You can’t get any more classic than potato kugel: crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, Jewish comfort food perfection. A perfect potato kugel is simple, but not necessarily easy to attain. Here’s how to make yours a crispy wonder.Yum
Key ingredients: starchy potatoes and onions
For potato kugel, I recommend using starchy potatoes. I am not generally a fan of starchy potatoes—the big guys with the tough skins, also called Idaho or Russet potatoes. I consider it sacrilege to use them for mashed potatoes. However, there are places where they’re welcome: baked potatoes, potato latkes (sometimes), and here, in potato kugel. They have an exciting tendency to get extra crisp at the edges.
Otherwise, you’ll add in a small onion (or half of a large one), finely minced (don’t worry, the food processor will do it for you) plus eggs, oil, and plenty of salt and pepper. That’s it. Humble food.
Grating the potatoes
Of course, our grandmas grated the potatoes by hand, and it’s certainly possible. However, I consider the food processor basically necessary here. You’ll start off by mincing the onion using the regular S-blade. Then—no need to empty the bowl—switch to the fine shredding disc for the potatoes. Your food processor may or may not come with one of these; my meat-designated food processor, a Cuisinart model I got at Costco, includes it, while my dairy-designated food processor did not, so I had to purchase it separately. In the photo above, the regular shredding disc is on the right and the fine shredding disc is on the left. You can make the kugel with the regular shredding disc; it will still be delicious, but the texture will be more hash brown and less kugel-y.
Making the kugel mix
As with making potato latkes, to get the crispiest kugel, you’ll need to squeeze the water out of the onion-potato mix. I do this by dumping out the food processor bowl onto a large, clean kitchen towel and ringing it out over the sink.
Then, whisk together the eggs, oil, and plenty of salt and black pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add the wrung-out onions and potatoes and mix thoroughly. (I think hands work best! But you could also use a wooden spoon and got to town mixing.)
Baking the kugel
Potato kugel has to bake for a relatively long time at a relatively high temperature—an hour or more at 425F / 220C. You want the edges to be deep brown and the top to be even a bit beyond golden. If you bake your kugel in a medium-sized rectangular pan (like the one I used in the pictures), it’ll take around at hour. If you use a square baking pan, like an 8″ / 20 cm, you’ll want to bake it longer, up to 1 hour 20 minutes. This will give you a crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside, thoroughly classic Ashkenazi potato kugel.
The kugel reheats beautifully on a plata (food warmer) for Shabbat lunch.
Need more classic kugels in your life? (Yes.)
Classic Potato Kugel (parve)
- Food processor with fine-shredding disc
- 3 Russet potatoes
- 1 small or 1/2 large onion
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup oil
- 1 Tbsp salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Grease a medium or square baker.
- Process the onion using the standard blade of your food processor. Without emptying the bowl, remove the blade and switch to the fine shredding (kugel) disc. Process the potatoes.
- Working quickly, crack the eggs into a bowl large enough to hold all the batter. Add the oil and seasonings and mix well. Add the processed potatoes and onion and mix with your hands until uniform.
- Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes, until deep golden on top.