Some common items on a Hanukkah meat dinner menu are latkes, applesauce and beef brisket. A Hanukkah dairy dinner typically has a cheese dish along with latkes, sour cream and applesauce; it may also have fish. Some common Hanukkah desserts include sufganiyot, cookies in Hanukkah shapes and cheesecake.
On Hanukkah, people eat fried or oily foods to celebrate the miracle of one day's worth of oil burning for eight days, keeping the Eternal Flame lit in the Temple. Latkes, potato pancakes fried in oil, are one of the most popular Hanukkah foods. Dishes such as cheese blintzes and cheesecake commemorate Judith, whose cheese helped the Jewish Maccabees win against the oppressors trying to destroy the Temple.
Although not all Jewish people observe the kosher dietary laws, those who do must not mix meat and dairy foods at the same meal. Meat meals cannot include cheese, butter or sour cream. Fish is classified as a dairy food rather than a meat, so East European and American Hanukkah menus often include gefilte fish, an oval patty of whitefish with breading, bits of onions and carrots. Sufganiyot are fried jelly donuts, though all kinds of donuts appear on the Hanukkah menu.