My Quest for the Ultimate Sweet Apple Noodle Kugel

20130310-203246.jpgEvery Jewish woman should have a noodle kugel, brisket, and matzo ball soup in her arsenal. These dishes go a long way toward filling the table with nostalgic, traditional holiday dishes. My mom and aunts all made the same noodle kugel recipe for the holidays. It was the star of the meal as far as I was concerned. I guess you could say my love affair with noodle kugel goes back to childhood. I like the sweet kugel, which is a dish of egg noodles coated in a luscious, sweet dairy sauce and held together by eggs. Kugel is comfort food at its best and a special holiday treat.

I never knew there were so many versions of noodle kugel until I saw my Aunt Clara’s recipe file. She had over a dozen variations of sweet noodle kugel made with different dairy products (cottage cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, buttermilk, regular milk, cheese) and a range of mix-in’s such as raisins, cinnamon, pineapple, lemon zest, mushrooms, onions, or spinach. Plus some recipes have a corn flake or graham cracker crumb topping, and others do not. My aunt may have had numerous versions, but there have been kugel contests with hundreds of recipe entries, according to Joan Nathan in her cookbook Jewish Cooking in America.Now that’s a lot of variations.

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Aunt Clara with me and my older daughter when she was a baby.

When I was newly married, I sat in my Aunt Clara’s kitchen collecting family recipes so I could carry on the tradition. Staring at so many recipe cards, I asked Clara for her advice about which kugel I should make. She suggested her favorite: Cousin Adele’s kugel which is made with cream cheese and no mix-ins. The sweet cream cheese provides a wonderful, smooth texture and flavor around the noodles. This kugel recipe was my favorite for a long time.

Over the years I have made other kugel recipes, and they each have spent some time as my current favorite. The recipes vary in specific ingredients and in ratios. Nevertheless, all of these recipes are winners. To me the prototype of noddle kugel is my cousin Deanna’s recipe because this is the recipe I grew up with. Deanna, being the oldest female cousin, is the keeper of the treasured family recipes. Deanna’s recipe uses sour cream and cottage cheese as the dairy ingredients.

My Favorite Sweet Noodle Kugel Recipes

My Favorite Sweet Noodle Kugel Recipes

Each new recipe I fell in love with seemed to build upon the one before. My friend Susie’s recipe is very similar to Deanna’s, but the ratios are different, and her kugel has more liquid and thus, is more moist. Next came my friend Jody’s sweet apple noodle kugel, and this kugel made quite a stir at the nursery school. All the moms asked for the recipe, and Jody’s kugel was requested at every parent event. Jody’s kugel is similar to Susie’s, but there is an addition of chopped apples, which makes the kugel divine.

Then the New York kugel entered my life. My sister Kathy made it for me, and she got the recipe from a friend in New York, hence the moniker. The New York kugel is made with cream cheese and cottage cheese. This kugel combines the best features of all the previous recipes. But I couldn’t just stop there. I have adapted the New York kugel recipe to add in my beloved apples, and I tinkered with the ingredients. Also, I took off the corn flake topping, which probably will horrify my sister and nephew who love the topping. I’m just a purist when it comes to noodle kugel. So without further ado, here is my ultimate sweet apple noodle kugel:

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My Ultimate Sweet Apple Noodle Kugel
Print
Recipe type: Side dish, dairy, vegetarian
Cuisine: Jewish
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 16
Ingredients:
  • 1 package (12 ounces) wide egg noodles (like Manischewitz or Streit's)
  • ¾ stick of butter (= 6 tablespoons), divided
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced small.
  • 8 ounce block of cream cheese, melted
  • 1-3/4 cups milk, 4 or 2% fat, warmed
  • 8 ounce small curd cottage cheese (small container), regular or lowfat
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
Instructions:
  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Use a small amount of the butter to grease a 9 x 13 inch Pyrex glass pan or ceramic casserole dish.
  2. Cook the noodles in salted boiling water for 5 minutes. Put a few drops of cooking oil in the boiling water to prevent the noodles from sticking together. Noodles should be softened, but still a little firm. Drain and set aside.
  3. Prep all ingredients: peel and dice the apples; melt the cream cheese and remaining butter in the microwave; warm the milk, and beat the eggs.
  4. In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, milk, and butter. Add in the cottage cheese, sugar, vanilla, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and beaten eggs. Stir to combine well. Fold in the noodles and apples until evenly distributed.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking pan and sprinkle remaining ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon on top. Check at 40 minutes to see if the top is brown enough. If so, cover with foil and continue cooking. Bake for about 1 hour total or until the center is set, and the top is golden brown.
  6. Cool at least 10 minutes. Cut into squares to serve. Serve warm.
Notes:
Passover tip from my friend Jody: this recipe works well with Manischewitz Passover Gold Wide Noodles (Not the gluten free or yolk free). Kugel can be made ahead: Option 1: Assemble and refrigerate overnight. The next day leave out for a half hour, then bake. Option 2: Assemble and underbake (cook about 45 minutes). Let cool and then refrigerate. Before serving warm in the oven for 30 minutes.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts about my story and recipe, so please leave me a comment below. Thanks, Dana


The Utimate Apple Noodle Kugel by Foodie Goes Healthy: after decades of trying different kugels and tweaking them, this recipe combines the best of all worlds.

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41 Responses to My Quest for the Ultimate Sweet Apple Noodle Kugel

  1. Jen October 16, 2016 at 9:34 AM #

    OMG, BEST Kugel Ever. My friend Carol brought it over to our Break the Fast on Yom Kippor and it was the biggest hit. So happy to have this recipe. Many thanks! xo

  2. Enid Unatin March 11, 2015 at 9:55 PM #

    Dana ~ I too make a passover noodle kugel, however, I can no longer find the Manischewitz Passover Gold Medium Yolk Free (let alone with egg) Noodle made from passover cake meal in Los Angeles. All I can find is Gluten Free or plain potato starch style. I found it online from Foodservicedirect.com but have to order a case of 12 @ $67.45. Insane. Do you know where I can find it? Thanks so much. Would like to use it for 4/3 & 4/4/2015

    • Dana @ Foodie Goes Healthy March 11, 2015 at 10:12 PM #

      Hi- great question. I would contact the Manischewitz company to see if they still make it and if they know who stocks it in the LA area. Here’s their contact information page: http://manischewitz.com/contact-us/. I hear they are responsive to questions. Also, don’t panic yet. My local kosher grocer doesn’t receive all their Passover stock at once, and some of the items arrive just prior to Passover, so hopefully the noodles are still coming.

  3. jodi ticknor September 22, 2014 at 12:26 PM #

    Sounds delish, Dana. Blog looks GREAT!!! xo

  4. dhs April 14, 2014 at 3:49 AM #

    We have several lactose intolerant people in the family. I used tofutti cream cheese and tofutti cottage cheese. It turned out great! Thanks

    • Dana April 14, 2014 at 6:13 AM #

      Thanks so much for letting me know that the recipe works with tofutti (dairy-free). I have always wondered! So good to know.

  5. Galen January 21, 2014 at 8:40 AM #

    Im going rouge at a mac and cheese bake off. Gonna usetis recipe but im gonna add shredded cheese on top. Ill let youknow how we do…….

    • Dana January 21, 2014 at 8:59 AM #

      How fun. Good luck.

  6. Yid\ November 27, 2013 at 5:16 AM #

    I’m one of the few Jews in my office, and very much enjoy bring my traditional food. This was a great hit!

    • Dana November 27, 2013 at 7:42 AM #

      So glad to hear this dish was enjoyed by all. Happy Hanukah.

  7. kdern September 14, 2013 at 7:07 PM #

    Hi there… I made your recipe today for our Yom Kippur break fast and it was fantastic. Amazing actually. I was worried about it because even after cooking for 70 minutes it was very wet and not at all set, but after cooling on the counter for a few hours, and reheating in the oven, it was perfect.

    Highly recommended!

  8. Stan July 16, 2013 at 4:30 AM #

    I love to cook, but I have never make kugel before, as I don’t usually like it as a side dish, but I do like it sweet as more of dessert. Since I had some left over egg noodles last night, I tried this. I only made a very small batch, but it was wonderfully sweet. I did make one addition, I added some chopped dried pineapple. You couldn’t see it in the end product, but it added some flavorful sweetness to an already great dish. I only wish I had made more. I will add it to my repertoire Thanks..

    • Dana July 16, 2013 at 12:26 PM #

      Stan, thanks for your kind words. I’m glad the recipe work out well for you. Yes, pineapple is a great addition to a sweet kugel. Best, Dana

  9. SR April 11, 2013 at 12:47 PM #

    Looks wonderful. One question: Do the beaten eggs get added to the cream cheese and milk mixture?

    • Dana April 11, 2013 at 12:56 PM #

      Thanks for your question. I just corrected the recipe indicating when to add the eggs. Enjoy.

  10. Faye Levy March 18, 2013 at 3:58 PM #

    I think you have convinced me to try it your way!

    • Dana March 18, 2013 at 4:05 PM #

      I think you’ll like it. Let me know.

  11. Faye Levy March 18, 2013 at 3:48 PM #

    Whoops! Here’s the correct link for the prize-winning kugel:
    http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2008/09/24/prize_winning_noodle_kugel/

  12. Faye Levy March 18, 2013 at 1:06 PM #

    I apologize for the error in my link. The prize-winning kugel recipe is at http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2008/09/24/prize_winning_noodle_kugel/

    • Dana March 18, 2013 at 1:10 PM #

      I think cream cheese is the “award-winning” ingredient. 🙂

  13. Faye Levy March 17, 2013 at 7:37 PM #

    I enjoyed your story about how your kugel evolved. It sounds delicious. The one I usually make is like Deanna’s, with sour cream and cottage cheese, but I sometimes add apples too, either in very thin slices or sauteed in butter to make sure they become tender. Years ago I was a judge at a kugel contest and it was so much fun, that after I tasted all 50 entries, I went back and had more of my favorites. The winner had cream cheese, sour cream, butter and honey. Part of the article is available online here http://www.boston.com/ae/food/articles/2004/09/08/kugel_contest_celebrates_tradition_variation/
    and the recipe is here: http://www.boston.com/ae/food/articles/2004/09/08/kugel_contest_celebrates_tradition_variation/

    • Dana March 18, 2013 at 12:43 PM #

      Hi Faye- how fun to judge a kugel contest. Thanks for the links. Your comment cuts to the heart of what I love about traditional recipes– I love how recipes evolve and how people have so many different variations. Also, I have enjoyed seeing variations of dishes in your cookbooks. So, thanks for checking out my site and for leaving a comment. Best, Dana

    • Kim Lund August 8, 2017 at 10:17 AM #

      This recipe is AMAZING, made 3 last night, one with dietary substitutions, all I replaced cottage cheese with sour cream as that was what I had.

      I don’t know if posting a completely different recipe is a nice thing to do when someone was kind enough to share their recipe that belongs in a cook book.

      • Dana August 8, 2017 at 7:13 PM #

        Hi Kim- I’m so glad this recipe was a success for you. Enjoy! Kugel is one of my favorite dishes.

  14. shockinglydelicious March 17, 2013 at 1:55 PM #

    This was so good! I coulda had 2 pieces!

    • Dana March 17, 2013 at 3:54 PM #

      Dorothy- thanks for stopping by to say so.

  15. Christina March 16, 2013 at 8:34 PM #

    This was lovely, Dana! So neat that your aunt had all her recipes to share with you!

    • Dana March 16, 2013 at 10:17 PM #

      Thank you Christina. I feel very fortunate that I had a chance to collect favorite family recipes from my relatives. I love continuing the tradition with my kids.

  16. Susan March 12, 2013 at 12:58 PM #

    Dana…thanks so much for remembering my mom. Cooking is part of our family history. It makes us happy, it calms us when we are upset, but most important, it keeps our families close to our sides.
    Susan

    • Dana March 12, 2013 at 1:03 PM #

      Hi Susan- what you wrote is beautiful and so true. Thanks for the comment.

  17. Kathy Gallagher March 11, 2013 at 4:08 PM #

    Yes! We are horrified! The cornflakes are the best part! The original and superior :))) recipe came from Daryl Boren who got it from her friend Carol Ann. Shout out to them on the east coast. Please do not remove the cornflake topping from my carrot souflee recipe!

    • Dana March 11, 2013 at 7:51 PM #

      Kathy- you are very funny. Why don’t you post your favorite corn flake topping in the comments for other “topping lovers”?

  18. Susie Stein March 11, 2013 at 2:58 PM #

    I’m so honored to be part of the recipe! I’ll have to try your version. Stay tuned…

    • Dana March 11, 2013 at 3:38 PM #

      Hi Susie- Thanks for being an inspiration. Our recipes are similar, but I love the addition of cream cheese and apples. I hope you like it too.

  19. Carrie March 11, 2013 at 10:20 AM #

    I just tried it – Best kugle I’ve ever had!!!!

    • Dana March 11, 2013 at 10:41 AM #

      Hi Carrie- so glad you like it. Thanks so much for letting me know.

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