Fresher, Lighter Hanukkah Favorites

To celebrate Hanukkah, we eat food fried in oil, especially traditional potato latkes and donuts. But there is no reason you can’t get creative and a little lighter with your Hanukkah foods.

Updated December 7, 2016

Amy Kritzer is a personal chef and recipe developer in Austin, TX, and is the founder of the modern Jewish cooking blog, What Jew Wanna Eat. She is also the author of the cookbook Sweet Noshings and the founder ModernTribe, an e-commerce site. In her spare time, she enjoys theme parties and finding the tastiest queso in town.Hanukkah is all about the fried food, and I’m certainly not complaining. When the Maccabees rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem after defeating the Syrian-Greeks, they only found enough oil to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously, it lasted eight full days. To celebrate Hanukkah, we eat food fried in oil, especially fried potatoes known as latkes and sufganiyot, or jelly donuts. But there is no reason you can’t get creative and a little lighter with your Hanukkah foods. You can still celebrate and not fall into a food coma after eight days of festivities!

Pear and Sweet Potato Latkes

Pear and Sweet Potato Latkes Recipe

Must-Have Latkes

Celebrating Hanukkah without latkes is like having Christmas without cookies — possible, but not nearly as delicious. Latkes are simply grated potatoes mixed with eggs, flour and seasonings, traditionally topped with sour cream and applesauce. I like to have a BYO-topping latke party with tons of the fried treat, and everyone brings a fun garnish like guacamole or queso. Try switching up traditional Russet potatoes for other veggies like in these Cabbage and Leek Griddle Cakes or Pear and Sweet Potato Latkes for new flavors. Or go crazy with tons of veggies in these Rainbow Latkes. Swap out the sour cream for Greek yogurt, or try a kicked up Ginger Applesauce. You can even bake instead of fry with the added benefit of your house not smelling like fried potatoes for a week. I’ve got tons of other latkes tips here to guarantee latke perfection.

Hearty Lentil Soup

Hearty Lentil Soup Recipe

Balance Out Latkes with Healthier Sides

If you insist on indulging in latkes (which you should!) balance it all out with some lighter dishes. It’s hardly Hanukkah without a classic brisket (or a not-so-classic latke and brisket sandwich), which pairs nicely with Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds. Or try a Hearty Lentil Soup that’s filling and seasonal. (Maybe even dip latkes in the soup?!) Cheese is also popular on Hanukkah (you don’t have to tell me twice). So pair latkes with a filling Red Quinoa and Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios, and Hanukkah dinner is done.

Jam-Filled Coconut Donuts

Jam-Filled Coconut Donuts Recipe

The Sweet Stuff

Don’t forget the sweet stuff! While latkes are popular in the U.S., jelly-filled donuts called sufganiyot are the go-to Hanukkah treat in Israel. People wait all year for them! But you can make a lighter version at home with these Jam-Filled Coconut Donuts. Rugelach cookies, although not fried, are popular for every Jewish holiday. (Because why not?) This version of Chocolate Rugelach is dairy free, lighter, but still filled with chocolate. Just how I like to celebrate.

Get planning! Our Hanukkah dinner menu features latke recipes and ideas for other delicious Hanukkah favorites. 

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