“You don’t know from kugel,” my Jewish friend Ginger likes to say. And it’s true. The idea of a sweet pasta dish never appealed. Too many versions had hard-to-chew, incinerated noodles on top, and the fillings often clotted and clumped.

Now…give me a savory kugel, and I’ll be knocking over Bubbie to get to the holiday table. I’d never met a pasta casserole I didn’t want to smear all over my body.

Still, “sweet kugel” has been one of the most searched-for recipes on LC for years, so I’ve been looking and looking and looking.

After eating my way through a truckload of kugel wherever I went, I finally stumbled upon this one from Shannon Sarna. The recipe looked promising. I was curious about the cornflake topping. I wondered if that would shield the noodles from turning into those little brown noodle fingernails.

Not only did it keep the noodles soft, but the sugar and butter candied the cornflakes so they were crispy and crunchy with a beautiful sheen.

Let’s face it, though: The filling makes a kugel, and I have to say, this one was soft, creamy, sweet, with just a bit of tang.

☞ SUGGESTIONS FROM JUNIOR JEWS (Ginger’s nickname for us)

  • Instead of raisins, think golden raisins, dried cranberries, or currants.
  • Go wild on the toppings. Below in the FAQs, I suggest some variations.
  • I tried this kugel warm, room temp, and chilled. I preferred it warm. It was most like a bread pudding then. I liked it least chilled. I prefer my cold noodles Asian and spicy.
david caricature

Why Our Testers Loved This

The testers were delighted to discover this easy sweet noodle kugel recipe. They praised it for being “custardy, comforting, and perfectly sweet.” They were also pleased it didn’t require any fancy ingredients and came together “quickly and affordably.”

Notes on Ingredients

Ingredients for sweet noodle kugel including bowls of dried egg noodles, butter, eggs, sugar, cream cheese, and cottage cheese.
  • Sugar–The recipe calls for both brown and granulated sugar. The original recipe contained significantly more sugar in the custard, but it made the entire dish too sweet. If you like your kugel very sweet, you can add an extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar to the custard.
  • Egg noodles–These are the traditional base of noodle kugel. We don’t recommend using a different type of pasta.
  • Cream cheese–Use full-fat cream cheese here for the best results. Reduced-fat cream cheese doesn’t melt as well as full-fat.
  • Cottage cheese–Use full-fat or 4% cottage cheese. The higher fat content will give you a rich kugel that holds together well when cooled.
  • Raisins–These could be replaced with dried cranberries, dried cherries, crushed pineapple, or drained fruit cocktail.
  • Topping–This sweet noodle kugel recipe uses cornflakes for the topping, but for a slightly sweeter topping, use 3/4 cup crushed graham crackers, Biscoff cookie crumbs, cranberry biscotti, or a combination in place of the cornflakes. You can also substitute crushed saltine crackers.

How to Make This Recipe

Butter being whipped in a stand mixer; cream cheese being whipped into the butter.
  1. Combine the butter and sugar in a stand mixer.
  2. Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
Eggs being whipped into creamed butter; cottage cheese being whipped into the egg custard.
  1. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined.
  2. Gently mix in the remaining custard ingredients.
A pot of egg noodles boiling; a colander of cooked egg noodles and a hand spoon the noodles into a bowl of custard.
  1. Boil the noodles in salted water until tender.
  2. Drain the noodles and transfer them to the custard.
A hand stirring egg noodles and custard; a hand mixing corn flakes, sugar, and melted butter.
  1. Stir the drained noodles into the custard.
  2. Combine the topping ingredients in a separate bowl.
A casserole of sweet noodle kugel ready for the oven; a hand sprinkling a crunchy topping on the noodle kugel.
  1. Pour the kugel into the prepared baking dish.
  2. Scatter the topping evenly over the top. Bake at 375°F until puffed and golden. Cool before serving.

Recipe FAQs

What is kugel?

Kugel is a traditional Jewish baked casserole usually made from noodles (lokshen) or potatoes baked in custard. It has a texture similar to bread pudding or strata, and can be made sweet or savory.

Where did Kugel originate?

Kugel originated in Germany over 800 years ago and became a staple of the Jewish diet in Eastern Europe. The original versions would often include farmer cheese or non-dairy ingredients.

Jewish immigrants brought the popular sweet noodle version to America, and it has evolved over time, with variations in the fruit and type of topping, based on what was available and popular.

When is this traditionally served?

This sweet kugel is frequently served at Jewish holidays such as Yom Kippur or Shavout, when it is traditional to eat dairy.

What else can i use as a topping for my kugel?

Oy, so many things! Tester Anna Scott used crushed biscotti. I think crushed Biscoff cookies, graham crackers, or vanilla wafers would work nicely. As would toasted coconut. And think out of the box–granola or muesli could be a tasty twist. But, as always, be mindful of Jewish dietary laws if you’re observant.

Helpful Tips

  • To halve the recipe, reduce all ingredients by 50% and prepare the sweet noodle kugel in an 8-by-8-inch baking dish. Also, cut back the cooking time to about 30 minutes.
  • If the top of your kugel is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with aluminum foil.
  •  Leftover kugel can be stored in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, or in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. Leftovers can be enjoyed cold or reheated in a 325°F oven or microwave.
  • This recipe is suitable for vegetarian diets.
A casserole dish of sweet noodle kugel; in front is a plate with a slice of kugel on it.

More Superb Jewish Holiday Recipes

Write a Review

If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David

A casserole dish of sweet noodle kugel; in front is a plate with a slice of kugel on it.

Sweet Noodle Kugel

5 / 3 votes
Noodle kugel, a popular Jewish casserole often enjoyed during holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is made with egg noodles, creamy custard, dried fruit, and, sometimes, a sweet, crunchy topping. This traditional recipe is wicked versatile and can be gobbled up warm or cold, for breakfast, as a side, or for dessert.
David Leite
CourseSides
CuisineJewish
Servings12 servings
Calories489 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour

Ingredients 

For the noodles and custard

  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 ounces full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups cottage cheese (full-fat or 4%)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup raisins
  • Cooking spray, for the baking dish
  • 1 pound wide egg noodles
  • Kosher salt

For the topping

  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup cornflake crumbs
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions 

Make the noodles and custard

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Slick a 9-by-11-inch (23-by-28-cm) baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Using a handheld mixer and a large bowl or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and continue to mix until smooth, 1 minute more.
  • Add the eggs, vanilla, cottage cheese, and raisins, and mix gently to combine.
  • Boil the noodles in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions, about 5 minutes. Drain in a colander.
  • Use a spoon to stir the drained egg noodles into the custard.

Make the topping

  • Combine the melted butter, cornflake crumbs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.
  • Pour the kugel into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the cornflake topping evenly over the top of the kugel.

Bake the kugel

  • Bake, uncovered, until slightly puffed and golden on top, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool before serving. The kugel can be served warm or at room temperature.

Notes

  1. Halving the recipe–Assemble the kugel in an 8-by-8-inch baking dish and reduce the cooking time to about 30 minutes.
  2. Cooking the kugel–If the top of your kugel is browning too quickly, cover it loosely with foil.
  3. Storage and reheating–Leftover kugel can be stored in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, or in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. Leftovers can be enjoyed cold or reheated in a 325°F oven or microwave.
  4. Dietary–This recipe is suitable for vegetarian diets.
Modern Jewish Comfort Food Cookbook.

Adapted From

Modern Jewish Comfort Food

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Nutrition

Serving: 1 portionCalories: 489 kcalCarbohydrates: 81 gProtein: 15 gFat: 12 gSaturated Fat: 6 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 0.04 gCholesterol: 150 mgSodium: 371 mgPotassium: 223 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 43 gVitamin A: 730 IUVitamin C: 3 mgCalcium: 81 mgIron: 6 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2022 Shannon Sarna. Photo © 2023 David Leite. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Custardy, comforting, and perfectly sweet, we adored this sweet dairy noodle kugel, both warm from the oven and cold the following day for a breakfast treat with coffee. It uses mainly pantry and fridge staples, so it comes together quickly and affordably.

I used golden raisins as my fruit add-in. I had homemade biscotti in the freezer, so I ground them into crumbs in my food processor for the topping. (I did not add extra sugar, salt, or butter to my crumb topping, seeing that my biscotti already contained sugar and salt, and the custard was already so rich, I didn’t think it needed anything but the crumbs on top.

A friend invited me to her house for a potluck Passover dinner. Not being Jewish, I searched the internet for what to make, and when this recipe for sweet noodle kugel turned up for testing, it fit the theme nicely.

This was an easy Saturday afternoon activity with ingredients that are easy to find in your typical grocery store. It makes your whole house smell like vanilla and sugar while it is baking…very cozy! For additional contrast, I used golden raisins and made a crumble topping with brown sugar, crackers, and butter.

Overall, this was a hit with everyone at the dinner. The noodle kugel was sweet, creamy, and decadent and contrasted nicely with the crunchy topping. Personally, I don’t have a point of reference, but my Jewish friends who had been eating kugel their whole lives loved it and were reaching for seconds, so I’ll take that as the best sign of approval.




About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.


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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. OY! So delish. I add a bit of orange maralade and toss. I process dried apricots to the size of small pearls and add.

    I like to top with cinnamon sugar.

    1. Lee, since there is so much of the cheese, you’ll need to substitute it; you can’t simply omit it. Common substitutions are ricotta cheese, mascarpone, Greek yogurt, and sour cream. We didn’t test these substitutions, but if you try one of them, please let us know how it turns out!

  2. 5 stars
    This is a delicious kugel, and reminiscent of my childhood with some differences in preparation. While the ingredients are pretty much a match, the olden days had one simply melt the butter in a large bowl, and then add the sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, cottage cheese and eggs. Beat for a few minutes and then add the optional raisins. Continue as described with the noodles and toppings. On a side note, noodle kugel is usually NOT served at Passover due to dietary restrictions regarding noodles being served.

    1. Thanks, Michelle. You are quite right. We understand it is primarily enjoyed on Shabbat and at other holidays, such as Yom Kippur.