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.

Love Jewish food? Sign up for our weekly Nosher recipe newsletter!


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.


Love Jewish food? Sign up for our weekly Nosher recipe newsletter!

Keep on Noshing

Sheet-Pan Dinner Recipe: Za’atar Chicken With Cauliflower and Chickpeas

This Israeli-inspired dish is incredibly delicious and easy, and is equally awesome for a weeknight dinner or Shabbat.

How to Braid Challah for Shabbat, Holidays or Anytime

Our how-to video will help you conquer the art of braiding challah for any occasion.

Dukkah Recipe: The Egyptian Spice Blend You’ll Love

This everyday Egyptian condiment is comprised of nuts and a diverse array of seeds, spices, herbs, sea salt and pepper.

Shabbat Chicken with Dried Fruit Recipe

This go-to chicken recipe, with a glossy and delicious sauce, is perfect for Rosh Hashanah or Shabbat.

Classic Potato Kugel

A grandmother's recipe offers an easy route to this classic Ashkenazi dish.

VIDEO: How to Make Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed cabbage is one of the most quintessential Ashkenazi Jewish dishes.

Baklava with Honey and Cardamom Recipe

You won't miss refined sugar or butter with this sweet treat featuring cinnamon and cardamom-spiced nuts covered with honey syrup.

Chocolate Cranberry Challah Rolls with Citrus Sugar

Simple, sophisticated and just a little fancy.