The Jewish Holiday of Passover: A Gluten-Free Bonanza

Why Is This Holiday Special For Those Who Are Gluten-Free?

gluten-free passover seder plate
Passover offers lots that's gluten-free. Angela Coppala/Getty Images

Passover, one of the most meaningful Jewish holidays, also happens to offer a bonanza of gluten-free foods for people who have celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Here's some information on Passover and what you can expect from a gluten-free diet perspective.

What Is The Passover Holiday?

The Jewish holiday of Passover, which falls in the early spring, commemorates the departure of the ancient Israelites from Egypt, where for generations they had been slaves to Pharaoh.

According to the biblical story, the Israelites left Egypt in such a rush that they did not have time to let their bread rise. Today, to commemorate the slaves' difficult lives and their hasty departure from Egypt, Jews who celebrate the eight-day holiday of Passover eat an unleavened cracker-like bread called matzoh, which is made from flour and water.

The flour used for matzoh may be from wheat, rye, barley, oats or spelt. For the entire eight days of the holiday, observant Jews do not eat any "regular" bread products or baked goods. They can eat matzoh, or in some cases, products that have been made with ground-up matzoh (matzoh flour, or matzoh meal, or matzoh cake meal). Wheat, oats, barley, rye and spelt in any other form are forbidden.

Why Does This Matter If You're Gluten-Free?

First, you'll need to find gluten-free matzoh. Since wheat, rye, barley and spelt all are gluten grains, you'll want to find matzoh made from oats and specifically made to be gluten-free.


Be aware that many people with celiac disease also react to oats. If you're one of them, the list of gluten-free matzohs linked above includes some options for you.

Beyond matzoh, there are lots of other products available that may suit your gluten-free diet.

In many parts of the world, supermarkets carry special products that are available only during the Passover season. Because wheat, oats, barley, rye and spelt in any form other than matzoh is prohibited, many of these once-a-year products are gluten-free.

What Should You Look For?

Very important: Merely being labeled "Kosher for Passover" does not make a product gluten-free. It must also be labeled "Non-Gebrokts" or "Gluten-Free." Non-Gebrokts (sometimes spelled "Non-Gebroktz" or "Non-Gebroks") means the item does not have matzoh as ingredient.

Many manufacturers, large and small, produce special products for people who follow the Non-Gebrokts Kosher for Passover diet, using specially cleaned or completely dedicated equipment and facilities. Every year, more and more Non-Gebrokts products become available.

Here are just a few to look for, in supermarkets in the United States. However, before purchasing anything, verify that it's gluten-free, as product formulations can change.

From Manischewitz
Potato starch noodles (great for noodle pudding).
Passover cereals without wheat (Cocoa Crunch, Fruity Magic and Sunny O's).

From Gefen
Potato starch noodles (also great for noodle pudding).
Cake mixes without wheat.

From Frankel's
Frozen foods including blintzes, waffles, knishes and pizza made from potato starch.
Cakes made with potato starch instead of wheat.

From Macabee Pizza
Frozen pizza made from potato starch instead of traditional dough.

From Kineret
Frozen blintzes made from potato starch.
Passover cakes and cookies.

From Dr. Prager
Frozen broccoli/potato pancakes and spinach/potato pancakes.

Passover products disappear quickly from the store shelves and don't reappear until the following year. So if you find any that you like, be sure to stock up on them.


Star-K Kosher Certification.

Edited by Jane Anderson

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