Sweet Noodle Kugel

updated Nov 22, 2023
Noodle Kugel Recipe

Of the many styles, sweet noodle kugel is the one most often seen on the table during Shabbat.

Serves8 to 10

Prep30 minutes

Cook45 minutes

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A photo of baked noodle kugel in a glass baking dish.
Credit: Rebecca Firkser

Noodle kugel is one of those hearty casseroles you’ll want to dive into any time of day. One of many styles of kugel, a baked pudding or casserole in the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition, sweet noodle kugel is typically the one seen most often on the table during weekly Shabbat or holidays like Rosh Hashanah or Shavuot. (During Passover, when many wheat products are off-limits, you’ll find kugels made with potatoes or matzo, or special noodle kugels made with gluten-free egg noodles.)

How to Make Sweet Noodle Kugel

This dish is quite simple to make, featuring cooked egg noodles folded into a creamy filling and baked until set. The filling is made of a mixture of fermented dairy products like cottage cheese, sour cream, and cream cheese, along with eggs, sugar, and butter. That’s where this recipe takes a few steps outside of the traditional:

  1. It uses labneh in place of sour cream or cream cheese. The additional tanginess from the super-thick strained yogurt helps brighten the rich, buttery noodle casserole.
  2. It calls for brown butter instead of melted butter. It takes a few extra minutes than simply melting, yes, but brown butter’s nutty flavor makes each bite that much more exciting.
  3. It’s sweetened with honey. Sometimes you’ll find a noodle kugel with jam, raisins, or crushed pineapple folded in, or a sweet corn flake topping. Here, I’ve used honey in addition to granulated sugar for a bit of extra floral sweetness without becoming cloying.
  4. It’s finished with flaky salt. You’ll rarely see a noodle kugel finished with flaky salt, but I think it’s necessary here to offset some of the casserole’s sweetness, as well as enhance the flavors already present in the dish.

Do You Eat Noodle Kugel Hot or Cold?

While noodle kugel should be removed from the oven and cooled for at least 30 minutes after baking, it can be eaten at any temperature.

Eaten warm, when just set, noodle kugel’s texture is more akin to a baked mac and cheese (the extra-crunchy noodles on top might be the best part.) It can be scooped out onto a plate, where it won’t totally hold its shape.

If you prefer kugel fully set and cooled, after 30 minutes at room temperature, transfer the kugel to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Once cool, it can be sliced into squares that will stand up sturdily on a plate like lasagna. After being refrigerated, those top noodles may lose some of their crunch, but it doesn’t make for a less pleasant eating experience.

Credit: Rebecca Firkser

Is Kugel a Dessert or Side Dish?

Although it’s a sweet dish, kugel is typically served as a side alongside savory meat and vegetable dishes. That said, it makes a very tasty dessert (or even breakfast).

How Are Egg Noodles Different from Pasta?

Egg noodles are made from a wheat flour and egg dough that yields a tender, yellow-tinted noodle. Egg noodles are used in Eastern European Jewish, Turkish, German, and Southeast Asian dishes — although exact ingredients and shaping techniques vary by cuisine.

Pasta is specifically an Italian-style wheat noodle. Its dough is traditionally made from durum wheat flour, or semolina, and water. You can find some styles of fresh pasta made with egg in the dough, but these are not interchangeable with the style of egg noodles used in kugel.

Noodle Kugel Recipe

Of the many styles, sweet noodle kugel is the one most often seen on the table during Shabbat.

Prep time 30 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes

Serves 8 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 6 1/2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 12 ounces

    dried extra-wide egg noodles

  • 2 tablespoons

    plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 5

    large eggs

  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 3 tablespoons

    honey

  • 2 cups

    full-fat cottage cheese

  • 1 cup

    full-fat labneh or sour cream

  • 1 teaspoon

    finely grated fresh lemon zest (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground cinnamon (optional)

  • Flaky salt, for sprinkling

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, coat a 2 1/2-quart baking dish (preferably glass) with 1/2 tablespoon of the unsalted butter. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.

  2. Add 12 ounces extra-wide egg noodles and 2 tablespoons of the kosher salt to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are al dente, 4 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook, swirling the pan around occasionally, until the butter is browned and fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes. Immediately scrape the butter and any browned bits at the bottom of the pan into a small heatproof bowl.

  3. When the noodles are ready, drain.

  4. Place 5 large eggs, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 3 tablespoons honey in a large bowl and whisk until well-combined and frothy, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 cups full-fat cottage cheese, 1 cup full-fat labneh or sour cream, 1 teaspoon lemon zest if using, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon if using. Whisk to combine.

  5. Add the browned butter and whisk until combined. Add the noodles and fold until combined. Scrape into the baking dish and spread into an even layer.

  6. Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the baking dish and continue baking until the custard is set and some of the noodles on top are crisp, about 40 minutes. (If you find the noodles are getting too charred, tent the baking dish with aluminum foil.) Remove from the oven and sprinkle with flaky salt. Let cool for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours at room temperature before serving.

Recipe Notes

Firm kugel variation: This recipe makes a kugel with set edges and a looser center when eaten warm, which I prefer for the most variations of texture. If you prefer your kugel set all the way through, after cooling for 30 minutes, refrigerate the kugel for at least 2 hours or overnight. For a firmer kugel you can serve warm, bake in a 3 1/2-quart baking dish for 30 to 40 minutes.

Make ahead: For the best texture, this kugel can be baked up to 24 hours in advance. Let cool for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. Serve cold, at room temperature, or and reheat covered with aluminum foil in a 350ºF oven until warmed through.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then transfer to a baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and reheat in a 350ºF oven until warmed through.