Are Corn Tortillas Kosher For Passover? (Detailed)

Passover is one of the special holidays on the Jewish Calendar. It’s celebrated in Israel, but worldwide, too. Some things are eaten specifically while other foods are forbidden during Passover. But then again, Orthodox Jews, or Jews who live a traditional faith daily, eat Kosher all the time. It can be confusing for some. For example, are corn tortillas kosher for Passover?

Most Jews feel corn tortillas are Kosher for Passover. Essentially, corn flour is the main ingredient for tortillas, and it doesn’t contain leavening agents, which is forbidden at Passover. As long as you don’t add leavening, it’s safe or ‘Kosher’ to eat by Jewish standards.

To be clear, there are different Jewish communities and as such, different views on what is safe to consume and what is not, also known as ‘Kosher’, can vary to some degree. In this article, I’ll cover more on this topic of consuming corn during Passover in tortillas or tacos. 


What is Passover? Overview

Surprisingly a YouGov poll found that 1 in 5 Americans celebrate Passover. This is not nearly as many Americans who celebrate Easter each year, which is closer to 80%, but large all the same, considering just 2 percent of Americans are of Jewish culture and faith. So let’s dive in briefly to explain Passover.

Passover is the celebration to remember when God brought the Israelites out of Egypt. During this time, God sent an angel to kill the firstborn male, including animals, in Egypt, but the angel ‘passed over’ the houses of the Jews who marked their doors with the blood of a sacrificial lamb or goat.

This story of the ‘first Passover’ can be found in Exodus 12 of the Bible.

Today, Passover, which is also called Pesach meaning ‘to pass over’ in Hebrew, is not on the same day each year. This is similar to Easter. Both holiday dates vary a bit but are always in Spring. You can learn more about Pesach here.

Typically, Passover starts with a special feast called, the Seder, which has foods used as symbols in the telling of the first Passover story. A Seder meal has five items specifically.

  1. A shank bone (zeroa) of a lamb connotes the sacrifice of the lamb so that the death angel passed over the homes of the Israelites.
  2. A roasted, hard-boiled egg (beitzah) to allude to the cycle of life and how bad times can turn good and make Jews stronger.
  3. Bitter herbs (maror) symbolize the slavery Jews endured are usually represented by horseradish.
  4. Green vegetables (karpas) like parsley; it’s greenery represents a better time in history for the Jewish people like when Jacob’s son, Joseph, ruled in Egypt under Pharaoh.
  5. A sweet paste called haroset made of apples, wine, and nuts that stand for the mortar of the bricks the Jews were forced to make while slaves in Egypt.

In addition to these five featured, prominent items, there are three pieces of matzah bread in the center of the table, usually wrapped in white cloth and a glass or bottle of salt water representing tears and/or vinegar, again for bitterness.

All of these items are critical to Passover because they are used interactively to recite the Passover story.

Typically Passover last 7 days for Jews living in Israel, but 8 days for those outside of it; however, even this can depend on one’s Jewish community customs.

Regardless, the first day begins with the Seder meal. After that each day has stories, scriptural readings, and true festive meals. Many get together and ‘do Passover’ with extended family and friends. The last day is especially celebratory with a whole day of religious rituals and meals.

During all of Passover, no leavened foods are to be eaten, because this was how it was at the first Passover. So what’s Kosher?

What is Kosher? Overview

Kosher literally means ‘clean’; it comes from a Hebrew word. For Jews, something is called kosher if it’s permissible to eat.

Normally, Jews don’t eat pork, shellfish, and almost all insects at any time of the year, nor do they mix meat and dairy. As well, there is a special way all meat must be prepared from slaughter to cooking involving the blood of the animal.

Jews that follow ‘religious laws of eating’ only eat meat or poultry that is certified kosher to be safe.

Cooking Kosher can be learned from long-time family recipes and practice, but many look to books like this from Amazon for help, especially during times of Jewish Holy Days and feasts.

So when we ask about corn being Kosher for Passover, specifically this is referring to Passover restrictions against leavening agents. Ordinarily, corn products are kosher.

Are Corn Tacos Kosher for Passover?

On Passover one should not consume anything that contains wheat. When making tacos, you will, of course, require a tortilla, which you can either derive from corn or wheat flour. Since wheat is not permissible at Passover, make your tortillas for the tacos using corn flour instead.

However, there are some Jewish communities that will still abstain from tacos during Passover because they don’t eat corn flour either. Usually, corn lies in the class of Kitniyot foods, which you can learn more about from this book at Amazon, if interested.  But basically, it means this: some Jews avoid any kinds of flour that one can ground or bake like wheat such as corn flour since they are so closely aligned (in essence, it’s just a stricter adherence to the leavening rule).

So for those groups, they would not eat tacos, or any foods using beans, legumes, rice, oats, barley, and yes, corn…the ‘kitniyot foods’. Such Jewish communities believe that corn flour is just too close to wheat and it’s too easy to mix them up. To be safe, it’s better to avoid corn, rather than accidentally eat wheat!.

Having corn tacos during Passover is perfectly fine for the most part but some are just stricter to be ‘safe than sorry’. The main issue will arise if you have wheat ones (‘flour tacos’). In this case, it seems like Taco Bell is permissible, but I’d avoid bringing it to your Seder get together!

Other articles you might like to read next:

Is There Leaven in Corn Tortillas?

You can learn how to make your own fresh from-scratch corn tortillas from watching videos on YouTube.

When making something that is leavened, then you add yeast to allow the dough to rise. For tortillas, one need not prepare them with yeast. This is why tortillas are flat. Therefore, tortillas are not leavened. This is why it’s generally permissible to have tortillas at Passover if you wish.

When making your own corn tortillas, the case is no different. You should not add yeast to them as a raising agent. You can leave out yeast or any other leavening agent like baking powder or soda, too.

Most corn tortillas are made quite simply too with just a few ingredients. Usually recipes for corn tortillas have masa flour (Bob’s Organic Masa Flour is rated Pareve/Kosher and popular on Amazon); water; and salt. Sometimes vegetable oil is used, too.

Now that you know corn tortillas do not contain leaven, you can gladly have them on Passover, and easily make your own, which are going to be much tastier and fresher! This could even become part of your Passover tradition.

The fact that they contain corn also makes them more acceptable for Passover since meats can be tricky to incorporate because of ‘the blood issue’. Vegetables are clean, or considered kosher, in just about all cases.

Is Corn Flour okay For Passover?

Proper food prep and specific foods are important for observing Passover correctly.

Passover time for Jews is time to stay away from any leavened food. Such foods not only include most bread flours, but legumes, rice and even oat flours by most Jewish standards. Some different Kosher rules and guidelines apply to other Jewish communities; however, so to be especially sure, it’s important to take into account your specific Jewish group.

The eating of leavening is something all Jewish communities abstain from on Passover, since the first Passover used unleavened bread. However, there are some variations when it comes to flours that mimic the leavening like with corn. Some avoid corn flour because it’s similar to wheat, but most permit it.

The kind of meal you take during Passover then really depends on your Jewish community’s rules and regulations. For some, it is okay to take corn, whether in the form of tortillas or flour. For others, taking anything containing corn can be seen as a sin.

Before deciding on what to consume for Passover, it is best to consult with the rabbi you trust about what is right and wrong. Or follow your family’s preference or tradition.

TIP: Most products nowadays are labeled for consumers to be confident in using them. Look for ‘Kosher’ labeled products to use at Passover or those marked ‘Pareve.’ Also, some even go so far to say ‘For Passover’ on the box or bag too, when it’s around Passover time.

Popular Passover Recipes With Corn Flour:

Wrapping Up Are Corn Tortillas Kosher For Passover

To wrap it up, note that ordinarily corn tortillas, corn flour, and most all corn products are ‘kosher’. Thus, it is okay to eat corn tortillas for Passover as long as all other Kosher laws are followed in their making and you don’t add leavening to the flour.

Corn flour doesn’t have leavening naturally, and recipes for corn tortillas (and tacos) don’t add leavening agents, so corn tortillas are kosher for Passover.

Chag Pesach Samech!

For your next articles, I recommend these:

Sources Chabad; PJLibrary; Britannica

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