Photo credit Sheri Silver

Matzah Ball Casserole Is My Passover Comfort Food

It's like a Jewish version of chicken and dumplings.

This chicken and kneidlach (aka matzah balls) casserole is my mother-in-law’s creation, invented as an alternative to the sacks of potatoes consumed throughout Passover. It’s my husband’s favorite thing to eat, so we usually eat it on seder night and again in February, to celebrate his birthday. I think of it as an Ashkenazi take on chicken and dumplings. It’s rich and hearty and an easy way to feed a crowd — serve with a lemony salad or just-tender steamed greens, for a much-needed fresh snap. 

This dish, a reimagining of her mother’s matzah ball soup, speaks to my mother-in-law’s culinary creativity, which I’ve always admired. Her recipes are ever-evolving depending on the ingredients she has to hand, or simply what she fancies eating that day. So you, too, should feel free to play with this recipe. One easy way is to add other seasonings along with the tomato paste in Direction 4, such as teaspoon of smoked paprika, Aleppo pepper, baharat spice blend or fresh thyme. And while we non-Americans prefer mini matzah balls, you can make them as big as you like.

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matzah ball casserole

Matzah Ball Casserole

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What could be better than chicken and dumplings? Chicken and matzah balls.

  • Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6


For the matzah balls:

  • 3 eggs, mixed with a fork
  • 2 cups matzah meal
  • ¼ cup neutral oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 ¼ cups seltzer water

For the casserole: 

  • 1 large whole chicken, cut into 68 pieces
  • 1 onion
  • 45 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 23 Tbsp oil
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • water


  1. Mix all the matzah ball ingredients and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large heavy-bottomed casserole dish or Dutch oven over medium heat. Meanwhile, thinly slice the onion and crush the garlic cloves. Add the chicken, skin-side down, to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and fry for 5 minutes, or until the skin is golden. Then turn the chicken pieces, season again, and fry for another 2 minutes. Remove the chicken to a large plate and set aside.
  3. Add the onion and a pinch of salt to the pot and fry for 8-10 minutes until golden-brown. Then add the garlic, fry for 2 minutes, and add the tomato paste (and any spices/seasonings you fancy), frying for a further 1 minute. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
  4. Turn the heat to low. Return the chicken (and any juices) to the pot and add enough water to just cover it. Cover the pot and cook on a low simmer for 1-1½ hours, until the chicken is tender.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a big pan of salted water to a boil and shape the matzah ball mix into 25-30 small balls, about a small ice cream scoop’s worth of mixture per ball, or ½ Tbsp. Turn the heat down to low, and simmer the matzah balls for 30 minutes. Remove when fluffy and just cooked through.
  6. When the chicken is tender, add the matzah balls to the casserole dish, cover, and cook on low heat for a further 15 minutes.


You can make and roll the matzah balls ahead of time, freeze them, then defrost the morning you plan to make this dish. 

  • Author: Rachel Myerson
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Holidays


Leave a Comment

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  • Jeanne Gold

    Random thought: why not cook the matzah balls in chicken stock. Then when the chicken is cooked through and tender, simply add them. That way you don’t run the risk of over cooking the chicken, especially the white meat. I’m not particularly a fan of boiled chicken (all the flavor is lost in the liquid), but I can see making the base, add already cooked chicken and matzah balls, just long enough to heat it all up — making it a great way to use leftovers. Thank you for the idea.

    • The Nosher

      Sure! Just heat them up with the chicken for 15 minutes at the end (or until they’re warmed through).

  • Marsha B

    Could I leave out the tomato paste? I am sensitive to tomatoes.

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