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Easiest Basic Cholent

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This Easiest Basic Cholent (Jewish Sabbath stew) recipe is made from only 6 basic ingredients and is absolutely delicious as is, but you can certainly add your own twist and to your own taste if desired!

Too many cholent recipes call for a myriad of ingredients; half a teaspoon of this, a teaspoon of that…

While, of course, you can add whatever you like, this delicious Easiest Basic Cholent recipe is the easiest ever. Meat, beans, barley, potatoes, and flavor. That’s it!

Want to try another popular Shabbat meal? Try Easy Yerushalmi Kugel. And don’t forget the challah! Easy Fluffy Challah Bread and Easy Fluffy Water Challah Bread .

A little of my cooking background

I really wanted to title this blog “If I can make it, anyone can”, because – honestly – if I can make it, anyone can.

I never really liked cooking and when I was single, a meal for me meant grilled cheese, eggs, tuna, or something else that didn’t require effort or time.

When my kids were young, I was still able to get away with preparing only a small variety of easy meals, but the older they got, the more dishes I learned to make at their request.

Still, I insisted on keeping it simple.

Honestly, I never understood why some cooks unnecessarily complicate meals. I have seen recipes that have several ingredients that don’t really seem to add much, if anything, to the dish. So, why bother?

It has always been important to me that whoever eats at my table will have plenty to enjoy and that includes my kids (I never agreed with the “You will eat what is served or you won’t eat” ideology) and, because I keep it simple, I can prepare a variety of dishes in a relatively short period of time.

I have a philosophy regarding being a great cook: Prepare food according to the tastes of those who will be eating it and they will love your cooking!

As far as I am concerned, start with the basic ingredients that make the dish what it is, adapt according to taste, and voila! you are an amazing cook!

The bottom line is that while there are certainly delicate recipes out there for specialty dishes, making delicious meals doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. It’s not difficult to impress – just make sure it tastes good.

While some of the recipes on my blog are more time-consuming than others, they are all tried and true easy-shmeezy!

Of course, one always has to consider the conditions under which they cook. Weather (humidity, heat, cold), different types of ovens, different quality of pots, etc. – all of which can affect your cooking and baking.

Nevertheless, as I said, if I can do it, anyone can!

What about cholent?

Cholent is a yiddish word for a traditional Jewish Shabbat stew that is prepared on Friday and will literally stew overnight on a hotplate or in a slow cooker to be eaten for lunch on Shabbat.

Since cooking is forbidden on the Sabbath, the stew is fully cooked before the sabbath, but will soften as the juices and flavors mix into a delicious stew. This is a perfect way to have a hot, delicious, warm meal for lunch.

Ashkenazim, with their various yiddish dialects, have different pronunciations for the name. Cholent, Chulent, Chulnt… The Sephardim call this dish Hamin (with the H being pronounced as if you are clearing your throat).

Cholent is believed to have been developed centuries ago and possibly as far back as the Second Temple period. Various Jewish communities and cultures have developed their own style of this Jewish stew.

While some people add several additional ingredients, as per their tradition and tastes (including kishke), the main ingredients for Ashkenazim (as in this recipe) are meat, potatoes, beans, and barley. The spices may differ as well.

Sephardim often use rice or wheat kernels and chickpeas instead of the beans and barley and may use chicken instead of beef. Many will include hard-boiled eggs as well, which turn brown overnight.

A lot of people combine traditions to create their favorite type of Jewish stew (one of my sons asked me to include pieces of Jahnun (again, the H being pronounced as if you are clearing your throat), which is a Yeminite pastry dough).

Some people include TONS of ingredients in their cholent recipes (I counted 16 ingredients, including spices and marrow bones, in the recipe of one blogger), but just because that is one family’s tradition, doesn’t make it a “traditional Jewish” recipe.

Feel free to add what you like or to make it as spicy as you like. For example, I happen to not like the red/kidney beans, so I add a comparatively small amount (you can’t even see them in my photo!).

Mistakenly, some people believe that the name – cholent or hamin – depends on what you include in the ingredients, but it is really just yiddish or Hebrew (adopted) and everyone uses their own preferred ingredients.

Can I freeze Easy Basic Cholent?

I would say yes, definitely. However, when I tried to freeze cholent, I found that the potatoes get – for lack of a better word – yucky. This may not be the opinion of everyone, but my family didn’t like them.

Since I make this fairly regularly in the winter, I several batches without the potatoes, put it in freezer bags according to the quantities I use (depending on how many people I am expecting for shabbat lunch) and defrost as needed.

I defrost on Friday, make the potatoes separately, and then place all of the ingredients in a slow cooker or on the hotplate on Friday to stew over shabbat night.

So, the bottom line is that this cholent can be frozen, but I personally wouldn’t do it with the potatoes.

cholent in a clear bowl on a wide plank board background
Medium Saucy cholent

Notes for Easy Basic Cholent:

Many people soak the beans over night or at least for several hours. I don’t bother. I just boil them until I can stick a fork through (feel free to use a pressure cooker). If you use this method, however, make sure that the pot does not run out of water while cooking.

Thick cholent in a white trangular serving dish on a white wood table.
We like our cholent some gravy, but one can certainly use less water for a thicker cholent as shown above.
Yield: 8-10

Easiest Basic Cholent

Cholent in a clear rectangular dish on a white wood table

Delicious and simple Jewish Sabbath stew.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 9 hours 30 minutes


  • 1 1/2 - 2 pounds stew beef, cut into 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" pieces or as desired
  • 1 1/2 cups white/navy beans and red/kidney beans.
  • 3/4 cup barley
  • 2 large (or equivalent) potatoes, peeled or not, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chicken soup powder or to taste
  • Other spices to taste (pepper, hot pepper, etc) - optional.


  1. Place beans, barley, potatoes, and stew beef in a suitable size pot.
  2. Cover with enough water so that it is 3" above the mixture.
  3. Boil beans, barley, potatoes, and stew beef for around an hour. or until you can just stick a fork through the beans.
  4. Pour out excess water if any.
  5. Mix in tomato paste, and chicken consume powder (and other spices if desired).
  6. Cover with water.
  7. Place pot on hot plate or pour into a slow cooker.
  8. Leave on hot plate or in covered slow cooker on low overnight (if your hot plate gets very hot, leave on one of the edges which normally have a lower temperature, but it should still be fairly hot and not just warm).
  9. If the top gets a little dry, mix before serving.



    1) Feel free to change the ratios of the beans/barley according to taste (I put in 1 1/4 cups white/navy beans and 1/2 cup of red/kidney beans).
    2) You can change the beef with chicken or other meat, if desired.
    3) Use less water for a thicker cholent with less gravy.

    Nutrition Information:



    Serving Size:


    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 193Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 75mgSodium: 64mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 27g

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