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Allergy-Safe Alternatives For Your Seder Plate

Safe Alternatives for Charoset, Matzah, and Other Seder Plate Foods


Updated April 10, 2008

Passover is by many accounts the most celebrated holiday on the Jewish calendar. However, the traditional seder plate includes a number of common food allergens. Here are some simple yet appropriate substitutes for this central part of your Passover table.


Two popular substitutes for the traditional roasted egg -- which would both be appropriate for anyone with egg allergies -- are a mushroom or a flower. The mushroom is a closer visual analogue to the egg, while the flower is perhaps a better symbol for spring and rebirth.

Zeroa (Lamb Shank Bone)

Jayne Cohen's Gefilte Variations cookbook recommends two alternatives which may be appropriate for you if you're allergic to lamb: a roasted beet or a chicken wing.


Charoset (or haroset) can be problematic for tree nut allergies, sulfite allergies, apple allergies, or spice allergies (though this last one is fairly easy to control if you're making your own). In general, pepitas (dry roasted pumpkin seeds) are a reasonable substitute for walnuts or almonds in any charoset recipe, although you may need to adjust salt or sugar. Pumpkin seeds are safe for tree nut allergies and are considered less allergenic than sunflower seeds or sesame seeds.

Look for recipes calling for fresh fruit (rather than dried) if you're making charoset for a sulfite allergy. Also, be aware that bottled lemon juice contains high levels of sulfites if your recipe includes this ingredient. To avoid apples, consider making charoset with figs or dates. Cinnamon, a traditional charoset seasoning, can be avoided entirely; nutmeg is a possible substitute if you're not sensitive.


One brand of gluten-free matzos exists at this time: Shemura Oat Matzos. Do be aware that some celiacs react to avenin, a protein in oats that is similar in structure to gluten. (For more information, see Oats and Celiac Disease). If you're allergic to oats, or a celiac who doesn't tolerate oats, your rabbi may have guidance.

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