Noodle kugel with a cornflake topping (לאָקשן קוגל lokshen kugel)
TypePudding or casserole
Place of originJewish from Central Europe. Today mostly in Israel, the United States, France, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, Argentina, South Africa, and other communities in the Jewish diaspora.
Created byAshkenazi Jews
Main ingredientsLokshen noodles or potatoes, less commonly matzo, challah, rice, apple, cornmeal, dough

Kugel (Yiddish: קוגלkugl, pronounced [ˈkʊɡl̩]) is a baked pudding or casserole, most commonly made from lokshen or Jewish egg noodles (לאָקשן קוגל lokshen kugel) or potato. It is a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dish, often served on Shabbat and Jewish holidays.[1]


The name of the dish comes from the Middle High German kugel meaning 'sphere, globe, ball'; thus the Yiddish name likely originated as a reference to the round, puffed-up shape of the original dishes (compare to German Gugelhupf—a type of ring-shaped cake). Nowadays, however, kugels are often baked in square pans.

While Litvaks (Jews from Lithuania, northeastern Poland and northern Russia) call the pudding kugel, Galitzianers (Jews from southeastern Poland and western Ukraine) call it kigel. [2]


Yerushalmi or Jerusalem kugel
Yerushalmi or Jerusalem kugel

The first kugels were made from bread and flour and were savory rather than sweet. About 800 years ago, Jewish cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with lokshen noodles or farfel.[3] Eventually eggs were incorporated. The addition of cottage cheese and milk created a custard-like consistency common in today's dessert dishes. In Poland, Jewish homemakers added raisins, cinnamon and sweet curd cheese to noodle kugel recipes. In the late 19th century, Jerusalemites combined caramelized sugar and black pepper in a noodle kugel known as the Jerusalem kugel (Hebrew: קוגל ירושלמי‎, romanizedkugel yerushalmi), which is a commonly served at Shabbat kiddushes and is a popular side dish served with cholent during Shabbat lunch.

In Romania, this dish is called Budinca de macaroane ('macaroni pudding') or Baba acolo. It is made with or without cheese, but almost always includes raisins.[4] In Transylvania, especially in the Hungarian-speaking regions, a very similar dish is called Vargabéles.[5][6]

Savory kugel may be based on potatoes, matzah, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, spinach or cheese.[7]


Jerusalem Kugel

Kugel Yerushalmi packaged for sale at a market in Israel.
Kugel Yerushalmi packaged for sale at a market in Israel.

Main article: Kugel Yerushalmi

Kugel Yerushalmi, (קוגל ירושלמי kugl yerushalmi in Hebrew), also known as Jerusalem kugel, or Galilean kugel, is an Israeli kugel dish originating from the local Jewish community of Jerusalem[8] in the 1700s.

Noodle kugel

Noodle kugel with a crushed graham cracker topping.
Noodle kugel with a crushed graham cracker topping.

Main article: Noodle kugel

Noodle kugel, also known as lokshen kugel, is an Ashkenazi Jewish casserole, side dish and popular variety of kugel made with lokshen noodles and either a variety of dairy or pareve ingredients.

Potato kugel

Main article: Potato kugel

Potato kugel is a potato-based kugel of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, made with grated or pureed potatoes, onions, eggs, flour or matzo meal, oil, salt and pepper.

Jewish festivals

Kugels are a mainstay of festive meals in Ashkenazi Jewish homes, particularly on the Jewish Sabbath and other Jewish holidays or at a tish. Some Hasidic Jews believe that eating kugel on the Jewish Sabbath brings special spiritual blessings, particularly if that kugel was served on the table of a Hasidic Rebbe.[9]

While noodle kugel, potato kugel, and other variations are dishes served on Jewish holiday meals, matzo kugel is a common alternative served at Passover seders which is adjusted to meet Passover kosher requirements.

South African slang usage

Among South African Jews, the word kugel was used by the elder generation as a term for a young Jewish woman who forsook traditional Jewish dress values in favor of those of the ostentatiously wealthy, becoming overly materialistic and over groomed, the kugel being a plain pudding garnished as a delicacy. The women thus described made light of the term and it has since become an amusing rather than derogatory slang term in South African English, referring to a materialistic young woman.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Vered, Ronit (February 22, 2012). "In Search of the Holy Kugel". Haaretz. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  2. ^ Eisenberg, Joyce; Ellen Scolnic (2016). The Whole Spiel: Funny essays about digital nudniks, seder selfies and chicken soup memories. Incompra Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-69272625-9.
  3. ^ "What is Kugel?". Jewish Recipes. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Budinca de Macaroane". Lalena (in Romanian).
  5. ^ "Vargabeles". E-Retete (in Romanian). 29 March 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Vargabeles - budinca ungureasca de taitei cu branza". Gustos.ro (in Romanian). Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Kugels". rec.food.cuisine.jewish Archives. Mimi's Cyber Kitchen. Archived from the original on May 4, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  8. ^ "Jerusalem Kugel recipe". Food Republic. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  9. ^ Nadler, Allan (2005). "Holy Kugel: The Sanctification of Ashkenzaic Ethnic Food in Hasidism" (PDF). In Leonard Greenspoon (ed.). Food & Judaism. Creighton University Press. pp. 193–211. ISBN 978-1-881871-46-0.
  10. ^ Sarah Britten (2006). The Art of the South African Insult. 30 degrees South Publishers. pp. 198–199. ISBN 978-1920143053. Retrieved July 2, 2013.