Passover Appetizers: Ideas for Your Celebration

Eric Ginsburg

The Passover seder gets all the attention — but what about the snacks and appetizers?!

I'm convinced that one of the best parts of being Jewish is the food. In that spirit, why not put some extra love into your Passover appetizers this year? Especially if you have a long seder ahead.

Every family celebrates Passover (AKA Pesach) differently, and even within my family, the celebration has evolved over the years. I remember as a kid feeling like the seder itself took foreverrrrrrr. 

You want me to sit still at this table, the place where we eat food, and look at the seder plate with food on it, but not eat?! You want me to listen to a story I already know, again, as we take turns reading from the Haggadah, but not eat? This feels a lot like school, I'm just saying.

Passover Appetizers Photo

That impatience eased a little with age. The time itself moved somewhat more quickly. And my parents didn't need squeaky toy frogs to keep my sister and me engaged with the retelling of the Pesach story. But let's be honest — some Passover appetizers really could've helped the situation, both then and now!

If you're Jewish, you've likely heard the shorthand summary of many of our holidays: "They tried to kill us. We survived. Let's eat." It applies to Passover, Purim, and Hanukkah, among others. And it describes the importance our community places on food. 

Everyone celebrates differently, of course, and how you partake is often determined by family tradition and your level of observance. I grew up attending a Reform synagogue, and have always been a little lax with things. We don't clear chametz out of the house. Until today, I didn't even know that first-born children like me sometimes fast on the eve of Passover.

Which is to say — take from the recipes below that work for you and leave what doesn't. But if you're looking to switch things up, try something new, and keep a food fanatic in your family (like me) happy during Passover, read on!

(A note: Just like Hanukkah, people spell "matzah" a lot of different ways to represent different pronounciations and transliterations from the Hebrew alphabet. Matzo, matzoh, matza, and matzah are interchangeable. "Matzo" is most common spelling, at least in the United States, and it's how most of our contributing authors for this piece spell it, so that's what I'm using here.)

Courtesy Matzo Nachos Photo

1. Matzo Nachos ("Machos") with Fruit Salsa

Crunchy and sweet, these delicious matzo nachos (or "machos," as creator Helen Goldrein calls them) pair with a fresh fruit salsa to make a terrific Passover appetizer, snack, or dessert. 

(Courtesy of Family Friends Food)

Courtesy Matzo Granola Photo

2. Matzo Granola with Chopped Nuts

Granola made with matzo is one of the best possible Passover appetizers because it's pretty universally loved and relies heavily on an ingredient that you probably have a surplus of already. And yet, it doesn't feel like eating yet another matzo dish. Granola works great as breakfast, snack, or a dessert topping, too!

(Courtesy of OMG! Yummy)

Courtesy Easy Charoset Photo

3. Easy Charoset with Raisins

Look, we know that charoset is a staple on the seder plate. But there's no reason it can't also be served as one of your Passover appetizers! It's the perfect snack, and to be honest, I could eat it all the time. Is it the best Pesach food? Maybe. This easy recipe is a sweet blend of fruits, nuts, and cinnamon as well as raisins and (of course) Manischewitz wine. Enjoy it solo or atop a piece of matzo!

(Courtesy of Belly Full)

Courtesy Cheesy Matzo Flatbread Photo

4. Cheesy Matzo Flatbread with Olives

If you love Mediterranean food, this cheesy flatbread on matzo is for you! Made with olives, red onions, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, and crumbled feta. Delight your guests or family with this distinctive spin on Pesach's iconic cracker.

(Courtesy of Babaganosh)

Courtesy Chocolate Chip Mandel Bread Photo

 

5. Chocolate Chip Mandel Bread

I am a firm believer that sweets can be snacks or appetizers. If you're not, don't invite me! (Not really... but maybe.) You've heard "Life is short, eat dessert first," right? Well, start here. Mandel bread is popular on Passover, but if you're observant about avoiding chametz, you make it with finely ground matzo — like this recipe uses! — instead of all-purpose flour. Creator Wendy Sondov swears that "everyone who has ever tried these cookies agrees that they really are the 'World's Best Passover Chocolate Chip Mandel Bread!'" so you should definitely give it a try!

(Courtesy of The Monday Box)

Courtesy Apple Matzo Kugel Photo

6. Apple Matzo Kugel with Apricots

Yes, kugel could be the main course. No, that doesn't mean it's an odd choice for your Passover appetizers spread! Why limit yourself? This kugel with a crisp topping is the perfect side dish, Pesach appetizer, or snack thanks to it's touch of sweet, tart, and crunch. Kugel is a Jewish classic, and this may become a family favorite for the holiday.

(Courtesy of OMG! Yummy)

Courtesy Matzo Toffee Photo

7. Chocolate Matzo Toffee with Pecans

Passover can be a lot of work. That's where this toffee recipe comes in, taking just 15 minutes and only a handful of ingredients! This is a great sweet and salty toffee that's crunchy, buttery, and delicious. Your Passover guests don't just want savory appetizers, so get the celebrations started with this popular treat.

(Courtesy of Belly Full)

More Passover Recipes

Courtesy Passover Salad with Herbed Horseradish Recipe Picture

Looking for more Passover ideas? We've got you covered. This Passover salad with herbed horseradish makes great use of your extra parsely, herbs, and horseradish from the holiday. It's one of two great recipes on Food Fanatic from author Micah Siva — the other is her iconic Passover kugel with potato and caramelized onion.

And no meal is complete without dessert, which is why we recommend these flourless tahini swirl brownies from Sonya Sanford.
 

P.S. If you're looking for more Jewish recipes to try in general, we thought of that, too.

Eric Ginsburg is the Editor of Food Fanatic. He's served as an editor at three newspapers and written for a wide range of publications, including Bon Appétit, Serious Eats, Wine Enthusiast, Southern Living, and Eater Carolinas. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Follow him on Instagram.

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Eric Ginsburg

About Eric

Eric Ginsburg is the Editor of Food Fanatic. He's served as an editor at three newspapers and written for a wide range of publications, including Bon Appétit, Serious Eats, Wine Enthusiast, Southern Living, and Eater Carolinas. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina. Follow him on Instagram.