Make Ahead

Joan Nathan's Chosen Hamantaschen

March 15, 2022
8 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 24 hours
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • makes 30 cookies
Author Notes

Cookies for Purim! —Joan Nathan

Test Kitchen Notes

This hamantaschen recipe is perfect to make for Purim, but these delicious treats are so fun to make, you'll find yourself craving them any time of the year. It features an easy, savory filling and homemade pastry dough. If you're not familiar with Purim, according to, "The jolly Jewish holiday of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring) ... It commemorates the (Divinely orchestrated) salvation of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian empire from Haman’s plot 'to destroy, kill, and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day. Literally 'lots' in ancient Persian, Purim was thus named since Haman had thrown lots to determine when he would carry out his diabolical scheme, as recorded in the Megillah (book of Esther)."

These traditional three-cornered pastries feature an easy filling made of figs, half of a lemon, half of an orange, walnuts, marmalade, orange-flavored liqueur, and ground cinnamon—simply blend everything together in the food processor. Feel free to adjust the ratios or use whatever you prefer in your hamantaschen filling. You can opt for chocolate, other fresh fruits, vegetables, or meat. The dough also comes together quickly, and while it rests, it's a great time to make the filling, or plan ahead and let the dough chill overnight. Forming the pastries can involve the whole family, and these treats can be stored for a couple of days; some reviewers mentioned that the hamantaschen tasted better the longer they sat. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/4 cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 dried figs, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, quartered and seeded
  • 1/2 orange, quartered and seeded
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon Triple Sec or other orange-flavored liqueur
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Cooking spray
  1. To make the dough, using a food processor or stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream the butter and ½ cup of the sugar. Add the egg, orange juice, and ½ teaspoon of the vanilla and continue to cream until smooth.
  2. Add 2½ cups of the flour, the baking powder, and salt. Mix until the dough comes together, adding more flour if needed, until the dough is pliable (it will be slightly sticky). Roll into a ball, using more flour if needed, flatten, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
  3. To make the filling, in a food processor, pulse the figs, lemon, orange, walnuts, marmalade, Triple Sec, cinnamon, and the remaining ½ cup sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla until chopped but not puréed. You should have about 2 cups. Set aside until the dough is chilled.
  4. Heat the oven to 375°F. Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray. Fill a small bowl with water.
  5. Roll the dough out on a slightly floured board until ⅛ inch thick. Cut into 3-inch circles. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center of each circle. To shape the hamantashen, brush water around the rim of the circle with your finger. Pull the edges of the dough up to form a triangle around the filling. Pinch the 3 corners together, leaving a small opening in the center. Transfer to the prepared sheet and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tops are golden.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

21 Reviews

Sflapan March 15, 2024
I made the filling with Turkish figs which are light colored. As a result, the appearance is unappetizing. Be sure to use a black dried fig. The Bonne Maman Orange Marmalade and Gran Marinier made it plenty sweet. I will use minimal sugar next time.
chaotic_kitchen February 26, 2021
Excellent recipe! I made a couple of tweaks based on what I read in other comments and my own preferences. I doubled the recipe, but cut the butter to 4 sticks and only put 3/4 cups sugar in the dough. I think the dough came out perfect but the filling was a little sweet for my taste, I would probably reduce the sugar in it to 3/4 cups next time as well (if you're not doubling the recipe, 3/8 cups of sugar is the same as 6 Tbsp). I do not own a food processor so for that step, I just finely chopped the orange, lemon, walnuts, etc. with a knife. Additionally, I skipped the greasing and used parchment paper as someone below has suggested. Also, maybe my oven runs cold but I consistently found them too pale at 10-15 minutes and would keep them in for 18-20 minutes for that really golden top. I am overall very happy with them, and would make them again any time of year!
chaotic_kitchen February 26, 2021
I have yet to experiment with this, but I would also like to try going easy on the marmalade and adding another 1/2 a lemon to the filling (a whole lemon if you're doubling) as a way to cut some of the sweetness with extra acidity.
[email protected] February 25, 2021
Definitely bake these off the day before you want to share them! Most fillings can be prepped days ahead and the dough will certainly be fine for 24 hours. I forgot to add another note: the recipe calls for greasing the pans. Seriously, after 2.5 cups of butter??!? No way. Use parchment paper or silicon pads to bake but I would never grease the pans, even so. They won't need it and may spread too much.
[email protected] February 25, 2021
I was prepared to leave a negative review until I tasted these the second day: lovely. The dough prep was simple and easy---I did use 3.5 cups flour as it needed it and I did use the zest. Refrigerated overnight. Made a filling with dried apricots, walnuts and honey. I used a beaten egg instead of water to brush around the cookie cutout, added filling, and after forming triangle, I brushed outside of each cookie with the beaten egg. Refrigerated each pan for 10-15 minutes before baking. Bake for 20 minutes. The dough is lovely but it isn't very sweet so that demand a bit of balance with the filling.
Also, no matter what you do upon rolling out, this dough will crack but it is forgiving i.e. you can repair cracks with dough bits. One other tip: when you are ready to roll out dough, remove from fridge 30-45 minutes ahead. I will make these again using poppy seed.
SM March 18, 2019
I used this dough recipe but not the filling (I made another poppyseed filling plus homemade lemon curd). A few tips for those who have found the dough too sticky/had trouble with the hamantaschen opening in the oven: First, treat this dough like pie dough. Refrigerate it after you make it (I recommend overnight or several hours rather than one hour.) Second, work with it quickly. The more this dough is handled, the more it will warm and become difficult to use. Third, once you have filled and shaped your hamantaschen, refrigerate them on the baking pan for another half hour before baking. This helped mine keep their shape in the oven. My cookies also needed 20 minutes of baking -- they were too pale at 15 minutes. Enjoy!
SM March 18, 2019
OH, one last note: I probably used closer to 3 3/4 cup of flour total. It really needed more flour.
Ruth M. March 5, 2018
This makes a fantastic cookie!
fatima April 5, 2017
Sorry this is NOT an israeli recipe , but an authentic recipe from the levant (lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan including Turkey
Jeanne F. March 12, 2017
@Gail: Yes, has a video of Ms. Nathan making these, and she does include lemon and orange peels in the food processor with the rest of the filling ingredients.
I'm making these now, and so far the first batch is delicious.
Also, I used the full 3 cups of flour and had no problem with the dough spreading in the oven.
Gail March 6, 2017
Do you use the the 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange peels, too? I assume so, but just checking. The recipe says quartered & seeded but not peeled. Please confirm. LOVE this recipe--best yet!!
shmattah March 11, 2015
This is the best hamantashen dough I have EVER HAD. Usually I am only so-so on hamantashen but this recipe makes me want to make them all year round. I went rogue with the filling and filled them with Nutella. Best Purim ever.
pamela J. February 27, 2013
I just watched the video and there are several discrepancies between the recipe as presented there versus the one printed here. There were some minor variations in the method, but also differences in the quantity of certain ingredients. For instance, whereas this recipe calls for a cup of sugar in the dough and no sugar in the filling, the recipe in the video calls for a half cup in each. There's a similar discrepancy with the vanilla. Also, the recipe shown in the video calls for a tablespoon rather then a teaspoon of baking powder, although the audio references a teaspoon.
Joan N. February 27, 2013
@pamela: Yes, you're right about the baking powder. The teaspoon that's written in this recipe and referenced in the video is correct; the tablespoon that's printed in the video is an error. As for the sugar and vanilla, though, those amounts are correct as explained in the printed recipe and match the video: The entire recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar -- 1/2 cup for the dough and 1/2 for the filling. And the entire recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of vanilla -- 1/2 for the dough and 1/2 for the filling.
pamela J. February 27, 2013
Thanks so much for your prompt and helpful clarification. I've a lifelong weakness for hamantaschen, but have never tried a fig filling. I'm looking forward to it.
Cleowhiskey February 24, 2013
@learnoff: smitten kitchen had the same problem in her version. looking through the comments for her post, many seasoned hamantaschen makers told her she needed to be _folding_ the corners over each other, not pinching them together. i'm going to be making these too, so i hope that does the trick.
learnoff February 24, 2013
Thanks. I'm thinking it is most likely a problem with the flour to butter ratio. It's not at all that the corners of the pastries came apart. The problem was that the dough literally flattened out as though the dough "melted". They retained the triangle shape.
Cleowhiskey March 2, 2013
Have you figured out what the correct butter: flour ratio should be? I'm planning on making the recipe this weekend.
louisez February 23, 2013
One more thought, learnoff. The recipe I use calls for 1 stick (1/2 c.) butter or margarine to 2 c. flour. This recipe calls for 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 c.) butter or margarine. I dug out the Jewish holiday cookbook by Joan Nathan, and there the recipe calls for 2/3 c. butter or margarine. Could the amount called for here be mistaken?
louisez February 23, 2013
My daughter has the same problem, learnoff. I haven't used this particular recipe, but, assuming you've pinched the dough together sufficiently, perhaps the issue is the amount of flour. This recipe asks for 2 1/2 - 3 c. flour. Perhaps you need to add flour toward the higher range (which was my daughter's issue)?
learnoff February 23, 2013
I made this recipe and they are absolutely delicious and pretty easy to make. But i have the same problem that I always have when I make hamantashen - when I bake them the dough sort of tends to spread so the filling looks like it's nearly coming out of the pastry. It's not that I overfill them. This year I even refrigerated the cookies between each step - when I cut the dough into rounds i put them in the fridge, after i made/shaped them i refrigerated them again before baking and yet the dough still sort of "slid". I wish i could post a photo so i could show you and perhaps you could give me a suggestion. The taste is great they just didn't look professional. Any suggestions? Thanks!