20 Old-School Recipes Your Jewish Grandma Used to Make

Whether or not you actually have a Jewish grandma, we’re willing to bet that you’ve probably been fed by one at some point, considering it’s practically inscribed in the Torah as a grandmotherly duty. Whether you’re craving something traditional for Hanukkah, seeking a modernized twist on an O.G. dish or are simply in need of a little extra comfort, turn to one of these 20 old-school Jewish recipes. We may not make them *exactly* like Bubbe did, but we think she’d be proud anyway.

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1. Potato Latkes

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients, kid-friendly, special occasion-worthy

OK, so Jews don’t get Christmas. But we do get eight nights of crispy, fried potato pancakes. It just might be an even trade-off.

2. Matzo Ball Soup with Chicken Meatballs

  • Time Commitment: 5 hours and 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, kid-friendly, special occasion-worthy

The next time we catch a cold, we’re calling Coterie member Heidi Larsen. (Did we mention her homemade chicken broth was inspired by a recipe by our queen, Ina Garten?)

3. Honey Challah

  • Time Commitment: 6 hours
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead, <10 ingredients, kid-friendly

Before you tell us you don’t have time to make homemade bread, hear us out. This dough comes together easily in an electric mixer, no kneading required.

4. Jewish Brisket

  • Time Commitment: 3 hours and 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, high protein

Unlike Southern-style barbecue brisket, Jewish brisket is typically braised in the oven instead of smoked, alongside potatoes, crushed tomatoes and carrots.

5. Hamantaschen

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy

The triangular cookies are commonly eaten during Purim, a holiday that commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from a Persian Empire official. They're usually filled with apricot or raspberry jams or chocolate spread, but feel free to branch out.

6. Red Shakshuka with Tomato Sauce

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: one pan, beginner-friendly, vegetarian

Shakshuka (aka eggs baked in a savory tomato sauce) has become a hip brunch favorite. But before that, it was a classic Israeli dish. Don’t forget plenty of toasted pita for dipping.

7. Charoset

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, <30 minutes, <10 ingredients

A side dish starring fruit, nuts and red wine, charoset is symbolic of the mortar enslaved Jewish people used to build pyramids and other structures in ancient times. While it's usually served at Passover, it's easy enough to prepare whenever.

8. Chocolate Banana Bread Babka

  • Time Commitment: 2 hours and 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, kid-friendly, crowd-pleaser

Is it bread? Is it cake? We don’t exactly know, and TBH, we don’t really care. This new-school twist is yeasty, sweet and swirled with chocolate and banana; in other words, we love it.

9. Coffee Cake Kugel

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy, kid-friendly

We're all for standard Jewish noodle kugel, whether it leans sweet or savory. But this version—topped with cinnamony, buttery oat crumble—really won us over.

10. French Onion Brisket

  • Time Commitment: 4 hours and 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy

This recipe includes five—yes, five—sliced yellow onions to give the brisket a beautiful golden color and soup-inspired, caramelized sweetness. It’s so tender that you won’t even need a knife to cut it.

11. Gluten-Free Rugelach with Cranberry Jam and Chocolate

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, gluten free, crowd-pleaser

The sweet-tart combination of cranberries and chocolate makes this twist on a traditional dessert feel totally modern and sophisticated.

12. Smoked Salmon Dip with Everything Bagel Chips

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser, no cook

OK, this isn’t exactly how Grandma used to make it. But it’s a super fun update to an iconic Jewish breakfast combo: bagels and lox. It's just the centerpiece for weekend brunch.

13. Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly, crowd-pleaser, special occasion-worthy

There’s nothing like a succulent roast chicken for a Shabbat dinner or holiday meal. We season the chicken with lemon, thyme, rosemary and butter, and the result is tender, juicy meat with crispy, golden skin.

14. Falafel Patties

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegetarian, make ahead, beginner-friendly

We’re pretty sure there should be a falafel sandwich on the Israeli flag. With the help of a food processor or blender, the chickpea mixture is actually a breeze to prepare.

15. Mushroom Barley Soup

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour and 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: vegan, make ahead, crowd-pleaser

Our bellies are warm just thinking about this hearty soup, from Coterie member Maria Lichty. Save time before dinner by simmering the barley until soft the night before.

16. Whole Roasted Carrots

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, vegan, beginner-friendly

A great alternative to tzimmes, a traditional Ashkenazi stew typically made from carrots, additional root vegetables and dried fruit. This goes perfectly next to roast chicken at the Shabbat table.

17. Buckwheat Cheese Blintzes

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, beginner-friendly, kid-friendly

We’d never turn down thin crepes stuffed with cheese and fried in butter. Bonus: This version is totally gluten-free, thanks to a blend of buckwheat, sweet rice and oat flours.

18. Reuben Sandwich

  • Time Commitment: 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, beginner-friendly, high protein

From the marble rye to the creamy Russian dressing, this deli staple never gets old. This recipe uses corned beef instead of pastrami for a thicker texture. (We’ll take ours with extra pickles, please.)

19. Coconut Macaroons

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: kid-friendly, make ahead, crowd-pleaser

Not to be confused with fancy French macarons, coconut macaroons are a classic Passover-friendly treat, since they're made without wheat flour. The chocolate dip is optional...but why deprive yourself?

20. Old-Fashioned Egg Cream

  • Time Commitment: 5 minutes
  • Why We Love It: no cook, <10 ingredients, <30 minutes, beginner-friendly

Fun fact: There’s no egg or cream in this classic fountain soda (which came about in the Jewish immigrant communities of the Lower East Side and Brooklyn in the early 20th century)—just milk, seltzer and chocolate syrup.

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Taryn Pire is PureWow’s associate food editor. A former bartender and barista, she’s been writing about all things delicious since 2016, developing recipes, reviewing restaurants and investigating food trends at Food52, New Jersey Family Magazine and Taste Talks. When she isn’t testing TikTok’s latest viral recipe, she’s having popcorn for dinner and posting about it on Instagram @cookingwithpire.