Traditional Foods of Hanukkah

By InterfaithFamily



Return to the Guide to Hanukkah for Interfaith Families.


Traditional Foods of Hanukkah

Because of the miracle of the oil, it’s traditional to eat fried foods during Hanukkah. The most loved of these is the potato pancake, called a latke (pronounced “lot-kuh”).


Your basic latke is made of grated potatoes, eggs and onions and fried in lots of oil. But variations are fun too – you can bake them on a non-stick pan, make them out of zucchini and sweet potatoes, or go vegan and add grated beets. You can find many variations and there is no reason not to enjoy them all.

InterfaithFamily has recipes for classic versions of the traditional latke recipe on our website. You can also buy a mix to make latkes or get frozen pre-made latkes. Nothing bad will happen if you don’t make them from scratch.

If your relatives keep kosher, you shouldn’t serve the latkes with sour cream at a meat meal, because people who keep kosher don’t mix dairy ingredients and meat ingredients in the same meal. You can serve them with applesauce at a kosher meat meal; that’s a traditional topping. They’re also tasty with cranberry sauce or salsa. Enjoy and make it your own!

Latkes are an Ashkenazi (central and eastern European-Jewish) custom. Jews whose families come from other parts of the world eat other fried goodies on Hanukkah. According to Claudia Roden, author of The Book of Jewish Food, among Sephardim (Jews with Spanish roots) it was the custom to have fritters in syrup called bimuelos or zalabia. 

Other Hanukkah Treats

In Israel, Ashkenazi and Sephardi traditions blended to form the custom of eating jelly doughnuts, sufganiyot, on Hanukkah. Kurdish Jews make Carrot Fritters – you can find a recipe here.  Moroccan Jews make a dish called sfenj – doughnuts with orange flavored dough (see here for recipe). Some Columbian Jews deep fry plantains to create patacones (recipe here).

Another thing that North American Jews eat at Hanukkah is chocolate Hanukkah gelt. These are the chocolate coins wrapped in gold or silver foil that you can use for gambling when you play your dreidel game. If your family likes to support Fair Trade chocolate, get your gelt here. 


The Guide to Hanukkah for Interfaith Families is also available in PDF


About InterfaithFamily

InterfaithFamily is the premier resource supporting interfaith couples exploring Jewish life and inclusive Jewish communities. We offer educational content; connections to welcoming organizations, professionals and programs; resources and trainings for organizations, clergy and other program providers; and our new Rukin Rabbinic Fellowship will provide offerings for couples in cities nationwide. If you have suggestions, please contact