Matza Meal vs. Flour: To substitute, or not to substitute?

Thank you so much for the recipes. I read them thru and wanted to do a cooking/baking marathon so I could have them all on my table at once. Question: do you have a formula for making some of the desserts with regular flour, etc., so I might make them for non Passover events? –Andrea

This is an interesting question, because the usual dilemma is over how to adapt recipes for Passover. Rest assured there’s no rule against eating matza once the holiday’s over. I like using matza meal all year round.

There are plenty of Jewish recipes (including those you’ve got in the folio) that call for matza meal to begin with. In these, matza meal isn’t a substitute, it’s the preferred way to go. Using raw flour in a cuajado, for example, would be awful; the better substitute here is plain bread crumbs. That goes for my Aunt Rachel’s Cake as well.

Matza meal is nothing more than ground up matza, so you’re beginning with a product that’s already been cooked – toasted. Many people tend to think of matza as bland, but it’s got a distinctive flavor, which of course affects the flavor of whatever it is you’re making. The toasting also affects texture. Regular matza meal has a coarse crumb that’s good for savory cooking – for example in fillings or coatings. Matza cake meal is finer and is meant to approximate raw flour. That works in cakes, cookies, and sauces like agristada that call for a little flour to thicken them.

The key word is ‘approximte’. Non-Passover baked goods can be adapted with fine matza cake meal, but the resulting taste and texture will be a bit different. Food is supposed to be different at Passover, so I don’t see that as a problem. As for the rest of the year, feel free to work with matza, too, and enjoy its distintive flavor and texture.



Filed under Recipes, Your Questions Answered

18 responses to “Matza Meal vs. Flour: To substitute, or not to substitute?

  1. Janet Amateau

    These distinctions are conclusions drawn from my own experience. My suggestion is not to read about this any further, but to experiment with both flour and matza meal. You’ll taste the difference, believe me.

    • Dear Janet, you are correct on your answer, baking is an alkimist science, an example that demonstrate the difficulty of substitutions in cooking is seen in rice, if one uses warm or hot water the result differs greatly than when one uses cold water. Anyway, since the theme is Matzot, we must note that there are also a couple or more of different kinds. The popular western kind, square crispy kind, the Schmurat kind and the soft Sephardit kind that I remember my Nonas used to bake for Pessah to make sure that we had a Kascher L’Pessah in the “true” Sefardi Home style. It was thicker than the Matza we eat today and as far as I remember it was also tastier. Chag Pessah Kascher Sameah l’Kulam!

  2. Yvonne

    I’m in South Africa, don’t know matzo meal. We only bake with cake flour, self raising flour, corn flour and baking powder. For a matzo meal recipe, would the alternative be bread crumbs?

    • Janet

      Yvonne, plain bread crumbs are a good substitute at any time of year except Passover, when it’s forbidden. During the holiday we don’t use baking powder, yeast, or flour, either. But matza meal is nothing more than ground up matza, so if you can buy that (you can!), you can make your own matza meal. If a recipe calls for matza cake meal, grind the matza or bread crumbs as fine as you can in a food processor.

  3. Yonos Schmaltzman

    Grinding or smashing up a particularly plain cracker like Carr’s Water Table Crackers can yield a satisfactory result as well

    • Janet

      I don’t recommend processed foods because so many of them contain ingredients that are very bad for your body. Carr’s contain palm oil, which contributes to several metabolic diseases, including insulin resistance and obesity. It may seem silly to fuss over a few crackers, but if you read the labels of everything you buy, you can see how many foods, even those that may seem innocuous, are loaded with processed sugars and vegetable fats. It adds up quickly, and does take a serious toll on your health.

  4. dani

    Hi. Im sorry i have not been following, however i am wondering if i take a normal cake and substitute flour with Matza meal do i use the same amount as normal flour?

    • Janet

      Dani – yes, but remember you need to use matza cake meal, not matza meal, which is coarse. Matza cake meal is ground much finer, to be closer in texture to flour.

  5. Claire MCARDLE

    Can some one help me understand I know I should use plain flour on Passover as this is the first time I’m wanting to celebrate it but I’ve only self raising flour is it OK to make matzah with that because I thought you are just ment to have no yeast in the house

    • Janet

      Claire, using any flour at all is forbidden during Passover, and Passover matza is different from regular matza because it’s made under very strict conditions regarding the kind of flour used, the amount of time that passes from when the water is added to when the baking is complete, etc. So, it’s not a time for making matza at home 🙂

      If you want to bake a cake of any kind, substitute regular flour with Passover matza cake meal, which is very finely ground Passover matza. Or bake a flourless cake, or one combining nut flour with a little matza meal.

    • Talmadge Johnson

      I. Would. Like. to no. can. I mix. matzoel with flour frying chicken or fish and will it help flour stick. to the product

    • Janet

      Mixing flour with matza meal will make a crunchier coating, like using bread crumbs.

      To make flour stick to raw food before frying, first wipe the fish or chicken dry with a paper towel. Dip the pieces in beaten egg, let the excess egg drip off, then roll them in flour. You can put flour on a plate and press the meat gently into it.

      Another method, which needs no egg, is to put a few tablespoons of flour into a plastic bag, add the chicken or fish pieces one at a time, and shake gently to coat them.

  6. Libby Klear

    what is the difference between matzo meal for year round use and passover matzo since both are made from wheat?

    • Janet

      The difference is ritual, having to do with ensuring there has been no chance for the wheat to ferment from the time it was harvested through baking and grinding it. The fermentation issue arises out of the Israelites’ flight from Egypt, and their not having had sufficient time to prepare proper bread for the journey. Also, Passover matza, because it’s made specifically for the holiday, is guaranteed to be new, which is another rule about Passover food. (To prepare the home for the holiday, observant households remove or use up all old grains and flours beforehand).

  7. Milinda

    OK, I have read ALL of the comments above and have not read any answers as to what we can use if we don’t have access to matzo? I live in Ecuador, a primarily Catholic country. I cannot find matzo anything here. WHAT is matzo anyway? What can I use to substitute reg flour so we can make our matzo crackers and soup? Thanks.

    • Janet

      Matza is the ritual flatbread used by Jews for the week of Passover, and commercially prepared Passover matza is very thin, lightly toasted and crisp, like a water cracker, only not exactly (of course). Don’t despair. Where there are Jews celebrating Passover, you will find matza, and in Ecuador there are two small Jewish community centers – one in Quito and one in Guayaquil. The one in Quito should certainly be able to help you find matza, and they will probably be delighted that you’re interested. Maybe there’s even a Seder you can attend 🙂 Here’s the phone number: (+593 2) 248-3800.

  8. pat tulchin

    what would be the equivalent of matzoh meal to 1 cup flour

    • Janet

      Pat, if it’s to bake something, either use matza cake meal or grind regular matza meal in a food processor as fine as you can. Use the same amount and it should be fine. Hag Pesach Sameach 🙂

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