Passover is a holiday about family, freedom and food. This charoset recipe is one of the great Passover traditions at our house. It's a family recipe that you'll find at our Passover seder year after year. And it's delicious! Once you try making it, you'll see that the simple ingredients and simple process will quickly become a family favorite at your home too!
What is charoset?
Charoset is a traditional food found on the seder plate during the Passover holiday. Passover is the holiday where the Jewish people celebrate their freedom after being slaves in Egypt.
The Hebrew word charoset means "clay" and the apple and nut mixture is used to symbolize the mortar (or clay) that the slaves in Egypt used to make bricks. It's also a sweet reminder of the freedom from that time. This recipe is a version of an Ashkenazi recipe (or Eastern European version) for charoset.
Charoset is typically placed on the seder plate as a symbolic food along with a roasted egg, bitter herb, horseradish, shank bone and lettuce. It's then eaten with matzo during one of the steps of the seder before the festive seder meal begins.
- Apples: Fuji or Gala apples work well, but you can really use almost any apple you like. The taste of the apple will impact the final flavor of the charoset, so make sure you don't use something too sweet or too tart.
- Walnuts: Look for chopped walnuts in the store. If you can only find whole or walnut halves, take the time to chop them up before adding them to the recipe.
- Sweet Red Wine: Manischewitz wine is the classic sweet red wine for Passover, but if you need to stay away from wine you can absolutely substitute for grape juice (try the Kedem brand)
- Cinnamon: Any ground cinnamon you like to use will work.
How to make charoset for Passover
There just a few steps in this easy recipe to make the charoset.
Start by dicing your apples. I like to do this quite imperfectly as the different shapes of the dice make the final dish more interesting. While I recommend dicing the apples by hand, they can be chopped in the food processor. Just be careful not to overprocess.
Then to the chopped apples add the chopped nuts and cinnamon. Toss this around until well combined.
To the apple mixture, add the sweet red wine and mix together well.
How to serve charoset for the seder
At the seder the charoset is used to make a sandwich with horseradish and matzo. It is traditionally placed on the seder table and on the seder plate with the rest of the symbolic foods of Passover.
However, this easy charoset recipe doesn't have to be just for the seder. Think of it as fresh salsa or fruit salad, and serve it as a side dish or a dip, with fun things to dip in it.
Other Serving suggestions
During Passover I would use matzo crackers or farfel muffins as the dippers. It's also great over gefilte fish and even along side a savory matzo brei.
Any other time of year, you could serve this along side crusty bread or use it as a topping for bruschetta. You could also use only sweet apples in the recipe and make it a filling for an apple strudel or other apple pastry.
Another fun way to serve it would be as an accompaniment on a charcuterie board or on a cheese board with dried fruit and breadsticks.
Although you can get creative with how you serve it, my favorite way to eat charoset during Passover is just on a piece of matzo, open face sandwich style. So good!
Make it in advance
While you can certainly eat the charoset right after you make it, the flavors meld better if you make it ahead of time. For the best flavor I like to make it a day in advance of when I'm going to serve it. And with the Passover dinner often being a big undertaking, it's an easy recipe to check off your list early.
What can you substitute for wine in charoset?
Yes, absolutely. You can make Passover charoset with grape juice instead of the traditional sweet red wine used in most recipes. Just be sure to use the classic purple grape juice (like Kedem) and not a white grape juice or sparkling grape.
What's the difference between Ashkenazi charoset and Sephardic charoset?
This recipe is for Ashkenazi charoset. It's looser and more of a salsa than a paste. It also doesn't lean on dried fruits as the base of the recipe.
Sephardic charoset ends up being more of a paste or a spread (and would likely be better mortar if we needed to build with it). It's typically made in a food processor and has dried fruits, dates and nuts.
Can you make nut free charoset?
Yes, of course! We have a good family friend (hi Linda), that does not like nuts in her charoset. So we just leave them out. The charoset will still taste delicious and have the same symbolic impact. If you want to substitute another ingredient for the nuts, you could add golden raisins or dates for a textural difference from the apples.
Best apples to use in charoset
I never use the same apple combination twice, however I do like to use a mix of sweet apples and tart apples. I look for a firm apple that will hold up to the nuts and not fall apart while mixed with the wine. Normally I have pink lady, gala, sweet tango, and honey crisp in the fridge and the mix of them works well. The two apples I stay away from using are the red delicious and the granny smith.
How long does leftover charoset last in the fridge
Stored in an airtight container, charoset will last up to a week in the fridge. I typically make a double or triple batch before the seders and the just take out what I'll need for each meal. Then we eat the leftovers during the rest of Passover (an 8 day holiday).
This Passover charoset is a basic recipe that you can really make your own. Once you have the method down, feel free to play with the types of apples you use, the flavor profile, and other ingredients you might like to add. The possibilities are endless!
Here are a few suggestions to change the recipe up:
- Instead of the sweet wine or grape juice, try using pomegranate juice or blackberry wine as the liquid
- Add in orange zest or lemon juice to give the dish a hint of acidity
- Try substituting the walnuts for another type of nut
- Add in raisins, dates, dried apricot, prunes or any other dried fruit you like
- Switch some of the apples in the recipe for pears for totally new take on a traditional food.
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Simple Passover Charoset Recipe
- 2 cups diced apples
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 TB cinnamon
- ⅔ cups sweet red wine I suggest Manischewitz
- Chop your apples into small pieces (a bit bigger than diced). They pieces do not need to be uniformly sized. Put them in a medium sized glass bowl.
- If your walnuts are not already chopped, chop them to about the same size as the apples.
- To the chopped apples in the bowl, add the chopped nuts and cinnamon. Toss this around until well combined.
- To the apple mixture, add the sweet red wine and mix together well.