You already know you’re making potato latkes for at least one Hanukkah meal. But what about the other seven nights? You could go for the usual brisket, schnitzels, or roast chicken. But how about trying something different? Here are seven more Hanukkah main dish recipes! Whether you’re cooking for a crowd or only feeding two, these recipes won’t only satisfy — they’ll stir up some Yiddish nostalgia. Bubbie will be proud.
Jewish Christmas Chinese fried rice
The Jewish tradition of eating Chinese food on Christmas Day started in the early 1900s, when both Jewish and Chinese immigrants found themselves living in the Lower East Side of New York City. The only places open on Sundays and Christmas were Chinese restaurants. So a combination of location and shared lack-of-holiday created this well-known “Jewish Christmas” tradition.
But who says Jews can only enjoy Chinese food on Christmas? And who says it has to be takeout? Jewish Food Hero offers this super easy (and vegan) “Jewish Christmas” Chinese fried rice recipe.
The base is three cups of cooked jasmine rice, which you can prepare fresh for this recipe or use rice leftovers. Season the rice with soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, salt, and pepper, and then set it aside.
Once your rice is ready, dice up your veggies and place them in a prep bowl. Jewish Food Hero recommends green beans and carrots diced extra small, but you could also consider celery, onion or scallions, peas, red peppers, or snow peas.
Next, dice tofu into small cubes, or if you want to give your dish a slightly Israeli twist, replace the block of tofu with one-and-a-half cups of chickpeas.
With your seasoned rice in one bowl, protein in another, and your diced veggies in yet another, you’re ready to start stir-frying! Using vegetable broth or water instead of oil reduces calories in this recipe. Once your skillet is hot, sprinkle a couple teaspoons of broth onto your pan and brown the tofu. Remove the tofu, add a couple more teaspoons of broth, and throw in your rice and veggies. Stir-fry for about five minutes, then add back in the tofu and cook for an additional two minutes. Garnish with cilantro.
Braised beef with semolina dumplings
This braised beef with semolina dumplings recipe from The Kitchn will please and satisfy. It’s perfect for cold winter nights by the flickering Hanukkah lights. The recipe is also versatile: With a few adjustments, you can make this meaty stew vegan by substituting potatoes or winter squash for the beef. You can also adjust the stew vegetables to match what’s in season or what you’ve got on hand in your refrigerator or freezer.
Part of the inspiration for this stew is the Sephardi dish kubbeh. Kubbeh are meat-filled dumplings, usually found in soup but also sometimes fried and served as an appetizer or side dish. This stew gives you the dumplings and the meat, without the hassle of making meat-filled dumplings.
Preparation for this pot of comfort food is involved and long, but don’t despair! You can split up the work between two days or even completely cook the dish the day before and reheat for a dinner party the next evening.
Step one is to season and brown the beef cubes, working in batches to avoid overcrowding in the pot, removing the completed batches onto a plate. Next, with reserved fat left from browning the beef, you’ll sauté diced onion, carrot, celery, and cilantro. Once soft, add garlic, and let that cook for a minute. Then, add grated sun-dried tomato and a cup of beef stock. Bring the stock to a boil and cook for approximately five minutes. Return your beef cubes to the stew, reduce the heat, and simmer for one to two hours. When the beef is tender, add carrots and beans (or cauliflower) and simmer for another hour.
While the stew is simmering, you can prepare the kubbeh-inspired dumpling dough. Start by sautéing half an onion and a half of a bunch of cilantro or Italian parsley. In a separate bowl, mix together semolina flour, salt, freshly ground pepper, and paprika. (Hint: Don’t have semolina flour in your pantry? Substitute plain Cream of Wheat!) Stir in your onion mixture, a little oil, and water. Then put the mix into your refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
To make the dumplings, with well-oiled hands, form the dough into small one-inch diameter balls. Drop them into the stew and cook for about 30 minutes.
You can prepare everything but the dumplings the night before and finish the stew on the day you plan to serve it, or you can fully prepare the recipe — dumplings included — and reheat the next day.
Matzo ball soup
Matzo ball soup is an iconic Jewish dish. Matzo balls are a kind of dumpling made with matzo meal, which is simply ground up matzot. While matzo ball soup is frequently a starter at the Passover seder, this hot bowl of comfort can be the main meal any time of year. My kids would live on matzo ball soup, if I let them.
Start by sauteing garlic, onion, carrot, celery, and carrots in a large pot. (The wider the pot, the more room for your matzo balls to grow — so go big!) Once your veggies are soft, after approximately five minutes of light sauteing, you’ll add your liquids.
In this Budget Bytes recipe, to cut down on time and cost, they recommend using six cups of chicken broth as your base and then adding two cups of water and just one chicken breast. Boneless chicken breast will be easier to shred after cooking, but in-bone breast will give your soup more flavor. Either can work. Let your soup simmer until the chicken starts to fall apart, or for about 30 minutes.
While your soup simmers, get your matzo ball batter ready. The recipe recommends mixing the eggs and oil together, and then adding in the matzo meal and spices, and then water. In my experience, I like combining all the liquid ingredients first—egg, oil, and water—and then adding the salt and pepper to the liquid mix before adding the matzo meal. Once combined, place your mix in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Back to your soup: You’ll want to pull out the chicken breast and carefully shred it. Drop the shredded chicken back into the soup. Get the matzo ball mix from the refrigerator, and with damp hands, form ping-pong-sized balls. Drop them into the soup, put a lid over your pot, and allow everything to simmer for about 20 minutes.
When the matzo balls are cooked through, serve! Garnish with a sprig of dill.
This recipe suggests cooking your matzo balls in the same pot as your chicken soup, which is the most traditional way to cook matzo ball soup. However, if you have room on your stovetop, cooking your Jewish dumplings separately has advantages.
For one, if someone has gluten sensitivities, you can still have chicken soup for those who can’t eat matzo balls. You can also gain more room in the broth for veggies.
Second, cooking your matzo balls in your chicken soup can give the broth a cloudy, “starchy” look. Your soup will appear a purer golden if you make the matzo balls separately. This also gives your matzo balls more room to expand as they cook, when they don’t have to compete with chicken or veggies floating in the broth.
If you decide to cook your matzo balls in their own pot, don’t fail to season the water! At the very least, add salt. But even better, use chicken bouillon. Your matzo balls absorb flavor from the liquid they cook in, and they will be much tastier.
Want more Hanukkah main dish recipes? Check these out!