Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, starts November 28, and if you haven't settled on how you're celebrating (or what you're serving), we've got your back. The Jewish celebration honors the Maccabean Revolt against their oppressors, which led to the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Legend has it that the temple’s menorah miraculously stayed lit for eight days, even though there was only a small amount of oil (come on, y’all remember the Rugrats episode). Today, people all over the world symbolically light their own menorahs for eight nights, plus exchange gifts and share some seriously delicious meals. With that in mind, here's our guide to the best Hanukkah food to make this year, whether you’re hosting or a guest.

RELATED: How to Make Latkes for Hanukkah (or Whenever a Craving Strikes)

What Are Traditional Hanukkah Foods?

Here are a few of the essentials:

  1. Matzo Ball Soup: It’s traditionally eaten at Passover, but some families serve it for many Jewish holidays. Matzo balls, made of matzo meal, eggs and some kind of fat (like schmaltz), are a serious upgrade from crumbled saltines, no?
  2. Latkes/Levivot: Bless these crispy, addictive potato pancakes. Latkes and levivot are essentially the same—the main difference is that the former is a Yiddish word, while the latter is Hebrew.
  3. Brisket: No, not what you buy at your favorite barbecue spot. Jewish brisket is equally as tender but usually braised in the oven like a stew instead of smoked, often with potatoes and carrots.
  4. Kugel: It’s basically a noodle casserole made with egg, cottage cheese and sugar.
  5. Sufganiyot: Aka jelly doughnuts. While doughnuts were traditional holiday fare by the 12th century (foods fried in oil are an homage to the Hanukkah miracle), Polish Jews started filling them with jelly in the 16th century once sugar became cheap.
  6. Challah: This old-school braided egg bread can do a lot more than top-notch French toast. No Hanukkah spread is complete without it.

Here are our 30 favorite recipes to bookmark for Hanukkah 2021, traditional and modern alike.

1. The Crispiest Potato Latkes Ever

The key to making drool-worthy potato pancakes? Removing all the excess moisture from the veggies so they’re super dry when they hit the oil.

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2. Noodle Kugel

Our favorite thing about this casserole dish? You can bake it up to two days in advance. Just pop it in the oven for a few minutes to reheat and it’s ready to devour.

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3. Honey Challah

It shows off your baking chops big time—and doesn’t require one second of kneading.

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4. Jewish Brisket

Unlike Southern brisket, which is typically slow cooked over indirect heat, this one is a lot like pot roast. It braises in a savory mix of broth, crushed tomatoes and red wine.

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5. Matzo Ball Soup with Chicken Meatballs

Sure, the noodles are tender and the meatballs are beyond juicy. But the real star here is the homemade chicken broth.

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6. Homemade Cinnamon Applesauce

Because latkes get lonely without sides of sour cream and applesauce.

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7. Not-Quite-Homemade Jelly Doughnuts

This sufganiyot has a delicious time-saving secret: canned biscuit dough. Keep it classic with strawberry or raspberry jelly.

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8. Israeli Salad

Four veggies + five pantry staples = one pretty, refreshing (and unforgettable) side.

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9. Brussels Sprouts Latkes

Swap spuds for the most versatile fall veggie out there. Never shredded Brussels sprouts before? It’s super easy (even without a food processor).

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10. Oven-Baked Beef Brisket

This five-pound beauty cooks in the oven, but also boasts a flavorful dry rub, sort of like a hybrid between Jewish and Texan brisket.

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11. Grilled Halloumi

If your family doesn’t mix meat and dairy, skip this side. But if your family does, this side is salty, tangy and ridiculously simple to make.

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12. Rugelach

This recipe calls for brown sugar-walnut filling spiked with cinnamon, but you can also use raspberry jam and almonds or even chocolate-hazelnut spread instead.

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13. Harissa Sweet Potato Latkes with Spiced Yogurt, Mint and Pomegranate

These ain’t your Bubbe’s potato pancakes. They’re topped with a zesty yogurt sauce that's spruced up with lemon, garlic and cumin.

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14. French Onion Brisket

Your favorite cozy soup is itching to be reborn. Trust us: The purists at your table won’t miss the tomatoes.

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15. Chocolate Banana Bread Babka

If you think all babkas are dry, this recipe will prove you wrong. Bananas in the batter and streusel keep it super moist.

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16. Hamantashen Pie

You might see these triangular cookies in stores during Purim, a holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from a Persian Empire official. They're often bursting with apricot jam, chocolate spread or raspberry jam, but feel free to use whatever fruit filling you'd like.

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17. Herbed Cheddar Latkes

Shredded potato patties fried in oil aren’t mouthwatering enough, you say? Cheese can fix that.

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18. Beef Brisket with Wild Mushrooms

Dried porcinis and a pound of wild mushrooms pack a serious punch of umami.

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19. Spiced Apple Challah with a Pretzel Crust

Sure, it's so gorgeous that it looks like you ordered it from a fancy kosher bakery. But we're most impressed by the ingenious two-ingredient apple juice glaze.

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20. Charoset

Charoset, a side made from fruit, nuts and red wine, represents the mortar enslaved Jewish people used to build pyramids and other structures. It's usually served at Passover, but its flavors still pair well with Hanukkah mains.

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21. Noodle Kugel

This sweet custard dish's crowning glory? A layer of buttery, cinnamon-sugar cornflakes (aka the kids' table's favorite part).

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22. Mom’s Tzimmes

Tzimmes is an Ashkenazi stew made with carrots and dried fruits that's usually served at Rosh Hashanah. This version also throws canned pineapple, apples and sweet potatoes in the mix.

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23. Mixed Lettuce Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Complete with endive and radicchio. Serve the Parmesan curls on the side in case some of your guests don't eat meat and dairy together.

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24. Matzo Ball Soup

You're less than two hours away from this Hanukkah classic. Use shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken to save even more time.

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25. Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Only 15 minutes of prep and this brisket alternative is ready to pop in the Crockpot until fork tender. Be sure to reserve all the juices for better reheating.

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26. Matzo Brei (Fried Matzo)

This common Passover breakfast tastes just as satisfying in the winter. Think of it like a buttery matzo scramble.

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27. Superfood Chocolate Mendiants

In our book, these are like really, really fancy chocolate gelt. Hailing from France, a mendiant is a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruit.

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28. Chocolate-Covered Caramel Matzo

Picture crisp matzo buried in layers of toffee-like caramel and chocolate, then topped with flaky salt and peanuts. Sounds like a Hanukkah miracle to us.

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29. Apple Cinnamon Cake

Apple cake is commonly served during Rosh Hashanah, since apples and honey symbolize hope during the Jewish New Year. Choose a tart type of apple to bake with, like Granny Smiths.

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30. Peanut Butter and Jelly Donuts

We have a feeling the kids at your table will be all about this nutty twist on sufganiyot.

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RELATED: 16 Old-School Recipes Your Jewish Grandma Used to Make

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