Our Favorite Hanukkah Recipes

Hilary Walentuk, MS, RD, LDN| View Author Bio

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the victory of the Maccabees and the miracle of the menorah staying lit for eight days and nights. Hanukkah traditions include lighting the menorah, playing dreidel with family and friends, and eating foods fried in oil. Traditional Hanukkah dishes include latkes (fried potato pancakes) and sufganiyot (jelly donuts). While it is customary to eat foods that are fried in oil, dairy, specifically cheese, is another common component of Hanukkah dishes. According to My Jewish Learning, the tradition is based on a story filled with salty cheese, wine, and victory.

Below are some of our favorite Hanukkah dishes that are perfect for your Festival of Lights gathering and celebrate the enjoyment and nutrition of dairy.

Cheesy Potato Latkes

On Hanukkah, it is tradition to eat foods that are fried in oil and/or made with cheese. Cheesy potato latkes are the best of both worlds! These Sharp Cheddar Latkes with Horseradish Sour Cream are not only a delicious dish to celebrate the holiday, but also get a boost of nutrition from the addition of cheese. One serving of cheese contains many of the essential nutrients your body needs, including calcium, protein, phosphorus, vitamin B12, niacin, riboflavin, selenium, and iodine. Hard cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss, are also lactose-intolerant friendly. When cheese is made, the curd is separated from the whey (where most of the lactose is found). The minimal lactose left in the curd breaks down considerably as the cheese ages.

Classic Egg Cream

The classic egg cream originated among Yiddish-speaking Eastern European Jewish immigrants in New York City and is a nostalgic mainstay at old-school delis and ice cream shops. An egg cream is just three ingredients: milk, chocolate syrup, and seltzer. It is basically bubbly chocolate milk. Simply Recipes Classic Egg Cream strongly recommends using whole milk, which stands up to the seltzer bubbles. Whole milk, like all dairy milk, provides thirteen essential nutrients, including 8g of high-quality protein. The nutrients in milk help to build and maintain healthy bones, maintain a healthy immune system, support heart health, and more. While the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends choosing low-fat or fat-free dairy foods, emerging evidence suggests that full fat dairy foods can fit within healthy eating patterns. Whole milk is a great choice for people looking for a creamier milk to fit into their balanced diet.

Noodle Kugel

Noodle Kugel is a classic Jewish dish that is perfect for your potluck Hanukkah party. Kugel is a baked casserole with a starch (typically noodles or potato), eggs, and a fat. Many kugel recipes incorporate eggs, milk and cheese to create a custard-like dish. A Family’s Feasts Noodle Kugel combines cream cheese, evaporated milk, and whole milk to create a dairy-filled delicious dish. Utilizing evaporated milk creates an ultra-creamy texture; evaporated milk is regular cow’s milk that’s been thickened by evaporation, which removes about 60 percent of the water from the milk. Unlike sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk doesn’t contain sugar, but both are great to have on hand for cooking and baking.

Spiced Hot Chocolate

If you have leftover Hanukkah gelt, try making Spiced Hot Chocolate. This wintery drink combines leftover gelt with nutritious milk and spices to create a warm beverage perfect to enjoy while playing dreidel. Using milk to make hot chocolate is a great way for kids and adults to get an added boost of nutrition. Milk is the leading food source of three nutrients of public health concern (calcium, vitamin D and potassium) for children 2-18 years and the leading food source of calcium and vitamin D for all Americans over the age of 2.

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