Latkes are the most famous food for the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, but any fried food goes! This year, celebrate the holiday of lights with an international fried food fest.
Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BCE. Though they had just enough oil to light the menorah for one night, by some miracle it stayed lit for eight nights. To honor the holiday, a menorah is lit for eight nights and fried food, to commemorate the oil, is consumed. This year, look to Jewish communities around the world for fresh Hanukkah inspiration, or create your own traditions with your family’s favorite fried foods.
Tip: When frying any food, make sure the oil is very hot. This way the food absorbs less and is fried and crispy without being greasy.
If fried chicken only seems appropriate for summer picnics, think again! Italian Jews traditionally make pollo fritto for Hanukkah. Instead of a buttermilk marinade, which isn’t kosher (meat and milk cannot be mixed), brine the chicken or soak it in beer to get an equally juicy bird.
Get the recipe for crispy beer-battered fried chicken >>
Latkes may be the most famous Hanukkah food, but you can grate and fry plenty of vegetables. Turkish Jews often make leek patties for the occasion, sometimes mixing boiled, chopped leeks with ground beef. Try this recipe for fried zucchini patties, which are slightly more nutritious than traditional potato pancakes.
Get the recipe for fried zucchini >>
In Israel, fried, jelly-filled donuts are the most popular Hanukkah food. But making donuts at home can be a messy and time-consuming affair. Instead, try this quick and easy recipe, which uses store-bought biscuit dough as the base.
Get the recipe for quick fried donuts >>
In addition to pollo fritto, Italian Jews also celebrate Hanukkah with precipizi. These lightly sweetened dough balls are fried and dipped in honey that hardens to create a satisfying and sticky exterior. Get the recipe below!
Precipizi (Italian fried dough balls) recipe
Makes 20-24 dough balls
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1-3/4 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons rum or other clear spirit
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup honey
- Powdered sugar (optional)
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, flour, sugar, olive oil and rum. Knead until you get a smooth, soft dough.
- Shape into 20-24 small balls about the size of olives.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over high heat.
- Add the dough balls and fry until golden on all sides, working in batches if necessary (do not crowd the pan). Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate as they finish cooking.
- Carefully wipe the pan clean with a paper towel and add the honey.
- When the honey is hot, add the dough balls back into the pan and stir to coat.
- Pour onto a baking sheet and allow to cool. As they cool the honey will harden slightly.
- To serve, arrange however you’d like (they make a pretty tower) and top with powdered sugar, if desired.