Have you ever had hamantaschen? It’s a soft and chewy three-cornered cookie that can be filled with a variety of different fillings like cherries, apricots and poppy seeds. This Hamantaschen Recipe with cherry filling is a generations-old recipe that has delighted young and old for many years.
Here you’ll find how to make these delicious cookies with step-by-step instructions to make it easy and fun!
What is the significance of hamantaschen?
Hamantaschen cookies are baked in celebration of the Jewish holiday of Purim. The story of Purim tells about how Haman, the villain plotting against the Jews, was defeated. We make these triangular cookies to represent the triangular shape of Haman’s hat.
Purim is not a well-known Jewish holiday. It doesn’t have the religious or historical significance of some other Jewish holidays, nor does it get the hype of Hannukah which only gets lucky to fall around Christmas each year.
Purim is a low-profile holiday, often forgotten among us quasi-Jews. But I never forget it. Why? Because Purim is when I got to make cherry hamantaschen with my Bubby.
The history of hamantaschen
Bubby is the Yiddish word for Grandmother, and that’s what we called her. My Bubby was an amazing cook – the kind of cook that never used recipes or even measurements. She was definitely more of a cook than a baker, but hamantaschen was one thing she baked to perfection.
I have vivid memories of sitting on her kitchen counter while she rolled out the thick dough so I could use the rim of a glass to cut circles out of it. Then, we would drop tiny dollops of fruit filling (cherry was always my favorite) in the center of the dough circles, and carefully pinch the edges together to form a triangle.
The dough would puff up and turn golden brown in the oven, and I could barely wait for them to cool before digging in.
Ingredients for Hamantaschen Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need to make these yummy fruit-filled cookies:
- All purpose flour. This recipe also translates very well to gluten free. For gluten free hamantaschen, simply substitute your favorite measure-for-measure gluten free flour blend for the regular flour.
- Vegetable oil. Similar to the batter for Jewish apple cake, this cookie batter is made with oil instead of butter.
- Milk. Any kind of milk will work in this recipe, from nonfat to whole milk, so just use whatever you have.
- Vanilla extract
- Baking Powder
How to make Hamantaschen
First, make the dough. Combine your wet and dry ingredients in a stand mixer. The batter will be pretty thick.
Then, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it for at least an hour.
Now the hamantaschen dough is ready to work with.
Roll it out thin and cut the circles. You can use a large round cookie cutter, a biscuit cutter or the rim of a large glass. A drinking glass might be too small, unless you want mini hamantaschen, which is totally cool.
If I’m using a glass, I’m usually grabbing a martini glass which is nice and wide.
Then, fill your hamantaschen by placing a small amount of filling onto the center of each dough circle.
Dot the rim of the circle with water so the dough sticks together more easily, and then pinch the corners of the dough together to form a triangle shape.
Brush the unbaked cookies with egg yolk, which will give them a nice glossy finish. Now bake!
Popular fillings for Hamantaschen
Although cherry hamantaschen will forever be my favorite, there are other hamantaschen fillings that are arguably even more popular than cherry.
- Poppy seed. This is definitely the most traditional filling for hamantaschen, and it’s not just seeds plopped into the center of the cookie. It’s an actual rich, sweet, paste-like filling. You can make it homemade or buy it canned.
- Apricot. Another classic hamantaschen filling, apricot jam or preserves can be found in most grocery stores.
- Raspberry. Same as apricot, only less classic. Still so delicious.
- Prune. My Pop Pop’s all time favorite! It may sound icky, but prunes are just dried plums. So if you like plums, maybe give prune filling a try. Like cherry pie filling and canned poppy seed filling, you can find prune filling at the grocery store.
- Chocolate. Of course, if you really want to sell your kids on hamantaschen, chocolate is always the way to go. Chocolate spread or even chocolate chips are never a bad idea.
TIPS for making the best HAMANTASHEN
Cherry Hamantashen are basically easy to make, but there are always fails when you’re trying to make the triangles look perfect. Don’t get discouraged. You can really only use a tiny bit of filling if you don’t want it to explode all over the cookie.
We have always used pie filling instead of jam to fill these cherry hamantashen. And I literally only use one cherry per cookie. Anything more will make the center explode – trust me on this one.
Also, be sure to roll the dough pretty thin. I’m talking 1/8″ thin. This cookie dough is thick to begin with, and not rolling it thin enough will result in a very doughy cookie.
How to Store Hamantaschen
These cookies will last up to a week if stored in an airtight container. Some like to refrigerate them, but I recommend keeping them at room temperature so that they don’t get stiff.
Hamantaschen also freezes well, so don’t trash the leftovers!
Making this hamantaschen recipe with your kids or anybody you love is a really fun experience that everyone should try at least once.
Even some years when I’m really late in remembering it’s Purim (like this year), I always make the time to do it. I do it for my Bubby, and I do it for my mom, and for my daughter.
Hopefully one day my daughter will find herself rolling out the dough while her kids cut circles and pinch them into triangles, and remember all the women who came before her as lovingly as I do.
When you make this Hamantaschen Recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more traditional Jewish recipes, try these:
- Mom’s Best Homemade Jewish Apple Cake
- Easy Kugel Recipe with Cottage Cheese
- Best Raspberry Rugelach Recipe
For more cookie recipes, try these:
- Homemade Oreo Cookies
- Salted Butterscotch Oatmeal Cookies
- Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies with Lemon Glaze
Hamantaschen Recipe with Cherry Filling
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 3/4 cups vegetable oil
- 3/4 cups milk
- 4 eggs + 2 egg yolks for brushing
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp. baking powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1 can cherry pie filling
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together. Add milk, oil and vanilla. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the mixer, one cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Form the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out the hamantaschen dough on a lightly floured surface until 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out circles using a 3-inch biscuit cutter or martini glass. Dip your fingers in water and dampen the edges of each circle. Place 1-2 cherries in the center of each cookie. Pinch the edges of the dough together in 3 points to make the shape of a triangle. Be sure that the edges are sealed.
- Transfer the unbaked cookies to the prepared baking sheets.
- Whisk the egg yolk in a small bowl. Brush the dough with egg wash. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool on a wire rack.