Growing up in a Jewish household, I've been exposed to some amazing foods during the holidays, with noodle kugel being my favorite. Sometimes when I was young, I'd bring leftovers into school for lunch and countless numbers of friends would ask me, "What is noodle kugel?" How does someone explain the majesty that is one of the greatest Jewish foods? Is it an entree or a dessert? Is it sweet or savory? There are so many varieties of kugel, and trying new ones gives you the background about the person who cooked it and the stories of their ancestors. 

Seriously, what the heck is it?

Kugel is a baked pudding or casserole, usually made from egg noodles or potatoes. Derived from the German word for "sphere," kugel is usually served on the Sabbath or other Jewish holidays. There isn't one definitive recipe that is followed by every Jew. Some people make kugel sweet and some make it savory.

History of Noodle Kugel

Originally, kugel was a very savory dish. It first came on the scene in Germany during the 12th century, and it was steamed in a pot and had a very pudding-like consistency. Many people would add onions to it for extra flavor. In the 17th century when sugar was popularized, kugel started becoming more of a sweet pudding. The staple ingredients that make a kugel are a starch base, eggs (or egg substitute), and fat. As long as those three ingredients are present, you can go any direction with it.

As stated on, Jews commonly eat kugel on Shabbat because it resembles the manna that fell from heaven to nourish the Jews during their 40-year sojourn in the desert.

Varieties of Kugel

There are too many varieties of kugel to count, and everyone thinks that their Bubbe's is the best. I grew up with very sweet kugel topped with Frosted Flakes and cinnamon sugar. I'd look forward to it every holiday season. My mom would make huge pans of it and we'd have them as leftovers for weeks on end.

According to The Joy of Kosher, an online food blog, the late 1700s was a BIG time for kugel. Variations of the food were popping up everywhere: potato kugel, rice kugel, and matzo kugel that was kosher for Passover!

Kugel is one of my family's favorite Jewish foods to have during the holidays. No matter what Jewish household I step into, it's likely that within the first 10 minutes of being there, we're either talking about or eating noodle kugel.

#SpoonTip: Freeze the kugel, it lasts unbelievably long.

Trying new kinds of kugel is such a great way to learn about people's families and their relationship with the food. My favorite thing to do is introduce it to other people who aren't Jewish. Watching their face magically light up is so entertaining.

A huge part of Jewish holidays and Jewish culture revolves around food. We love talking over food, arguing over food, and even making up over food. Even if you're not Jewish, I highly recommend trying kugel or talking to a Jewish friend about it. I promise, mention kugel and they'll platz!