Hanukkah Desserts for Special Diets

It feels like everyone is on some sort of special diet nowadays and that can be tricky when entertaining for a Jewish holiday that often has traditional ceremonial foods, especially desserts. Most hosts I know will make some sort of general inquiry as to the meal preferences of guests but sometimes for big parties it is hard to accommodate everyone. Here are some of the most common special diets and desserts you can serve.


I remember when being a vegetarian was exotic but compared to some of the diets below, it is pretty pedestrian now. Vegetarians don’t eat meat or animal by-products that require animal slaughter, but can typically eat products produced by animals that don’t require death, such as dairy products. Gelatin, rennet, and suet are no-nos for vegetarians but they can eat eggs, milk, butter, or cheese.

Hanukkah Desserts for Special Diets: Coconut Bars | Chai & Home

Healthy Coconut Bars by Sofia Von Porat



Vegans don’t eat meat, like a vegetarian, but they also don’t eat (or sometimes even wear) ANY animal product. They will not eat dairy like eggs, milk, butter, or cheese. Vegetarians can eat anything a vegan will eat, but vegans don’t eat everything a vegetarian will eat. If you have both vegetarians and vegans to cater to, cook for the vegan.

Hanukkah Desserts for Special Diets: Vegan Glazed Donuts | Chai & Home

Vegan Glazed Donuts by House of Lovelock


Raw Vegan

A raw vegan is just like a vegan, except they will not eat anything cooked. For example, there are many vegan cheesecake recipes, but a raw vegan will only eat one that is a no-cook cheesecake. If you have a vegetarian, a vegan, and a raw vegan to cater to, cook for the raw vegan. Okay, we’ll stop playing that game now.

Hanukkah Desserts for Special Diets: Raw Vegan Donut Holes | Chai & Home

Raw Vegan Donut Holes by This Rawsome Vegan Life


Low Sugar & Fat

Low sugar and fat diets are not about catering to people on “regular” weight-loss diets, but to people with insulin issues, like diabetics and pre-diabetics. For these folks, desserts low in fat and calories are not just preferences, but an important health issue. Desserts with fruits, no added sugar, and low fat dairy are best. Nuts, whole wheat flour, and wheat bran are good too. Be careful when searching for low sugar recipes, many of them that claim “no sugar, no carb” are very high in dairy fat, which is still bad for a diabetic.

Hanukkah Desserts for Special Diets: Cottage Cheese Crepes | Chai & Home

Cottage Cheese Crepes by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary



People who have a gluten-free diet do so because they have a sensitivity to the protein gluten found in barley, rye, and wheat. Some people are highly sensitive and won’t be able to eat anything even produced in a non-gluten-free kitchen, but others are less sensitive and can eat gluten-free products where ever they are made.

Hanukkah Desserts for Special Diets: Grilled Pineapples | Chai & Home

Rum Soaked Grilled Pineapple by Gimme Some Oven



People on a Paleo diet attempt to eat the same kinds of food that stone age (pre-agricultural) man ate: meats, vegetables and fruits, with no dairy, grains, sugar, or salt. This diet is about the avoidance of processed foods.

Hanukkah Desserts for Special Diets: Paleo Raspberry Chocolate Crumble | Chai & Home

Raspberry Chocolate Crumble by Paleo Running Momma


You can also see why having a fruit salad is so common at large events! Every, single special diet on this list would be able to eat a fruit salad. So even if you are considering challenging yourself with a new recipe, you might want a fruit salad backup.

It is always prudent when faced with entertaining someone with a special diet that you don’t understand, to inquire if you are unsure of what to make.  Even if you aren’t having a potluck, if a guest on a special diet offers to bring something for themselves, consider taking them up on it. It might be code-word for “I’m not going to eat anything at your house.”

In addition, some of these diets also feature ingredients which may be difficult to get with a kosher certification. All of the bloggers featured above are experts in their respective areas, so browse their sites for even more recipes.