noodle-kugel Recipes

cream cheese noodle kugel

Considering that my parents will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their first date this weekend, it seems only appropriate to use today shed light on a certain farce: my mother didn’t marry my father for his flamenco guitar, his ability to use a hammer and a nail or his promises to love her for the next hereafter. Nope, she married him because when she asked his aunt for the recipe to her delicious noodle kugel, she was told she couldn’t have it until she married my father. And so it was. And you might think this story cruel or careless, but really, mother has been telling me and my sister this our whole lives and my father seems not in the least offended. “I only married him for that noodle kugel recipe,” she says, and everyone nods and smiles because, well, they’ve heard it a zillion times before but also because the kugel is just that good. What’s to question?

dried egg noodles8 ounces cream cheese

So why haven’t I told you about it before? I mean, do we need to count how many Jewish holidays have passed in the last year during which I just failed to mention that, by the way, I have a recipe for noodle kugel so good, people will give up their singlehood just to have unfettered access to it? Well, I haven’t told you about it because–and I suspect that on this, if no other part of the story, that you’ll follow me–it’s mom’s recipe. It’s what mom makes. Why would I make it? It’s her thing.

Except this is the really shameful part. I’m not proud. I almost wish I could take it back, pretend it never happened, and we could have just continued the way things were, and yet: Two weeks ago, Alex and I went to Balducci’s to pick up some things for dinner and on the way out, tried a sample they were handing out of their noodle kugel from their High Holiday menu, and it was so good, I almost offered to marry the guy giving it out just for the recipe but I was torn because I already have a kick-ass kugel recipe and… oh right. I’m also already married.

eight eggseight eggs

But I couldn’t stop thinking about its cream-cheesiness and the tartness of the dried cherries. And while it was not “better” than what I know, because there are no “betters” just “differents,” when it comes to family heirloom recipes, I had to try to recreate it at home.

Thus, it is with a heavy and stereotypically guilt-ridden heart that I tell you that this adapted kugel recipe is awesome. Like, really really good. And though I feel like I have gone against the family or something, fixing what was not broken, I suspect that there are people out there whose existences did not come to pass because of the original kugel recipe that might enjoy this new-fangled one. You don’t even have to marry anyone to get it. Phew, right?

noodle kugel with cream cheese and cherriesnoodle kugel with cream cheese and cherries

One year ago: Artichoke Panzanella, Roasted Tomatoes and Cippoline Onions Over White Beans With Garlic-Rubbed Bread Cubes

Update: So, huh, a lot of you guys are home during the day, aren’t you? Yes it’s true; myself and a few other bloggers were invited to attend the Martha Stewart show on Tuesday under the guise of spending the day seeing the offices and meeting and greeting with our new advertising partners. Little did we know! Well, there was a meeting, but we were also led into the front row and affixed with name tags (mine said “SMITTEN KITTEN” actually) while Martha talked about blogging and the camera focused on us I pretty much died of embarrassment. [Did I ever mention how much I hate being in front of the camera? Oh, so much.] Nonetheless, despite all this grousing, something really cool did happen: Martha Stewart called Smitten Kitchen “a very cute web site,” and as I think we already know how I feel about her, it’s pretty cool to know that the feeling is returned. Or the teleprompter returns the feeling. Hey, I’m not picky!

Thanks to MSLO for the fun day.

Noodle Kugel

The truth is, I didn’t change that much. I used less butter, switched to the salted stuff, swapped cottage for cream cheese and added dried cherries. Fine, that’s a lot. But you see, even tradition is forgiving to adaptation. Who knew?

1 pound wide egg noodles
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 pound (16 ounces) creamed cottage cheese, full fat
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 stick salted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the baking dish
8 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 glass baking dish.

Parboil the noodles (5 to 7 minutes) and drain them in a colander. In a very large bowl beat cream cheese until fluffy, add cottage cheese and beat for another minute. Scrape bowl down well. Add sugar and combine, then melted butter, and scrape down the bowl another time. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between additions. Add cinnamon, vanilla and mix, then stir in dried cherries. Finally, carefully mix in the drained egg noodles.

Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for one hour before checking to see if the center is set. It may need up to 30 minutes more. (Yes, I know this range is crazy, but I’ve baked kugels that took either end of the range. They refuse to be predictable.)

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94 comments on cream cheese noodle kugel

  1. I´m with Jocelyn, I wanna hear every single detail about the Martha appearance!!! If I lived in the US and could actually see the show, I´d pretty much hate your guts for not giving readers the heads up about it :P

  2. wait a second. you met Martha? Zow. I’m so glad I “met you when.” remember the little people, ‘K?

    as for kugle. mmmm. yes, more please. and then some. as for the new fangled dried cherries, it’s ok, I’ll take my grandmother’s anytime. nothing like making a casserole with dairy and egg noodles, eating about 20 ounces of it, and calling it “light.”

    {I still love the egg shell photos.}

  3. This looks like another winner from you. For some reason, cottage cheese is one of the hardest things for me to digest, but for a truly good noodle kugel I’ll happily suffer. I would still love your mother’s recipe for German apple cake since the brood is clamoring for more meat. If you’re fasting Saturday, I hope it’s an easy one. (I can go without food just fine–it’s the lack of coffee that kills me on Yom Kippur!)

  4. I bet lots of people marry for their stomachs, at least your Mum admits it :-)

    The recipe sounds great – I like the slightly healthier twists (have bookmarked to try with the lonely packet of dried cherries sat in my cupboard)

  5. I do believe that I felt my arteries hardening just reading the recipe. While I will try the majority of your recipes, in this I cannot allow myself to follow.

  6. deb

    Yes. I updated the entry with a little more information about it came to pass that several bloggers and I were on the Martha show for 10 seconds. I’m sorry I didn’t warn you guys but I actually didn’t know we were going to be on the show and, also, I completely and totally hate being in front of the camera and wanted to die of embarrassment. So much for my big Food TV career, eh? Thanks to everyone who noticed and sent kind words.

  7. I am SO glad you posted this – I was just talking to my mom on the phone to see if she had my great aunt dorothy’s noodle kugel recipe and she didn’t – neither did her cousin – so THANK YOU – the way you posted the recipe before you changed it I think is JUST how she used to make it. I’ve been craving this for MONTHS and am so glad to finally have a traditional recipe!

  8. santadad

    The original kugel recipe called for a topping of Comstock Cherry Pie Filling. Some years ago, before Deb was even cognizant of these things, some friends from England came to stay with us for a few days. They were astounded that we ate “sweets” with meals. Since then, SantaMom has given in and now makes the kugel sans cherry topping.

    I vote for the cherry topping and I feel that modification of the recipe without persmission of the (late) creator is blasphemous and grounds for divorce.

  9. deb

    Ha! Right after they swooped in, I said, I keep forgetting to verify this (hi, work laptop) but I’m pretty sure that the Smitten Kitten is an entirely different type of cheesecake. Quickly thereafter, they brought me a new tag.

  10. auntjone

    So is your first name really “Kugel” and Deb is just what they call you for laughs?

    Oh, to be one of the lucky ducks who are home when Martha is on. *grumble*

  11. Holy Martha! You were on…and I missed it? DAMMIT ALL TO HELL. The one time being without a job benefits me. Do you listen to Sirius? Jennifer Hutt from Whatever radio is on Weight Watchers and posts on our forums. I’m three degrees away from Martha.

    Now off to search You Tube…

  12. Well isn’t that cool? The lack of warning means you got to have 10 seconds of fame on TV without spending weeks, days or hours ahead of time agonizing about it. Time much better spent on happy thoughts about kugel.

    Congrats! And here’s hoping some enterprising soul can find that spot and get it on YouTube. (You may be saying Nooooooo! But the rest of us? Yeeeeessssss!)

  13. Wow! You’re so famous! Congrats!

    And she maybe shy…but it’s silly because she is VERY photogenic. I only have one angle that I can have my picture taken…my right side and you have to stand on a chair and take the photo from above. Deb on the other hand can’t even take a bad picture if she tried! So I am sure there is NOTHING to be embarrassed about!

  14. I’ve been a lurker for a very long time, and just wanted to finally say how wonderful I find your writing and recipes…not to mention the drool worthy pictures! Congrats on your Martha appearance, how exciting!

  15. Ha, I referred to myself as a smitten kitten upon meeting KS ;-) That’s so awesome that you were on Martha, I’ve been obsessed with her since um, like 14?? I know, I was a laaaame teenager. I had a subscription… at 14. That’s where my $ went.

  16. deb

    I should add a few more details: Martha is cool as hell. I was really impressed with how calm she was throughout the whole taping but even more so off-camera (as opposed to the stereotypical diva who is lovely on camera and a raging difficult personality off-screen). She seemed completely within her element, and yet not a control freak. I saw her tell nobody what to do, not that that would have been a bad thing. But, she seemed comfortable letting the pros run the show.

    When she had a few minutes between the taping and filming some promos (you know the “You’ll only see this on the Martha Stewart Show on such-and-such channel” sound bytes), she answered questions from audience members. It was here that you really saw that she does know it all–despite that common refrain that everyone else does the work for her–answering questions about all-natural peanut butter and admitting what she did not know (alternative flours).

    Okay, enough gushery!

  17. beth

    Hi, I have never made kugel before or eaten it. But it always looks so good, and this looks fantastic. Would you serve this as a side or brunch, or what? Thanks

  18. I watched Martha on rerun last night and was introduced to you by MARTHA! Your blog was the only 1 I remembered…went right to the computer and I’M HOOKED! THIS IS THE BEST BLOG FOR COOKING BY FAR !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have the babka recipe in my purse so I can run out to the store to buy the ingredients. I can’t wait to get back into the kitchen. I’d love to meet Martha 1 day myself. OK can’t wait to see all your recipes and pictures!!!!!!!!!!

  19. I just made this (seriously, it’s cooling on my stovetop, minus a piping hot slice). Can’t think of a nicer way to start off the (Jewish) New Year. Shana Tovah and thanks Deb!

  20. Oh, Deb, you were such a good sport! And I’m so glad we were there together and that I finally got to meet you in the real world. Let me know when you get over your fear of cameras and Sebastian and I will be there in a flash — with wine!

  21. Jessica

    Alright, so I’ve now watched it (thanks Lisa for posting the link) and you are completely adorable! I just find it funny that of all people, the camera zoomed in on your name tag. Does it intimidate you to know that Martha Stewart might be reading your blog occasionally?

  22. Jelena

    Deb that’s so cool! Congratulations! That kugel looks delicious, if I didn’t have an essay to write and had enough cream cheese in the fridge I would make it right now.

  23. OMG!!! im watching you on Martha RIGHT NOW!!!! (thank god I have TIVO) You are sooo fricking cute!!! I didn’t even know you were gonna be on! What a great surprise ;) And you got to see Chevy Chase!

  24. Kaitlin

    I saw your blog on Martha last night…thank goodness for tivo….and I immediately looked you up. I am still learning my way around, but so far I am in love!

  25. I just printed out the kugel recipe…it dawned on me that tonight is Yom Kippur and I had nothing to cook! Ran and got my chick and the ingredients for my kugel. Can’t wait to break the fast tomorrow at my mothers — DAIRY DAIRY DAIRY!

  26. I just saw the Martha episode (I heart my Tivo). Let me know if you want me to send you it on DVD. Congrats! You deserve all of the publicity and recognition!

  27. I was all set to go on and on about my love of kugel, when I got to the MS part of this post…making this, the single greatest post ever in the history of food blogging. dreamy-sigh. Two awesome things, that (who-can-believe) go great together! Oy! Its divine!

  28. Sharon

    oh my goodness…is this like a cheesecake with noodles stuck in it?? i must make this for my jewish husband (too bad it’s yom kippur starting tonight…i’ll make it for him tomorrow for dinner to break his fast).
    i wanted to ask you, since you were a vegetarian for so long, if you knew any good vegetarian recipes? I am having a few vegetarian dinner guests over, but alas all the good and tasty recipes that i know have meat in them. They are lacto-ovo-vegetarian, meaning they can also eat dairy and eggs, i think. i think they said fish is okay too. PLEASE let me know as I tried one vegetarian recipe from Cooking Light yesterday and it totally bombed (we threw it out after having a few bites). I need a main dish and also a side vegetable dish if possible! Thanks in advance!

  29. Oh Debbie. Of COURSE your mother married for the flamenco guitar.
    Funnily enough, my flamenco guitarist just sent me an LA Times.com recipe for noodle kugel. I was gearing up to try my hand. Now I don’t have to. (presuming I’m content to live vicariously).
    Lovely pics, as always.
    Cheers,

  30. SLO

    SHEER BLISS … Absolutely amazing and it’s no wonder your mother married your father to get the recipe. I must admit I can’t quite imagine it with a topping of cherry pie filling .. sounds like a 50’s thing.
    Thanks for the recipe (and the fact that I was smart enough to make a little portion on the side to taste!

  31. Sadly, I never make this kind of kugel since I’m the only one in my household of two that would eat it — and even for family holidays, no-one in my extended family seems to like or appreciate sweet kugel either. Hopefully I’ll come up with some sort of audience for it so that I too can have a chance to enjoy it. I love dried cherries sooo much more than raisins.

  32. Great post about the kugel story. I have never added cherries but it’s a good idea. I enjoyed seeing you on the Martha Stewart show-that must have been a nice treat. I enjoy Martha’s show and I love her in the Macy’s commercials!!

  33. That’s a great story. Our family kugel recipe includes 1 lb cream cheese, 1 lb cottage cheese, AND 2 cups of sour cream, along with a stick of butter, and only 1/2 lb of noodles (although when I measure it out it usually comes to about 3/4 of a 1lb bag, so go figure.

  34. Ilana

    I will use this recipe in our 9th Annual Kugel-Off party next month! It is similar to a kugel that I make that has won the bake-off for several years in a row, but needs a new twist! My recipe is almost identical to yours but it calls for milk as well and it bakes for 1 1/2 hours to a perfect texture… no speculation! I am excited to try the cherries instead of yellow raisens. One year I made it with chocolate chips as well- not exactly a healthy side dish! Thanks for the great blog!

  35. madfelice

    I just made this recipe using dried strawberries instead of cherries and it was delicious! Thank you! I will try mangoes next time!

  36. My son and I made this for seder last week – it was a big hit, the pan was almost finished at the end of dinner! The cherries are a perfect mix in and the flavor of the cream cheese and cottage cheese mixture was exactly right. Thank you!

  37. Amy

    My Pennsylvania Dutch upbringing makes me a virgin to kugel. But I came across this recipe and it looks amazing. I noticed in the top picture you cooked it in a remakin instead of the large pan you suggest in the recipe. Could you tell me the cooking temperature and time you used for smaller portioned cups?

  38. Helen

    This is not a very bright question, but can anyone tell me if a pound of noodles refers to a pound of cooked noodles or a pound of uncooked noodles? I have a bag of egg noodles that says 340 grams, should I grab another bag? Any help would be greatly appreciated as I plan to make this for the first time for Chanukkah (some pressure) and I hate running out for ingredients in the middle of a recipe. Love to bake, but cooking, not so much…

    Love, love, love this blog. Happy Holidays everyone!

  39. Helen

    Wow, YOU responded! Now I’m glowing like a 16 year old fan girl, when I’m more than twice that age :D. Thank you so much. You’re up there in my David Lebovitz, Dorie Greenspan, Rose Levy Berenbaum and Martha list of stars. Hope you come to Montreal on your book tour in 2012.

  40. Alex

    One more question – is it possible to make and reheat? If so, what do you advise? I’m safardic so noodle kugel isn’t in our tradition but I wanted to make this one for a school party. Thanks!

  41. Alex

    Thanks so much! I ended up making the traditional version from your mom fresh this morning and it was a huge hit. (I was worried that kids + dried cherries don’t mix but I can see why this other version would be wonderful).

  42. Kim

    Creamed cottage cheese? Can you fill me in here, please, Deb (or someone else in the know)? I’ve only ever seen good ole’ fashioned cottage cheese curds. Thanks in advance!

  43. Mara

    Okay so I am not fan of sweet pastas but this idea just grabbed my attention and wouldnt let go, soooo I took it into my own hands and decided to change it a little bit. I really hope you don’t mind. But the changes are as follows:

    Instead of vanilla I substituted 2 tablespoons of minced garlic.
    I don’t like cinnamon but in certain things so I replaced it with a pinch of chopped fresh basil.
    I didn’t have cherries so I added 2 large diced tomatoes.
    And finally 1 cup of spinach ( I used frozen, so i thawed it and squeezed out the excess liquid).
    Then bake it the same way. It was pretty good but needed something more. If you try it could you give me suggestions please?
    Again, I really hope i didn’t offend you by changing it up. I love this site, it is the first place I go when I am looking for a fun and yummy new recipe.

  44. Joyce

    I followed the directions without any changes…amazingly delicious! It took only an hour to bake and may have been ready even sooner if I had checked before the hour was up. The dried cherries are a delicious addition!

    I brought this to a pot luck party tonight where everyone was asked to bring a pasta dish…appetizer, salad, main dish or dessert. This delicious concoction won a prize for me. Again. Every time I make one of your dishes, Deb…I seem win a prize. Thank you. Again.

  45. Kathrynwitte

    I am looking for a bit of clarification on the original, *high-cost* recipe of your mother’s. The only place I saw the alterations would be immediately above the “new” recipe. Is that correct? The alterations would be:

    In lessening the original (unsalted) butter, by how much did you decrease it?
    AND

    Substituting 16 ozs. cream cheese for 16 ounces (half out of the supposed 32 ozs. original) cottage cheese.

    Am I correct? I don’t want to be repetitive, or a nuisance- I’m new here! Thanks so much for the clarifications. I don’t want to wreck a kugel for comparison, even if it is the “before” version!

  46. Julie

    I just put my kugel in the oven and had enough to make a smaller one for my sister…she knows when I am cooking….I hope it comes out ok. The mix tasted great and I had to stop myself from eating it. Fingers crossed!

  47. Deb215

    This is similar to my family recipe – we make it in batches half that size which take only about 45 minutes to bake. Major differences: 1)we separate the eggs, and fold in the whites before baking; 2)a bit less sugar and no vanilla; 3)we don’t completely mix the cottage cheese – it retains some of its texture. You can bake it for 20 minutes and then keep in the fridge for a few days before completing the cooking.Personally, I like it without the dried fruit.My Mom sometimes makes it with a graham cracker topping, but I like it plain. Served with a bit of sour cream on the side.

    Our family kugels have far more dairy in them than the traditional noodle kugel. My maternal great grandmother was from Vienna, and I think that the Jews from Vienna had different interpretations of many Jewish dishes.

  48. Denise

    Just made this and it was soooo good! My MIL requested to take some home with her. That’s HUGE! We had a lot of leftover but not complaining! :D

  49. Laura

    I am planning on making this for Rosh Hashanah this year – has anyone tried assembling or making it a day ahead of time? Just trying to figure out how to get everything done in my very small kitchen!

  50. Michele

    One thing I neglected to take after my divorce was my ex-mother-in-law’s cherry cheese kugel recipe, a family tradition for the Yom Kippur break fast. In search of a similar recipe, I stumbled upon this one, which looked fabulous, however, I had already bought a can of cherry pie filling in anticipation. What to do? I decided to modify this way: I made this recipe*, placed half in the baking dish, spread the can of cherry pie filling evenly across the pan, then topped it with the remaining noodle/cheese mixture. It turned out to be the most phenomenally delish kugel I’ve ever had! It was a huge hit tonight.

    * Two notes about this recipe…1. I cooked my noodles in advance, drained them and then melted the stick of butter in the hot noodles. Two days later I brought them to room temp while I prepped the cheese mixture and then added the noodles to the mix. Couldn’t be easier. 2. I also added about 8oz. of sour cream to the cheese mixture, just cause I bought it along with the pie filling and thought it would add a little zing.

  51. Siggy

    Oh my god I made this today for a Chanukah party and it was a HUGE hit! SO good. Made it just as the recipe says, took about 1 1/4 hrs to bake. Yummm.
    (I just bought regular ol’ cottage cheese and beat it for a bit to break up the curds some. Worked a treat).

  52. Stacy

    OMG…this was wonderful. I made it today and my husband said it was the best noodle kugel he’d ever had and his Grandma was a really good cook. The only thing I changed was using golden raisins for the dried cherries. It’s been a really good Passover week as I also made your matzo Ball Soup…fabulous. THanks!!!

  53. Tamar

    Just made this with cranberries instead of cherries, otherwise kept everything as is. A great recipe, everyone loved it!

  54. Ettie

    You mentioned changes you made in the cherry noodle kugel. I didn’t understand if you left out all of the cream cheese and used an additional pound of cottage cheese. How much butter did you use. Your description of how you found this in a deli was great.

  55. deb

    The recipe as posted is the way I made it. If you’re looking for the recipe for my family’s infamous noodle kugel, I posted it a couple years after this, over here. Also, thank you.

  56. Wendy Simmons

    My grandmother made a noodle kugel similar to yours. The only addition in her recipe was grape jelly. It was baked in a round Pyrex bowl. Could you tell me how much jelly to stir in? Are you familiar with this version?
    I would appreciate your help.
    Thank you,
    Wendy Simmons

  57. debby

    I realize you are probably in full gear preparing for your thanksgiving, but if you have time (and are checking new comments on old recipes) I’d be grateful for your thoughts on the below – I know I’ve made both this recipe and your other kugel recipe, but not in while so I can’t remember which was the favorite, so I was leaning toward compromise: that is, this recipe but with 2 cups sugar and 2 sticks butter like your other recipe (plus with 1/2 tsp salt, as I don’t have salted butter). I know this is probably a relatively minor change, but I’m not so comfortable with proportions that I didn’t want to ask…what do you think? Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. deb

      debby — I’m going to go out on a limb and assume the other was your favorite. This is good! But I don’t think people have the same reaction to it as they do to the other one.

  58. Allison

    A quick question – I’m looking for a recipe for individual kugels and noticed that you photo seems to show the kugel baked in a ramekin. Any thoughts on how to adapt the recipe to bake as individual portions, for example in ramekins or muffin tins?