Happy Rosh Hashanah! Here’s a collection of vegan Jewish New Year recipes and menus for a holiday that celebrates the harvest and the spirit of renewal. From egg-free challah to honey-less honey cake, every course of the festive meal is covered here.
For millions of Jews around the world, early fall marks the beginning of a new year. Though it’s a joyous time, Rosh Hashanah is also the first of the Ten Days of Awe, a period of spiritual reflection and repentance that culminates in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Rosh Hashanah is more than a ceremony to mark a new year— in one sense, it can be compared to Thanksgiving. The holiday has ancient roots as a harvest festival, so the enjoyment of abundant early autumn produce remains central to the celebration.
As with most every sacred Jewish celebration, food plays a central role and is filled with symbolism. The foods served emphasize the holiday’s optimistic spirit, so many of its traditional dishes are on the sweet side — like honey cake (which we make vegan in our case), sweet noodle kugel, and tzimmes.
The choice of produce used for the Jewish New Year meal differs somewhat depending on whether one is of Ashkenazi or Sephardic descent.
Ashkenazi dishes feature apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets and other foods native to Eastern Europe; Sephardic dishes feature all those plus apricots, dates, and pumpkins. In both cases, the food used to create holiday fare symbolize abundance, prosperity, and sweetness.
For more fascinating holiday lore, see 9 Things You Didn’t Know About Rosh Hashanah at My Jewish Learning. Some of the recipes that follow are from Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas; others are exclusive to this site.
Find links to all recipes in this post
2-Ingredient Date Caramel
Festive Beet Borscht
Vegan Matzo Ball Soup
Jícama & Fennel Salad with Oranges & Herbs
Spinach & Mango Salad with Cranberries & Cashews
Apple and Kohlrabi Coleslaw
Moroccan Tofu or Chick’n with Apricots, Olives, & Almonds
Beefy Holiday Vegan Pot Roast
Sweet Noodle Kugel
Carrot & Sweet Potato Tzimmes
Quinoa & Cauliflower Pilaf
Vegan Honey Cake
Apple or Pear Crumble
No-Bake Chocolate-Dipped Figs
Vegan Challah: It’s hard to imagine a Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) celebration or Shabbat dinner without challah. And it’s surprisingly easy to make egg-free vegan challah, a bread traditionally made with eggs for tenderness and golden hue.
2-Ingredient Date Caramel Sauce: One of the central food rituals of this holiday is dipping apple slices into honey, usually before the meal, to symbolize the hope that the year ahead will be a sweet one.
Since vegans don’t use honey, agave nectar or pure maple syrup are good substitutes. A slightly fancier, but very appropriate substitute for honey is our super easy date caramel sauce. Dried fruits are a staple of the Jewish New Year celebration, so this is quite fitting!
Festive Beet Borscht: Aa gorgeous soup of Russian origin, beet borscht is filled with summer-to-fall produce and is as good served chilled as it is hot — your choice, depending on the weather at the time of the holiday.
Vegan Matzo Ball Soup: Truth be told, this soup functions primarily as a delivery system for matzo balls. And our easy vegan rendition of this Jewish classic is one of the most popular out ther.
While matzo ball soup is most traditional to Passover, there are few Jewish holidays at which it wouldn’t be welcome as a first course. Passover is usually in April, so by the Jewish New Year, which most often falls in September, you might be craving it again.
Carrot-Ginger Soup: The Yiddish word for carrots is the same as the word for “to increase,” and since Rosh Hashanah is a holiday celebrating abundance, this familiar root vegetable is an often-used ingredient. What better way to highlight it than in this simple soup that’s made easy by using baby carrots.
Note that these savory salads include a fruit or two — an appropriately sweet touch for the holiday. Choose one or two:
Jícama & Fennel Salad with Oranges & Herbs: A tasty autumnal dish using two often-neglected vegetables, jícama and fennel salad gets a lovely citrus lilt from fresh oranges and a lime dressing.
Spinach & Mango Salad with Cranberries & Cashews: This salad may be super simple — practically all the ingredients are in the title — but it’s lovely to look at and even better to taste.
Apple and Kohlrabi Coleslaw: Colorful and crisp, this salad is welcome any time of year, and works quite well for this holiday due to the sweet apple and sweet-ish kohlrabi. This recipe is from Bryant Terry’s Vegetable Kingdom.
Choose one or two, depending on the size of your gathering:
Seven-Vegetable Couscous: Seven vegetable couscous is a colorful dish traditional to the Jewish New Year. Seven is a lucky number in Jewish tradition. So a dish featuring seven vegetables, like this one, is a New Year favorite among Sephardic Jews.
Moroccan Tofu or Chick’n with Apricots, Olives, & Almonds: Bursting with an a combination of traditional Moroccan flavors—salty, sweet, and tart — tofu with apricots, olives, and almonds was inspired by a classic recipe from that cuisine.
Vegan Cholent: Vegan cholent is a rare Eastern European Jewish recipe highlighting beans (paired with beefy plant-based protein), and makes a hefty portion. Vegan cholent is perfect for company or holiday meals —especially Rosh Hashanah.
“Beefy” Holiday Pot Roast: A hearty vegan pot roast made with plant-based beefy tips or seitan plus portobello mushrooms and plenty of vegetables, this is a fantastic option for holidays and special occasions.
Choose one or two:
Sweet Noodle Kugel: A staple Eastern European Jewish comfort food, this classic is a cross between a side dish and a dessert — a rich, substantial one at that. It’s often served at holidays and is especially appropriate for the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), when sweet foods are favored.
Carrot & Sweet Potato Tzimmes: You don’t have to wait for a holiday — or be Jewish — to enjoy carrot and sweet potato tzimmes. It’s a festive dish for any cool-weather occasion. That being said, it’s the perfect, traditional side dish for the Jewish New Year.
Quinoa & Cauliflower Pilaf: Here’s a pilaf that’s simple enough to make for a weeknight meal and festive enough to serve at special occasions, like this holiday. With just a few well-chosen ingredients, this dish manages to showcase sweet, savory, and nutty flavors.
Vegan Honey Cake: In the Jewish tradition, honey cake is served at special occasions, whether formal holidays or not, and is especially beloved in the Ashkenazi Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) repetoire. As we know, strict vegans don’t use honey (though some who do use carefully sourced honey are called “bee-gans”). To make this vegan honey cake just as sweet as the original, agave nectar and/or maple syrup combine to create an authentic flavor.
Apple or Pear Crumble: A simple vegan apple or pear crumble is a wonderful way to highlight fresh fruit when fall begins. With an easy-to-prepare oat crumble topping, it’s as wholesome as it is delicious.
No-Bake Chocolate-Dipped Figs: Fresh figs have two very short seasons, one of which is in the late summer/early fall — just in time for this holiday! If you can get your hands on fresh figs, Ilene Godofsky Moreno urges you to try this easy and delicious way to serve them.