Rugelach (/ˈrɡələx/ ROO-gəl-əkh; Yiddish: ראגעלעך, or Yiddish: רוגעלעך, romanized: rugelekh and Hebrew: רוגלך rōgalaḵ)[4] is a filled baked confection originating in the Jewish communities of Poland.[1][2][3] It is popular in Israel, commonly found in most cafes and bakeries. It is also a popular treat among Jews in the diaspora.[5]

Chocolate rugelach
Place of originPoland[1][2][3]
Region or stateCentral Europe
Created byAshkenazi Jews
Main ingredientsDough: sour cream or cream cheese
Filling: any of raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, chocolate, marzipan, poppy seed, or fruit preserves
Crescent-shaped rugelach
Cut rugelach

Traditional rugelach are made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling.[6][7] Some sources state that the rugelach and the French croissant share a common Viennese ancestor, crescent-shaped pastries commemorating the lifting of the Turkish siege,[8] possibly a reference to the Battle of Vienna in 1683. This appears to be an urban legend however, as both the rugelach and its supposed ancestor, the Kipferl, pre-date the Early Modern era, while the croissant in its modern form did not originate earlier than the 19th century (see viennoiserie). This leads many to believe that the croissant is simply a descendant of one of these two.

An alternative form is constructed much like a strudel or nut roll, but unlike those, the rolled dough and filling are cut into slices before baking.[9]


The name is Yiddish, the historical language of Ashkenazi Jews. The -ach ending (־ך) indicates plural, while the el (־ל) can be a diminutive, as, for example, shtetlekh (שטעטלעך, villages) is the plural of shtetl (שטעטל, village), the diminutive of shtot (שטאָט, town). In this case, the root means something like "twist" so the translation would be "little twists," a reference to the shape of this pastry.[8] In this context, note that rog (ראָג) means "corner" in Yiddish.[10] In Polish, which influenced Yiddish, róg can mean "corner", but can also mean "horn" – both the kind on an animal and the musical instrument. Croissant-shaped pastries, which look like horns, are called rogale in Polish, see Rogal świętomarciński. Rogale is almost identical in pronunciation and meaning to the Yiddish word rugelach.

Alternatively, some assert that the root is rugel, meaning "royal", possibly a reference to the taste.[11] This explanation is in conflict with Yiddish usage, where the word keniglich (קעניגליךּ) is the dominant word meaning "royal".[12]


Rugelach and Israeli pastries

Rugelach can be made with sour cream or cream cheese doughs,[6][7][8] but there are also pareve variants (with no dairy ingredients),[13] so that it can be eaten with or after a meat meal and still be kosher. Cream cheese doughs are the most recent, while yeast leavened[13][14] and sour cream doughs[15][16] are much older.

The different fillings can include raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, chocolate, marzipan, poppy seed, or fruit preserves which are rolled up inside. Vanilla-filled rugelach have become popular in New York in recent decades.

In recent years, chefs have introduced savory versions of these pastries, filled with chicken and schmaltz or salmon and boursin cheese.[17]

See also

Other crescent pastries and rolls

Other fruit-filled pastries


  1. "Rugelach". Food. 10 November 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  2. AMERICA, CULINARY INSTITUTE OF. "Rugelach: A bite-sized Hanukkah tradition". Daily Herald. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  3. Boyle, Tish (10 December 2007). The Good Cookie: Over 250 delicious recipes, from simple to sublime. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780544186637. Retrieved 28 March 2019 via Google Books.
  4. התקבלו 4 פירושים במילון לרוגלך
  5. "The Little Pastry That Could: How Rugelach Became Israel's Go to Sweet". Haaretz.
  6. Joan Nathan, Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook, Schocken, 2004; page 284.
  7. Judith M. Fertig, All American Desserts, Harvard Common Press, 2003; page 135.
  8. Gil Marks, The World of Jewish Cooking, Simon and Schuster, 1996; page 326.
  9. Joseph Amendola and Nicole Rees, The Baker's Manual, Wiley, 2003; page 223.
  10. Alexander Harkavy, A Dictionary of the Yiddish Language, 1898; page 312.
  11. Lois Young-Tulin, Chapter 5: Mandelbrot, Rugelach and a Family Quilt, in Jewish Mothers Tell their Stories, Hayworth Press, 2000; page 45
  12. Alexander Harkavy, A Dictionary of the Yiddish Language, 1898; page 308.
  13. The Taste of Shabbos, Aish HaTorah, 1987; page 118.
  14. Judy Bart Kancigor, Cooking Jewish, Workman, 2007; page 474.
  15. Barbara Grunes, Best-Ever Rugelach, The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook, Raincoast Books, Vancouver, 2006; page 68.
  16. Helene Siegel and Karen Gillingham, Ida's Rugelach, Totally Cookies Cookbook, Celestial Arts Publishing, Berkeley, 1995; page 74.
  17. Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, "The Whole Spiel: Funny essays about digital nudniks, seder selfies and chicken soup memories," Incompra Press, 2016; p. 126. ISBN 978-0-69272625-9

Further reading

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