Because wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats aren’t allowed on Passover (unless they’re in matzo or matzo meal), Passover can be a great gluten-free holiday. You can find gluten-free versions of foods that you can’t find the rest of the year, like gluten-free matzo ball mix, blintzes, cookies and cakes. But be careful to avoid my eternal mistake (when will I ever learn?), and don’t overbuy Passover products. Passover foods are almost always expensive, but they don’t always taste great.
Many foods are labeled “gluten-free” and some are labeled “non-gebrokts” (which is basically the equivalent of gluten-free). Non-gebrokts foods are increasing in popularity because of the growing Hassidic population and gluten-free population.
— My top recommendation is Lieber’s Knaidel Mix. This gluten-free matzo ball mix makes light and fluffy matzo balls (called knaidlach in Yiddish). My guests have asked for seconds, unaware that the matzo balls were gluten-free. Another gluten-free matzo ball option is Frankel’s Matzo-Free Balls. These premade frozen gluten-free matzo balls (six to a package) are convenient when you want to take individual gluten-free matzo balls to a relative’s house to drop in their chicken soup.
— Don’t let the “breaded” fool you, Spring Valley Breaded Chicken Pattie Nuggets (sorry, I can’t find an online link) are coated with potato starch – a great find, since it’s hard to find gluten-free kosher chicken nuggets. Make sure the bag is labeled kosher for Passover and non-gebrokts. I also bought Spring Valley Frozen Stuffed Chicken Rolls — a good gluten-free kosher quick lunch. Also, it’s hard to find gluten-free blintzes during the year, so I stock up on gluten-free Spring Valley Blintzes, which come in cheese, apple and blueberry flavors. Make sure the box is labeled kosher for Passover and non-gebrokts, as only the Passover blintzes are gluten-free, not the ones they produce the rest of the year.
— Frankel’s makes a frozen gluten-free Passover cheesecake that’s great, as well as gluten-free potato knishes and gluten-free blintzes.
— Gefilte fish often is part of Passover meals, but most gefilte fish contains matzo meal. For the past few years, I’ve bought Kedem Gourmet Gefilte Fish, which is made without matzo meal, is gluten-free and does not contain MSG. This year, I also spotted Rokeach “Gourmet Sweet” and Rokeach “Heimeshe Sweet” gluten-free gefilte fish. Also, some of the frozen gefilte fish loaves are gluten-free.
— Most macaroons are gluten-free, including Manischewitz and Streit’s macaroons, which also use sulfite-free coconut. This year, Manischewitz introduced a frozen gluten-free macaroon dough.
— There has been a debate the past few years about whether quinoa is kosher for Passover. Quinoa is not a grain, but some want to count it as kitniyot and not permit it. Other rabbis say it’s fine for Passover. For a discussion of quinoa, see this article, “Quinoa, ‘mother of all grains,’ may (or may not) be kosher for Passover” published by the JTA news service, which has a quote at the end from me. (To save you the suspense, here’s the quote: “It’s a tiny powerhouse packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, and it’s an important grain alternative, especially on Passover,” Becker said. “It’s great to have it on Passover instead of the usual potatoes, potatoes, potatoes. Most of the Passover foods just end up tasting like Passover, so we rely on quinoa to be that side staple.”)
— I’ve already discussed gluten-free matzo-style squares and gluten-free oat matzos in other posts, so I’ll be brief here. Yehuda Gluten-Free Matzo-Style Squares are tasty, gluten-free matzos that taste like crispy flatbread crackers. Yehuda also offers a toasted onion flavor and a fiber-enriched version, as well as gluten-free matzo crackers. I still haven’t tried to cook with Yehuda gluten-free cake meal, but some readers have told me that they haven’t been successful with it. This year, Manischewitz came out with its own Gluten-Free Matzo Squares along with gluten-free Passover crackers.
— New this year is a seasoned version of Jeff Nathan Creations Gluten-Free Panko Flakes. I used the plain panko flakes last year as a gluten-free crumb coating for chicken and fish and liked their texture. But they didn’t have much taste, so I’m happy to see a seasoned version.
— I hate it when I open a bag of tapioca starch and get coated in a puff of white powder. So I like the fact that Gefen Tapioca Starch comes in an easily reclosable canister. I also like the reclosable canisters of potato starch from a few Passover brands.
— Dr Praeger’s offers some nice gluten-free options year-round and even more during Passover. I bought “Potato Crusted Fishies,” though now my kids have informed me that they will not eat fish sticks. Go figure.
— You can now buy so many gluten-free cookies, crackers and cakes throughout the year, it doesn’t make sense to buy the Passover versions, which are generally less nutritious and less tasty. Sometimes I’m tempted to buy the boxed bakery-style cookies, though most tend to be expensive and sugary. Still, it is sometimes nice to keep a box or two in the freezer. Shabtai Gourmet, a kosher bakery, is dedicated to baking gluten-free Passover goodies year-round. Oberlander’s , Schick’s and Hagadda also have a selection of gluten-free, bakery-style Passover cakes and cookies. I skip the Passover cake mixes; they’re generally not great. There are some frozen cake loaves that can be worthwhile, such as Osem marble cake and pound cake, which are small and easy to keep in the freezer.
— Generally, I skip the Passover noodles, pizza, pancakes and waffles. They usually end up mushy and gummy. Although this year I did buy frozen Heaven and Health gluten-free potato gnocchi.
— I’m always tempted by snack foods. I love all the boxes of chocolate available at Passover, though check the ingredients — not all are gluten-free. For snacks this year, I bought Guiltless Gourmet Crunchies nut squares and Paskesz Soft Crunch granola-style bars.
Click here for my shortened, printable gluten-free Passover shopping list.
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