2 loaves

Savory Za’atar Challah

The addition of Middle Eastern spices gives this challah a subtle flavor that is perfect with a savory meal.

Za’atar is one of my favorite ingredients to use when cooking. I roast potatoes with it and chicken too. So it was only a matter of time until I found a way to make a za’atar flavored challah.


I don’t make my own za’atar, but rather buy it in bulk whenever I am in Israel. You can either buy za’atar at a Middle Eastern or specialty spice store, or also make your own. Za’atar is traditionally made with a mix of oregano, sesame seeds, sumac and salt. I actually chose to add extra sumac in this recipe because the za’atar mix I bought didn’t have a strong flavor, but you can leave that out if you prefer.

Zaatar Challah

This challah has a lovely, subtle flavor that is perfect with a savory meal. I would serve this challah with hummus, tahini and baba ganouj for a lovely start to Shabbat dinner.

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1 ½ Tbsp dry active yeast

1 tsp sugar

1 ¼ cup lukewarm water

4.5 cups of all-purpose, unbleached flour (preferably King Arthur flour)

½ Tbsp salt

2 Tbsp za’atar spice

1 tsp sumac

1 tsp jarred chopped garlic

¼ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

1 tsp water

Additional za’atar, sesame seeds and thick sea salt for sprinkling


In a small bowl, place yeast, 1 tsp sugar and lukewarm water. Allow to sit around 10 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top.

In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together 1 ½ cups flour, salt, za’atar, sumac, garlic and sugar. After the water-yeast mixture has become foamy, add to flour mixture along with oil. Mix thoroughly.

Add another 1 cup of flour and eggs and mix until smooth. Switch to the dough hook attachment if you are using a stand mixer.

Add another 1 ½- 2 cups of mixed flour, mixing thoroughly and then remove from bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead remaining ½ cup flour into dough, continuing to knead for around 5 minutes.

Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with damp towel. Allow to rise at least around 3 hours, punching down at least once if possible.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Braid challah into desired shape. Allow challah to rise another 45-60 minutes, or until you can see the size has grown and challah seems light. This step is very important to ensure a light and fluffy challah.

In a small bowl beat 2 egg yolks with 1 tsp water.

Brush egg wash liberally over challah. Sprinkle with additional za’atar, sesame seeds and thick sea salt.

If making one large challah, bake around 27-28 minutes; if making two smaller challahs, bake 24-26 minutes.


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