What Is Maror? Here’s How to Make Maror for Passover
Maror, or bitter herbs, is a key Passover symbol. Here's what it represents and how to make maror for your Seder.
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Maror is a bitter herb included on the Passover Seder plate during the Jewish holiday of Passover. The spring holiday commemorates the ancient Jewish peoples’ freedom from slavery in Egypt, and the Seder is a ritual meal that involves telling the Passover story, in part by using foods to represent different themes.
Here’s a guide to what maror is and how you can make it at home.
What Is Maror?
According to Passover tradition, the bitterness of the maror symbolizes the Jewish peoples’ suffering from being enslaved. Some modern interpretations say that it also represents other forms of oppression that still exist today.
On the Seder plate, the top center spot is reserved for maror. Many Jews use horseradish for the maror, but other bitter herbs or vegetables work, too. Traditionally, they’re vegetables that grow from the ground rather than from a tree.
The other five spots on the Seder plate, going clockwise, are for a shank bone, charoset, lettuce (often romaine), parsley and an egg.
What Herbs Count as Maror?
There are a number of different herbs and vegetables you can use as the maror on a Passover Seder plate. Horseradish is the most common. Romaine lettuce, either as the main bitter herb or as a second bitter herb, is another option, along with endive or celery. Like other Passover traditions, maror is different in different countries.
In Brazil, where horseradish root isn’t native, some people use wasabi powder or mustard greens, according to the cookbook King Solomon’s Table. (Here are more of our favorite Jewish cookbooks.) And as culinary historian Michael Twitty explains on his blog Afroculinaria, he uses collard greens to represent his Jewish and African American identities.
How to Eat Maror
Eating maror is part of the Passover Seder rituals. First, the maror is dipped in charoset, an apple and nut mixture that’s also on the Seder plate, and then it’s sandwiched between two pieces of matzo.
While some people enjoy the spicy taste of horseradish and happily eat it throughout the week of Passover, maror is primarily a symbolic food that’s eaten in small amounts as part of the Seder (save some to dollop on the gefilte fish!).
For the main meal, here are some of our favorite Passover recipes.
How to Make Maror for Passover
You can use raw bitter vegetables or a store-bought jar of horseradish as maror, or make an easy homemade horseradish. The best part is, homemade horseradish comes together in just one step.
- 1 cup cubed peeled horseradish root (1/2-inch pieces)
- 3/4 cup vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until the mixture is pureed. Cover the horseradish and store it in the refrigerator. That’s all there is to the prep!
How to Make Maror with Beets
Our horseradish recipe makes white horseradish, which is traditionally used. According to the Talmud, maror should be bitter in taste and grayish in appearance. But you’ll often see a bright pink maror on the Passover table. That’s from adding beets to the recipe. Use a raw beet, peeled and chopped into pieces the same size as the horseradish root.