Tzimmes

published Sep 7, 2022
Tzimmes Recipe

This Ashkenazi Jewish side dish is a celebration of stewed root vegetables.

Serves8

Prep30 minutes to 35 minutes

Cook55 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes

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A photo of a serving bowl with a portion of Tzimmes (a traditional stew for Passover, made from a combination of sweet potatoes and dried fruit)
Credit: Rebecca Firkser

The Ashkenazi Jewish side dish tzimmes (also written as tsimmes, both pronounced “tsi-miss,”) is a celebration of stewed root vegetables — typically carrot or sweet potato —i n a casserole, perfumed with orange and lightly sweetened with brown sugar or honey and dried fruit.

Like many traditional recipes with long histories, it’s made a bit differently in every home. Some folks make tzimmes on the stove in a large pot, while others roast it in the oven, casserole-style. In some recipes you may find the dish includes pieces of stewed beef, and in others it’s vegetarian (if not vegan, like this version). You may find it almost like a soup, and served in a bowl as its own thing; other times, like here, tzimmes is a stewy side with flavorful juices ready to be mopped up with a piece of challah.

This tzimmes recipe can be made in either a large Dutch oven or a 4- to 5-quart baking dish with a lid. It’s made with both sweet potatoes and carrots (I like to use rainbow carrots for a bit of color variation, but if you can only find orange it’ll taste just as good), and is slightly less sweet than others you may have had before. For more variation, I also prefer to use a mix of big pieces of pitted dates, prunes, and dried apricots, although again, just one will suffice. Freshly squeezed orange juice is non-negotiable here — the carton simply can’t match the brightness of a fresh orange.

What Does the Yiddish Word Tzimmes Mean?

In Yiddish, the language historically spoken by Ashkenazi Jewish people, “tzimmes” is a phrase meaning “fuss” or “to do,” as in, “Why are you making a tzimmes of this?” Some say the dish tzimmes inspired the phrase, as there is quite a fuss made over peeling and chopping. Personally, I tend to skip the peeling part, as I never feel like there’s a major variation in taste, and it saves so much time.

Credit: Rebecca Firkser

Why Is Tzimmes Consumed on Rosh Hashanah?

Tzimmes is often seen on tables during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year celebration. During this holiday, sweet fruit like pomegranate, apple, and dates (as well as dishes made with honey and other naturally sweet items like carrots or sweet potatoes) are served; these items symbolize the coming of a sweet new year. Tzimmes is also often served during Passover, as the recipe leans away from ingredients some people avoid during the holiday, like leavened wheat products or legumes. 

Can I Freeze Tzimmes?

Tzimmes is easily frozen. Stored in airtight containers, the dish can last in the freezer for up to three months. Defrost the tzimmes in the refrigerator, then reheat in a 350ºF oven until warmed through. 

Tzimmes Recipe

This Ashkenazi Jewish side dish is a celebration of stewed root vegetables.

Prep time 30 minutes to 35 minutes

Cook time 55 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes

Serves 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds

    sweet potatoes (about 5 medium)

  • 2 pounds

    rainbow carrots (about 1 1/2 bunches)

  • 1/4 cup

    olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided

  • 10 ounces

    pitted deglet noor or medjool dates, prunes, dried apricots, or a combination

  • 2

    medium oranges

  • 3 large cloves

    garlic

  • 3/4 cup

    low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, or water

  • 2 tablespoons

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon (optional)

  • Flaky salt, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Prepare the following, adding each to the same large bowl as you complete it: Cut 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes and 2 pounds rainbow carrots into 1 1/2-inch chunks (no need to peel). Tear or slice 8 ounces pitted dates, prunes, dried apricots, or a combination in half.

  3. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and toss to combine. Transfer to a large Dutch oven or 4- to 5-quart baking dish with a lid and arrange into an even layer.

  4. Juice 2 medium oranges until you get 1/2 cup juice and pour into the now-empty bowl. Grate 3 large garlic cloves into the bowl. Add 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (or water), 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon if using. Whisk to combine. Pour over the vegetables and fruit.

  5. Cover the pot or baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the vegetables are knife tender, 15 to 25 minutes more. Sprinkle with flaky salt before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: Tzimmes can be roasted up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated. Reheat in a 350ºF oven.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat in a 350ºF oven until warmed through. The vegetables will be more soft this time around.