My aunt handed me this recipe with a stern warning and a hint of a smile: "I never make noodle kugel. It's impossible to stop eating." I was surprised because my mom—that is, my aunt's sister—never made noodle kugel while I was growing up, let alone a sweet one. I had no idea we had a family recipe, or, perhaps, some other family's recipe that we had adopted. As a non-fan of noodles (I know), I wasn't particularly attracted to the idea of making a whole dish of noodle kugel. But with a warning like that, how could I not?
Obviously, my aunt was 100% correct. Sweet noodle kugel is unstoppable. I mean, it's egg noodles held together by custard and crisped on top. While one could have it as a dessert, and I hear people do sometimes, I think it's best alongside a lunch or dinner spread. Historically speaking, after all, sweet foods were not relegated to their own course.
My recipe, below, has been slightly adapted from my aunt's master recipe, along with some additions from conglomeration of recipes I've zealously researched. I usually serve it for the break-fast meal after Yom Kippur, and occasionally for Shabbat lunch, when my family usually eats a dairy meal.
How to make noodle kugel
A genuinely uncomplicated dish, you make kugel by first boiling the noodles. While they're cooking, you whisk together the custardy base that will bind together the noodles (or blitz it with a stick/hand blender or in the food processor). It can vary, but most noodle kugels use eggs and some kind of fat (butter or oil) as the binder. For a sweet cheese kugel like this one, some creamy white cheese is added. I've used sour cream and cottage cheese, which are probably the most common, but cream cheese, cream, milk, and others sometimes play the role. If you're put off already because cottage cheese is lumpy, I promise that a stint in the blender or food processor will de-lump it nicely..
As far as sweetener goes, some people like just a hint in their noodle kugel and others go all the way to dessert level, so you'll see a lot of variance in how much sugar and/or honey is added. I like it on the less sweet side, but you can adjust the amounts in the recipe up or down to your liking.
Once the noodles are cooked and drained, return them to the pot and let the heat melt the butter and sugar and honey. Give a stir, then pour the sweet cheese mixture over the whole thing. Toss so all the noodles are well coated, pour into a baking pan, and, if you like, you can add a topping. I like the bread crumb topping on my apple kugel, but for sweet noodle kugel, I prefer to leave it plain and let the noodles crisp up and bring the texture.
You can make this recipe in a large rectangular 13x9" / 33x23cm baking pan, in two square 8x8" / 20x20cm baking pans, in two 12-cup muffin pans (for individual-sized kugels), or in one square baker and one muffin pan. Either whole or as mini kugels, this sweet noodle kugel freezes well. The recipe is also easily halved for a smaller crowd; bake it in a square pan. It can be eaten warm or cold, but needs to be cooled before serving so that the custardy inside sets nicely.
Psst, if you've got one, a large cookie scoop is the perfect implement for loading up muffin cups for mini kugels.
Looking for a super creamy parve noodle kugel? I've got the dairy-free secret right here.
Wishing you a meaningful fast! See you on the other side.
Sweet Noodle Kugel (dairy)
- 1 package wide egg noodles (medium work too) - 12oz / 340g
- ½ cup butter - 110g - 1 stick
- ¼ cup brown sugar - 55g
- 2 Tbsp honey - 40g
- 2 cups cottage cheese - 450g
- 2 cups sour cream - 460g
- 4 eggs
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract - optional
- ¼-½ cup raisins - 40-80
- Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C and grease either: one large rectangular baking dish (9"x13" / 22x33cm); 2 12-cavity muffin pans; 2 square baking dishes (8" / 20 cm); or 1 sqaure pan and 1 muffin pan. For mini kugels, use either silicone pans or muffin pan liners.
- Set a pot of water to boil. Cook the noodles until just softened, 5-7 minutes.
- While the noodles are cooking, prepare the sweet cheese: In the food processor, combine the cottage cheese, sour cream, beaten eggs, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla (if using), and pulse to combine.
- Drain the noodles, then immediately return to the still-hot pot. Quickly stir in butter, brown sugar, and honey and allow to melt. When melted, add to cheese mixture on top. If using raisins, add in now and stir.
- Bake for about 1 hour, until the kugel(s) are crisp and golden on top. Start checking mini kugels at around 45 minutes - they take nearly as long to cook as a whole kugel.