How to Make Sephardic Date Charoset

This date charoset recipe is the perfect dish for any Passover table.

There are lots of stars on a Passover table—the slow cooked brisket, the nostalgic matzo ball soup, the spicy maror horseradish spread. But growing up, our seder was so long that it was hours before we would get to the actual meal, as we read the Haggadah and retold the story of the Jewish people escaping slavery in Egypt.

I always knew the meal was near when we finally reached the charoset. I loved it because it was a sweet and flavorful Passover staple, but there’s more to this simply prepared date charoset recipe than meets the eye.

What Is Charoset?

The foods we eat during the seder help tell the story of the Jewish exodus from slavery in Egypt. Like everything on the Passover table, charoset is a symbolic food and part of the rich history of this holiday.

Charoset represents the mortar the Israelites used to build the pyramids for Pharaoh while they were in Egypt. While recipes vary by region and family, they generally involve some type of fruit and nut mixed with sweet wine and warming spices. As they’re blended together, the ingredients form a sort of paste that’s symbolic of the mortar and reminds us of what our ancestors survived.

One way we eat charoset during the seder is in a “Hillel sandwich.” Charoset is spread between two small pieces of matzo—the unleavened bread that resembles crackers that we eat on Passover—along with the bitter maror, the horseradish spread. The mixture of the sweet with the bitter reminds us of our difficult history and the sweetness we experienced in our exodus.

Sephardic Charoset vs. Ashkenazi Charoset

Jews around the world have different Passover traditions, including their own recipes for charoset. They vary from region to region, but the most widely known here in the U.S. are the Ashkenazi and Sephardic charosets.

Sephardic Jews, whose ancestors come from Spain, Portugal and North Africa, make charoset into a proper paste by blending dried fruit such as dates, raisins, figs, or apricots with nuts and sweet red wine. Ashkenazi Jews, whose families hail from Eastern Europe, make charoset by mixing diced apples with walnuts, cinnamon and sweet red wine like Manischewitz.

Sephardic Date Charoset Recipe

This Sephardic charoset features dates, raisins and apricots, and I love that the paste it makes more closely resembles the mortar it symbolizes. The recipe below makes about 3 cups of charoset.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dates
  • 1-1/2 cups raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sweet red wine

Directions

Step 1: Soak dried fruit

Charoset step oneJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

In a medium bowl, soak the dates, raisins and apricots in warm water for 10-20 minutes. This will rehydrate them and make for a smoother final product.

Editor’s Tip: Make sure your dried fruit is free of pits.

Step 2: Process ingredients

charoset step 2Jamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Add the almonds to your food processor and pulse for 30 seconds.

Strain the fruit and add it to the almonds, along with the cinnamon, cloves and salt. Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle in the wine as it blends. Allow to process for at least a minute—it should begin to come together and form a ball of paste.

Step 3: Transfer and serve

charoset step 3Jamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Transfer to a bowl or a storage container. Serve on your Passover table (or see below for other serving ideas).

How to Serve Charoset

charoset serving ideaJamie Thrower for Taste of Home

Charoset is delicious when served immediately, but will be even better the next day! It is best served spread over matzo.

This date charoset recipe is not so different from a thick date jam, so it makes a delicious spread on anything that goes well with dried fruit. Try it with hard cheeses, as an oatmeal topping or on a digestive biscuit. If you have leftover charoset, make it the star of your cheese board, or spread it over soft cheese and then cover with puff pastry, like this Brie puff pastry.

It can be stored up to one week in the fridge in an airtight container.

Next Up: If you’re celebrating Passover, check out this wonderful lineup of Jewish cookbooks for ideas on other sides and main courses.

Popular Videos

Risa Lichtman
Risa Lichtman is a chef and writer living in Portland, Oregon. She is the owner/chef of Lepage Food & Drinks, a small food company featuring Jewish seasonal foods, providing takeaway all around Portland. She has previously published poems in Poetica Magazine, the anthology The Art of Bicycling, Maggid: A Journal of Jewish Literature, and The Dos Passos Review. She lives with her wife Jamie, their dog Isaac, and their cat Sylvia. Follow her at @risaexpizza, or find her delicious food offerings on @lepagefoodanddrinks.