10 Terrific Ways to Top Matzo (Plus a Chocolatey Bonus)
Easy recipes and inspiration that’ll turn Passover’s signature flatbread into craveworthy meals and snacks
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Matzo Pizza with Parmesan and Lemon Zest from Lindsey Eats
Whether you keep totally kosher for Passover or just skip bread for the week, it can be challenging to figure out what to eat once the Seder leftovers are gone. And let's get real — if you're in the former camp, cooking everything from scratch for every meal when lots of year-round ingredients are off-limits can make holiday ennui set in real fast.
Luckily, matzo pizza isn't the only game in town. From snacks to meal-worthy combos, we've got lots of easy, delicious ways to top the holiday's iconic flatbread.
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10 terrific ways to top matzo:
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What is matzo?
Matzo, (also spelled matzah — probably the most phonetically accurate transliteration — or matzoh, matza, etc.) is a symbolic, iconic Jewish food. The two-ingredient, unleavened flatbread is a major part of the Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) festival observance. It’s a centerpiece of the Seder, a ritual-filled retelling of the Exodus from Egypt that’s punctuated by a celebratory meal. It’s also a staple throughout the week-long holiday, when all forms of chametz (basically, any food other than matzo that’s made from wheat, barley, rye, oats, or spelt) is forbidden. In the Torah, Passover is even called “Chag HaMatzot” — the holiday of matzot.
Why is matzo such a big deal? In the aftermath of the 10 plagues, the Israelites (aka the future Jewish people) had such a short window to escape enslavement, they couldn’t wait for their dough to rise before fleeing.
Incidentally, though matzo is often described as cracker-like, and Ashkenazi-style matzo is thin, crispy, and crunchy, it’s likely that the original matzo was softer and thicker. In fact, some Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewish matzo bakeries still make soft matzo, though it’s very hard to track down in predominantly Ashkenazi communities.
Can you make your own matzo?
Technically, yes, there are matzo recipes. And historically, individuals or Jewish communities made their own matzo for Passover, though with the advent of machine-made matzo in the late 1800s, many shifted to the commercial stuff. Round, handmade shmurah matzo, which is made in dedicated matzo bakeries from wheat guarded from the time of harvest to ensure it doesn’t ferment or become contaminated with chametz grains, is still favored for the Seder, and used exclusively throughout the holiday by some communities.
But making matzo for Passover use at home is a tricky prospect if you want to ensure that it’s truly kosher (fit for ritual use). There are lots of stringent laws that guide kosher matzo making, and the entire process must take no more than 18 minutes from the time the water and flour are mixed through the completion of baking. Everything from ingredients beyond flour and water, dough that isn’t thoroughly mixed, residual dough left on the rolling pin between batches, working in a kitchen that isn’t already kosher for Passover, and more can invalidate the kashrut (kosher status) of homemade matzo.
What to serve atop matzo
Some balk at matzo’s relatively bland flavor, but its simplicity can be an asset. Think of it as a blank canvas (or edible plate?), and it starts to sound more appealing. If you're curious how to top matzo, here are some basic matzo topping templates for inspiration.
Leverage flavorful Seder leftovers like charoset, brisket, or chicken for open-faced sandwiches.
Spread + topping(s) is a good formula. Pair nut butter, soft cheese, guacamole, or hummus (if you eat kitniyot) with sliced fruit or veggies, fresh herbs, smoked or tinned fish, etc. The spreads help make the matzo a little less brittle and keep the toppings in place. Need inspo? Try these combos:
Butter, thinly sliced radishes, chopped chives, flaky sea salt
Almond butter, sliced strawberries
Lemon curd, blueberries
Sharp cheddar, charoset
Cream cheese, thinly sliced cucumbers, smoked salmon
Goat cheese, ratatouille or roasted vegetables, olives
Sardines, cherry tomatoes, hot sauce
Wilted arugula, Parmesan, dates, balsamic vinegar & extra-virgin olive oil
Tips for tastier matzo
Applying these two techniques to otherwise bland sheets of matzo opens the door to all sorts of wonderful meal options
Tip #1: Add heat and seasonings
At the Seder, matzo is meant to be simple. But during the week, you can use heat and seasonings to jazz it up. Brush matzo with olive oil or melted butter, sprinkle with spices, a little sea salt, and/or chopped fresh herbs, and bake for a minute or two in a warm oven.
Tip #2: Soften matzo in water
If you eat gebrokts (literally “broken” matzo, but actually matzo that has come into contact with liquid), you can make it pliable by dipping it briefly in a pan of water before using it in recipes like lasagna. This is also a great tactic for matzo grilled cheese — just layer cheese between slightly softened matzo and cook in a generously buttered hot skillet.
Learn how to store matzo for maximum shelf life
How to store matzo
Believe it or not, matzo can go stale. Keep it in a cool, dry place (the pantry is ideal). Once you open a box, leave the matzo in the interior cellophane liner, close the box well, and try to use it up within the week.
How long does matzo last?
Unopened, matzo lasts for several months to a year. Opened, it’ll stay good for months, though it can get stale if the box is left open. Matzo sometimes gets a bad rap for tasting like cardboard, but that may have everything to do with the fact that many supermarkets (especially those with few Jewish customers and limited turnover) sell the previous year’s (cardboard-packaged) supply. Matzo is baked fresh in advance of Passover and the boxes always list the production year, so seek out the new stock for optimal freshness and flavor.
Matzo pizza recipes
Let’s get real. Matzo pizza may not be the only game in town, but it’s one of the best. I’ll be the first to admit we eat the classic matzo, tomato sauce, cheese (plus basil leaves if we’re getting fancy) version repeatedly throughout the holiday, mostly because it’s easy, but also because it's good. These recipes veer from the standard (I’m not even sure I’d call them all pizza … ), but they’re deliciously satisfying, creative riffs on the concept.
Garlicky kale, mozzarella, Parmesan, and a hit of zippy lemon strike all the right notes in this fresh take on a holiday standby.
Speaking of lemon, it’s amazing how much it brightens a standard square of matzo pizza, especially when a shower of fresh herbs is involved.
If you love the tomato-cheese combo of regular matzo pizza but hate the way sauce tends to make the matzo soggy, try this pesto-topped version instead.
Matzo main dishes
If you want a meal that involves matzo, but is more substantial than an open-faced sandwich, think layers: Matzo makes a great structural base when it’s baked with an abundance of toppings.
If you can get your hands on tomatillos, try this Passover-friendly take on chilaquiles. Matzo pieces get deep fried in oil, then quickly simmered in homemade salsa verde. Topped with feta, cilantro, and an optional egg, this hearty dish makes an ideal brunch or breakfast-for-dinner.
Leftover brisket gets dressed up in these clever matzo wraps. Top them with avocado and serve with a salad for a fun meal that doesn’t feel like an obligatory no-waste effort.
This vibrant vegetable-laden matzo pie exemplifies the recipes of Cucina Ebraica — Jewish Italian regional cuisine. It’s seasonal, adaptable, and can be made with meat or as a pareve vegetarian or vegan dish.
Minas are Sephardic pies that layer matzo with a wide range of fillings. Some use meat, others are vegetable based, and some — like this Greek cuisine-inspired mina – use cheese and herbs.
Side salads and sandwich fillings as matzo toppings
The sorts of protein-based salad-spread hybrids you’d tote to a picnic or find on a diner or deli menu work really well as matzo toppers. Basically, if it tastes good on a cracker, it’ll work on matzo.
This creative egg salad eschews mayonnaise in favor of creamy tzatziki made with yogurt, cucumber, garlic, and lots of fresh dill and parsley. Celery adds refreshing crunch.
This recipe includes instructions for poaching chicken, but you can just as easily shred leftover chicken and repurpose it here. Feel free to skip the almonds if you can’t use nuts.
Ignore that bagel in the background — this homemade whitefish salad is great on matzo too, especially if you add some lettuce and sliced tomato.
Bonus recipe: a chocolatey matzo spread
We've covered matzo for snacks, dinner, and what's this now? Dessert.
There’s nothing so effective for beating matzo boredom as slathering it with this luscious chocolate spread. Add fresh fruit if you want, but I can assure you it’s absolutely possible for picky eaters to subsist on a steady diet of matzo and this chocolate spread for the week of Passover. Especially if they’ll deign to eat some matzo pizza, too.
Want more Passover ideas?
Don’t pass over these additional creative Passover meal ideas.