This noodle kugel was tested so many times I lost count…and then I’ve made it so many times since I’ve also lost count! It’s dense but not heavy, made with sour cream, cottage cheese, eggs, egg noodles, raisins, and eggs. And the secret ingredient — a touch of orange in the form of fresh juice and zest, which brightens and lightens it up. It is perfect for Rosh Hashana or break fast on Yom Kippur, but also any time you want a Jewish kugel as part of the menu. And it’s easily made ahead and warmed up or enjoyed at room temperature.
I have such nostalgia for noodle kugel, specifically the one my father’s mother used to make it. This is particularly notable because she wasn’t much of a cook, though her kugel was really quite good. My grandfather would hold up his pinky (a thing he did for emphasis) and ask us, “Can you guess what’s in here that makes it special?” “Orange,” we’d sigh. We had been down this road before. “Orange!” he’d say triumphantly, finger poking into the air. He never seemed to notice our lack of proper admiration for this smart addition to a plain old kugel. Now I get it.
Table of Contents
A Family Kugel Recipe (sort of)
I tested kugel after kugel recipes for months, chasing the memory of my grandmother’s kugel for my new cookbook, Dinner Solved! And I finally got to the kugel I was searching for. However, there is a coda to this story of nostalgia and food.
When I made it for my mother, after finally feeling like I nailed it, she said to me: “You know your grandmother never made that kugel. Her housekeeper did.” Apparently, I have nostalgia for my Nana’s housekeeper’s kugel. I think I’m okay with that; it’s the best noodle kugel.
Jewish Noodle Kugel: A classic kugel recipe, just the right amount of dense and rich, with a sprinkling of raisins and a slightly secret ingredient from my grandfather.Tweet This
What Is Noodle Kugel?
Kugel is a Jewish dish, mostly eaten in Ashkenazi households, and while sometimes it is made from potatoes, it is often made with noodles, which is what my family always made. It is typically served on Shabbat and also on Jewish holidays, like break fast for Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashana (regular noodle kugels can’t be served on Passover, as noodles fall into the leavened wheat category, which is not ok during the 8 days of Passover).
Jewish noodle kugel is usually at least slightly sweet, sometimes quite sweet, and involves noodles, eggs, sour cream, and cottage cheese. Egg noodles are usually the noodles of choice.
- Orange – You’ll use the grated zest and strained juice from the orange.
- Wide egg noodles
- Cottage cheese – I prefer 4% large curd cottage cheese, but you can use your favorite type of cottage cheese.
- Sour cream
- Whole milk – This is a rich kugel and absolutely delicious because of it, so I like to use whole milk and full-fat dairy throughout.
- Sugar – This kugel is lightly sweet.
- Cinnamon – Adds a warm note.
- Vanilla extract
How to Make Noodle Kugel
- Cook the noodles: While you cook the noodles according to package instructions, combine the raisins and the orange juice and set aside to soak.
- Make the kugel custard: Whisk together the orange zest, eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Add the plumped raisins and up to 1 tablespoon of any remaining juice.
- Combine with the noodles: Drain the noodles and return them to the pot. Add the butter in pieces and toss until melted. Stir in the cottage cheese mixture. Transfer the noodles to the 9 x 13 prepared pan.
- Bake: Bake the kugel until a bit bubbly around the edges, well set, and pretty well browned, 1 hour and 15 minutes. Broil it for 1 or 2 minutes if you like a really crunchy top.
- Cool on a wire rack: Serve warm or at room temperature.
Some noodle kugels are sweet, and some are savory. This one is on the sweeter side but not super sweet. Kugel is usually served with the main course, though the sweeter ones would be appropriate for dessert. In this kugel recipe, the flavor is eggy with notes of cinnamon, vanilla, and orange, and the contrast between the dense but soft interior and the top layers of crunchy browned egg noodles, which have crisped up in the oven is fantastic.
A kugel has a base of something starchy, usually noodles or potatoes. Then, the starch is blended with some sort of custard made up of eggs and some dairy, often cottage cheese or farmers’ cheese, and often sour cream. There is also some sort of fat, often butter. Kugels are baked and usually quite filling and dense in texture. The word kugel comes from the old German word “sphere”, which refers to the shape of the original circular puffed kugels. Most kugels now are baked in baking pans.
You can enjoy kugel hot, warm, room temperature, or cold!
Make-Ahead, Storage, and Reheating
- The kugel can be baked up to 2 days before serving; refrigerate it, covered it, and reheat it in a 300-degree oven for 15 minutes or so.
- You can also make the kugel and refrigerate it unbaked for up to a day and then bake it right before serving.
- The kugel can also be served at room temperature.
- The baked kugel can be well wrapped in foil or another food-safe wrap and frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost and wrap in the fridge overnight. Bring to room temperature and heat in the pan in a 350-degree oven until warm throughout.
What to Serve With Noodle Kugel
We always have this with smoked salmon and bagels for break fast on Yom Kippur. Pair this with Beef Brisket with Wild Mushrooms or Jewish Brisket for a lovely Friday night or Rosh Hashana dinner (not a kosher meal, though, I hasten to add…). Or even Hanukkah, though that’s not necessarily a traditional kugel holiday. You could start with Favorite Crispy Potato Pancakes (Latkes).
More Recipes for the Jewish Holidays
- Chicken Marbella
- Chicken Thighs with Onions and Green Olives
- Garlicky Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan
- Herb Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
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- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (cut into pieces; plus extra for buttering the pan)
- 1 cup raisins
- Grated zest and strained juice of 1 orange
- 1 package (12 ounces wide egg noodles)
- 6 large eggs
- 2 cups cottage cheese
- 2 cups sour cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking pan.
- Combine the raisins and the orange juice and set aside to soak. Cook the noodles according to the package directions.
- Whisk together the orange zest, eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream, milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Add the plumped raisins and up to 1 tablespoon of any remaining juice.
- Drain the noodles and return them to the pot. Add the butter in pieces and toss until melted. Add the cottage cheese mixture and stir gently until well combined. Transfer the noodles to the prepared pan.
- Bake the kugel until a bit bubbly around the edges, well set, and pretty well browned, 1 hour and 15 minutes. Broil it for 1 or 2 minutes if you like a really crunchy top.
- Transfer the kugel to a wire rack and let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. It is great warm or at room temperature.
- The kugel can be baked up to 2 days before serving; store in the fridge and reheat in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes or so.
- You can also make the kugel and refrigerate it unbaked for up to a day, and then bake it right before serving.
- The kugel can also be served at room temperature.
- The baked kugel can be well wrapped in foil or another food-safe wrap and frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost, wrapped, in the fridge overnight. Bring to room temperature and heat in the pan in a 350 degree oven until warm throughout.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.