Savory brown butter noodle kugel is a side dish made with egg noodles and a rich and tangy custard. Caramelized brown butter, sage, and thyme make this a savory, comforting side dish.
Noodle kugel is a traditional Jewish side dish that's a staple during the holidays. Made with egg noodles in a cottage cheese custard, this tangy kugel is made unique with the addition of brown butter and a few savory herbs.
Browning butter adds a caramelized, nutty flavor, making it the perfect side dish for holiday meals. Once baked, the noodles on top turn into a crispy crust. It is often touted as the best part of a noodle kugel!
Noodle kugel is a staple side dish for many Jewish holidays, like Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah. It can also be served weekly on the Sabbath. For a sweet version, try my recipe for sweet noodle kugel.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Sour cream - Adds creaminess and tangy flavor.
- Cottage cheese - A common ingredient in kugel. If you dislike curds in your kugel, it can be blended until smooth in a food processor first, or substituted with an equal quantity of heavy cream or half & half for a smooth, creamy custard.
- Eggs - Necessary to add structure to the kugel.
- Egg noodles - You'll need one 12 ounce bag of dry egg noodles for this recipe. Wide or medium noodles work best. If you don't prefer egg noodles, they can be substituted with any medium sized pasta, like penne or fusilli.
- Butter - You'll need one stick, or 4 ounces, of unsalted butter for this recipe. We'll be browning it to add that warm, caramelized flavor to the kugel. Salted butter can be substituted, but you'll want to reduce the listed salt by ¼ teaspoon.
- Seasoning - Salt, pepper, thyme, and sage add a mild, savory flavor to the kugel. Thyme and sage could be substituted with an Italian seasoning blend if needed for a similar flavor.
Tips and tricks
Browning butter - Melt your butter in a small saucepan on the stovetop over medium heat. As it begins to bubble and foam, keep a close eye on the pan. Your butter will begin to form tiny brown flecks in the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently and remove your pan from the heat as you've got plenty of golden brown (not black) flecks.
Make ahead - Want to make your noodle kugel ahead of time? Simply assemble as directed. Before baking, cover and refrigerate. Your kugel can be made the day beforehand and baked on the day of serving.
Leftovers and reheating - Have leftover kugel, or want to bake it the day before? Cover your baked kugel and refrigerate overnight. To reheat, place casserole dish, covered, in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven. Bake for 15-30 minutes, or until warm throughout.
Frequently asked questions
Kugel is a Jewish side dish made with egg noodles (or potatoes) and a buttery egg custard. It can be made savory or sweet and is often served at holidays like Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Hanukkah.
The first kugel was savory and made with bread and flour. About 800 years ago, bread was replaced with noodles. Eventually, eggs were added, as well as cottage cheese, to make the custard-like casserole that is common today. (Source: Wikipedia - kugel)
Both sweet and savory versions of kugel exist. Sweet kugel is often made with sugar, raisins, and cinnamon. While it may sound like a dessert, sweet kugel is served as a side dish at meals or for breaking your Yom Kippur fast.
Savory kugel may include pepper, a crunchy cornflake or breadcrumb topping, onions, and cheese. Newer versions of savory kugel include vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and zucchini.
Across the world, many varieties of kugel exist. Every family makes their kugel in a unique way!
Leftover kugel will keep for about 4 days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.
Savory Brown Butter Noodle Kugel
- 12 ounces wide egg noodles, uncooked
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- 6 large eggs
- 16 ounces sour cream
- 16 ounces cottage cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease a 9x13 casserole dish and set aside.
- In a large stock pot, bring salted water to a boil. Cook egg noodles according to package directions for al dente noodles. Drain, rinse, and pour into prepared casserole dish. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, stirring frequently. Butter will begin to foam and boil. After 4 to 5 minutes you will see brown flecks appear in the bottom of the pan. Continue to stir until butter is golden and flecks are a medium brown color. Watch closely - butter will brown quickly. Process takes about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, add eggs and whisk to combine. Add sour cream, cottage cheese, salt, pepper, thyme, and sage. Whisk to combine. Last, add your brown butter (including the browned bits at the bottom of the pan) and stir to combine.
- Pour egg mixture over noodles and gently stir to coat. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until casserole is completely set in the center. Leave casserole uncovered for a crunchy noodle crust, or cover with foil for half of baking time for a less crunchy crust.
- Remove from oven and allow to set for 15 minutes before serving.
- Make ahead - assemble casserole as directed. Before baking, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. On day of serving, bake as directed above.
- Reheating leftovers - cover baked casserole and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 15-30 minutes, or until warmed throughout.
- Cottage cheese can be blended in a food processor for a smooth texture, or substituted with heavy cream or half & half for a rich, smooth custard.
- Optionally, top with chives before serving.