Chocolate rugelach
Type Pastry
Region or state Israel and Jewish (Central Europe).
Main ingredients Dough: sour cream or cream cheese
Filling: any of raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, chocolate, marzipan, poppy seed, or fruit preserves
Cookbook: Rugelach  Media: Rugelach

Rugelach (/ˈrɡələx/ ROO-gəl-əkh; Yiddish: ראָגאַלעך and Hebrew: רוגלך), other spellings: rugelakh, rugulach, rugalach, ruggalach, rogelach (all plural), rugalah, rugulah, rugala, roogala (singular), is a Jewish pastry of Ashkenazic origin. It is very popular in Israel, commonly found in most cafes and bakeries. It is also a popular treat among Jews in diaspora.

Traditional rugelach are made in the form of a crescent by rolling a triangle of dough around a filling.[1][2] 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,[3] 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.[4]


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 cookie.[3] In this context, note that rog (ראָג) means "corner" in Yiddish.[5] 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.[6] This explanation is in conflict with Yiddish usage, where the word keniglich (קעניגליךּ) is the dominant word meaning "royal".[7]

Finally, in modern Hebrew, they are known as roglìt (רוֹגְלִית), a post-biblical Hebrew word meaning "trailing vines", though the name rugelach (רוגלך) is still commonly used by Hebrew speakers.[8] The Yiddish word ruglach probably came first. The modern Hebrew is probably a neologism, chosen for its similarity to the Yiddish and its descriptive meaning.


Rugelach can be made with sour cream or cream cheese doughs[1][2][3], but there are also pareve variants (with no dairy ingredients),[9] so that it can be eaten with or after a meat meal and still be kosher. Cream cheese doughs are the most recent, probably American innovations, while yeast leavened[9][10] and sour cream doughs[11][12] are much older.

The different fillings can include raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, chocolate, marzipan, poppy seed, or fruit preserves which are rolled up inside.

Rugelach closely resemble schnecken, an eastern European (Poland, Russia, Ukraine) Jewish pastry that generally has cream cheese dough and is rolled into a cylinder and sliced, becoming a flat spiral, whereas rugelach are formed from individual triangles of dough and rolled into a crescent shape. In recent years, chefs have introduced savory versions of these pastries, filled with chicken and schmaltz or salmon and boursin cheese.[13]

See also


  1. 1 2 Joan Nathan, Joan Nathan's Jewish Holiday Cookbook, Schocken, 2004; page 284.
  2. 1 2 Judith M. Fertig, All American Desserts, Harvard Common Press, 2003; page 135.
  3. 1 2 3 Gil Marks, The World of Jewish Cooking, Simon and Schuster, 1996; page 326.
  4. Joseph Amendola and Nicole Rees, The Baker's Manual, Wiley, 2003; page 223.
  5. Alexander Harkavy, A Dictionary of the Yiddish Language, 1898; page 312.
  6. Lois Young-Tulin, Chapter 5: Mandelbrot, Rugelach and a Family Quilt, in Jewish Mothers Tell their Stories, Hayworth Press, 2000; page 45
  7. Alexander Harkavy, A Dictionary of the Yiddish Language, 1898; page 308.
  8. Ernest Klein, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language, McMillan, 1987; page 609.
  9. 1 2 The Taste of Shabbos, Aish HaTorah, 1987; page 118.
  10. Judy Bart Kancigor, Cooking Jewish, Workman, 2007; page 474.
  11. Barbara Grunes, Best-Ever Rugelach, The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook, Raincoast Books, Vancouver, 2006; page 68.
  12. Helene Siegel and Karen Gillingham, Ida's Rugelach, Totally Cookies Cookbook, Celestial Arts Publishing, Berkeley, 1995; page 74.
  13. 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

  • Harkavy, Alexander (1898). יידיש־ענגלישעס ווערטערבוך [A dictionary of the Yiddish language ... : With a treatise on Yiddish reading, orthography and dialectal variations]. New York: The author. OCLC 19310482. 
  • Lang, George (1982). George Lang's cuisine of Hungary. New York: Atheneum. 
  • Grosberg Bellin, Mildred (1983). The Jewish cookbook international cooking according to the Jewish dietary laws. New York Bloch. ISBN 9780819700582. OCLC 614538635. 
  • Klein, Ernest David (1987). A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language (in Hebrew). Macmillan. ISBN 9780029174319. OCLC 462199426. 
  • Aish HaTorah Women's Organization (1988). The Taste of Shabbos : the complete Sabbath cookbook. Jerusalem ; New York : Feldheim Publishers. OCLC 33036781. 
  • Siegel, Helene; Gillingham, Karen (1995). Totally Cookies Cookbook. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts Publishing. ISBN 9780890877579. OCLC 32312778. 
  • Dembinska, Maria; Thomas, Magdalena; Weaver, William Woys (1999). Food and Drink in Medieval Poland: Rediscovering a Cuisine of the Past. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 
  • Gil Marks (1996). The World of Jewish Cooking (1st paperback ed.). Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780684824918. OCLC 34690573. 
  • Olver, Lynne. The Food Timeline--teacher resources for food history lessons. Food Timeline. 
  • Fertig, Judith M (2003). All-American Desserts: 400 Star-Spangled, Razzle-Dazzle recipes for America's best loved desserts. Boston, MA: Harvard Common Press. ISBN 9781299895058. OCLC 785784600. 
  • Amendola, Joseph; Rees, Nicole (2003). The baker's manual : 150 master formulas for baking (5th (English) ed.). Wiley. ISBN 9780471405252. OCLC 50252009. 
  • Nathan, Joan (2004). Joan Nathan's Jewish holiday cookbook : revised and updated on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the publication of The Jewish holiday kitchen. Schocken Books. ISBN 9780805242171. OCLC 9681693669. 
  • Goodman, Matthew (2005). Jewish food : the world at table. New York: HarperCollins. 
  • Kancigor, Judy Bart (2007). 3M Company, ed. Cooking Jewish : 532 Great Recipes from the Rabinowitz Family (Electronic book). Workman. ISBN 978-076115965-0. OCLC 966544227. 
  • Grunes, Barbara. The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook. Susie Cushner (photographer). Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-145212267-0. 
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