Will you be hosting your own Passover meal? Here’s your guide to preparing the right foods, getting the right supplies, and making sure that all your guests will enjoy an inspiring (and delicious) Seder evening.

When Is the Meal?

The Passover meal, known as a Seder (“order”) in Hebrew, is held after night has fallen on the eve of the 15th day of Nissan, and again on the following night in the Diaspora.

Click here for this year’s dates and times

Start Your Prep Early

In the lead up to Passover, Jewish people purge their homes of even the slightest traces of chametz (anything containing grain that has risen, including breads, cakes, pastas, beer, whiskies and more). This involves cleaning, searching, temporarily selling that which cannot be gotten rid of, and sometimes even replacing dishes that cannot be purged.

Get the lowdown on getting your home and kitchen ready

Kosher for Passover Shopping

Like all meals served throughout Passover, the food at this dinner needs to be kosher for Passover. Raw kosher meat, fish, fruits and vegetables are all OK. Grains (as well as rice, beans, and legumes according to Ashkenazi custom) are not OK. Processed foods need to bear a “kosher for Passover” certification on the label.

Learn more about kosher for Passover food for your Passover meal

The Traditional Food List

Matzah: The Bible mandates that we eat matzah (also spelled matzo) at the Passover meal—flatbread made of only flour and water, baked before it had a chance to rise. Not all matzah is created equal, however, so make sure the matzah you buy is plain (not egg matzah, or matzah with any coating) and that it is marked kosher for Passover. The very best kind to use for your Passover Seder meal is the round, handmade shemurahvariety.

Wine: During the course of the Passover dinner, every participant drinks four glasses of wine (or grape juice), so make sure to get enough kosher wine or juice for everyone.

The Seder Plate: At the center of the Seder meal, we have a plate (known in Hebrew as a ka’arah) which contains six ritual items:

  1. Three matzahs are stacked, one upon the other.
  2. Zeroah: a roasted piece of meat, often a chicken neck or shank (this is the only item not eaten).
  3. Beitzah: a hard-boiled egg.
  4. Maror and chazeret: Two portions of bitter herbs, typically romaine lettuce (checked for bugs) and/or grated horseradish root.
  5. Charoset: a (sweet) paste that typically contains chopped apples, pears, nuts, and wine. Some also include cinnamon, dates and other family favorites.
  6. Check out 4 simple charoset recipes

  7. Karpas: a vegetable (such as parsley, carrot, onion, or a bit of cooked potato) to be dipped into salt water.

Although not on the Seder Plate, you will also need a bowl of salt water, into which we dip the karpas vegetable, as well as wine glasses (containing at least 3 oz.) for every participant.

The Haggadah, the Seder Meal Program Guide

In addition to eating traditional foods, an integral part of the Passover dinner is retelling the story of the Exodus (in response to a child asking the Four Questions). The entire evening is choreographed into a 15-step experience, all clearly laid out in the Haggadah (“Telling”), the book that tells us what to do throughout the Passover meal.

Print a Haggadah for every participant at your Passover meal

Candles, Setting the Atmosphere

Like all Shabbat and Jewish holiday meals, the Passover meal is enjoyed in the light of candles, traditionally lit by the women. When Passover eve follows Shabbat, the candles must be lit after night has fallen.

Print the blessings to be said after candle-lighting

The Dinner Meal: What’s on the Menu?

When planning your meal, keep the following in mind:

  1. We do not serve roasted meats. We typically do not serve dairy, since meat and dairy may not be mixed in Jewish tradition.
  2. The “eating part” comes late in the evening, when people have already imbibed two cups of wine, as well as a good deal of matzah and bitter herbs, so they may be less hungry than you’d expect.
  3. Here are some tried-and-true traditional Ashkenazi favorites that many associates with this meal:
  1. Traditional Chicken Soup (served with homemade egg lokshen “noodles”)
  2. Simple Potato Kugel
  3. Homemade Gefilte Fish (yes, from scratch!)
  4. Easy Four-Ingredient Brisket (braised, not roasted)
  5. Toasted Coconut Macaroons to end the meal portion of the Seder (but the “real” dessert is the afikoman)

Bear in mind, however, that there is a wide variety of kosher-for-Passover dishes that you and your guests may enjoy more, so feel free to experiment.

Browse hundreds of Passover recipes for your Passover meal

The Meaning of the Passover Dinner

Passover celebrates the anniversary of our nation’s exodus from Egyptian slavery, and our rebirth as G‑d’s chosen people, elevated to serve Him and bring His presence into our world.

Eating, drinking, singing, and enjoying each other’s company are all important. Yet, it is imperative to remember that this evening is the time when we transmit our nation’s ideals and deepest beliefs to the next generation, teaching them the miraculous story of Jewish survival and how we have been selected for a sacred task.