Traditional Dishes for Chanukah

Latkas being passed over a dining table

Chanukah comes once a year, and many families may feel the pressure to make the eight days starting from the 25th day of Kislev, as memorable as possible as they celebrate the rededication of the Holy Temple. In the second century BCE, the Seleucids ruled the Holy Land (Syrian-Greeks.) They tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek Culture and beliefs instead of the mitzvah observance. Against all odds, a small band of faithful but poorly armed Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, driving the Greeks off the land and reclaiming the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, rededicating it.

When they sought to light the Temple's Menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum), they only found a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks. Miraculously, they lit the menorah, and the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days until new oil could be prepared under ritual purity.

To commemorate these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah.

Since the Chanukah miracle involved oil, eating foods fried in oil is customary.

This Chanukah, let us help you celebrate by inspiring you with some of the best traditional Chanukah recipes, making your celebration and meals one of the most beautiful and delicious yet.


Latke, pronounced lot-keh, lot-kah, or lot-kee, is Yiddish for "pancake." On Chanukah, it's traditional to serve latkes fried in oil. Latkes are traditionally served with applesauce and sour cream, but they're tasty on their own too.


  • 5 large potatoes, washed and peeled
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup of flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • ¾ cup of oil for frying

How to Make:

  1. Grate peeled potatoes and onion on the fine side of a grater or in a food processor.
  2. Strain grated potatoes and onions through a colander, pressing out as much excess water as possible.
  3. Place strained potatoes and onions in a bowl, adding eggs, flour, and seasonings, and mix well.
  4. Heat ½ cup of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil shimmers, lower heat to medium and place one large tablespoon of potato batter into sizzling hot oil and fry on one side for about 5 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Turn over and fry for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Remove the latke from the pan and place it on paper towels to drain any excess oil. Continue with the remaining batter until gone.
  6. Serve with applesauce or sour cream on the side.

Beef Brisket

Brisket became popular among Ashkenazi Jews due to its affordable cost. Ashkenazi Jewish refugees brought shtetl cooking, introducing brisket to the general American population. The secret to a tender brisket is choosing one with beautiful marbling and slowly cooking it for an extended time. Try this delicious brisket recipe this Chanukah!


  • 5 – 7 pound brisket, first or second cut. Don't trim the fat if it is grass-fed.
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large brown onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1 pound of carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 pound celery, tops removed and sliced
  • 28 oz tomatoes, whole, diced, or crushed
  • 10 peeled whole garlic cloves
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups of beef broth, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 Degrees.
  2. Rinse your brisket and pat dry.
  3. Rub both sides of the brisket generously with black pepper and salt.
  4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high on the stovetop. Add two tablespoons of olive oil when the pan is hot and brown the brisket on both sides, roughly 4-5 minutes on each side.
  5. While browning, pour the canned tomatoes, garlic, brown sugar, vinegar, and 1 and ½ cups of beef broth into a blender or food processor, adding salt and pepper. Pulse until the garlic is chopped small and the ingredients are emulsified.
  6. Remove browned brisket from the skillet, setting it aside.
  7. Add two more tablespoons of olive oil and sliced onions in the same pan you browned the skillet. Saute over medium-high heat until they soften, shrink and turn translucent.
  8. Add the carrot and celery slices, and saute for another 5 or 6 minutes until the onions begin browning.
  9. Remove the vegetables, set aside, and reserve. Add ½ cup of beef broth to the skillet and heat it, using a wooden spoon to gently scrape up any brown bits and pan juices. Turn off the heat.
  10. Pour half of the tomato mixture from the blender or food processor into a large roasting pan.
  11. Place the brisket in the pan, fattier side up.
  12. Pour the sauteed vegetables across the top of the brisket, along with broth and brown bits from the skillet.
  13. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the top.
  14. Cover the roasting pan tightly with a layer of parchment paper, followed by tinfoil.
  15. Place the brisket into the oven and let it roast without disturbing for 5 to 7 hours, or 1 hour per pound of meat. The brisket is ready when you pierce it with a fork, and it tenderly flakes apart.
  16. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 20-30 minutes. Cut the fat cap from the brisket and cut it into thin slices.
  17. In a small pot, pour the sauce and roasted vegetable, skim any fat from the surface, then reheat until hot.
  18. Serve cut brisket with tomato sauce and veggies.

While these two dishes barely cover the excellent, traditional dishes you could try this Chanukah, they're two of the most iconic. Wondering what else you could try making? Consider:

  • Challah
  • Tzimmes
  • Matzo Ball Soup
  • Sweet Lokshem Kugel
  • Kosher Salmon Fillet
  • Sufganiyot

Whether you're looking for traditional or exciting alternatives to Chanukkah this season, Wholey's will be your top online food resource for fresh recipes, ingredients, and inspiring ideas delivered right to your door! Chag Urim Sameach!