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25 Jewish Foods Everyone Should Learn to Cook

From buttery loaves of challah to crispy potato latkes, here are the traditional Jewish foods that everyone should be able make at home.

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Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo ball soup is a classic, Jewish comfort food. Steeped in a flavorful chicken broth, matzo balls—similar to dumplings (but made with matzo meal) are cozy and warming. We love this recipe full of chicken and chopped veggies.

You can eat this soup any time of year, but it’s a great dish to serve at your Passover Seder alongside one of these Passover chicken recipes.

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Easy Smoked Salmon

Gravlax, smoked salmon, lox… call it what you want, there’s no denying this salt-cured fish is a welcome addition to any bagel, cracker or slice of toast. A little goes a long way, though, so just a couple of thin slices will do. You can make your own shortcut version at home with this recipe. Then repurpose any leftovers with these lox-centric recipes.

Get more classic Jewish recipes by picking up one of these Jewish cookbooks.

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Rainbow Cookies

Shannon Sarna, a home cook and editor at The Nosher, shares her family’s most beloved dessert: rainbow cookies. These classic New York treats are traditionally served in synagogues and at Jewish celebrations, but actually have Italian roots. To make, you’ll bake three thin cakes, spread jam between them and coat with smooth melted chocolate. Get the full DIY here.
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Potato Latkes

Whether you eat them plain or with applesauce, potato latkes are a staple that’s enjoyed throughout the entire celebration of Hanukkah. Learn how to make these tasty fritters from scratch.
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Carving into a juicy, tender roast for family dinner will never get old. Especially when it’s a brisket that’s been braising for hours, so it basically melts in your mouth. Use the leftovers for delicious sandwiches all week long!
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Two words: one pot. That’s the only dish you’ll need to make shakshuka, an Israeli dish that features eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce and served with pita wedges.
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Who says you have to be Jewish to enjoy the doughy dessert that is rugelach? Filled with fruity, sugary goodness, it’s a must-make for anyone with a sweet tooth. Try some of our favorite rugelach varieties.
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Chocolate Babka

Every grandmother has her own take on babka, but we’re fans of this chocolate and cinnamon recipe flecked with orange zest. Other traditional fillings include nuts or even dried fruits. But who doesn’t like a little more chocolate? Learn how to make babka here.
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I found this tzimmes recipe a long time ago. It has become our traditional side dish for every holiday feast and is a favorite of young and old alike. It also complements chicken or turkey quite well. —Cheri Bragg, Viola, Delaware

Editor’s tip: This side is a great accompaniment to any of our Passover lamb recipes.

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Pickled Cucumber Salad

Pickles and other pickled veggies play a big part in Jewish cuisine. Sure, you can make pickles at home, but this pickled cucumber salad makes a great side dish at the dinner table while giving a nod to the classic kosher dill.
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Honey Challah

If this beautifully braided bread intimidates you, fear not. Follow this step-by-step guide to shaping the most heavenly honey challah loaf and we bet you’ll be giving the Great British Bake Off contestants a run for their money!
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Eaten during the holiday of Purim, these flaky pastries are as easy to make as they are delicious. Fill the center pockets with whatever you’d like, from apricot preserves to the traditional poppy seed jam.
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Homemade Bagels

Bagels are a staple at Jewish bakeries and delis. While they take some time and effort, they are a satisfying bake to try at home. Top them with some lox and cream cheese and you’re set!
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Beet Borscht

Some people call it fall, we call it “soup season.” And what better way to warm up when the temperature drops than with a piping hot bowl of borscht. (You can serve it cold in the summer, though.) Add a dash of horseradish to the bright red soup for extra heat.
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If loving sufganiyot is wrong, we “donut” want to be right. The fluffy jelly doughnuts are filled with tart raspberry preserves, sprinkled with sugar and served warm. You’ll definitely be reaching for seconds (or even thirds!).
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Rustic Rye Bread

Every sandwich savant knows that your final product is only as good as the bread you make it on. Which is why this homemade rye bread, full of caraway seeds and molasses, is exactly what you need for your next gooey, melty Reuben.
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Coconut Macaroons

With only six ingredients, these chewy coconut macaroons are a beginner baker’s dream. Just stir everything together, drop dollops onto a cookie sheet and toss them in the oven. If you really want to indulge, dip the cooled cookies in melty chocolate. Yum!
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Mandelbrot (translated from German means “almond bread”) is similar to an Italian biscotti but uses no butter. These twice-baked cookies use oil instead and can be filled with the mix-ins of your choosing.
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Slow-Cooked Corned Beef

The Irish aren’t the only ones who make a mean corned beef. Jewish chefs have mastered the art of simmering and curing brisket—and so should you. Simply set it and forget it, just like you would with our 100 most-shared slow cooker recipes.
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Tabbouleh is a grain salad popular in Israel. It’s traditionally made with bulgur, but you can easily substitute other grains and starches like couscous, farrow or quinoa.
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Made with noodles or potato, kugel is a classic Jewish side dish. Kugel is rich—full of butter, cheese and carbs—which makes it a nice treat to have on holidays and special occasions. Learn how to make it from scratch the way Bubbe might.
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Cherry Cheese Blintzes

Imagine the filling of a cheese danish rolled up in a pillowy pancake and drizzled with a sweet cherry sauce… and you’ll be thinking about one of these brunch-worthy blintzes. In Jewish culture, they’re often served for Shavuot but we’ll take one every day, please.
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Ahhh, charoset. We don’t know if it’s the warmth of the baked apples, the crunch of the walnuts or the scent of the spicy cinnamon that we love most. But what we do know is that it’s the perfect last bite to any meal, though it’s traditionally served during Passover.
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Forget the chips—we’re just here for the dip. And by dip, we mean hummus, that creamy chickpea-based spread that makes even raw celery taste delicious. Start with a classic base, then add in your favorite flavors to make one of these finger-licking variations.
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Cheese-stuffed bourekas with white and black sesame seedsJamie Thrower for Taste of Home


Filled with cheese, bourekas are popular Sephardic Jewish pastries made from puff pastry or phyllo dough and often topped with sesame seeds. You can find them at many Jewish holidays, including Shavuot.

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Amanda Tarlton
As both a freelance lifestyle writer and editor for a national teen magazine, Amanda spends most of her time creating #content. In those (rare) moments when she's not at her desk typing furiously, she's likely teaching a hot yoga class, reading the latest chick-lit or baking a batch of her famous scones.