This post includes a gluten-free matzah recipe and affiliate links. Matzah is also referred to as “matzo.”
On the first night of Passover, Jews are commanded to eat matzah as a reminder of the food our ancestors ate as they left Egypt in haste. Before leaving Egypt, they mixed wheat flour and water but didn’t allow the bread to rise (they didn’t have time to wait). When they baked the bread, they had what is known today as flat matzah crackers or unleavened bread.
Traditional matzah is typically made from two ingredients – wheat flour and water. It also can be made from any of the five grains mentioned in the Torah – wheat, rye, oats, barley and spelt – however, oat is the only grain mentioned in the Torah that is gluten-free (and people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivities should be cognizant to use only CERTIFIED gluten-free oats).
On the Chabad website, I learned that even oats can be a controversial grain to use in your gluten-free matzah recipe for a number of reasons – many that are hotly debated by rabbis around the world.
Regardless of the debate, if gluten causes a serious health risk to you, most reasonable rabbis seem to agree that using oat flour in order to complete the mitzvah of matzah is a satisfactory solution. (Please note that I take issue with the idea that the author of the Chabad article insinuates that gluten intolerance, celiac disease and allergies are not all considered serious conditions. If you are celiac, allergic to wheat, or gluten sensitive, DO NOT eat matzah made from wheat flour. Doing so will impact your health regardless of where you are on the gluten disorder spectrum.)
The mitzvah of matzah is further complicated when you consider that matzah must be prepared and baked fast in order to prevent any sort of leavening. In fact, you must prepare and bake the matzah in less than 18 minutes from the time water and flour are combined to the time you remove the matzah from the oven. This is because once water is added to the flour, the flour begins to ferment and therefore it commences the leavening process. (Remember, old time bread making used fermentation to leaven vs. store-bought yeast. Read my article about sourdough to better understand how fermentation works in leavening bread.)
What About Gluten-Free Matzah in a Box?
I actually enjoy the taste of gluten-free matzah from the box. It’s light and crispy and doesn’t weigh on you like regular wheat flour matzah. I like the Yehuda brand and bought nine boxes of it (mainly because it was on sale at Sprouts).
However, while the majority of store-bought gluten-free boxes of matzah are Kosher for Passover, they are NOT to be used for the purpose of completing the mitzvah of matzah at the seder table. It says so right on the box, “Not a replacement for matzo at the Seder.”
The reason this boxed matzah cannot be used at the seder table is it does not include oat flour, which, like I mentioned prior, is one of the five grains mentioned in the Torah (and the only grain ok for those on a gluten-free diet) that must be consumed in order to complete the mitzvah. Most boxed matzo contain a blend of tapioca and potato starches.
Also, it’s uncertain if the matzah is baked within the required 18 minutes – but time doesn’t matter since the ingredients exclude someone from completing the mitzvah anyway.
Now mind you, you can buy Kosher for Passover gluten-free matzah that would satisfy the requirements of even the most conservative of rabbis. In fact, Amazon carries a few brands: Lakewood Oat Matzah ($39.99 for 1 lb box) and Kestenbaum’s Oat Matzah (for $42.99 for 16 oz box). I guess if you have the money, by all means spend it. But for me, I cannot justify this expense.
Fear Not My Gluten-Free Friends
I personally would like to have the satisfaction of completing the mitzvah of matzah without having to consume even a crumb of gluten, so this year, I decided to make my own oat flour matzah.
Now mind you, my process isn’t perfect. I didn’t guard the oat flour from harvest to milling, nor can I know for sure if heat was used in the processing or storing of the gluten-free oat flour I used. On top of that, I’m no matzah making expert, nor do I have a Kosher house.
That said, I can still complete the mitzvah of matzah in my own, unique way that would satisfy at least two requirements: (1) I would eat matzah made from certified gluten-free oats, and (2) the matzah would be unleavened, prepared and cooked in less than 18 minutes flat.
Is my gluten-free matzah perfect? Nope. Does it meet all the halacha requirements? Nope. Did a Rabbi supervise the process – from harvesting and milling of the oat flour – to my baking process? Nope. Is my home Kosher? Nope.
However, I did get a few things right:
Does making my own gluten-free matzah recipe make me feel closer to completing the mitzvah of matzah without making me sick or breaking the bank? Yep. Did I make a huge effort to complete the mitzvah of matzah? Yep. Does the gluten-free matzah recipe taste good? Ah, that’s a rhetorical question. Let me ask you, “Is matzah supposed to taste good?”
Gluten-Free Matzah Recipe
This gluten-free matzah recipe is actually quite simple and requires certified gluten-free oat flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF oat flour), water and Kosher salt (optional but recommended). It also requires a little potato starch for dusting the surface for when you roll out the dough.
In order to prepare and bake this gluten-free matzah recipe in 18 minutes flat, you must have everything ready to go. You’ll use about 7-8 minutes to do the prep work, and you’ll need the last 10 minutes for baking. Hurry!
First, you must have the oven preheated to 500 degrees. We are going to quickly cook the crap out of these matzahs in 10 minutes – so the oven must be really hot and ready to go.
Second, you must prepare your baking sheet. Line it with parchment paper. Do not use any cooking sprays or silpat mats (the oven is just too hot for that).
Third, you must measure out all your ingredients and have them ready to go. Have the oat flour measured and placed into a large bowl (this will be your mixing bowl), your salt in another, and the water in the another.
Forth, you must have all your supplies ready to go. Have a rolling pin, fork, butter knife, mixing spatula and flat spatula (for lifting the flattened dough from the countertop to your baking sheet) at your side.
Fifth, dust your rolling surface with potato starch. Have it ready to go.
Sixth, and lastly, have your phone nearby. Tell Siri, “Set my timer for 18 minutes.” When she says, “Go,” you go!
To make the matzah:
Add the salt to the oat flour, give it a swirl, then add the lukewarm water. Mix it altogether quickly and efficiently with your spatula and/and or hands. If the dough is too dry, add a tiny bit more water at a time. If the dough it too wet, add a little more oat flour. Have a bowl of oat flour and additional water at your side just in case.
Once the dough holds together, place it into your hand, shape it into a giant ball, then place it on your floured surface and roll it out as thin as you can go without breaking it and without it sticking to the surface.
Cut off the fray edges with a knife, then cut it into four sections. This isn’t a beauty contest, so don’t worry if the edges aren’t even or in perfect squares. Use your flat spatula to transfer each square on to your baking sheet.
Take a fork and puncture holds throughout the matzah (to prevent it from bubbling or rising).
Get that baking sheet in the oven ASAP and bake it for 10 minutes. Be sure to remove it from the oven at least 10 seconds before your alarm goes off.
Mazel Tov! You are ready to complete the mitzvah of matzah, my gluten-free friend!
I hope you enjoy this gluten-free matzah recipe – and the mitzvah that comes along with it. Chag Sameach!
PS: Looking for an amazing dessert to serve at your Passover seder? Try this Gluten-Free Chocolate Quinoa Cake.