Whether you’ve been celebrating your whole life or are new to Passover, the springtime Jewish holiday is ALL about tradition. There are some long-established menu items you must have at your Seder dinner table and are likely eating all week long (hi, hello matzo), but for everything else, it’s a real mix of what you or your family and loved ones are into. Our list of Passover dinner recipes includes both classics and innovative recipes so you can truly make the holiday your own.
The term “Passover” refers to the biblical stories of the 10 plagues sent by God to convince the Egyptian pharaoh to “let the Jewish people go” and the eventual exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt. The last of the 10 plagues was the killing of all firstborn Egyptian sons, during which God instructed the Jewish people to slaughter a lamb and mark their doorposts with its blood to instruct the Angel of Death to “pass over” them. After this last plague, the Pharaoh ordered the Jews to leave Egypt. As the story goes, they packed in such a hurry that they didn’t have enough time to even let their bread rise (if you’ve ever made homemade bread, you can imagine), and only were able to bring unleavened, cracker-like bread called matzo with them.
To celebrate this exodus, Jewish people today continue to remove chametz from their diets (and their homes, for some strict households) for the duration of Passover, as well as make sure all other ingredients they’re using are specified Kosher for Passover. Simply put, chametz is basically any leavened flour product like bread, cake, cookies, etc. Traditionally Jewish people also have avoided kitniyot, or legumes (like peanuts, peas, and beans), though recently modern families have begun reintroducing them into their Passover diets. In addition, they must continue to follow general Kosher rules (meat and dairy can’t be eaten in the same meal, though fish and eggs are considered neutral, or pareve; no pork products; etc.) Most families also traditionally make a seder plate full of items that help in the retelling of the Passover story before dinner.
We get it, this might all seem like a LOT. We’ll assume that if you’re keeping strictly kosher, you’ll be aware of Kosher products and the regulations you abide by, and will sub in or out of these recipes as needed. For everyone else, we hope these recipes will help broaden your perspective, and inspire you to try something new. We think the best part about appreciating a culture you’re not a part of is the opportunity to try something new, while also having the flexibility to (respectfully!) not be perfect about it.
No matter what, it’s a great time to avoid processed foods, and you’ll largely find only whole ingredients here. We’ve got options for a seder plate, like homemade charoset (and an egg salad to use up your hard-boiled eggs), as well as many noodle-less, low-carb “pasta” alternatives (hot tip: make your noodles out of eggs!). A brisket is classic, but we’ve included some other impressive roast meats, like chicken and lamb too. Side dishes—like our cranberry apple quinoa salad, our potato kugel, and chicken matzo ball soup—are also represented. End your meal with a creative twist on matzo, like in our matzo icebox cake or our chocolate matzo toffee (we’ve got coconut macaroons and a flourless chocolate coconut cake too if you’re SO over matzo by then 😜).
For more Passover inspiration, click here to see how Miayim Bialik gets ready for her (vegan) seder dinner, and here for more Slightly Kosher recipes. (PHOTO: ERIK BERNSTEIN; FOOD STYLING: ERIKA JOYCE)