Sweet noodle kugel is a casserole made with egg noodles, a slightly sweet custard, chopped apples, and a hint of cinnamon. A traditional Jewish side dish to serve for holidays.
My sweet noodle kugel is studded with chopped granny smith apples. Their tart flavor pairs perfectly with the sweet cinnamon custard.
Once your casserole has baked in the oven, the noodles on top turn into a crunchy crust. For some, this is their favorite part!
This casserole can be served as a side dish or dessert for your next holiday. 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 less sweet version, try my savory brown butter noodle kugel.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Egg noodles - I prefer using wide egg noodles for kugel. However, they can be substituted with any medium sized pasta, like penne or fusilli.
- Cottage cheese - A common ingredient in kugel. If you dislike curds in your kugel, it can be substituted with heavy cream or half & half (at a 1:1 ratio) for a smooth, creamy custard.
- Sour cream - Adds a tangy flavor and creamy texture to the custard.
- Large eggs - Add structure and stability to your custard. I do not recommend omitting or reducing the quantity of eggs in this recipe.
- Butter - Unsalted butter can be substituted with salted butter (reduce the listed salt by ¼ teaspoon).
- Apples - I used two granny smith apples for this recipe. The tart flavor pairs well with the slightly sweet custard. Or, try using golden delicious apples for a slightly sweeter flavor. Apples can also be substituted with a can of drained crushed pineapple or a cup of golden raisins soaked in warm water (strain before adding) depending on the flavor your prefer. Fruit can also be omitted entirely without affecting the end result.
- Sugar - Granulated sugar or brown sugar works in this recipe. I add ¾ cup of sugar to my kugel, which makes for a lightly sweetened casserole. Use 1 cup of sugar for a sweeter kugel.
- Spices - Cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt add depth of flavor to your kugel. Nutmeg can be substituted with additional cinnamon, or both spices can be substituted with a blend like apple pie spice if desired.
- Vanilla extract - Adds depth of flavor to your kugel. Can be omitted if desired.
What is kugel?
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)
If you've never had kugel before, it's sort of like a bread pudding, but with egg noodles. Or like a noodle casserole made with a sweet custard. Difficult to describe, but a must try if you're adventurous and enjoy trying unique foods!
If you grew up with kugel at the holiday table each year, your family may have their own favorite variations. My sweet noodle kugel is made with chopped apples, cinnamon, and vanilla, but can easily be customized with your favorite ingredients.
- Chopped apples can be substituted with: a drained 8 ounce can of crushed pineapple, 1 cup of golden raisins/dried apricots/dried cranberries, chopped pears, or 1 cup of walnuts/pecans.
- Sugar can be increased or decreased based on your desired sweetness. ¾ cup will make a slightly sweet custard. Try using ½ cup or 1 cup if you're looking to adjust the sweetness either way. Granulated sugar can also be substituted with brown sugar for a caramelized flavor.
- Try sprinkling the top with a combination of cinnamon and sugar for a crunchy sugar crust.
Make ahead and reheating
Want to make your sweet noodle kugel ahead of time? Assemble as directed but before baking, cover and refrigerate. Your kugel can be made a day beforehand and baked on the day of serving.
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.
Sweet Noodle Kugel
- 12 ounces wide egg noodles, uncooked
- 6 large eggs
- 16 ounces sour cream
- 16 ounces cottage cheese
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 granny smith apples
- 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.
- In a large bowl, add eggs and whisk to combine. Add sour cream, cottage cheese, granulated sugar, melted butter, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg . Whisk to combine.
- Peel, core, and dice your apples into small pieces and stir into the egg mixture.
- Pour egg mixture over noodles and gently toss 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, set casserole on counter top while oven preheats, then 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.
- Apples can be omitted if desired, or substituted with chopped pears, 1 cup of raisins/dried apricots/dried cranberries/walnuts/pecans, or an 8 ounce can of (drained) crushed pineapple.