Tzimmes is one of those traditional Jewish foods that seems to have dozens of variations. Carrots and honey are standard, but beyond that you might find sweet potato, apricots, raisins, cinnamon, orange juice, brown sugar, nutmeg, prunes, maple syrup, stew meat, apples and even broth.

If you prefer a very simple tzimmes, you can use just carrots and honey. For a less-sweet version, onions, carrots and maybe a little orange juice. I went middle-of-the-road and used carrots, sweet potato, onion, prunes, orange juice, honey, cinnamon and salt. Feel free to play around with the ingredients to fit your family’s taste.

It’s certainly easy to make. Sauté the onions for about 20 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients, and simmer for about two hours, until the vegetables are soft and the liquid is sweet and slightly syrupy.

Why do we eat tzimmes on Rosh Hashanah? Well, there’s the sweetness factor. We try to eat sweet foods to symbolize our wish for a good, sweet year ahead. It is also customary to eat foods whose names in the vernacular allude to blessing and prosperity, and the Yiddish word for carrot, meren, also means to multiply.


  • 1 large Spanish onion, cut in half or quarter rounds
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 lb. carrots, sliced in ½-inch rounds
  • ½ lb. sweet potato, cubed
  • 10 prunes, diced
  • 1½ cups orange juice
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt


  1. Sauté the onion in the oil over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 1 hour, until vegetables are tender. Serve warm.

What do you include in your tzimmes? Do you have a special family recipe?