Brown Sugar Caramel Apple Upside-Down Noodle Kugel

So, it’s the 7th night of Hanukkah, and I’m finally putting a Hanukkah post up.  Why so late? (as if ‘late’ isn’t the norm for me).  I’m late because Thursday night was the first Hanukkah dinner we had at home, and I didn’t cook or bake anything prior to that. But Thursday night I made kugel. and not just any kugel; a caramel apple upside-down kugel!

Brown Sugar Caramel Apple Upside Down Noodle Kugel

Hanukkah is usually associated with foods fried in oil, such as latkes and sfganiyot (jelly or whatever filling suits your fancy filled doughnuts) to commemorate the miracle of a one-day supply of oil miraculously burning and giving light for eight days. Obviously we don’t just eat fried foods to celebrate Hanukkah, a misconception a former coworker of mine had for years, culminating in her scolding me for ordering a tuna salad sandwich for lunch several years ago.

“Lisa, give me that’re only supposed to eat fried foods during Hanukkah! Get some fries!”

I’m dead serious.

One treat my family always served during Hanukkah is sweet noodle kugel, also called lokshen kugel or noodle pudding. We enjoyed a good noodle kugel several times a year, but the best noodle kugel always came at Hanukkah, the big one in the 13 x 9 pan, loaded with apples and/or raisins.

Caramel Apple Upside-Down Noodle Kugel

I don’t like raisins in my noodle kugel, so I was the one with the pile of raisins on the side of my plate, picking them out one by one, annihilating my perfect, little square of kugel.

I never said I was blessed with grace and perfect etiquette.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Noodle Kugel                        I ran out of blue candles, which are traditional and my favorite.


The kugel was usually served alongside a brisket or roast chicken, the sweet and savory always a treat, like candied yams (I know, I know, sweet potatoes, but we always call them candied sweets or candied yams) with turkey.  Those are two holiday dinner pairings I crave every.single.year, and then some.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Noodle Kugel

Don’t forget to spoon any remaining pan goo/apple juices and caramel over each slice of kugel!

With that being said, there are so many variations for sweet noodle kugel, I wouldn’t even know where to start, so I’ll keep it brief.  Some only use eggs as a binder, some use eggs plus pot or cottage cheese, some use eggs and cream cheese, some use eggs plus pot or cottage cheese and sour cream, some use eggs plus pot or cottage cheese and cream cheese, and some use eggs plus pot or cottage cheese, sour cream AND cream cheese. Some even add a corn flake, brown sugar and butter crumble or buttered graham cracker crumbs, on top.

Whew! Did I cover ’em all?

Caramel Apple Upside Down Noodle Kugel

I don’t know if there’s an ongoing debate about which version is the most authentic, but I always make mine the way my maternal grandmother did, with eggs, cottage cheese and sour cream.  The addition of fruit and/or nuts and/or a corn flake crumble or graham cracker topping, is entirely up to you.

So, I took my grandmother’s kugel recipe and added a pretty amazing twist to it; melted butter, brown sugar and sliced apples on the bottom of the pan and the custard soaked noodles on top; the same method used to make an upside-down cake.  The cream in the custard seeps into the butter soaked brown sugar, giving the apples a wonderful caramel/butterscotch flavor. Come to mama, you sweet thang you!

I’m never making it any other way again, unless someone doesn’t like apples, but let’s be real, who doesn’t like apples? I have yet to meet them.

By the way, I know the amount of butter, eggs and sour cream in this noodle kugel may alarm some, but this kugel serves 8 to 12 people, so one or two hunks is fine.  Plus, holiday eating cancels out all fat and calories. Am I right?

By the way, you can make this a pineapple upside-down noodle kugel by substituting pineapple rings for the apples! In fact, you can substitute most fruits for the apples, from peaches to plums to pears or berries, or why not cobble together a double or triple fruit noodle kugel?! If you don’t like, or are not in the mood for apples, go for it!

OR you can entirely eliminate any fruit and just make it a caramel noodle kugel using the same method minus the fruit.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Noodle Kugel

Make this kugel, even if you’re not a member of the tribe.

Brown Sugar Caramel Apple Upside-Down Noodle Kugel

Brown Sugar Caramel Apple Upside Down Noodle Kugel
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: About 8 to 12 servings
  • 12 oz wide egg noodles
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled but still liquid
  • 2 cups cottage cheese (I prefer small curd)
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Granny Smith or cooking/baking apples of your choice, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar (I use ½ cup of each, mixed together) *
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  1. Grease the sides of a 13 x 9 baking dish with butter.
  2. Boil the noodles in salted water for about 4 minutes. Strain noodles and shake until dry. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients before the apples. I use a food processor or blender to make a smooth custard, but mixing it with an electric hand mixer, stand mixer or a spoon or whisk is fine (you'll just see the cottage cheese curd in the baked kugel.)
  3. Pour the custard over the noodles, mix well, and set aside. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. Pour the stick of melted butter over the bottom of the baking dish (or just melt the stick of butter in the baking dish in the preheated oven) then top with the cup of brown sugar, pressing it down evenly so it covers the bottom and soaks up the butter. Drizzle heavy cream over the brown sugar, then arrange the sliced apples on top of the butter, heavy cream and brown sugar.
  5. Give the noodles another toss to make sure the custard covers them all, and pour over apples. Distribute the noodles evenly over the apples . Cover top of dish with buttered tin foil. Since it's an upside-down kugel..if you don't cover it the whole hour, the usual crunchy noodle top, which is traditional, would be on the bottom and get soggy, so it's pointless.
  6. Bake until the custard is set, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. If you have a platter larger than 13 x 9 inches, flip the noodle kugel onto the platter, as you would an upside down cake. If not, let cool, then cut slices and flip them over onto each serving plate. Spoon any caramel at the bottom of the pan over slices. Tastes great warm or cold!
* My sister used only ½ cup of brown sugar on the bottom of the pan, and the apples were perfectly caramelized. Although you won't get as much sauce, if you want to cut down on the sugar in this recipe, ½ cup works great!

The winner of the Peapod Gift Card is Dorothy Hubbard!  If there is no response to my email within two days, I’ll be randomly choosing another winner.  Congratulations, Dorothy!

Finally, I’d like to extend my prayers and deepest condolences to the families of the shooting victims at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  I’m completely sickened, shocked and heartbroken over this.

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63 Responses to Brown Sugar Caramel Apple Upside-Down Noodle Kugel

  1. junglefrog says:

    Yay! Lovely dish for the Monthly Mingle Lisa! And I’ll fix the link don’t worry…:) and finally, finally the sequel… I was seriously starting to wonder if I missed something. Scanning your blog but couldn’t find it. Glad to know it wasn’t me..:) can’t wait for the final!

  2. Rosa Mayland says:

    That kugel is wonderful! It is a speciality I adore, but have not made since a while…

    Oh, can’t wait for the grand final!



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  4. Suzanne says:

    Lovely dish Lisa, your story brings back memories of my first love and all the special feelings so I say who cares to your friend that is worried about who reads it. It’s your blog and that the beauty of your own blog. Hope you are doing great have a wonderful Hanukkah.

  5. I do not know what I like better the story or the kugel. I think a great plan would be for me to make your kugel while I sit down to catch up on all of your sequels. Have a super holiday. BAM

  6. Sammie says:

    awww!! Lis!! The ending paragraph made me so sad 🙁 Anyway, yes, it’s always awkward when your friend / best friend / roommate has a crush on the same people! Anyway, lovely looking kugel!!! You did such a perfect job on it! Happy Hanukkah!! 🙂

  7. sweetiepetitti says:

    A friend and I were commiserating about drama and girls today. We decided since we had no social media with which to share those raw moments with the world, we learned to deal with crappy roommates and betrayal of boyfriends. And we learned who our real friends were, those 2 a.m. face to face talks…just not the same with a text message…I sure hope you found true love along the way…and thanks for bringing me back to Spring Break. Yikes, my mom really let me go in high school???

  8. What a lovely Hanukkah dessert it looks delish 🙂
    Your story is so filled with drama and intensity, but we all respect you for sharing it and being brave enough to open up!
    Can’t wait for finale!

    Choc Chip Uru

  9. Winnie says:

    Kugel is a very traditional dessert for us, but your recipe is quite different. It looks AMAZING and seems to be super delicious.
    I just have to try your recipe
    Thanks for sharing this

  10. Jamie says:

    First – same Hanukkah Menorah!!! Second – this must be the most amazing Apple Noodle Kugel i have ever seen! I make one but it ain’t nothing like this! And why would I doubt that you could take something so simple and homey from my childhood and turn it into a gastronomic delicacy! I am so making your version! And oooh please do not be late on the last part of this story!!!

  11. Lora @cakeduchess says:

    I love this decadent noodle kugel. You’ve taken a simple dish to a luscious and lovely level. I want any thing upside-down and apple and never would have thought to have kugel like that and now I want it for breakfast;))) The story is fantastic and sad and reminds me of being a teenager again. xo

  12. Happy Hanukkah! Wow what an ignorant coworker that comment about fried food lol. Well I have to say I never tasted a noodle kugel before but I am very curious now. I can also imagine your updated version with caramel apple is the best. I am so happy you are sharing this personal sotry from you past! Ah the pains of first love and the ending. Can’t wait to hear about the call.

  13. It is funny, I never knew what kugel was until we watched Chopped on Food Network the other day. It sounds really delicious, so I guess I need to try it ASAP right? Your idea for a upside down kugel is bloody brilliant I say!!!! AND it looks de-gorgeous daaaarrrrlllllliiiiinnnnnggg!!! Happy Hanukkah!!! Hugs, Terra

  14. FoodBabbles says:

    I love noodle kugel and I’ve never made my own. I love that you made it “upside down” with the apples. This recipe sounds so good! What’s even better, I am 99% sure I have everything on hand to make it. Thinking this will be happening in the next day or two! Happy Hanukkah!!!

    As for the first half of Part 18… Ugh! My heart is breaking for you over the breakup and then Hockey Guy… I liked him 🙁 As much as I don’t want this story to end I can’t wait for the next part! Xoxo

  15. joy says:

    Ohhh that looks lovely.

  16. I have never had kugel. Your version looks amazing!

  17. Sophie33 says:

    Oooh waw: what a wonderful & tasty fabulous creation!!!!!! So glorious looking too! Happy Holidays to you, my sweetest! xxx

  18. Juliana says:

    Oh Lisa, now you got us all waiting for the grand finale…like the caramel on your apple kugel…an nice touch to it.
    Have a great week!

  19. bunkycooks says:

    SO happy that you are back on track with your story and I can’t wait to read the final chapter! BTW, I really will have to try this noodle kugel. It looks fabulous. The addition of apples and caramel sauce is a brilliant idea!

  20. johanna says:

    you rock-
    that kugel is fab! thank you!!!!
    i wonder what would happen if i used a little real dark maple syrup instead of the sugar? or no sugar?
    congrats on your next edition of this story-this is something to be proud of and share, not something to keep away in the corners of your mind. the few who might be perturbed about reading this, may actually benefit from it…take heart!
    happy chanukah

  21. Dinavia says:

    I was so happy to see part 18 in my reader, and although sad, it did not disappoint! I hope 19 comes soon, but I don’t want it to end! Great twist on noodle kugel, would love to try it!

  22. Dan says:

    What can I say…. kugel has never been my favorite thing. That said I would certainly venture into trying yours I have never seen one look so good. As for your story it was worth the wait… your honesty and ability to express your emotions with such clarity is brilliant. Well done and of course you left us hanging 🙂

  23. Nurit says:

    A Belated Happy Hanukkah to you! What a creative and delicious take on kugel. You’re always so creative, I’m always in awe when visiting your blog!

  24. Lisa, see this is a great Christmas present for us-a peek and a drool at your noodle kugel and another installment of BBL!! 😀 You’re too good to us!

  25. This looks amazing! Once again, you’ve gone and made a great recipe even greater! I see your true tale is coming to an end pretty soon, and I am looking forward to seeing how it all ends, Lisa!

  26. Marta says:

    YaaaY! Finally part 18! I checked almost every day for months..then when I stopped checking, here it is! I guess I should stop checking every day lmao. I was completely lost in your story like always. I felt every inch of your pain. Can’t wait for 19, and I’ll TRY not to check every day!!

  27. Extraordinary dessert kugel…not sure I can wait until next Chanukah to make this! I think I beat you on being late for everything…a belated Happy Chanukah!

  28. Yum! I was just recently introduced to the noodle kugel (I had a pineapple one) and loved it! I felt like I had been missing out my whole life. Definitely trying this! 🙂

  29. themadhausfrau says:

    Caramel noodle kugel? Be still my heart! AAHHHH! Hanging on for the finale!

  30. Katherine says:

    With the holiday season upon us, I’ve been running around like a headless chicken. so busy that I didn’t get to sit down and read this until now! The way you describe the break-up is spot on because I went through it twice before I met my husband and it was a feeling I wanted to forget forever, until you brought it back! Love reading you, whether it be this story or anything you write. Happy holidays!

  31. Lisa says:

    I love your noodle sounds just like my grandmother’s, save the caramel apples on the bottom/top. Looking forward to trying it!

  32. Patty says:

    This kugel looks amazing!! Can’t wait to try it!

  33. Liz says:

    Catching up here…I’m going to finally try your zebra cake. Your kugel looks wonderful…the apples are a delicious addition! And looking forward to the end of your First Love saga…I’m hooked….

  34. Shavonne says:

    This kugel looks incredible! I’m thinking of trying it with pears. Very creative idea!

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  36. I was raised in a Jewish Italian community and for most of my childhood was one of the only shiksa’s in my class, as a result, eating and cooking for Hannukkah, Passover, Purim, etc was part of my cultural upbringing. I made this kugel for Christmas (half the attendees were Jewish) made the biggest hit. If I heard it once I heard it a hundred times: “and I thought my mother made the best kugel but this is beyond belief!” Thanks for making my holidays perfect and for reinforcing my credentials as the most “jewish” of all my friends despite the fact that I am half Italian and half Norwegian.

    • Lisa says:

      Wow, arnie…I’m thrilled you and your guests loved it! I can feel my grandmother beaming with pride, even though I put a twist on her recipe with the upside-down apples lol 🙂

  37. Linda says:

    This is the best noodle kugel I’ve ever had in my life and I’ve had a lot off noodle kugels! The apple upside down aspect is amazing! Thank you!

  38. Helen says:

    I just came here to say what was said above me. Best noodle kugel I’ve ever had! I think your grandmother would loe the twist you put on it with the apples. Such a marvelous and delicious idea! Just started reading your story too..I’m absolutely hooked!

  39. Theresa says:

    Part 19, pleeeeease??? 🙂 I’m dying yo know what happened when you called him. This story takes my breath away…it must have been amazing to live it. I never had a hunky Dreamboat..just a cute Raft!

  40. Jennifer says:

    Love this kugel..upside-down apples is such an amazing addition! It looks incredible! So glad I found your blog!

  41. Sloane says:

    What a gorgeous kugel! Bravo to such a creative idea with the upside down apples!

  42. Beth Rabinowitz says:

    hi- can I use cream cheese instead of cottage cheese.

    • Lisa says:

      Hi, Beth 🙂 You sure can. In fact, sometimes I make egg noodles with just cream cheese and sugar, so I’m sure it’ll be delicious and even creamier! Let me know how it turns out!

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  46. Arthur says:

    Hi Lisa.
    The recipe looks delicious. How do you make a custard or it is just cream?
    Thank you,

    • Lisa says:

      Hi, Arthur, the custard is what’s poured over the cooked noodles prior to baking, and it’s part of the recipe 🙂

  47. Debbie says:

    Can’t wait to make this???

  48. Debbie says:

    It’s in the oven!! I’ll let you know how it comes out!!????

  49. Debbie says:

    Came out perfect! Great recipe!

  50. e. singer says:

    hi! recipe looks delish!
    however, i see that its dairy!
    dont eat it with meat. NOT Kosher!
    love you!

    • Lisa says:

      Yes, e, it is NOT kosher, but to make it kosher, you’d need to find a noodle kugel recipe that is specifically kosher aka one that uses all eggs, or some kind of non-dairy cottage cheese and/or sour cream, then use a pareve maragrine instead of butter for the brown sugar goo beneath the apples slices. 🙂 Thanks for the love!! <3.

  51. Dorit says:

    I made this last year for Hanukkah and we all agreed that there is no other way to eat sweet noodle kugel. Every holiday sans Passover gets this delicious kugel, although it’s been requested that we make it a daily food staple in our home. Thank you for the perfect noodle kugel!

  52. Raisa says:

    This is the BEST noodle kugel I have ever made..THANKS TO YOU!! EVERYONE RAVED! Upside down gooey apples in a kugel is genius!

  53. Karen says:

    Thank you for this amazing idea.

  54. Karen says:

    Looks amazing. Can this be prepared a day or two in advance? Bake it or wait?

    • Lisa says:

      I’m sorry for the long, long delay in replying as I don’t blog anymore, nor do I get notifications of comments on the regular. However, even though it’s too late, I’ve never prepared it ahead of time, but in looking up other noodle kugel recipes, yes, you can, but it’s better to prepare it before baking it, then refrigerate and bake when ready. Hopefully this information will come in handy next year. Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

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