Whether you grew up with Hanukkah or it’s your first time celebrating this Jewish holiday, you must know that food plays an integral role (as it does in many Jewish holidays). Lighting the menorah and reciting the blessings takes precedence, but afterward, it’s time to eat.

To ensure everyone can participate in the edible festivities, we’ve adapted traditional Hanukkah recipes to suit the vegan lifestyle, from the crispy latkes to the sweet sufganiyot we grew up with.

What is Hanukkah?

As the popular song goes, Hanukkah is the festival of lights … but actually, it’s the Festival of Rededication. Hanukkah is an eight-day celebration of the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after it was destroyed by Syrian Greeks in 164BCE. It is arguably the most well-known Jewish holiday, though it is of lower importance than Passover (the Israelites’ exile from slavery), Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), or Yom Kippur (day of atonement).


The holiday is celebrated for eight days, a reference to a celebration that was held following the rededication of the Temple by the military leader Judah the Maccabe, who led the first phase of the Jews of Judea’s revolt against the oppression of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire. According to the holiday’s history, this celebration lasts for eight days because the small amount of oil left to light the Temple’s menorah miraculously lasted for eight days and nights. Thus, Hanukkah is celebrated by eating oily foods and lighting candles each night.

What do people eat for Hanukkah?

The most common and well-known food of this holiday is latkes, or potato pancakes, served with sour cream and/or applesauce. Less known but still popular are sufganiyot, which are jelly doughnuts served with powdered sugar.

Many celebratory Jewish foods are also enjoyed on Hanukkah. Noodle or potato kugel, a meat-based centerpiece such as brisket or roasted chicken, roasted vegetables such as green beans or winter squash, barley or other grains, challah, gelt (chocolate coins), and matzo ball soup are all commonly found at Hanukkah celebrations.

How to eat vegan during Hanukkah: Our 10 favorite foods 

Most of the common Hanukkah foods are easy to make vegan, latkes included. Use your favorite egg replacer to make your family’s latke recipe vegan (JUST Egg works well here), and buy some vegan sour cream (or make your own using cashews or tofu) for serving.

Some foods, like brisket, are a little less intuitive when it comes to a vegan alternative. It is possible, you just need the right recipe. From sweet to savory and appetizers to desserts, here are our favorite vegan versions of classic Jewish dishes to enjoy during any Hanukkah celebration.

VegNews.Latkes.HannahKaminskyHannah Kaminsky

1 Latkes

Fried potatoes come in many forms, but latkes are a favorite during this time of year. These savory potato pancakes are made with shredded russet potatoes held together with a binder (such as flax eggs or flour). Latkes are traditionally fried in oil to celebrate the little oil left to light the Temple’s menorah lasting eight days instead of one. This celebratory food is traditionally served with sour cream (find vegan options here!) and/or applesauce.

VegNews.KugelHolly V. Gray

2 Kugel

Noodle kugel is a casserole dish that has both sweet and savory iterations. Like a casserole, it’s extremely versatile, super satiating, and feeds a crowd. Kugel is a staple among several Jewish holidays, and for Hanukkah, we recommend making one for dinner and one for dessert. You’ve got eight days of eating to fill!
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VegNews.ChocolateBabkaBrittany Berlin

3 Babka

In contrast to the pillowy softness of sufganiyot, babka is decadently dense. It’s a heavy, enriched dough swirled with sweet (or savory) filling. While it may appear complex, the intricate design is easier to accomplish than it looks. Give it a try, and don’t be surprised when you feel a rush of pride as you pull your first babka out of the oven.

VegNews.MarzipanChallahKirsten Kaminski

4 Challah

Challah may be our favorite Jewish bread (it’s a toss-up between that and bagels). It’s slightly sweet, a little dense, and extremely addictive. You’re going to need to make multiple loaves (like, four) to get through the full eight days of Hanukkah.


5 French Toast

As challenging as it may be, you’re going to want to save some freshly baked challah for breakfast the next morning. Its thick, rich texture is the ideal vessel for French toast. The result is golden brown and crispy on the outside with a melt-in-your-mouth pillowy texture on the inside. Serve with plenty of real maple syrup and a dusting of powdered sugar.

VegNews.SufganyiotMayim Bialik

6 Sufganiyots

Jelly doughnuts can be polarizing, but sufganiyot seems to be universally loved. A Sephardic tradition, this yeasted sweet bread is stuffed with fruit jelly and dusted generously with powdered sugar. It can also double as both a breakfast and dessert (and a snack, if you still haven’t had your sufganiyot fix). If you’re looking for a super quick recipe that doesn’t involve working with homemade yeasted dough, try these quick vegan sufganiyot. Check out the recipe linked below for a more authentic version.
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VegNews.MatzosoupZardy Plants

7 Matzo ball soup

No offense to your Bubbe, but we believe a vegan version of matzo ball soup is even better than her decades-old recipe. This warming meal is made with matzo-based dumplings floating in a clear, flavorful vegetable broth (the non-vegan version is typically made with chicken). We’ll take this comfort food over chicken soup any day.
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VegNews.BrisketWicked Healthy

8 Beefless Brisket

Tender and delicious, a slow-roasted vegan brisket on Hanukkah is the perfect main that’s packed with protein. The meaty texture and chew is mimicked with homemade seitan (a seasoned mixture of vital wheat gluten). It’s a stick-to-your-ribs kind of entrée that’s ideal for harsh winter nights.
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VegNews.schnitzelTori Avey

9 Schnitzel

Schnitzel literally means slice in German. It’s traditionally made with thin slices of meat that are breaded and deep-fried. The vegan version gets creative by supplementing the meat with seitan, eggplant, or portabello mushrooms. Serve with vegan mushroom gravy or sliced preserved lemon.
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VegNews.applecaleZardy Plants

10 Hanukkah apple cake

What holiday is complete without cake? This showstopper comes together with warming cinnamon, fresh apples, and coconut sugar which provides a pleasant caramel note without tasting overly sweet. Serve with coffee, tea, or a generous scoop of vegan ice cream.
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For more vegan Hanukkah ideas, read:
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