Kugels are dense, deliciously carb-laden casseroles that come in many varieties, savory and sweet. They can be noodle, potato, or even matzo-based, depending on your family’s traditions and when they’re served.
This sweet, noodle-based kugel is along the lines of what you’d typically see on the table at a Shabbat dinner or holiday gathering. Sweetened with sugar, enriched with sour cream and cottage cheese, and studded with raisins and apples, you might think it’s meant for dessert, but kugel is firmly entrenched in side-dish and/or leftover breakfast territory. (Sidenote: If you keep kosher, a dairy-filled kugel would not be served alongside a meat-based main dish.)
Celebrating With Kugel
Kugel is rich, sweet, and to me, tastes of family gatherings when people come from near and far to celebrate together. To some, it is typical Shabbat dinner fare, but for me, it’s more of a holiday dish. While kugel is easy to put together, it does take time to bake and cool, and all of that waiting makes it feel celebratory to serve.
Fragrant cinnamon spices up the noodle filling and the crunchy, buttery cornflake topping, giving it serious holiday flair. Kugel would be at home on a Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, or even (dare I say!) Christmas menu. In my own interfaith household, good food knows no boundaries.
Developing a Kugel Recipe Through Family Tradition
When I went to develop my own kugel recipe, I looked to my extended family’s traditions as well as those of family friends. My Aunt Marla graciously shared her kugel recipe with me, which comes from her mother’s side of the family. They make both a noodle kugel and a matzo kugel—on Passover, kugel can’t be made from noodles since they’re not kosher to serve during that holiday. Marla actually prefers the matzo version. Both versions are full of grated apples and don’t contain any creamy dairy products, probably due to their function of being served with meat dishes at kosher meals.
I love the inclusion of apples in kugel, but I really wanted to highlight their taste and texture, so I diced mine instead of grating them like Marla typically does. I also couldn’t resist the siren song of creamy, rich dairy, so cottage cheese and sour cream are in here, too. As for the crunchy cornflake topping, that is all Marla’s recipe. I do add a little bit of butter so that the cornflakes crisp up even more in the oven, like a streusel topping.
How to Make Kugel
This kugel recipe is straight forward. Follow these steps and you’ll be in for a treat. All you need to do is:
- Boil a pot of egg noodles
- Mix the noodles with the rest of the ingredients
- Pour everything into a casserole dish and bake until set in the middle and browned on top.
The cornflake topping is optional, really, but definitely worth the little extra effort. I make mine while the noodles are cooking, so everything comes together easily.
The most time-consuming part of making a kugel is baking it, which takes more than an hour if your kugel is generously thick like this one. Mine cooks through in about 1 hour and 20 minutes. I like to keep it covered with foil during the first hour so that it doesn’t dry out, then remove the foil to make sure that the topping gets crisped during the remaining oven time.
If you want to, you can use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of your kugel to test for doneness—it should be around 150 to 160°F in the middle.
Kugel Swaps and Substitutions
If you’d like, you can put your own spin on kugel, swapping out the raisins and apples for other dried or fresh fruits. Some yummy dried fruit options would be chopped dried apricots, dried cranberries, or dried blueberries.
For fresh fruit substitutions, try diced pears in the fall, and diced stone fruit like peaches or plums during summertime.
You can change up the spicing too, if you’d like. A pumpkin spice blend could stand in for cinnamon around the winter holidays or you could go full gingerbread inspo, including some nutmeg and ground black pepper in the mix.
While straight cinnamon is the most traditional and typical way to go, any baking spices would be at home in a sweet noodle kugel.
Make Ahead Kugel
Kugel can be assembled the day before—you’ll mix up the noodles and filling, pour them into the casserole dish, cover it tightly with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before you want to bake it.
When it’s time to bake the kugel, make the cornflake topping, remove the plastic wrap from the casserole, sprinkle the topping over the kugel, cover with foil, and bake as directed. It may need an extra 10 minutes to bake.
Make Sure to Cool Your Kugel
Once it’s baked, a kugel needs to cool, otherwise it will fall apart when slicing. Give it at least an hour to cool and set up, then slice and serve it warm or at room temperature. It’s also pretty tasty when eaten cold, straight from the fridge the next morning, though you can give it a minute in the microwave to warm up, if you like. Kugel and coffee is a not-to-be-missed breakfast treat.
How to Store Kugel
To store the kugel, you can either cover up the whole casserole or slice and wrap it up in individual pieces. It’ll keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. You can also freeze slices of kugel for up to 3 months, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil and stored in a gallon sized freezer bags.
More Recipes to Enjoy During Passover
For the kugel:
12 ounces wide egg noodles
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 apples (Fuji, Gala, or other firm apples), peeled, cored, and diced
6 large eggs
2 cups (1 pound) sour cream
2 cups (1 pound) cottage cheese
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the topping:
2 cups cornflakes cereal
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven and prepare casserole dish:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9x13-inch casserole dish with butter. Set aside until ready to use.
Cook the noodles:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the noodles and boil until al dente, about 8 minutes or the according to package instructions.
When the noodles are done boiling, drain into a colander, then add to a large bowl.
Make the cornflake topping:
While the noodles are boiling, make the topping. In a large bowl, use your hands to crush the cornflakes into coarse crumbs. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter and stir to combine. Set aside until ready to use.
After you’ve drained the noodles, add the butter into the large bowl while the noodles are still hot, and stir until the butter is melted. Add the diced apples, eggs, sour cream, cottage cheese, sugar, raisins, cinnamon, and salt, and stir until evenly combined.
Transfer to baking dish:
Transfer the noodle mixture to the greased baking dish, then sprinkle the cornflake mixture evenly over the noodle mixture.
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake the kugel for 1 hour, then remove the foil and bake for 20 more minutes. You’ll know your kugel is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the casserole reads 150 to 160°F, the topping is lightly browned, and the noodles have turned golden brown around the edges of the baking dish.
Cool, cut, then serve kugel:
Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 1 hour before serving, to allow the kugel to set up.
Cut the kugel into squares or rectangles—this casserole makes 8 or 9 generous servings (about 4 inches by 3 inches), or 12 smaller ones (about 3 inches square). Serve warm or at room temperature.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 16g||20%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||39%|
|Total Carbohydrate 40g||15%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||6%|
|Total Sugars 26g|
|Vitamin C 3mg||15%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|