Matzo Brei Recipe – Classic Jewish Comfort Food for Breakfast, Brunch or Brinner
A few years ago, my hubby and I drove over to one of our favorite Los Angeles breakfast spots, Factor’s Famous Deli on Pico Boulevard. Factor’s is a quintessential deli with a big menu full of American-style Jewish delicacies. Usually, when we go to a deli, I order the same delicious breakfast—toasted egg bagel, cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers and tomatoes. It’s sinfully yummy. But for some reason, on this occasion, I felt like trying something different. One dish stuck out to me, one I’d never tried before but had always been curious about…
Now, I’ve been cooking Jewish food for several years, but because of my husband’s ancestry and birthplace I’ve focused more on the Sephardic side of the cuisine. Certain Ashkenazi dishes are foreign to me. While this dish is made by both Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews, it’s more of an Ashkenazi favorite. The only thing I knew about matzo brei was that it contained eggs and matzo. I like both eggs and matzo—the idea of the two being scrambled together was intriguing.
Not knowing any better, I’d always thought the dish was pronounced matzo bree. My hubby corrected me.
“It’s pronounced matzo brigh,” he said. “And it’s delicious. You should try it. It’s Stephen Spielberg’s favorite breakfast.”
How my husband knew that, I don’t know. So brei rhymes with try, huh? Feeling adventurous, I decided to try it and see what I was missing. The waitress came to take our order.
“I’ll have the matzo brei,” I said proudly, my pronunciation pitch-perfect.
“Would you like it salty or sweet?” she asked.
Yikes! I was caught off guard. “People eat it sweet?”
“Sure,” she said. “Some people like it with sugar. And some like it salty. It’s up to you.”
I was totally confused, but the thought of sweet eggs made me a little queasy. “Uhh, I guess I’ll have it salty?”
“Great,” she replied. “I’ll bring you a side of sour cream and applesauce, too.”
Sour cream and applesauce? With eggs? Maybe this breakfast experiment wasn’t such a great idea. But I wasn’t about to chicken out. I was in it to win it.
After about ten minutes, the waitress brought me a plate of matzo brei. It looked harmless enough, and it smelled good. I decided to dig in.
With my first bite, I tried the eggs and matzo on their own. Yum, I thought. Second bite, I tasted the eggs and matzo with a dab of sour cream on top. Double yum. Finally, I tried a bite with everything… eggs, matzo, sour cream, and applesauce.
Have mercy. I’m in matzo brei heaven.
Now I understand why some people like this dish sweet. After that first taste, I ended up piling on the applesauce. There’s something about that added sweetness that really enhances the egg/matzo mixture. I cleaned my plate. It’s the perfect comfort food, and it stuck with me all day… I skipped lunch.
What does matzo brei mean?
Matzo brei aka matzah brei, pronounce matzo brigh, as my husband so lovingly told me, translates to fried matzo since it’s fried in butter.
What is a typical Jewish breakfast?
While there isn’t a “typical” Jewish breakfast, there are some things that come to mind when you think of Jewish breakfast.. bagels and lox, matzo brei, french toast, blintzes – all of the Jewish daily staples. In Israel it’s also common to eat shakshuka and salads made from fresh produce and a simple olive oil dressing.
Fast forward to now. Matzo brei has become a regular part of our kosher for Passover meal rotation. It’s a great way to use up the extra matzo from the Seder. We eat it for breakfast, brunch and brinner. It’s so adaptable and tasty, we actually look forward to it all year!
How do you like your matzo brei?
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- 2 large eggs
- 1 sheet matzo or egg matzo
- 1 tbsp milk or water
- 1 tbsp butter
- Salt and pepper
- Applesauce, sour cream, sugar, cinnamon, apples, nuts… you can even get creative and add grated cheese or diced veggies.
- Add eggs to a bowl and scramble with a whisk along with 1 tbsp milk or water until the eggs are nice and fluffy.
- Run a sheet of matzo under running hot water for 20-60 seconds until it just begins to soften. The amount of time you'll need to keep it under the water depends on the type of matzo you're using. Let it get soft, but don’t let it turn mushy! Shake off the excess water and reserve the matzo.
- Melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet or frying pan over medium heat.
- Break the matzo into small pieces and place them in the skillet. Sauté the matzo pieces over medium heat for about a minute, until they are evenly coated with butter.
- Pour the scrambled egg mixture over the matzo pieces. Stir the eggs with a spatula until they are well combined with the matzo. Cook the eggs for about 2 minutes over medium, flipping and stirring continuously—don’t let the eggs sit, or they will overcook. You want the eggs to be cooked soft- not runny, but just barely cooked. Overcooked or browned eggs ruin the flavor entirely. As you are cooking, sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste. This would also be the time to add sugar, if you want a sweeter matzo brei.
- Serve the matzo brei immediately with a small side of applesauce and sour cream, or maple syrup if you like.
- Note: If you are planning on adding extras like diced vegetables, nuts, or fruit, sauté them with the matzo and butter. Add extra seasonings or cheese with the eggs.