Comfort Food: Jewish Noodle Kugel Recipe
Noodle kugel is one of my favorite childhood dishes. It’s a classic side dish that is served in just about every Jewish family.
It’s also one of those dishes that every cook makes slightly different. Recipes get handed down from generation to generation. Just like every Italian grandmother has her own spaghetti sauce, every Jewish grandmother has her own noodle kugel recipe.
Some make it sweet by adding raisons or pineapple with a little cinnamon. Most noodle kugel recipes are loaded with dairy – butter, cottage cheese, sour cream and maybe cream cheese. Jews who keep kosher, meaning they don’t mix meat and dairy in the same meal, usually have a non-dairy version of noodle kugel too so it can be served with a brisket dinner.
Noodle kugel is often served for company dinners because it’s easy to make a large amount and doesn’t take much preparation time. Actually, it’s best made just before dinner is served. Don’t mix up the kugel and then wait to put it into the oven for a while…the noodles will soak up the liquids and it will turn out dry. While it is good reheated, it’s best when served piping hot out of the oven.
Anyone who likes quiche and fettucine alfredo should like this dish. It’s basically noodles with butter, dairy and eggs whipped together and then baked into a custardy noodle dish.
Keep in mind this is a really mild dish. In it’s classic form, there isn’t any spice added to it. No garlic. No pepper. No onions.
That’s not to say you couldn’t add these things. But it wouldn’t be classic Jewish noodle kugel anymore.
I’ve modified my grandmother’s recipe only by changing the topping. Sometimes she made it with no topping at all. Sometimes she topped it with corn flakes cereal. She did have another version of noodle kugel with cream cheese added, but I like this one much more.
This definitely isn’t a low fat dish, but you can choose light versions of the sour cream, milk and cottage cheese to cut out a few calories and it won’t have an impact on taste.
12 ounces wide egg noodles, cooked
4 tablespoons butter
4 ounces light sour cream
16 ounces cottage cheese
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup corn flakes (crushed)
3/4 cup oatmeal (uncooked)
3 tablespoons butter (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
The first step is to cook the noodles. This classic dish is ALWAYS made with wide egg noodles. The noodles lay flat together and allow the other ingredients to seep between them, creating a solid kugel with no gaps. If you just can’t find wide egg noodles, then you need to use something like bow ties or linguine that you’ve broken into short pieces before cooking, definitely not anything that has a hole in the center like penne or macaroni. But if you can get the wide egg noodles, stick with them. There shape is perfect for this dish.
To get started, follow the instructions on the noodle package for cooking the pasta.
While the noodles are cooking, start preheating the oven to 350 degrees.
The next step is to get the baking pan ready. You can use either a glass or metal rectangular baking pan (9 x 11 or 11 x 13), but since you will serve the kugel out of the dish on the dinner table, I think glass is much better.
Take the stick of butter and rub it all over the bottom and sides of the baking pan.
Save the rest of the butter to be added to the hot noodles as soon as they are done cooking.
In a large bowl, combine the sour cream and cottage cheese. In a separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs with the milk and sugar.
As soon as the noodles are finished cooking, drain them and then put them back into the pot. Add the butter and mix it together until the butter is melted.
Once the butter is melted, then add the sour cream and cottage cheese mixture to the noodles.
Pour the combined cheesy noodles into the baking dish. Give the egg mixture a good stir since the sugar has likely settled to the bottom of the dish, and then pour it over the noodles so that it covers the entire mixture.
Now you are ready to decide how to handle the topping.
You can bake it plain with no topping at all, and it will be fine. Expect the noodles sticking out of the top to get a little crusty if you bake it this way, since you bake it uncovered.
Noodle kugel without any topping served cold the next day – yummy this way too!
If you make it without any topping, watch it towards the end of the cooking time and take it out when the egg mixture on the top is firm and the top noodles are slightly brown.
Noodle kugel just out of the oven with cornflake topping
If you opt for corn flakes as your topping, you can leave them whole or crush them slightly. The topping will keep the noodles at the top from getting crusty, but you still have to watch it closely so the cornflakes don’t burn.
Noodle kugel with oatmeal and brown sugar topping
I couple of years ago I attended a family event and tasted my cousin Susie’s noodle kugel. Her version had a sweet topping that I just loved. The next time I cooked up kugel, I created this oatmeal topping and it’s now the way I make it all the time.
It really is very easy to make the topping. Simply melt the butter in a small frying pan, then add the oatmeal and brown sugar. Mix it together until the oatmeal is coated and slightly toasted.
Then spoon the oatmeal topping over the noodle kugel.
Whichever topping you choose, bake the kugel for 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees.
I got great feedback when I posted this recipe on Recipezaar (now Food.com).
Hint hint: if you try this recipe, please leave a comment and tell me what you thought and if you made any changes!
Here are some of the comments I got about the recipe:
I think this is my first noodle kugel so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However, it is a great comfort food, and I found it to be very filling. I didn’t think it was overly sweet with the sugar, but I could definitely taste some sweetness. I enjoyed the crunchiness from the crushed cornflakes. Thank you for sharing.
Well, I did NOT grow up eating kugels and I think this one is wonderful and really tasty! The sweetness surprised me, but it was a great balance with the creaminess of the sour cream, cottage cheese and the light crunch of the top noodles. Loved it! (Didn’t use corn flakes.)
This is soooo great! Although it’s a relatively plain-looking dish, it is great-tasting, & for me, at least, stirred old memories of my own grandmother making kugel! Thanks for sharing, & I’ll be making this one again & again!
Great comfort food! I didn’t use the corn flakes and I used full-fat sour cream; otherwise I followed the recipe closely. This made a mild, creamy casserole with a good texture. I have to admit, this made less than 8 servings for us (we took some pretty huge servings). 🙂 Thanks for posting this one.
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