Yummy! The Best Traditional Bar/Bat Mitzvah Food (+ Menu Ideas)

Your guests came all the way to celebrate your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah… you’re not going to let them starve, are you?

Of course not! You’re like a Jewish mom hosting a Shabbat dinner: feeding and taking care of everyone!

Except…

This time – you’ve got a little more than a few guests on your hands. You’ve got dozens, if not hundreds (or if you’re a Russian Oligarch – thousands) of guests to feed!

Now. The only question (OK, 3 questions) is:

  • What traditional Bar/Bat Mitzvah food can you serve your guests?
  • How do you serve so many guests (hint: buffet, food stations or plated [or a combination])?
  • Where you can you find the best Bar/Bat Mitzvah menus you can use as inspiration?

Those are big questions.

Well, guess what? I’m going to help you answer each and every one of em’!

Excited? You should be!

Let’s get this foodfest started…

Bar/Bat Mitzvah (Kiddush) Luncheon Food

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Luncheon

A Bar/Bat Mitzvah luncheon (or Kiddush luncheon) is a more intimate & less extravagant meal hosted by the Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s family. It’s held immediately after the Bar/Bat Mitzvah’s service, usually in the synagogue or at the family’s house.

Did You Know?

Some Jewish families either hold a Bar/Bat Mitzvah luncheon or a party, while others choose to have both.

Unlike Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties – most Kiddush luncheons tend to have a single buffet as opposed to food stations or a plated dinner service. After all, we’re talking about a smaller scale event that is usually held on Shabbat.

And because it’s held on Shabbat:

  • There’s no Bar/Bat Mitzvah theme
  • There’s no music & entertainment
  • There’s no fancy dinner service

But there’s a buffet, and it’s full of traditional (and Kosher) Bar & Bat Mitzvah food!

What kind of food?

Traditional Bar/Bat Mitzvah Food

These yummy traditional Bar & Bat Mitzvah dishes have become staples in Bar/Bat Mitzvah luncheons (or dinners, for that matter).

That doesn’t mean you need to serve ALL of these on your upcoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony. But it’ll definitely be a good idea to pick a few of your (and your guest’s) favorite ones.

Tip: If you’re planning to host the luncheon/dinner yourself – I highly recommend you check out Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem cookbook. It has tons of delicious and easy-to-follow recipes for the dishes I mentioned below (and many others)… and that’s coming from an amateur cook like myself.

Warning: Some of these dishes are meaty and some are dairy. Careful not to serve both in the same meal!

Challah

Kiddush Luncheon Challah

First things first.

Before you take a bite of the delicious food on the table – you first recite the Hamotzi blessing and eat Challah.

Did You Know? The Hamotzi (blessing over Challah) precedes the meal. Jews aren’t allowed to eat anything in a Kiddush before they bless (and eat) Challah.

Hummus & Tahini (with Pita)

Kiddush Luncheon Hummus

Zohan was right: Israelis like Hummus (and Hummus likes Israelis).

You can’t walk a mile in Tel Aviv/Jaffa (or Israel, for that matter) without spotting at least half a dozen Hummus or Shawarma (coming up) joints.

The same is true with Jewish events: a Jewish wedding or Bar/Bat Mitzvah without Hummus is simply incomplete.

Bonus Points: Compliment to Hummus/Tahini with popular Israeli condiments like Matbucha or Schug to make it extra spicy.

Falafel

Kiddush Luncheon Falafel

Hummus & Falafel is a match made in heaven (who knows – maybe that’s they actually serve in heaven).

While you can technically serve hot Falafel balls by themselves, it’s best served with Pita & Hummus (and the other condiments I mentioned above).

Shawarma

Kiddush Luncheon Shawarma

The guy behind the McDonald’s counter famously asks: “Would you like some fries with that?”

The guy in the Shawarma joint asks a similar question: “Would you like Hummus, chips & salade with that?”

So if you’re already serving Hummus – you might want to get some Shawarma rolling too!

Roll, Shawarma, roll!

Shakshuka

Kiddush Luncheon Shakshuka

Every time a friend of mine arrives in Israel for a visit, I always take em’ out to Jaffa for hot & delicious Shakshuka.

Trust me – there’s no better way to start off your trip to Israel than a hot, spicy Shakshuka on a hot summer day (it’s almost always summer in Israel if you know what I mean).

It’s, without question, my favorite Israeli street food!

Don’t let the “street” part fool you – it’s wildly popular at formal Jewish events: Jewish weddings, Bar & Bat Mitzvahs, even Bris ceremonies!

Bottom line? Just because you’re not celebrating your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah in Israel – doesn’t mean you can’t serve your guests a delicious Israeli dish.

Word of Caution: The only danger with serving Shakshuka is it that it can really messy. Shakshuka is often served “watery”, which can completely mess up people’s dresses (or at least turn them into red). So if you’re considering serving Shakshuka – it might be a good idea to ask the caterer to cook it until the excess liquid is evaporated.

Shnitzel

Kiddush Luncheon Shnitzel

Mmmmm.

I’ll never forget growing up and smelling that delicious Schnitzel smell coming out of the kitchen before Shabbat.

I couldn’t wait till Kiddush so I can finally dip those bad boys in a sea of ketchup! Who am I kidding… I still do!

Especially when it’s being served in a Bar/Bat Mitzvah party or luncheon! (you’re lucky I’m not invited to your event)

Cholent (Chamin)

Kiddush Luncheon Cholent
Cholent (original image by Gran)

If there’s an official Kiddush luncheon icon – it has to be Cholent. This traditional Jewish stew is a regular in many synagogues and Jewish households on Shabbat (including mine!).

You put it on a slow cooker before Shabbat comes in – so that by Shabbat in the afternoon you have a hot pot of cholent ready at your disposal!

Warning: People with sensitive stomachs who need to deliver an important presentation the day after – you have been warned.

Kugel

Kiddush Luncheon Kugel
Kugel Yerushalmi (original image by Peteravivangel)

Kugel is a sweet egg noodle (or potato) casserole common in Ashkenazi households. It’s often served on Shabbat, especially during Kiddush luncheons.

Popular Variations: Potato kugel, Noodle Kugel, Yerushalmi, Kugel with Kishke, Sweet Kugel

Knishes

Kiddush Luncheon Knishes
Knishes (original image by Off-shell)

Knish is a traditional Ashkenazi snack often served in Shabbat meals. They’re tiny little golden pastries that are often filled with potato, onions, meat or dairy.

Doesn’t sound too healthy, huh?

Potato Latkes

Kiddush Luncheon Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes (original image by Meal Makeover Moms

If you ever visit a Jewish home during Hanukkah – odds are you’ll see potato latkes making an appearance and giving Hanukkah donuts a run for their money.

But unlike Sufganiyot, these tiny Jewish potato pancakes are often made during the year, too. Serve with applesauce or sour cream – and you get a great little appetizer to for your Bar/Bat Mitzvah.

Gefilte Fish

Kiddush Luncheon Gefilte Fish
Gefilte Fish (original image by Mushki Brichta

Gefilte Fish is another common Ashkenazi appetizer commonly served on Shabbat, holidays (especially Passover) and special occasions (you guessed it – in Bar/Bat Mitzvahs!). 

Wine

Castel Grand Vin. Vintage 2012

What’s a Kiddush luncheon without alcohol?

I mean, the reason it’s called a “Kiddush luncheon” is because we recite the Kiddush blessing – the blessing over wine. So… we need wine (at the very least)!

But since this is a Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration. More alcohol is certainly welcome!

Other Popular Alcoholic Drinks: Arak, whiskey, vodka.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Desserts

Care for some dessert?

Doesn’t matter if it’s a Bar/Bat Mitzvah luncheon or a party – you’d still want to give your guests a delicious Bar/Bat Mitzvah dessert that’ll give them a nice sugar high (at least as high as the chair in the hora dance).

Tip: Most Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties & luncheons have a strict “no-dairy (Parve)” policy (unless you don’t serve meat at your event). You know – better safe than sorry.

Here are a few Bar/Bat Mitzvah dessert ideas to end your child’s big day on a sweet note:

Rugelach

Medium Rugelach Gift Basket

Rugelach is the most famous Jewish pastry (except for maybe holiday pastries like Sufganiyot). It’s the go-to pastry you eat on Shabbat – and is essentially a must-have on Bar/Bat Mitzvah luncheons.

You can either make 50-100 Rugelach yourself, or you can buy a giant Rugelach gift basket to save you the time and hassle.

Sweets & Chocolates

Bar Mitzvah Tefillin Gift Basket

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Believe it or not – you can even get creative with your chocolates & sweets. This unique (and yummy) Tefillin gift basket is a great example (and it’s Parve, too).

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Cake

Torah Cake
Original image by Amy Stephenson

Many parents bake or order a themed Bar/Bat Mitzvah cake to celebrate their child’s big day.

Remember – this is still a birthday… only BIGGER.

So you get the Jewish teen a special cake (not necessarily bigger) to celebrate the occasion. Bar & Bat Mitzvah cakes are often part of the decoration… and then when it’s time for dessert – you eat the decoration!

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Cake Pops

Blue Star Of David Bar Mitzvah Party Cake Pops

Cake pops (like these delicious Bar Mitzvah cake pops) are an excellent bite-sized dessert, and a fabulous way to end a fabulous day (hey, that rhymes!).

Tip: You can either serve them as desserts or as Bar/Bat Mitzvah party favors.

Fruits & Nuts

Hula Delights Deluxe Roasted Nuts Gift Basket

What if someone is in a diet… and they REALLY don’t want to break it?

You can do a little Mitzvah on your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah – and spread a bunch of fruit & nut boxes.

Sure, they may not be able to resist munching on those delicious snacks and pastries … but hey – at least you gave them the option to choose the healthy route!

Ice cream

Kiddush Luncheon Ice Cream

Pretty self-explanatory.

Tip: Make sure it’s Parve if you’re hosting a meaty meal.

Sorbet

Kiddush Luncheon Sorbet

Sorbet is often the preferred choice among Jewish families if they’re hosting a meaty meal (which is the usually the case).

It’s basically just cold fruit and sugar – sweet, delicious and parve.

Crème Brulee

Kiddush Luncheon Creme Brulee

Every time I attend a wedding and I see those two magical words on the menu – I’m filled with joy 😋.

So if you’re having a Bar/Bat Mitzvah party and you have crème Brulee on the menu – please leave my invitation in the Comments below. Thanks, appreciate it.

Fried Banana

Kiddush Luncheon Fried Banana

I haven’t seen many Bar/Bat Mitzvah luncheons or parties serving fried banana. I only saw at once a few years ago in a Bar Mitzvah brunch I attended in Israel, and remember thinking to myself: “This is friggin’ delicious. How come I don’t see these more often?!

Cotton Candy

Kiddush Luncheon Cotton Candy

The carnival is in town! Cotton candy has become all the rage in Bar & Bat Mitzvahs in the past few years.

Brings back good memories…

Candy Sushi

Kiddush Luncheon Candy Sushi
Candy Sushi (image by Jim Reynolds

It’s sushi… only with candy!

Sweet!

Marshmallows

Kiddush Luncheon Marshmallows

There’s a reason why so many kids failed the Marshmallow test. It’s hard to resist!

Well, this time – no scientist is putting any restrictions on your Marshmallow intake… so have at it!

Bar/Bat Mitzvah (Kiddush) Luncheon Menu Example

Here’s an example of typical Bar/Bat Mitzvah brunch menu I created for my fake Bar Mitzvah luncheon (don’t forget to bring Bar Mitzvah presents).

Bar Bat Mitzvah Luncheon Menu

Want to learn everything you need to throw your child a Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration of a lifetime?

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Party & Reception Food

Bar Bat Mitzvah Party Reception Food

Over the years – Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties have grown from an intimate gathering of close friends & family members into a wedding-size event with hundreds of guests.

Today, a typical Bar/Bat Mitzvah party includes:

In other words: the whole shebang.

As you might expect: the same is true with Bar/Bat Mitzvah food.

When you’ve got lots of people attending your child’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah – buffets tend to become tricky. People end up forming lines behind the food table, congestion ensues… before you know it – your Mitzvah celebration looks like Los Angeles traffic on a Monday morning.

The solution?

  1. Food stations
  2. Plated Meals

Let’s look at each option in turn.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Food Stations (and Trucks)

Bar Bat Mitzvah Food Stations

Food stations are a modern combination of a buffet and a plated service:

  • Like a buffet – you get up to “fill your plate”, as opposed to waiting for a waiter to bring your food.
  • Instead of one long buffet table – you have multiple stations, which helps shorten (but not eliminate) lines and alleviate congestion.
  • Guests have a wider selection of food options. You can even cater to people’s preferences and diet restrictions by offering a variety of food stations (vegan, vegetarian, Atkins diet, gluten-free etc’).

I personally prefer food stations over sit-down meals: It’s cheaper, has more variety and it encourages social interaction.

All you need to do is give your guests few appealing, delicious & appetizing food stations to choose from – and you just got yourself a satisfied guest (who knows, they might even write your child a bigger Bar/Bat Mitzvah check).

Did You Know?

There’s a new Bar & Bat Mitzvah trend emerging in the past few years: Bar/Bat Mitzvah food trucks! That’s right… instead of having several food stations, you’ve got several trucks serving different kinds of food.

Let’s look at a couple of Bar/Bat Mitzvah food station (and food truck) ideas that’ll get your guests so excited they’ll start singing “I’ve got love in my tummy”!

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Food Station Ideas

Here’s a list of Bar/Bat Mitzvah food station ideas to help to get your creative juices flowing (including what food you can serve in each station):

Tip: I recommend you choose 4-5 food stations max – with one (or two max) dish in each station.

Israeli & Middle Eastern Station

  • Hummus / Tahini
  • Falafel
  • Shakshuka
  • Shawarma
  • Kebab

Mexican Station

  • Nachos & Dip
  • Mexican Salad
  • Tortilla
  • Tacos
  • Enchiladas
  • Mexican Salad

Italian Station

  • Pasta (spaghetti, penne, fusilli, rigatoni, linguine, fettuccine…)
  • Ravioli
  • Italian meatballs
  • Fried Tortellini
  • Artichokes

Meat & Grill (Carving) Station

  • Brisket
  • Roast beef
  • Smoked chicken
  • Mini chicken skewers
  • BBQ

Fish Station

  • Smoked salmon
  • Tuna Tartar
  • Ceviche
  • Smoked Whitefish
  • Sea bass Salad

Asian Station

  • Sushi
  • Chicken Pad Thai
  • Soba noodles
  • Dim-sum
  • Seaweed soup

Street Food Station

Tip: These are great for Bar/Bat Mitzvah food trucks

  • Mini burgers + French fries
  • Hot dogs
  • Fish & chips
  • Tacos
  • Sushi

Salad & Vegan Station

  • Caesar Salad
  • Quinoa Salad
  • Garden Salad
  • Bean Salad
  • Thai Slaw Salad

Dessert Station

  • Fresh fruit
  • Crème Brulee
  • Fried Banana
  • Cotton candy
  • Sorbet
  • Ice cream

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Plated Service

Bar Bat Mitzvah Party Plated Service

A plated meal is the same traditional food service you normally see at weddings and other formal events.

You know the drill. Every guest gets a menu and chooses their preferred option in each course:

  1. Appetizer (Hors D’oeuvre)
  2. Entrée (Main course)
  3. Dessert

The traditional service is the most expensive option – but is often the preferred one among parents who are planning a large Bar/Bat Mitzvah event with hundreds of guests.

Tip: You might want to have a separate buffet or food station for kids. Trust me, you don’t want those poor waiters chasing after a hyped-up kid who can’t sit still for two straight seconds.

Bar & Bat Mitzvah Party Menus 

Let’s look at a few Bar & Bat Mitzvah catering menu examples – so you’ll know what to expect (and demand) from caterers and venues (notice that kids have a separate buffet menu):

Bar Mitzvah Party Menu Example

Bar Mitzvah Menu

Bat Mitzvah Party Menu Example

Bat Mitzvah Menu

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Party – Kid’s Menu Example

Bar Mitzvah Kids Menu

Conclusion

Mmm. Writing this Bar/Bat Mitzvah food article made me really hungry.

What should I eat?

Well, it depends… Am I going to a buffet? A food station? Or should I just wait for the waiter to help me decide?

OK OK. You got me! Truth is: I’m not even hungry (I just ate a half hour ago)!

Those are the exact questions we just answered in this article!

Now go take care of the food and “cook” your child an amazing Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration!

Mazel Tov 🙂

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