foods to make for Hanukkah that aren't latkes recipes for Hanukkah that aren't latkes
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8 Hanukkah Recipes That Aren’t Latkes

From savory to sweet; from quick and easy to showstoppers.

It is a Jewish rite of passage to overindulge on a dish to such an extent that you can never face eating it again. For some (Barbra Stresiand, I’m looking at you), this may be an overstuffed Jewish deli sandwich; for others, it’s cherry vareniki. For my husband, it’s latkes, which are permanently banned from our Hanukkah menu.

I’m fine with it; truly great latkes are hard to find, and even harder to make. Who needs that kind of pressure, especially when there are so many other equally delicious Hanukkah dishes? Here are eight of my favorites: 


1. Sephardi Leek Patties

Photo credit Susan Barocas

Unlike the majority of the world, Sephardi Jews appreciate the glory of the leek. This green allium, which Susan Barocas charmingly describes as “a soft-spoken member of the onion family,” is satisfyingly versatile. One of its best uses is in keftes de prasa (fried leek patties), which were adopted by Sephardim in the Ottoman Empire and eaten on Hanukkah. Recommended for the latke loyalist looking to expand their Hanukkah repertoire — but not too much.

2. Gribenes

There is no better way to celebrate fried Jewish food than gribenes. This old world Ashkenazi treat of rendered chicken skin is surprisingly easy to make, and yields every bubbe’s secret weapon, schmaltz, as a byproduct. 

Shannon Sarna instructs how to make gribenes here: Cut chicken skin into medium-size strips. Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add a scant teaspoon oil or chicken fat (schmaltz) into the pan. Add chicken skin and saute 20-25 minutes, scraping frequently with spatula or wooden spoon to avoid the skin sticking or burning. When skin is a deep brown and appears crispy, remove with a slotted spoon and place onto a paper towel. Sprinkle with a smidge of salt.

3. Filipino Lumpia with Brisket

Photo credit Abby Ricarte

The best Hanukkah food conjures nostalgia, comfort and happy memories with loved ones. In this recipe, Abby Ricarte fills lumpia — fried Filipino spring rolls — with her husband’s grandmother’s brisket. 

“My brisket lumpia was merely a quick Filipinx/Jewish experiment,” she writes, “but it tasted so wonderfully familiar. I had forgotten that my mom’s lumpia’s recipe is really mostly carrots and onions just like Grandma Esta’s brisket. As I look forward to creating my own special Jewish home with my husband, I’m comforted by these unexpected connections between his family and my own.”

4. Fried Gefilte Fish

Photo credit Chaya Rappoport

Store-bought gefilte fish gets a crunchy, golden makeover in this recipe by Chaya Rapopport. By frying frozen gefilte into puffed-up fish balls, topped with dill and caviar, this divisive ingredient becomes a chic (yes, really), easy appetizer that would hold up at any holiday party. The real miracle of Hanukkah. 


5. Russian Apple Piroshki

Photo credit Sonya Sanford

Piroshki — a catch-all term for stuffed pastries in Russia, Ukraine and other parts of the former Soviet Union – can be fried or baked, sweet or savory. “When piroshki are made with fried yeasted dough they are akin to a donut,” writes Sonya Sanford. “Hanukkah, and its celebration of fried foods, is my favorite time of year to make apple piroshki.” With a soft, airy dough and caramel-apple filling, you won’t be able to eat just one.

6. 2-Ingredient Hanukkah Cookies

Photo credit Shannon Sarna

Hanukkah cookies have become a North American Jewish tradition, but if you don’t have the time or inclination to patiently decorate them by the dozen, I don’t blame you. These easy cookies by Shannon Sarna come together in just 15 minutes, with the help of two store-bought ingredients: chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate Hanukkah gelt. A simple and delicious holiday hack

7. Moroccan Sfenj 

Photo credit Dikla Frances

These donuts are much simpler to make than yeasted Israeli sufganiyot (though here’s a great recipe for those if you’re interested) and just as tasty. Popular in North Africa and the Middle East, they’re the ultimate Hanukkah sweet treat for Moroccan Jews. Golden sfenj are dusted with sugar or drizzled with honey after frying for the perfect, sticky final touch.

8. Sephardi Pumpkin Fritters

Photo credit Susan Barocas

For many Jews, it simply isn’t Hanukkah without bimuelos, and this take on the sweet, fried fritters showcases pumpkin, an ingredient beloved by both Sephardim and North Americans. This easy one-bowl bimuelos de kasava (pumpkin fritters) recipe by Susan Barocas is ready in under half an hour, and incorporates “the Syrian flavors of allspice and coriander along with the cinnamon of sweeter Turkish and Greek versions.” 

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