Homemade matzo for Passover is crispy and delicious. This matzah recipe turns flour and water into golden and perfectly salted unleavened bread made from scratch in under 18 minutes.
Celebrating Passover Away from Home
The baby was already seated in his high chair, clamouring for food with cooing that sounded strangely like "abba," or dad in Hebrew (but actually meant 'apple').
The seder plate was arranged, perky celery leaves nestled alongside hard-boiled eggs and glistening beets. The wine was about to be poured, a light, beautiful Riesling from the Niagara peninsula only an hour away.
And as I pulled the last tray of homemade matzos from the oven, their freshly-baked, cracker-like skin golden with olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, we all breathed a sigh of relief: there will be Passover here after all.
This year, G and I celebrated Passover far from (all of) our homes, with his brother's family in Kitchener. Readers of the blog may remember our visits to Kitchener from this post, where we made Hubbard squash pie, gawked at the world's cutest nephew, and frolicked in an Amish pumpkin patch.Those who live in Canada may know Kitchener as the home of one of the country's largest Oktoberfest celebrations, and a sizeable German and Old-Order Mennonite population. Southern-Ontarians may know it as the less-glitzy sister town of Waterloo. No matter how you think of Kitchener, this summary should be enough to illustrate one thing: it is no Jewish paradise.
How to make matzah when you are away from everything
To be completely honest, when I first decided to spend Passover night in Kitchener, I didn't think too much of it. But then the phone calls and messaged started getting in, and it quickly became clear that the prospect of putting together an elaborate celebration for a holiday you know very little about may not be high on the list of two working parents of an 18-month-old, no matter how nice and accommodating they are.
And so, in the days leading up to our visit, G exchanged a slew of emails with his brother, detailing the various stages of the Seder night and providing a list of ingredients we would need to make that night at least semi Jewish, and fun for everyone involved.
We realized that things like matzo meal, cake meal, potato starch and the customary Seder plate would have to be brought along, packed alongside our shirts and underwear like presents from a bygone era (in G's words: "Jews during the Holocaust had to contend with a lot worse to celebrate the holiday, so shuttup").
But the closer we got to our departure date, the more I started worrying about the matzo recipe (also spelled as matzah crackers, if you're Israeli).
What is matzo?
The matzo (matza, or matzah) is the ubiquitous cracker of Passover, a dry, cardboard-like substance that Jewish kids like to smear with Hashachar chocolate spread and eat in a hurry, its tiny crumbs spreading over any surface within a one-mile radius.
It's the only bread most Jews will eat for the 7 days of Passover, and to most, much more of a burden than a boon. But above all else, matzo is also brittle, large, difficult to find in a non-Jewish area - and difficult to transport.
As this trip happened on the very first day I've had off after the end of the Jewish Food Project, I knew I wouldn't have time for fancy prep or the search for hard-to-find ingredients. And so, I was hoping I could magically find matzo in Kitchener or in my layover in Toronto, as I made my way through the St. Lawrence Market , or the urban scape of Queen Street West.
But when my hopes amounted to naught, I realized there would only be one recourse: to develop my own homemade matzo recipe.
Is making homemade matzos difficult?
I am happy to report that despite my fears and worries, this wasn't such a difficult task. It is very easy to make a stack of homemade matzos within 18 minutes, without a food processor or any fancy equipment!
The batter for the homemade matzos came together faster than it took me to google the recipe, and the practical aspect of baking these crackers involved no more than fastidious rolling and a (VERY) quick blast in a hot oven on a pizza stone or a pre-heated baking sheet.
The rolling was definitely the hardest part as the dough cannot be allowed to rest for fear that the water and flour will have time to rise, thus making your homemade matzo not kosher for Passover.
Is Homemade Matzo Kosher for Passover?
If you make it exactly as I instruct, then yes, it will be! But not kosher for the Passover Seder.
To be kosher for Passover, a matzo recipe needs to rely on special flour that has been deemed as having no contact with liquids. A cook should take no more than 18 minutes (18 is a holy number in Judaism) from the moment they combine the flour and water to when the matzos have to leave the oven.
So while the timing is easy enough to achieve with my simple recipe, the only challenge is the kosher-for-Passover flour... But if you're in a dire situation and you want to have access to matzos for your Passover seder, then I think allowances can be made.
To be kosher for Passover eve, however, a matzo recipe must contain nothing but water and flour. Omit the salt and any flavourings to satisfy that requirement.
However, I feel that the goal of this homemade matzoh recipe is to provide an alternative that allows people to celebrate the spirit of Passover wherever they are. Whether they strive for absolute kosher recipe or not, I believe everyone should have the means to honour the spirit of a holiday. So that's why I developed this recipe, and I make no claims for absolute kosherness.
Why you should make this matzo recipe
The best part of making homemade matzos is definitely the taste. But there are other factors that make this THE BEST matzo recipe I've ever tried:
- Golden and perfectly salted with the best flaky sea salt, a homemade matzo is crackly and delicious, without any of the brittleness and dryness of their commercial counterparts.
- As you are making them at home, you are perfectly in control of the ingredients, and can ensure that nothing but the best flour and olive oil goes into your matzos.
- They are a blank canvas waiting to be topped with inventive spices and flavourings (lavender and lemon, garlic and rosemary, or just plain old oregano would be clear favourites in this household).
- Even days outside the oven, the homemade matzos remain perfectly noshable. And in my book, that's the clearest mark of a winning recipe.
To be kosher for Passover, a matzo recipe needs to be super basic. These homemade matzos contain nothing but:
- all-purpose flour
- kosher salt
- mild olive oil
- warm water
- flaky sea salt
How to make homemade matzo for Passover
Preheat the oven
Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C) and place a pizza stone (ideally), pizza tray or a 10-by-15-inch baking sheet (realistically) on the bottom oven rack.
Mix the dough
In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients, using ¾ cup water to start, until they come together to form a dough. If the dough seems dry, add more water, a touch at a time.
Roll dough into 8 sheets
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Working a piece at a time, flatten each ball slightly and roll it out as thinly as possible with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces. You can trim the dough pieces as well. Use a fork to prick holes in the surface of the dough.
lf salted matzo is desired, brush or spray the dough surface lightly with water and sprinkle with salt to taste.
Bake matzo sheets
Carefully place some of the pieces of dough onto the pizza stone, pizza tray or baking sheet. They should fit snugly. Bake until the surface of the matzo is golden brown and bubbly, 30 to 90 seconds.
Using tongs, carefully flip the homemade matzo pieces and continue to bake until the other side is golden browned and slightly blistered, 15 to 30 seconds. Just let the matzoh get a few dots of light brown; do not let the matzoh turn completely brown as it will taste burnt.
Keep careful, constant watch to keep the matzoh from burning; the exact baking time will vary from oven to oven and may get longer with subsequent batches.
Make ahead & storage
So the next time Passover creeps up on you, don't waste time looking for commercial matzos. They will be just as gross as last year's, and you will be forced to try and use them up before the holiday ends.
Instead, take just a bit of time to make matzo recipe - they'll keep well in a tightly-sealed container, or a ziploc bag (I haven't tried freezing them, though I imagine it would work fine as long as you re-crisped them in the oven).
Tried and loved this recipe? Please leave a 5-star review below! Your reviews mean a lot to me, so if you've got any questions, please let me know in a comment.
- Matzo Party - If you're not too worried about flour contamination on the eve of the holiday, enlist your family and friends to roll a bunch of these paper-thin, crackly homemade matzos the day of the Seder. It'll be a whole Seder pre-party!
- Use as an ingredient - If you're not Jewish, this matzo recipe can still be for you. Use these homemade matzos instead of crackers year-round, for snacks and hors d’oeuvre. I love using them in my homemade matzo brei, or in making addictive matzo toffee. Or make them for your Jewish friends, and help them realize that Passover doesn't have to be about dry, inedible foods that we attempt to cloak with sauces and spreads. Matzos can be delicious, and all it takes is less than an hour of work.
- Go nuts with the toppings - if not worried about kosher, then re-discover the joy of Passover through homemade matzo. These tasted great when sprinkled with garlic powder, zaatar, and even lavender and lemon zest.
Matzo can be used in many creative ways beyond its traditional purpose. Crushed matzo can be used as a substitute for breadcrumbs in recipes such as meatballs or stuffing. Matzo brei, a dish made by soaking matzo in eggs and frying, can be a delicious breakfast option. Matzo can also be used to make homemade matzo pizza by topping it with your favorite pizza toppings and baking it in the oven. Another unique way to use matzo is to make matzo ball soup, a popular Jewish dish consisting of matzo meal dumplings in a flavorful broth. Lastly, matzo can be used as a base for a charcuterie board by layering it with cheeses, meats, and other toppings.
The ingredients of matzo are flour, water. You can also add a touch of salt. Matzo can be made with a variety of flours including wheat, spelt, barley, or rye. Some variations may also include eggs or oil to add flavor and texture. However, traditional matzo is made with just flour and water and is usually unleavened to adhere to Jewish dietary laws during Passover.
To make this matzo recipe, you need to: Make the matzo dough, roll it into balls, flatten those balls with a roller, and bake. That's it! See the recipe card for detailed instructions.
With leftover matzo, you can make matzo brei for breakfast, make delicious matzo crack for dessert, or grind it to use as breadcrumbs. Another option is to create a matzo pizza by topping it with tomato sauce, cheese, and your favorite vegetables or meats. You can also use it as a base for a savory matzo tart by layering it with creamy cheese, herbs, and vegetables. For a quick and healthy snack, you can break it into small pieces and mix it with dried fruit and nuts for a homemade trail mix. You can also crush it into a thick crust and use it as a base for any savory or sweet pie. Overall, the possibilities for using leftover matzo are endless, and with a little creativity, you can turn this versatile ingredient into a delicious and satisfying meal.
Homemade matzo will last for 2-3 days without going stale in an airtight container outside the fridge.
Chocolate is a classic! But I also like to put hummus, as well as cheese and tomato sauce for a quick microwave matzo pizza.
The short answer is, yes: homemade matzo is kosher for Passover of made within the 18-minute timeframe. Omit the salt to adhere to kosher restrictions.
Yes, you can use a baking stone instead of baking sheet pans in making homemade matzah.
More Passover Recipes
Last-minute homemade matzos
- 4 ½ cups sifted all-purpose flour plus more for rolling (I imagine a combination of whole wheat or spelt flours would also work great)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for sprinkling
- 4 tablespoons mild olive oil
- 1 cup warm water plus up to an additional ½ cup (I have used the whole 1.5 cups in my matzos)
- Flaky sea salt fresh herbs, dried herbs, garlic, or any other toppings you'd like (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C) and place a pizza stone (ideally), pizza tray or a 10-by-15-inch baking sheet (realistically) on the bottom oven rack.
- In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients, using ¾ cup water to start, until they come together to form a dough. If the dough seems dry, add more water, a touch at a time.
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Working a piece at a time, flatten each ball slightly and roll it out as thinly as possible with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces.
- If you're looking for neat matzos, trim the rolled-out dough pieces into rectangles (I prefer the rustic look myself). Use a fork to prick holes in the surface of the dough.
- lf salted matzoh are desired, brush or spray the dough surface lightly with water and sprinkle with salt to taste.
- Carefully place some of the pieces of dough onto the pizza stone, pizza tray or baking sheet. They should fit snugly. Bake until the surface of the matzoh is golden brown and bubbly, 30 to 90 seconds. Using tongs, carefully flip the matzoh pieces and continue to bake until the other side is golden browned and lightly blistered, 15 to 30 seconds. Just let the matzoh get a few dots of light brown; do not let the matzoh turn completely brown as it will taste burnt. Keep careful, constant watch to keep the matzoh from burning; the exact baking time will vary from oven to oven and may get longer with subsequent batches.