How Are You Breaking Your Fast for Yom Kippur? We Asked 16 Jewish Cooks and Writers


“Yom Kippur break fast is one of the most delicious and satisfying meals of the Jewish calendar,” says Shannon Sarna, editor of Jewish food website The Nosher and author of Modern Jewish Comfort Food. “You have been fasting for 25 hours, you are tired, it’s nighttime, and all of a sudden you are shoveling bagels, lox, kugel, and mimosas into your face.”

Often considered the most important holiday in the Jewish faith, Yom Kippur is a solemn day marked by observers abstaining from myriad physical pleasures—most important, food and drink (yes, including water). The most strict fasters prepare to endure more than 24 hours without sustenance.

Naturally, during that time, one might get a bit peckish. So we asked Jewish chefs, cookbook authors, and food writers how they like to refuel. Some choose to ease into eating again with simpler items like scrambled eggs, a bagel, or soup. Others prefer to feast with a fat slice of chocolate babka and a mimosa. Some even opt to head out for dim sum or pizza.

Persian Faloodeh

I grew up making faloodeh with my dad for the Yom Kippur break fast. It’s a Persian dish: a refreshing bowl of grated apples, cinnamon, and sugar that’s perfumed with rose water and topped with ice for an extra crisp effect. These days I like to prepare faloodeh for my family and keep this tradition going. Here’s a recipe for faloodeh from the Jewish Food Society archive that’s very similar to the one I make at home. —Arielle Mamiye, culinary director, Jewish Food Society

Fresh Baked Chocolate Babka

Yom Kippur break fast is one of the few times during the year I love making fresh bagels from scratch and a good, rich chocolate babka. Orange juice is also typically served—after all, it’s breakfast. I like making sure there is some Prosecco or cava to go along with the OJ. —Shannon Sarna, cookbook author, editor of The Nosher

Orange Juice (With Pulp)

When I was growing up, my parents hosted Yom Kippur break fast and I remember breaking the fast with Tropicana orange juice—with pulp (always with pulp!). I think the idea was that it was more important to rehydrate and have some sugar than it was to stuff our faces with food. After the OJ, there was always a smoked fish spread from Famous, an old Jewish deli two blocks from our house in Philly, and often scrambled eggs. This year I’m joining my third cousins ​​in Brooklyn. We’ll have smoked fish and bagels from Shelsky’s. Now that I’m thinking about this, maybe I’ll bring some OJ (and Prosecco) for the table. —Devra Ferst, food and travel writer

Sweet Noodle Kugel

My dad was a rabbi, so growing up my first bite would be an apple right when services ended from one of his congregants who was a produce distributor. Now my family and I go to a friend’s house for the only time of year when I will eat sweet noodle kugel. —Steve Cook, co-owner of Zahav and CookNSolo restaurants

Simple Noodle Kugel recipe

After an intense internal debate about what a noodle kugel should be—naked or cereal-topped? wide noodles or extra wide noodles? souffled or custardy? sweet or…savory?!—this is where we landed.

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Cheese Blintzes and a Classic Appetizing Spread

It’s all about appetizing for me. For years I’d break the fast at a friend’s house on the Upper West Side. She’d procure platters from Barney Greengrass with seemingly limitless quantities of smoked fish and bagels. I always started with the cheese blintzes. Somehow there’s nothing more comforting on an empty stomach than sweet cheese blintzes. Then I’d go for a bialy with cream cheese schmear and smoked sable. The idea of ​​breaking the fast with anything but classic appetizing seems just crazy to me. —Jeffrey Yoskowitz, cookbook author

Golden, Fluffy Challah

I always break with a giant latte, and the perfect food known as challah with butter and salt. —Mike Solomonov, chef and co-owner Zahav and CookNSolo restaurants

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Senior editor Julia Kramer’s mother, Jill Weinberg, shared her family’s challah recipe with us—it is truly revelatory. All we can hope is that our faithful version comes close. (For best results, bake weekly for several decades.) This recipe makes two loaves, but it can easily be halved. This is part of BA’s Best, a collection of our essential recipes.

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Cold-Brew Coffee and Bagels

We are definitely a bagel family, so I make sure to have a stash of bagels from Shelsky’s and plenty of scallion cream cheese, lox, sliced ​​tomatoes, and—the underrated hero of the bagel platter—briny capers. (My kids will literally eat an entire bowl of just capers!) I also love serving noodle kugel for the break fast, particularly the Hungarian jam kugel from my book The Jewish Cookbook. It’s threaded through with ground poppy seeds and has pockets of jam that taste amazingly decadent, especially after a day of abstaining. There’s always cold-brew coffee waiting in the fridge to nip the inevitable caffeine headache in the bud. —Leah Koenig, author of The Jewish Cookbook, Little Book of Jewish Sweetsand more

Hearty, Homey Soup

In my modern Orthodox family in Palo Alto, California, it was all about the soup, both before and after the fast (sorry, sliced ​​Nova platter). My mother would make a hearty mushroom-barley soup that would be delicious before we ceased eating for 25 hours, and even better the following night when we couldn’t wait for our first slurp. These days, in Tel Aviv, I make a variation that includes freekeh and a squeeze of lemon. A big pot takes me pre- and post-fast, and beyond. —Adeena Sussman, cookbook author

MushroomFarro Soup recipe Ali Slagle

This cozy vegetarian soup delivers all the savory richness of mushroom-barley without meat or beef broth thanks to a few umami-heavy pantry ingredients.

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Dim Sum Feast

As wrong as it might be to say this, I often crave more than just kugel or a bagel with lox after fasting. Last year I broke the fast at Tim Ho Wan with dim sum. One year in college, I broke it with an Indian buffet. For the other years of college, a close friend’s family had a spread with everything from pizza to French toast. Who knows what this year’s fast will leave me craving? —Kate Kassin, editorial operations associate, Bon Appétit

Seeded Crackers and Smoked Fish Dips

I love to break fast with seeded crackers and a bunch of different smoked fish dips. My favorite is our smoked salmon dip, which is tangy and savory and rich, with our smoked trout dip coming in at a close second. There are quite a few ingredients in both recipes, but honestly, if you have a lemon, some dill, and either sour cream, crème frache, or cream cheese, you can make an absolutely smashing smoked fish dip with smoked salmon or smoked trout. And always serve with a lovely tray of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, etc. —Becca Millstein, founder, fishwife

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Smoked Salmon 7-Layer Dip

This recipe is a showstopping and grown-up version of everyone’s favorite party snack—the 7-layer dip.

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Speedy Bagel and Lox Spread

The boring—but honest—answer is that I break my fast with bagels and lox. (Capers, tomatoes, red onion, and dill are also welcome.) It’s a classic, comforting combination that requires only a trip to the bagel store and some artful arrangement, ie, all I can handle at hour 22 of fasting. When I’m feeling ambitious, the lox is homemade. Prepped three days in advance, it’s about as low-effort as cooking projects come. (Homemade bagels? Not for me.) The only other standby is noodle kugel. Eggy, custardy, and sweet but decidedly not dessert, it doesn’t go with most meals but it is perfectly at home on Yom Kippur. —Sarah Jampel, recipe development and test kitchen manager, King Arthur Flour

Go-to Preserved Salmon

For break fast, I have a go-to preserved salmon recipe, inherited from my dad and dunked in whichever spices I have in my pantry (currently loving blends from Pastiche and Breukelen, The Deligram favorites). Think of it as French haargs à l’huile meets NYC lox with a spicy twist. —Anna Polonsky, co-founder, The Deligram

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Many gravlax recipes will instruct you to drain, turn, and babysit the fish while it cures. Not this one: Set it and forget it.

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Soft Scrambled Eggs

Soft, loose, small-curd scrambled eggs (French-style—but I’m not even the French one!). Top with a thick, warm slice of sourdough, and you have a killer break fast in my book. —Teddy Wolff, co-founder, The Deligram

Comforting Chocolate Challah

This might be kind of unorthodox, but my favorite thing to break the fast is chocolate challah. It’s just my regular challah recipe that I spread with chocolate and top with cinnamon crumble, and it tastes like a combination of challah and babka. It’s warm, comforting, and satisfying, exactly what I want after the fast. I’ve been making it for years; it’s family tradition at this point. Sometimes I’ll turn leftovers into French toast—if there are any. —Chaya Rappoport, recipe developer and food stylist

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Chocolate Cinnamon “Babkallah”

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Borscht and Bagels

I don’t fast. I’m a proud Jew who is also an atheist. I did try to fast once, in high school, while managing my school’s absurd workload and my homework (we weren’t given the day off, or a pass for taking it off), and I got so cranky and had such a massive headache that my parents forced me to eat something—and my father is a rigorous faster. We always have a break fast for my dad. Barney Greengrass smoked fish, bagels (that my dad is very fussy about toasting just so), their borscht, which he doctors up, and his scrambled eggs and onions (which he trusts, barely, my mom to replicate while he’s at temple). —Charlotte Druckman, food writer and cookbook author

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Soft Scrambled Eggs with Sablefish and Crème Fraîche

If you can’t find sablefish, swap in lox, NBD.

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Smoked Whitefish

I am, of course, a lover of bagels like any other sentient being, but I really don’t indulge on a regular basis. Breaking the fast for me is all about the bagel, with cream cheese and a disproportionate volume of smoked fish, preferably smoked whitefish. When I’m in NYC, it’s Acme smoked fish all the way. —Julia Sherman, artist and cookbook author

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If you’re not the kind of person who keeps canned fish in your pantry at all times, this is the recipe that will convert you.

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