Simply the best pareve cholent…ever (with optional pulled beef brisket)

Tzippy Respler

Cholent is a traditional Jewish dish served on Shabbos.  Since cooking is prohibited on Shabbos, the cholent is prepared before the Shabbos and left to cook on an even temperature during Shabbos.

Over the past twenty plus years of marriage, I have tweaked my cholent recipe.  It started out as my father’s recipe and it still has the basic flavor of his cholent.  I have simplified and enhanced the recipe to suit the tastes of the ones closest to me.

Don likes it just the way it is 🙂

Kaitlyn likes the onion whole, so that she can find it.

Leah and Michelle enjoy the pareve/vegetarian option

Aaron loves when I add the pulled beef brisket (see variations)

Davida loves when I add  the pastrami brisket (see variations)

I love when I add 1/2 of a  pareve kishka recipe to the pot

I can’t please everyone at once, but everyone gets a chance at their favorite cholent.

It is simple.  It is delicious.  The toughest part will be cleaning the cholent crock after Shabbos (and stay tuned to this blog for simple and wow ways to do that, too)…


4-6 Potatoes, peeled or scrubbed and cut into large pieces

1/2 cup barley (substitute with brown sushi rice for gluten-free)

1/2 cup lentils

1/2 cup beans, soaked overnight or canned and drained (may omit for gluten-free)

1 whole onion, peeled

2-3 garlic garlic cloves, whole or minced

1 generous squirt ketchup

1 generous drizzle of Agave Syrup


Place potatoes in crockpot Friday morning.  Add rest of ingredients and combine gently.

cholent open

Fill crockpot with water until ingredients are completely covered plus 1 inch more of water.  Make sure to leave at least one inch of space between top of water level and top of pot.

cholent 1
Cover crockpot and turn crockpot on high until right before Shabbos begins (Friday at sundown).  Then, lower crockpot to your favorite Shabbos setting (see notes).  My crockpot stays on high, perhaps yours will need to be on auto or medium setting.

Enjoy this delicious cholent Shabbos morning for lunch.


To create a gluten-free version, replace the barley with brown sushi rice

Chunks of carrots, zucchini, sweet potatoes and celery may be added

Beans may be eliminated

Agave syrup may be replaced with 1/4 cup brown sugar or honey

Barbecue sauce may be used in place of ketchup

Add onion powder, zatar, garlic powder, or your favorite spice for a zestier alternative

For a meat version, place a small deckel roast, brick roast or uncooked pastrami roast on top of the cholent, immersing only a bit into the liquid. Do not use very lean cuts or they will come out dry.  Use cuts of meat that have marbling or fat surrounding them. Remove the meat from the cholent before serving.  Place meat on its own serving dish. Use two forks, pulling away from center to create a simple, beautiful pulled beef main dish.


Experiment with different types of potatoes, until you find your favorites.  I occasionally use fingerlings or teeny tiny potatoes;  I scrub them and use them whole.   You can use an assortment of different potato sizes together, too.  Some like the potatoes whole, others like a small dice, a large dice or some even enjoy the potatoes grated.  Mix it up and try something different every week.

Know your crockpot!  Since this recipe cooks overnight, do not use a crockpot that has a 6, 8 or 12 hour shutoff.  Each crockpot cooks slightly differently.   Mine cooks best when remaining at high throughout Shabbos.  Others need to be turned down to medium, low or auto settings.  If you are not sure, try turning to auto setting.  If cholent comes out too watery, try less water or using high setting next time.  If cholent comes out too dry,add water or use low setting next time.

Potatoes may be peeled or just scrubbed for this recipe.  Scrubbed potatoes will achieve a more rustic looking result, while the peeled potatoes will achieve a more refined result.  They are delicious both ways!

Any potatoes may be used, but the results will differ.  Let your taste buds decide which type of potato is your favorite for this recipe.  Higher starch potatoes like Idaho or Russet will yield a firmer and mealier inside texture.  Lower starch potatoes like Red or Yukon Gold will yield a softer and creamier inside texture.


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