frying in butter or olive oil or coconut oil and experimenting with toppings such as fruit compote.
Shakshuka: An Easy Egg Dish for any Meal of the Day!
This shakshuka recipe will be a new favorite in your meal plan rotation. If you are a fan of Middle Eastern and North African flavors, you’ll love these eggs poached in a savory, spicy red tomato sauce base. Usually eaten with a piece of pita to sop up the red sauce, the matzo will stand in quite nicely during Passover.
Matzo Stuffed Tomatoes Provencal
From the Little Ferraro Kitchen, try this Tomatoes Provencal that cleverly uses crushed matzo in place of breadcrumbs and is flavored with aromatic herbes de provence and Parmesan cheese to bring it all together.
Vegetable Side Dishes
After all the eggs, you'll want your veggies!
Roasted Asparagus Salad with Preserved Lemon
This simple roasted asparagus salad with preserved lemon celebrates citrus and spring. Serve it at the seder without cheese or have it as a healthy, light and satisfying lunch.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomegranate Molasses
Without the yogurt sauce alongside, this dish works with a meat main course if you keep kosher. Inspired by a recipe in Amelia Saltsman’s Seasonal Jewish Kitchen, I originally prepped this dish with cauliflower too. Be creative and feel free to mix your cruciferous veggies together.
Roasting any color of cauliflower is a simple way to add flavor to your meal and lighten it up at the same time.
Main Course Passover Recipes
From brisket to chicken, you'll find something to love!
Instant Pot Brisket: Fast and Flavorful for the Jewish Holidays
This Instant Pot Brisket recipe uses the same ingredients as my mom’s tried and true brisket, it just takes less time! You can serve this brisket on Passover (just sub in something for the beer and watch for corn syrup in the ketchup).
Sandy's Sweet and Sour Brisket
No instant pot? No problem. Here's the traditional version. This is the recipe my mother always made. If you keep kosher for Passover, substitute broth for the beer and check the ketchup bottle for corn syrup – a no-no for Passover.
Slow Cooker Brisket
Prefer the slow cooker? Here's my mom's brisket recipe a third way - made in the slow cooker!
Instant Pot Brisket with Pomegranate Molasses
Surprise your family with this simple twist - using pomegranate molasses. It's a tangy twist for a traditional favorite.
Braised Brisket with Tsimmes
This variation uses sweet potatoes, carrots, and a plethora of dried fruits as well as sherry vinegar and beef (or chicken) broth for the braising liquid. It regularly gets as many compliments as my mother’s version (but please don’t tell her I said that).
Chicken with Apricot Jam
This is so simple but always a huge hit. You just need jam, mustard and lemons and you can prepare it ahead and reheat.
Roasted Chicken with Clementines, Onion, Fennel, and Vermouth
Adapted from a classic recipe in the Jerusalem cookbook, you can't go wrong with this flavorful dish. And it is also easily prepped ahead of time.
Ottolenghi's Chicken with Jerusalem Artichoke and Lemon
Another super flavorful chicken dish -- perfect if you want something just a little bit different.
Passover Dessert Recipes
If you have any room left ...
Chocolate-covered Matzo with Toasted Nuts and Sea Salt
This classic recipe originally created by Marcy Goldman in A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking offers new toppings and slight changes to the ingredient amounts. Simple to make ahead and refrigerate or freeze and adaptable to different dietary restrictions or flavor profiles.
Dairy Free Chocolate Truffles with Orange and Cardamom
After a long meal with so many courses, doesn’t a small bite sound just perfect? I created this chocolate truffle recipe with a dairy-free modification making it perfect to serve after a meat-based meal.
I hope this round up has given you some fun and delicious Passover recipes to get you through the holiday feeling inspired by ways to honor the food traditions. Remember spring is here when Passover arrives so indulge in all the exciting new produce at the market to really add vibrancy, flavor and color to your unleavened creations!
Want even more dessert inspiration? There are several more Passover dessert recipes in my cookbook plus all the bread recipes you'll be craving once Passover ends!
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WOW! I haven't participated in a sedar or any passover celebrations for over 20 years - back when I was single in Miami and dating a Jewish guy. I was clueless about what was going on! I need to learn more about the Jewish side of my pedigree. Thank for all of this!
This is my dream post!! Everything anyone would need for Passover in one yummy place!
Little Cooking Tips
What a BEAUTIFUL, cultural, foodie post! We didn't know about the non-rise bread relation to the Passover. So, Chametz (pronounced with a strong H, right?) is the foods that are not allowed in Passover as they would absorb water and "puff up". So interesting!
In the Greek Orthodox tradition , we only slightly unleavened bread in Clean Monday, the day Lent begins before Easter, and it's about the only time of the year we consume a flatbread (called lagana). The reasoning behind this, is avoiding olive oil and dairy in the bread-making process, in order to server a more "humble" bread, to symbolize the beginning of the fasting period. However, that being said, this bread is awesome with the taramosalata served in this day (ever had taramosalata btw?):)
Again, an excellent post, and sorry for rumbling on:)
You can come to my blog and rumble on any time you want!!! I have never had taramosalata. Please tell me more! I am very interested in the correlation between it and passover unleavened bread. And just want to know more about how to make it and what it is like. Thanks so much for sharing.
Little Cooking Tips
First of all, thank you for replying in detail in all our comments!
And thank you for the permission to rumble on:) Here we go then:)
For the taramosalata: It's a delicious spread made with cod roe, which makes it a bit hard to make the dish in the States. We think Amazon does sell cod roe, but otherwise you will only find in some delicatessen or Greek food stores. We have a recipe for it on the blog (https://www.littlecookingtips.com/2012/02/traditional-greek-taramosalata.html), posted in the first months we started blogging:)
The flavor is unique and not at all fish-y:) It has a smoked taste from the cod roe (that's smoked) and it also has flavors from the onion and the lemon. It's balanced out by using bread and EVOO.
In our Lent tradition, we don't consume any meat or dairy and the only proteins allowed come from pulses, seafood like squid, cuttlefish, octopus, shrimp, clams. Basically anything that bleeds (including fish) is not allowed. But cod roe, since it's a product from the fish but not the fish itself is allowed. Transforming it to taramosalata was a delicious way to use just a handful and make a quantity for the whole family.
Consuming lagana flatbread on Clean Monday definitely has its roots to the Jewish Passover as we only consume it the beginning of Lent (it's not a part of Greek diet, except for this day) and the Lent will lead to the Passion of Christ. People here also know that this flatbread resembles the one Christ shared with his disciples before the crucifiction, as it was the period of preparation for the Passover. So there's this connection as well.
However, that being said, there are mentions of unleavened bread in antiquity, with the same name (lagana), by Aristophanes for instance. So, the Christian tradition followed other pre-existing traditions most likely.
Anyway! 🙂 Please let us know if you ever try taramosalata, either at home or at a Greek restaurant (usually served in spring)!:)
Mirella and Panos
You guys are like living food encyclopedias! So much fun to talk to you. As you were describing the cod roe, I was wondering if there is any resemblance to bottarga - the smoked roe from mullet - that I was introduced to in Israel and have fallen in love with. I did find one article describing taramosalata that did discuss various roes to give it some context, including bottarga. Now I will be on the look out for this as an appetizer when I visit Greek restaurants. Can't wait to try it. And I'm looking at photos online of lagana - so similar to matzo!! What an education this discussion has been. XO
Little Cooking Tips
Always a pleasure to talk about food and culture with your dear Beth!:) Bottarga looks like Avgotaraho (must be the same thing more-less), a delicacy from western rural Greece (that's a lot more expensive than Taramas, the cod roe). Perhaps one can use it as well for taramosalata, we think the taste would be more delicate perhaps, this is actually a great idea and now we really want to try it out lol:) Thank you for this!
Do give it a try in a Greek restaurant to check it out, I believe they will always serve this in the Lent period, in spring (and most likely in March 11 this year, on Clean Monday 2019).
What an informative post, Beth! I have pinned it and tweeted it--I am sure all my friends and readers who celebrate Passover will find it an invaluable resource (and I may just have to give that puffy pancake a shot, too)!
That would make my grandma smile down really big Jenni 🙂 Thanks for sharing and stopping by to say hi!
What a terrific overview of Passover, Beth! Still can't believe it's next week. Thank you for the gentle nudge to get going on planning! We're in the midst of another snowstorm so it's really not feeling like spring just yet.
I know the Maxwell House haggadah...so many prettier, more interesting options now. We use Feast of Freedom and A Different Night, too. Your delicious matzo kugel is a staple on our table and I'm going to try your chocolate truffles this year.
Chag sameach and warm hugs to you. xoxo
Ahhh - hearing from you twice in one week is a special treat. I have so much more to add to this post but it's a really good start as it is. I'm glad you appreciate it and thanks for lending me your charoset recipe to share. Yes - Passover is early this year. What a whirlwind. I will reply to your newsy email soon. Chag sameach to you and yours Hannah.
I love all of these delicious recipes you include. I feel ready to take on Passover with no stress!
Yah! That's my goal 🙂 Chag Sameach.