This ain’t your grandma’s kugel recipe…it’s better! Cauliflower kugel is healthier, easier to make and just as tasty as you remember the potato kugel of your childhood dreams. This savory kugel is perfect for Jewish Holidays like Rosh Hashanah, Passover and Break Fast or year round and can be served as a healthy low carb side dish or a Meatless Monday Main Course.
Looking to start the Jewish new year off with healthy and delicious recipes? No Jewish holiday is complete without an abundance of yummy food. Check out my roundup of Healthy Rosh Hashanah Recipes to add something new to your menus this year.
Cauliflower kugel…why not? Honestly, it tastes just like the traditional potato kugel my grandma always made. A little salad on the side and I could make a meal of this savory vegetable kugel recipe. So, so good, I bet you’ll love it as a meal too.
Kugel for Passover? Absolutely! Low carb Kugel for Rosh Hashanah? You bet! This easy recipe is so good, I’m going to start making it year round. It’s delicious, and works well for any meal of the day.
What is Kugel?
Kugel comes from a German word that means a baked pudding. From the 12th century to today, kugel has evolved into a casserole-style dish that’s often enjoyed as a side dish on Jewish holidays.
The common denominators of all kugels are a starchy base (usually noodles or potatoes), eggs, and fat. If any of the three main ingredients are missing, it is technically a casserole or even a cake, but not a kugel.
Savory kugel is usually made with potatoes and has added onions for flavor. Traditionally, the oil used was shmaltz, which is rendered chicken fat. In my book, olive oil is a legit sub for the shmaltz and subbing cauliflower for the potatoes is AOK! Vegetable kugel is also made with broccoli, carrots, zucchini….you name it!
Generally sweet kugel is a noodle kugel, also called lokshen kugel. Though there is a peppery version of noodle kugel that is both sweet and savory called Yerushalmi Kugel.
Why you’ll love this kugel
- Delicious…and also totally nostalgic, in all the best ways.
- This savory kugel is a healthy side dish to go with anything you’re making.
- So easy to make. Get it into the oven and then focus on something else….maybe a nap?
- Leftovers reheat beautifully!
- Serve this for breakfast….pair this cauliflower kugel with a simple side salad or some dairy-free asparagus soup and call it dinner.
- As far as passover kugel recipes go, this is hands down the best out there.
- Easy kugel recipe is also meal prep and freezer friendly!
- This is a lightened up version of traditional kugel…AND…EVERYONE will love it.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Cauliflower: I used a purple head of cauliflower. You can use regular white cauliflower or even green or orange. Purple and orange cauliflower have vitamins and nutrients not found in white cauliflower…plus the purple is pretty. Vegetable kugel is delicious and you can use whatever veggie you prefer. Broccoli kugel is delicious…and that’s an easy swap.
- Eggs: I get my eggs fresh from a local friend who raises chickens in her yard in various colors, so the eggs are also various colors. Fun…and fresh…but the color of the eggs doesn’t make any difference in this recipe. Look for organic, pasture raised eggs in your local grocery store.
- Onion: I’m convinced you can’t get that authentic kugel flavor without the onions…the onion gives it a savory flavor that’s unique to kugel recipes.
- Olive oil: I lightened this up by only using 1/4 cup of oil, and it still tastes great.
- Spices: salt, pepper, paprika. I love the rich golden hue that paprika provides, along with great taste.
- Fresh oregano: I like to use fresh herbs when I can for a flavor boost. If you don’t have fresh oregano, you can substitute 1 teaspoon of dried oregano. A better idea would be to use a different FRESH herb, like parsley, thyme or cilantro.
Tips for Making a Crispy Kugel
- Preheat your oven and your pan.
- Spread some oil in your pan before sticking it in the oven to preheat. That HOT oil in the bottom of the pan will sizzle when you add the kugel ingredients, creating a crisp bottom.
- Choose a pan size that will allow for your kugel to be THIN, rather than thick. Use two pans if necessary.
- Drizzle the top of the kugel with a little olive oil.
- Cook low and slow. The average kugel will take at least an hour in a 350 degree oven. If you rush it, the top won’t be crisp.
How to make kugel
Before you begin, you’ll want to preheat your oven to 350 and prep your baking dish.
I used a 9×13 baking dish because we like a thinner, crispier kugel. If you prefer your kugel to be thicker, you will want to use a smaller pan.
For a crispy kugel, brush 1 Tablespoon oil on the bottom and up the sides of your baking dish and HEAT THE PAN IN THE OVEN for 5 minutes before pouring in the kugel.
- Cut the head of cauliflower in half, through the bottom core. Rinse well under a stream of running water.
- Start with one half, cut off the bottom few rungs that are just leaves. Then, place the cut side down so it’s level and slice from top to bottom in long THIN slices. It doesn’t matter if some of the cauliflower crumbles off, but try for slices that are no more than 1/4″ thick, regardless how big they are.
- Continue with the second half of the cauliflower.
- Set aside a few decorative pieces that are still attached together in beautiful ways to use for the top.
Next you’ll want to shred the onion. A simple trick that helps prevent your eyes from watering is to do this near an open flame. I used to chop onions right up against my stove, with one of the burners turned on, until I saw that viral tik tok video that uses an ordinary candle for the same purpose. Much safer and it really works!
Another tip for shredding onions so your eyes don’t get teary is to have a damp paper towel close to where you’re cutting. The chemical compounds in onions (allyl sulfide) are attracted to moisture and will head towards the paper towel, rather than your tear ducts.
I like to use a potato shredder for the onions. That is what my Grandmother used, and I use her shredder. I like to feel her in the kitchen with me. You can also use a box grater. Either way, you’ll get some shreds of onions and also a bunch of onion water…which is exactly what you want.
The more frothy you whisk your eggs, the fluffier your kugel will be. I used 4 eggs in this recipe. If you like a more custardy kugel, use as many as 6 eggs. Just whisk them until very frothy.
Use a whisk to froth your eggs. Add in oil and then whisk some more until the oil has thoroughly combined with the eggs and the mixture is bubbly. If you whisk your eggs really well, they will rise a bit while the kugel bakes and envelope all your cauliflower.
Add the shredded onions and their juices to a large bowl. Pour in the whisked eggs and mix together.
Next add the fresh oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. Continue to mix until all the spices have been well distributed into the egg mixture.
Add the small pieces of cauliflower to the egg mixture, but continue to hold aside a few of the larger, pretty pieces to use for the top. Mix until all the cauliflower is coated in the egg mixture.
Carefully remove preheating hot baking dish from the oven and pour kugel mixture into pan.
Nestle the larger pieces you set aside onto the top of the kugel. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil, sprinkle with S+P and additional fresh herbs.
Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven.
Cool slightly and cut into pieces. Serve warm. If you know you are going to be making this ahead for the freezer, undercook by 15 minutes.
MEAL PREP AND STORAGE
- SERVE: Perfect for breakfast or lunch. A citrus salad on the side would balance the savory kugel perfectly. Serve as a side dish for dinner along with a simple green salad or a tuscan kale chopped salad. Carrot soup or parsnip and kale soup would also pair nicely with this kugel.
- MAKE AHEAD: Yes. Although kugel tastes best when fresh, it can be refrigerated or frozen and then reheated, uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes to re-crisp the top.
- STORE: Cauliflower kugel can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for a month.
- FREEZE: If you know you are making this kugel with the intention of freezing, undercook by 15 minutes. Kugel must be completely cool before prepping to freeze. Double wrap. First in plastic and then foil to avoid freezer burn. Freezer safe zip top bags work well too. Kugel will keep in the freezer for a month.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Definitely preheat the baking dish with a bit of oil if you want a crispy bottom.
- This cauliflower kugel legit tastes like the potato kugel of your childhood…but don’t be afraid to experiment with other veggies too. Broccoli, shredded carrots or parsnips work well. BUT…watery vegetables (like zucchini) will need to handled differently. Substitute DRY veggies equally for the cauliflower.
- If you prepare the kugel in advance, cool completely and refrigerate covered. It will be easier to cut when cold. So, cut into pieces before reheating.
- A smaller pan will produce thicker pieces of kugel. My family likes it thin and crispy. This recipe is written for thin and crispy in a 9 x 13. 9″ square would be ideal for thicker pieces.
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- 1 large onion
- 1 medium head of cauliflower*
- 4 large eggs
- 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
- 1 ½ teaspoons coarse sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350. Brush 9 x 13 baking dish with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil and place into oven for at least 5 minutes.
- Peel off outer leaves from cauliflower. Cut cauliflower through the bottom core into half. Trim off bottom leaves until the florets begin. Place one half, cut side down to be level on a cutting board, and then cut into very thin, long slices. Continue with the second half. Set aside a few "decorative" pieces that are still attached in beautiful ways to use for the top.
- Over a large bowl, use a potato shredder or the side of a box grater to shred the onion. It will become watery. This is good. It will add uniform flavor to your kugel.
- In a small bowl, whisk eggs vigorously, until foamy. Add 1/4 cup oil and whisk some more.
- Pour eggs into bowl with onion and mix. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, paprika and oregano leaves. Add cauliflower (keep the pieces you put aside separated still) and mix until thoroughly coated with the eggs.
- Carefully remove hot baking pan from oven and pour in kugel mixture. Use the cauliflower pieces you set aside to decorate the top. Gently nestle them into the kugel. Drizzle kugel with remaining Tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Garnish with additional fresh oregano and serve hot.
- Kugel can be made ahead and reheated in 350 oven for 20 minutes.
- Kugel will stay good in fridge for 5 days. You can also freeze fully cooked and cooled kugel for a month. Take straight from the freezer and into a 350 oven until heated through and re crisped on top. About 30 minutes.