From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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: קוגל kugl, pronounced [ˈkʊɡl̩]) is a baked casserole, most commonly made from lokshen (לאָקשן קוגל lokshen kugel) or potato. It is a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dish, often served on Shabbos and Jewish holidays.[1] American Jews also serve it for Thanksgiving dinner.[2][3]


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). However, nowadays kugel is often baked in square pans.

Litvaks (Jews from Lithuania, northeastern Poland and northern Russia) call the pudding kugel, Galitzianers (Jews from southeastern Poland and western Ukraine) call it kigel.[4]


Yerushalmi or Jerusalem kugel

The first kugels were made from bread and flour and were savory rather than sweet. About 800 years ago,[when?] Jewish cooks in Germany replaced bread mixtures with lokshen noodles or farfel.[5] 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.[6] In Transylvania, especially in the Hungarian-speaking regions, a very similar dish is called Vargabéles.[7][8]

Savory kugel may be based on potatoes, matzah, cabbage, carrots, zucchini, spinach, or cheese.[9]

Romani people call it pirogo. The Romani version is made with raisins, cream cheese, and butter.[10]


Jerusalem Kugel[edit]

Kugel Yerushalmi packaged for sale at a market in Israel

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[11] in the 1700s.

Noodle kugel[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.[12]

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[edit]

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 for those of the ostentatiously wealthy and became overly materialistic and overgroomed, mirroring how the kugel is 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 in South African English for a materialistic young woman.[13]

Similar dishes[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Vered, Ronit (February 22, 2012). "In Search of the Holy Kugel". Haaretz. Retrieved March 30, 2019.
  2. ^ Bronner, Simon J. Jewish Cultural Studies. Wayne State University Press. p. 310.
  3. ^ Desai, Jigna. Rooted Homelands, Routed Hostlands: (en)gendered Mobility in the South Asian Diaspora. University of Minnesota. p. 86.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "What is Kugel?". Jewish Recipes. Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  6. ^ "Budinca de Macaroane". Lalena (in Romanian).
  7. ^ "Vargabeles". E-Retete (in Romanian). 29 March 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Vargabeles - budinca ungureasca de taitei cu branza". Gustos.ro (in Romanian). Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Kugels". rec.food.cuisine.jewish Archives. Mimi's Cyber Kitchen. Archived from the original on May 4, 2012. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  10. ^ "Inside the Culinary Traditions of the Roma people".
  11. ^ "Jerusalem Kugel recipe". Food Republic. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  12. ^ 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. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-04-27. Retrieved 2016-01-08.
  13. ^ Sarah Britten (2006). The Art of the South African Insult. 30 degrees South Publishers. pp. 198–199. ISBN 978-1920143053. Retrieved July 2, 2013.

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