Best Hamantaschen Fillings, Ranked
By: Bluma Gordon, Lubicom Marketing Staff
What do you get when you ask 50+ women to vote for their favorite hamantaschen fillings? Animated conversation about all things food and baking, nostalgic discussion about old-world flavor and traditional Jewish food, and, of course, a list of everyone’s favorite hamantaschen fillings, ranked from most popular.
Before getting down to ranking each flavor, here are the general winners and losers of the survey:
Spinach, cheese, and pizza hamantaschen are out; voters are loyal to traditional flavors and fruit-jam fillings.
Most participants prefer the familiar flavor of sticky, sweet filling set in a dry, simpler dough.
“I love the sweet stickiness of the hamantaschen filling,” says Shira, a survey participant. “I try to make a few different fillings; the color contrasts of different flavors on a plate create a pretty, stained-glass, mosaic-like pattern,” says Esti, another participant.
Healthier Alternatives Lose
When it comes to traditional Jewish food—like donuts, hamantashen, and cheesecake— most drop their whole wheat and sugar-free preferences in favor of old-time Jewish comfort food. Sorry, whole-wheat, sugar-free hamantaschen dough.
Favorite Fillings, Ranked
1. Apricot jam or lekvar (butter)
I could not have been more surprised that apricot jam ranked most popular, but then again, I don’t consider myself to be a hamantaschen connoisseur, either. Hamantaschen fans opt for the “sweet and sentimental” and “traditional” and savor the old-world slightly tart but sweet flavor of the apricot filling.
If you don’t want to make apricot jam or butter from scratch, it’s best to at least invest in a better quality jam with more fruit content. Experts choose the Tuscanini brand as their favorite.
2. Chocolate filling or spread
Though less traditional, it’s no surprise that chocolate is one of the top go-to flavors. After all, who doesn’t like chocolate? And parents like it because it’s the most kid-friendly option. You can play around with the flavor and test a variety of chocolate fillings, like chocolate spread, chocolate-hazelnut or Nutella spread, or even chocolate chips.
For a quality, non-dairy version of chocolate hamantaschen, see Kosher.com’s recipe.
3. Strawberry, followed by raspberry
Here’s to more votes for sweet, classic fruit fillings that are also popular ingredients in other pastries and used all-year-round. Besides tasting great, the dark purple-red and light red jams get extra points for their visual appeal.
4. Poppy seed filling or lekvar
Believe it or not, the nutty, slightly fruity-tasting filling still has raving fans. “I love the crunch of the poppies,” says Malka.
Taste aside, using poppy seeds for hamantaschen is a long-established tradition and evokes feelings of nostalgia. (The words ”haman taschen”, in fact, mean “poppy-seed pockets”). “I always used to eat poppy-seed hamantaschen when I was a child, so it’s a taste of childhood”, says Naomi.
Don’t want to cut corners the next time you bake poppy seed hamantaschen? See this awesome recipe that shows how to make it from scratch.
5. Date and prune filling or lekvar
I was surprised that dates and prunes, ranked equally popular, also made it to the list of faves, but I’m probably not the only one who thought they’re outdated. Prunes and dates are appreciated for being intensely rich and sweet and are a time-honored hamantaschen filling. If it’s one of your favorites, you’re in luck: these flavors are here to stay, now that the trend for healthy snacks, like nutrient-rich dried fruits, is on the rise.
Good news even if you’re not a hamantaschen aficionado! You don’t need to love hamantaschen to indulge in a personal mini apple pie or cake. If you don’t particularly fancy the fruit-mash variation, you can create a filling out of chopped apples, and your hamantaschen will be just as delicious.
Try this mouth-watering recipe of apple-caramel hamantaschen.
These three unique flavors were also mentioned and ranked equally popular. If not winners, they certainly deserve honorable mentions.
7. Peanut butter/peanut butter and chocolate
If you’re a peanut butter lover, this flavor is a natural pick-me-up. Try it with chocolate, and you have a homemade, finger-licking peanut-butter-taschen-cup.
If you enjoy the Israeli flavor of sesame spread and want to try out something new this year—go for halva.“ The last time I tried a hamantaschen recipe with halva, it got rave reviews,” says Tamar.
Want to give it a try? Check out Kosher.com’s halva hamantaschen recipe here.
Another great option if you prefer a pie-style pastry with whole fruits. You can use a filling made from cherries that are fresh, canned, dried, whole, or mashed.
Whether you prefer to stick to the traditional hamantaschen that Bubby made, or have a less conventional streak, don’t forget the message in this beautiful minhag: There’s always sweetness hiding in all aspects of our lives.