28 Delicious Recipes for Your Passover Seder Menu
No question, tonight will be different from all other nights. Whether this year’s Seder meal is a smaller or even a virtual gathering, classic and modern Passover Seder recipes can bring everyone together around the table.
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With lively storytelling, a required four glasses of red wine, and a 15-step ritual, a Passover Seder typically requires endurance — and often involves the whole extended family. Shelter-in-place restrictions mean that this year’s celebration will require creativity, flexibility, and possibly Zoom conferencing. And while passing on traditions is a beautiful thing, it's also wonderful to create new ones.
To that end, here are 28 Passover dishes to enjoy at your Seder table, whatever form it takes — including some bonus treats to finish off the fête. And if you've not had the good fortune to attend a Seder before, we include a brief look at the story behind the dishes.
The traditional Passover Seder plate
The Passover Seder is rooted in storytelling and symbolism. The event features a retelling of the Jewish exodus from Egypt with the purpose of passing down the story to the younger generations. The story is accompanied by a Seder plate containing six symbolic Passover foods: bitter greens (maror and chazeret); a mixture of fruit, nuts, wine, and spices (charoset); parsley or celery with salt water (karpas); lamb shanks (zeroah); and a shell-on roasted hard-boiled egg (beitzah). Three pieces of matzoh and a ceremonial glass of wine for the prophet Elijah are also laid out for the ritual. Seder is the Hebrew word for "order," and each of these items is eaten during a specific part of the story.
The story of Passover begins with the bitterness of slavery that the Hebrew people experienced in Egypt. This is expressed during Passover dinner with a small portion of white horseradish sauce, made fresh from the root — which doesn't look very promising, but yields pungent and delicious results.
To add color and soften the intensity of straight horseradish for younger palates, pulse fresh horseradish root with cubed beets and apple cider vinegar in a food processor. Be careful not to hover too close to the container when it's done, or you could blast yourself with the horseradish fumes: Wait a minute and try not to breathe directly over the bowl.
Bitter greens (chazeret)
To further illustrate the harshness of the story, chazeret is an additional bitter green (sometimes called a bitter herb) to eat. Traditionally, it can be a simple leaf of romaine lettuce. In this recipe for shredded romaine salad, scallions and lemon temper bitterness, while dill gives it a fresh aroma.
There are many other bitter greens you can feature in your meal for a change: endive, dandelion, or escarole (for a zero-waste option, try substituting turnip or radish tops in the last recipe).
Fruit and nut paste (charoset)
Charoset (or haroset) represents the mortar and adobe bricks Israelites used to build Egyptian pyramids. It’s a sweet paste of fresh or dried fruits with nuts. Change up the variety of apples for a new spin. Try a combination of sweet Gala and tart Granny Smith.
Depending on which Jewish tradition you practice, the mixture can vary. The Ashkenazi use apples, walnuts, cinnamon and a small amount of wine. Sephardi use dates, as in this Whole Orange Sephardic Charoset, while Yemenites may add sesame seeds and spices like ginger and coriander.
Vegetables with salt water (karpas)
Karpas is a vegetable to contrast the previous horseradish and bitter greens. On the Seder plate, it’s usually plain celery, parsley, or potato dipped in salt water to exemplify hope and renewal. To bring all of these ideas together, try serving a celery and parsley salad. It’s refreshing and salty with the addition of Parmesan cheese, though for a kosher meal, omit the cheese if you'll also be serving meat.
If you want more heft with your meal, boil potatoes in briny water and drain. Then toss them with olive oil and parsley.
Chicken wings or lamb shank (zeroah)
A chicken wing or lamb shank bone is the zeroah or visual representation of the sacrificial lamb. Since the temple was destroyed, many believe that they should not eat lamb for this part of the Seder. These Crispy Baked Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings are made with just 5 ingredients and can be baked in a single sheet tray in the oven.
If your family does eat lamb, may we suggest these garlic lamb chops? They’re small enough for little ones to grab and the cooking time is lightning fast. Just swap out the butter for margarine or olive oil to keep it kosher. Vegetarians at the table can feast on gorgeous Hasselback sweet potatoes; again, with a sub for the butter if you’re keeping kosher.
Hard-boiled egg (beitzah)
Make a dozen hard-boiled eggs quickly using a pressure cooker for the beitzah, a roasted hard-boiled egg. Eggs represent the circle of life and they are “roasted” still in the shell on the stovetop — harkening back to festival sacrifices. Don’t forget to shock the eggs in ice water to avoid the sulfuric green ring around the yolk.
If you’re spending more time at home, this may be your year to try making matzoh from scratch. Skip the resting step in this Homemade Matzoh: It needs to be made within 18 minutes, from start to finish, to be considered unleavened and kosher for Passover. Any longer triggers fermentation, which may cause bubbles and leavening (rising!).
Once you’ve made your own matzoh (or if you have a package of it), there are so many ways to enjoy it outside of its ceremonial place in the Seder. Break up pieces for matzo brei, a cross between French toast and a scramble. Grind up the matzoh into meal for your own matzo ball soup. A friend of mind recommends using seltzer and a dash of cayenne pepper instead of boiling water to make the matzo balls in this chicken soup airy and flavorful.
For those fond of sweets, whip up ice cream cake or honey brittle to follow a meatless meal.
Add flair to your store-bought gefilte fish by baking it with herbs, spices, and vegetables, then chilling it for the flavors to meld.
If you have extra hands to help in the kitchen, go for gefilte fish from scratch.
Brisket doesn’t require many ingredients, and it’s rich in collagen, which makes it great for long cooking times in a braise. Simply prepared Oven-Braised Beef Brisket cooks low and slow with flavorful vegetables and herbs. Add a homemade pan gravy, and this tender beef will be the star of your Passover meal.
Springtime is perfect for dusting off the smoker, if you have one, another way to cook the meat slowly to tenderness. If you’d rather stick to the oven, this three-ingredient Passover Brisket uses French onion soup mix for extra umami (just be sure to find a mix marked as kosher for Passover). Melt In Your Mouth Slow Cooker Beef Brisket cooks on low heat for 8 to 16 hours while you’re busy doing other things.
Chocolate Passover desserts
Here’s a miracle for you, a flourless Fallen Chocolate Soufflé Cake with a lusciously runny center and crackly top. The egg whites are whipped to firm peaks to give the cake height and the illusion of rising like a soufflé. I don’t attempt to cut it into slices, but instead serve it with spoons. While gluten-free, the recipe does contain dairy. To stay kosher replace the butter with margarine if you’re having meat with dinner, or try the dairy-free cake below.
More Passover recipes