Jewish Vegetarian Kishke

Vegetarian kishke

Kishke. There’s nothing elegant or pretty about it.

It’s a homely dish of humble origins. Strictly peasant food, made from whatever was left over to throw into a bowl (meat or vegetables or both), combine with a filler (flour, barley, bread crumbs, or matzoh meal), color with paprika, and spice mildly with salt, pepper, and maybe some garlic.

Kishke vegetables

Kishke - Chopped vegetables

As far as I remember, my family only ever served the Jewish vegetarian version (celery, carrot, onion, spices, flour, in a synthetic sausage casing). And there was no such thing as making it from scratch. Grandma bought it from the deli down the street, sliced it, and then baked it “to death” (just the way I liked it).

When I was a kid, I had no idea what kishke was made of. It was just… kishke, a delicious entity of its own. I probably would have been appalled to know it was made of celery, carrots, and onions.

Kishke - Ready to mix

Kishke - Flour version, mixed

But this is definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Combine these ordinary ingredients (I bet you have most, if not all, of them in your kitchen right now), add heat, and what you get is something a little ugly and oh-so-delicious.

Close your eyes, take a bite, and isn’t it glorious? Greasy. Crunchy. Savory. The very definition of umami.

Kishke - Log formed

Kishke - Flour version, wrapped for baking

Kishke - Baked for an hour

Kishke is not to be found in our neck of the northeast woods. Not even a frozen, lesser variety.

Until now, the only way to satisfy my kishke craving was to make a pilgrimage to that deli in Toronto and smuggle a few logs across the border. Yes, we do that (we also cart back chocolate bars, halva, bagels, challah, and, oh, let’s not get into this right now…). In fact, we have one of those precious logs in our freezer, thanks to my sister’s last trip. And we’re saving it for a special meal.

Kishke - Sliced for second baking

So, it’s been on my mind for quite awhile to learn to make this dish. This month’s Let’s Lunch theme—a song- or music-inspired dish—provided the perfect excuse. The recipe I came up with, after reading every vegetarian kishke recipe I could find, is pretty good. It comes as close to the real thing as anything I’ve tasted. It won’t keep me from stopping in at the deli in Toronto for a fix, but at least it’ll keep me in kishke between trips.

And the song? Oh yes.

So what if the song was inspired by the dish and not the other way around? So what if I never even knew the song growing up? It’s still a hoot, and you can polka while the kishke bakes.

** I don’t care who the song says stole the kishke. I know the truth. After I sliced the kishke for a final bake, I left the slices unguarded on the kitchen counter while the oven heated. When I returned some minutes later, one of the slices was gone. The culprit? It was Hudson, our ever hungry, food-snatching cat.


Want to know what songs the rest of the Let’s Lunchers are singing today? Read their posts to find out (I’ll continue adding links as they becomce available, so check back here for a full list later).

Tiger Cakes ~ from Ellise at Cowgirl Chef
Honey Mac Wafers with Coconut ~ from Lisa at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Tommy’s Chili ~ from Felicia at burnt-out baker
Purple Rice Pudding ~ from at Pat at The Asian Grandmothers Cooknbook
Banana Bread ~ from Rashda at Hot Curries and Cold Beer
Chicken and Dumplings ~ from Cathy at ShowFood Chef
Quiet munchies for concert-going ~ from Patrick at Patrick G. Lee
Coconut Cake ~ from Steff at The Kitchen Trials
Cuban black beans ~ from Linda at spicebox travels
Gluten-free Thin Mints ~ from Linda at Free Range Cookies
One Meatball ~ from Karen at GeoFooding
Smoked Brown Sugar Crème Brûlée ~ from Maria at Maria’s Good Things
Put the Lime in the Coconut Macaroons ~ from Emma at Dreaming of Pots and Pans
Pear Frangipane Tart ~ from Danielle at Beyond The Plate

If you want to join us for the March challenge (theme still to be determined), just follow the #letslunch tag in Twitter.

Vegetarian Jewish Kishke

Yield: 2 8-inch kishkes


  • 2 stalks celery, washed and trimmed
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 small onion, peeled
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (or as much as is needed to make a moldable dough that holds together)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. With a rack in the center of the oven, preheat to 350°F.
  2. Very finely chop the celery, carrots, and onions (you can do this in a food processor).
  3. Combine the chopped vegetables and all other ingredients in a bowl and then stir to combine.
  4. Divide the mixture into two equal portions.
  5. Place each portion on a separate piece of aluminum foil and form a log from each portion, each approximately 8 inches long.
  6. Wrap the foil tightly around each log.
  7. Place the logs on a cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour.
  8. Remove the kishke from the foil. You can slice and serve it as is, or can refrigerate or freeze it for later on. If you’re like me, and like a drier/crunchier kishke, before serving, slice a log into 2-inch slices, put the slices on a baking sheet, and bake in 350°F until the slices are browned and crispy.
  9. You can serve the kishke unadorned, or you can top it with gravy or any sauce of your choice (tart, fruity flavors like cranberry and lingonberry go very well with it). Last night, I tried it with this balsamic-fig sauce and it was wonderful.


  1. That is a very unusual recipe (also because I’d never heard of the dish before)
    I am surprised no eggs are involved. I would have thought it could use some binding agent (beyond the flour, that is)

    1. Rebecca says:

      That’s a good point. I was also expecting to see eggs in the recipe, or something else to give it body, but the flour and oil (or whatever fat is used) seem to do the trick. That said, the resulting kishke is bound quite well, but is very dry. Many people prefer to simmer their kishke with cholent (stew) to give it more moisture. I like the dryness.

      1. Question —- if I add kishke to my cholent, do I do so after baking it out instead of baking it?

      2. Rebecca says:

        I’ve never cooked it with cholent, but I believe you just wrap the kishke in foil and put it in the cholent to cook at the same time.

  2. Why 2 times the 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder?

    1. Rebecca says:

      Typo! Thanks for the catch!

  3. Some of the best foods come from humble ingredients. I’ve never tried Kishke…must remedy 🙂

  4. Abby says:

    I’ve never tired kishke (or even heard of it)…I’ll have to ask my mom about it! And after your rave reviews, I feel like I need to give it a try…..

  5. GeoKaren says:

    wow – I am going to have to try this – love the savory flavors & I will dance around the kitchen when I do. Polka is all my husband can dance!

  6. What a fun post, love your story and loving the idea of a vegetarian version – bookmarking this now. Enjoyed having “lunch” with you 😀

  7. So much fun, and a good recipe to add to my vegan arsenal. Fun LetsLunching with you!

  8. Kayte says:

    Cool. I have never heard of this before…very interesting and somewhere someday I will get a taste of it.

  9. Wow, these sound awesome!! I’ve also never heard of kishke, but now I’m intrigued to give them a try!!

  10. Andrea says:

    I grew up with the real deal available at the local Kosher Deli (Bronx, NY) Then we grew up and there was “mock derma”, very similar to your recipe made with a can of “Veg-all” and ground up Tam-Tam Crackers. We made it into a log, wrapped in tin foil, baked it in the oven. Like you, I liked it dry. As a kid in that Kosher deli, I would always get with gravy on the side. Going to make this for Passover. It will be good for my memories and my vegetarian daughter!

    1. Rebecca says:

      Thanks for writing, Andrea! Let me know if this recipe comes at all close to the kishkes of your past — and if you come up with modifications that make it even better. Happy Passover!

  11. Paula says:

    I have not had Kishke in years, thank you for the recipe now I can make my own!

    1. Rebecca says:

      Oh, I hope you like it!

  12. sheryl jordan says:

    how much matzo meal would you use instead of flour for passover.

    1. Rebecca says:

      It’s going to depend on how wet the rest of the ingredients are. You want everything to hold together into a moldable log, but not be too heavy. So I’d start with a cup of matzo meal, mix well, then try molding a ball or small log to see how it holds together. If it doesn’t seem firm enough, add more matzo meal in 1/4 cup increments.

  13. Zisele says:

    I made this and substituted some shmaltz for the oil, from skimming my chicken stock. I sauteed the onions in the shmaltz and the results were to die for…..probably, literally!!

    1. Zisele says:

      I realize that it doesn’t qualify for strict vegetarian…but for those who don’t mind, it’s so worth it!

    2. Rebecca says:

      That’s a great variation! I bet it added a great depth of flavor. I’ll have to try it next time. Thank you!

  14. nuser says:

    This recipe has big potential. Consistency was excellent , too carotty though and not spicy enough. Would you recommend using sage or poultry seasoning ? I used hungarian paprika and it does not cut it.

    1. Rebecca says:

      Yes! I’d like it to be spicier, too. You might want to try a hot paprika (if you used a regular/sweet paprika). For a more interesting taste, we could also substitute a rich stock (vegetable, or chicken if you’re not making a vegetarian version) for the water. Sage would probably taste wonderful in it!

      1. nuser says:

        Thank you for the reply.
        We lived near Yitz’s in Toronto for many years and they probably had the best Kishke ever made. A cheerful bunch of guys operated the restaurant
        which was immaculate , and we frequented the place often .Sad to say life changes and sometimes your diet . We had so many jewish friends who always wanted to nosh somewhere . I am going to make some variation on your recipe , which is excellent, and report the results. B.T.W. , had a little bit of Matzo meal left and threw it in.

      2. Rebecca says:

        Toronto kishke… how I yearn for it…. Let me know how your batch works out!

  15. Rivkah says:

    it sounds wonderful. if you were to simmer it in cholent, i imagine you’d have to bake it for a while first, right? how long would you recommend baking it and also i’m guessing you’d have to unwrap it and just put it directly on top of the cholent?

    1. Rebecca says:

      Yes, I’d still bake it for an hour (or maybe 45 minutes), until it’s a solid log, then unwrap and simmer in the cholent.

  16. Doreen Gordon says:

    I was recently reminscing with one of my cousins about my mom’s kishke. Oh how I miss it! She never used a recipe – it was all from memory and therefore nobody has a clue how to recreate this yummy dish. Of course when my mom cooked kishke it was enclosed in sausage (or some type) of casing which, sadly, are no longer available anywhere – at least not in my ‘neck of the woods’. So, thank you, in advance for this wonderful recipe and trip down memory lane. I’m going shopping tomorrow and will get all the ingredients so I attempt to replicate my mom’s kishke in conjunction with the cholent I’ll be making Friday for Saturday lunch.

    1. Rebecca says:

      Thank you so much for stopping by! I hope the recipe works for you. Feel free, of course, to tweak it to get the right taste from your childhood (and if you come up with something you love, I’d love to hear what you did!). I don’t know where to find kosher casings, but if you can do without kosher, you can find natural (and synthetic) sausage casings here:

  17. Rebecca Liebes says:

    This is genius! I may try this with potato or white beans to make it gluten free. Thank you for the recipe.

    1. Amelia says:

      So…did you try this with white beans? If so, may I ask how it turned out?

      1. Rebecca says:

        I haven’t yet, but still mean to. Have you?

  18. Rhonda Stahl says:

    I fell in love with kishke earlier this year and have been experimenting (uh…developing) new and wonderful recipes to take to temple..That is, if my husband doesn’t become the culprit “who took the kishke”. Today I’m using YOURS….but with potatoes AND ground garbanzo beans to keep it gluetin free. Smells great even before I got it in the oven. Can’t wait to try it!

  19. I am gluten-intolerant. You mention barley as an alternative to the flour – cooked or? I’m assuming cooked then add until it comes together as a dough? thanks for any tips you can provide. I also thought perhaps i could use besan (garbanzo bean/chickpea flour) but that might change the taste too much.

    1. Rebecca says:

      I haven’t tried using any of the flour alternatives myself, but I saw a few recipes in my online research that indicate other people have had good luck with alternative. I would definitely go with something that had a very mild flavor.

  20. Andrea says:

    We grew up loving the fleishig stuff, so gross. I’ve been making this for years with sooo much more oil. I can tell you the kishke is amazing with finely crushed cornflakes or if you eat such things, Ritz crackers instead of half of the flour. I process it so it’s pretty smooth like the real stuff.

    1. Rebecca says:

      Half the flour sounds like a good idea… and who can complain about more oil?! lol!

  21. Jennifer Jones says:

    Thanks for this recipe! This is my first time on your blog. I made this recipe two days ago. I found out about it too late to make for Passover, but I had some leftover matzo meal and this recipe was a perfect use for it. The kishke made my house smell great when it was cooking.

    I’ve never had kishke, so this was a new food for me. I think I would describe it as a dense, moist savory bread. I did a second bake with one of the logs so I could try it both ways. Not having a history like you, I liked it both ways.

    Here are my tweaks:
    > smoked paprika instead of regular
    > I saw the comment about shmaltz. I wanted to keep it cruelty-free, but that comment inspired me to replace the salt with No-chicken Better than Bullion (which is awesome). I’d probably use 1 tsp instead of 1/2 tsp if I make this again. I also played with the idea of using smoked salt and skipping the bullion.
    > To prevent contamination, I wrapped the log in parchment paper first. I had cut big enough sheets that I think I could just skip the aluminum foil all together next time.
    > To make it healthier, I replaced the oil with aquafaba.

    If I make this again, I’d probably also play with: adding 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and adding some sausage spices. I have a great recipe for vegan sausage that I could just apply the spices to this recipe for Passover. Also, for a second bake, I’d probably experiment with using the air fryer.

    What was so interesting to me about this recipe is that it is very similar to vegan sausages and makes me wonder if people who first started making the vegan sausages (with gluten flour as the base) had kishke as the inspiration.

    Loved the song!

    1. Rebecca says:

      I’m so glad you found the recipe useful (and liked the song!). Smoked paprika is genius! Smoked salt would also be wonderful. I think, yes, you could skip the bullion altogether and either use vegetable stock/flavoring or Better Than Bullion. Love your experimenting!

  22. merci pour cette recette! j ai juste ajouté du bouillon de volaille très épicé et remplacé la carotte par de la courge butternut (juste un peu plus de farine dans ce cas), des oignons séchés en plus de l oignons cru. Un vrai délice! encore merci!

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