Classic gefilte fish

Whether it's prepared from scratch or comes from the freezer aisle, gefilte fish undeniably holds its own unique place in Jewish culinary heritage.
Gefilte fish with carrots. Image for illustration purposes only by Nataly Hanin/iStock.

When you think of Jewish foods, gefilte fish might be one of the first that comes to mind. Within the Jewish community, everyone has an opinion on it. Outside of the Jewish community (based on my personal experience), people might raise it to demonstrate their familiarity with Jewish cuisine. “Oh, you’re Jewish. I love gefilte fish! My Jewish friend makes it.” “Glad you enjoyed it!”

Indeed, gefilte fish is a quintessential Jewish food — well, at least for Ashkenazi Jewry. “Gefilte” literally translates as “stuffed” in Yiddish, a nod to its traditional preparation method. This involved taking a variety of ground, boneless fish and placing it inside a whole fish.

However, like many traditional recipes, gefilte fish has evolved over time. In contemporary kitchens, the classic Ashkenazi gefilte fish often takes the form of a convenient frozen loaf, and that’s the version we’ll be using in this recipe. 

While the classic Ashkenazi gefilte fish can be baked, boiling is the traditional and simpler method — and perhaps a safer choice if you’re like me and have had one too many baking mishaps!

But, whether it’s prepared from scratch or comes from the freezer aisle, gefilte fish undeniably holds its own unique place in Jewish culinary heritage. This dish might spark different opinions, but one thing’s for sure — it’s a dish worth trying. Here’s how to prepare the classic Ashkenazi version right in your own kitchen.

Classic gefilte fish

Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Yield10 servings


  • 1 loaf of gefilte fish (no need for it to be completely defrosted)
  • Water for boiling
  • 1 onion (optional)
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 4-5 carrots


  • Fill a medium to large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the salt.
  • Meanwhile, cut the carrots into small rounds, approximately 2 centimeters in thickness. Add the carrots to the boiling water.
  • Once the water is boiling, carefully lower the gefilte fish loaf into the water. There's no need to remove the parchment paper that often covers the loaf as it will naturally slide off during the boiling process.
  • When the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and let the fish loaf cook for about 1.5 hours.
  • After this time, remove the gefilte fish from the pot and cut it into slices. Arrange the boiled carrot pieces on top of the sliced loaf. For additional flavor, you can also top the finished dish with sautéed onions. Your traditional gefilte fish is ready!

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