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Lithuanian Kugelis | Potato Pudding [Recipe]

Lithuanian Kugelis |

Asta walked into the kitchen and sniffed the air, taking in the familiar scent. “Ooh, are you making kugelis?!” she asked excitedly. “I am – I’m testing recipes. How do you make yours?”, I replied. Asta wrinkled her forehead in confusion. “What do you mean, how do I make mine? There’s only one way to make kugelis.” Alas, if only it were so.

Kugelis is a traditional potato pudding that is popular with Lithuanians all over the world. Along with cepelinai, it is one of Lithuania’s national dishes and is often served at celebratory occasions such as Christmas and Easter. Also known as bulvių plokštainis, which literally means “potato pie”, it is similar to Polish potato babka and a distant cousin of kugel, a Jewish dish which can be made with either chunky potato pieces or pasta.

Lithuanian Kugelis |

Like all traditional dishes, recipes for kugelis vary widely both within Lithuania and across the world. The body is made with finely grated (almost puréed) raw potatoes which are usually seasoned and then moistened with steamed milk. Some people include meat, such as diced and fried bacon, chicken pieces, pigs’ feet or even pigs’ tails. Others prefer to leave out the meat. Some include eggs, which help to set the kugelis, making it easier to slice. Others prefer a softer, more pudding-like consistency and do not add eggs. Of the dozens of recipes I’ve reviewed and people I’ve spoken to, I can find little consistency beyond the grated potato.

I‘ve been lucky to have kugelis made for me by a number of friends here in Lithuania. I’m not sure if it’s coincidence or perhaps just typical of our region, but all have made it with chicken pieces, usually on the bone, and without eggs. This is the kugelis I fell in love with. While testing recipes I tried several that included egg and can see the merits, principally aesthetically, of adding egg – it makes the pudding much easier to serve. Very little egg is needed to achieve this, so I have settled on using just one egg. I have opted to use boneless chicken as this is easier for serving and eating, but by all means use chicken on the bone if you prefer.

Chicken Thighs |

Traditionally, the potatoes for kugelis would have been grated with a flat wire grater or with the zesting side of a box grater. Many modern Lithuanian homes now have an electric grater, which perfectly pulverises potatoes in a matter of seconds. If you don’t have an electric grater and don’t fancy grating by hand, you can use the fine grating/zesting disc of a food processor, or even just blend the potatoes with the main blade. The consistency may be a little grainy – more like tapioca than semolina, but the final taste will be the same.

Making Lithuanian Cepelinai (Potato Dumplings) |

Kugelis is a tasty and satisfying dish, particularly on a chilly day. Even if you’re not familiar with it I urge you to give it a try. How far wrong can you go with a dish of buttery roasted potatoes?!

Lithuanian Kugelis | Potato Pudding

  • Servings: 4        
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

This recipe is no longer available online. For the full recipe and detailed, step-by-step instructions, please see my cookbook, available on Amazon from just $2.99.

The book contains all of the most popular Lithuanian recipes including cepelinai (potato dumplings), šaltibarščiai (cold beet soup) and kugelis (potato pudding), plus stories from my life in Lithuania and colour photos of the stunning Lithuanian countryside.

To preview the book click here.

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Lithuanian Kugelis |

Lithuanian Kugelis |

My Food Odyssey Lithuanian Cooking Book |
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More Lithuanian Recipes

Lithuanian Cepelinai (Potato Dumplings) |
The national dish of Lithuania, cepelinai are hearty, nourishing and delicious. Written for cooks making cepelinai for the first time, this recipe includes step-by-step instructions with photos. (View recipe)

Lithuanian cold beet soup (Šaltibarščiai) |
This garishly pink soup is both light and nutritious, perfect for warm sunny days or for weekday lunches when your tummy needs a little TLC. (View recipe)

Lithuanian Koldunai | Meat Dumplings
These delicious dumplings are the perfect comfort food – quick to cook, mild in flavour and served with a dollop of sour cream and a salty bacon and onion topping. (View recipe)

Lithuanian Cabbage Rolls | Balandėliai |
Another of Lithuania’s national dishes, these cabbage rolls are stuffed with seasoned ground pork and served with a creamy, tangy tomato sauce. Recipe includes step-by-step photos. (View recipe)

Curd Cheese Doughnuts | Varškės Spurgos [Recipe]
These Lithuanian-style doughnuts are light and airy and not at all cheesy! They do not require yeast and so are quick and easy to prepare. (View recipe)

INGREDIENTS: 100 g | 3.5 oz butter, plus more to grease the dish 1 tsp salt 400 g | 14 oz onion (about 4 medium onions) 1.5 kg | 3.5 lbs potatoes (about 10 medium potatoes) 600 g | 1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs ¼ tsp garlic powder (optional) 1 egg, whisked 250 ml | 8.5 oz whole milk METHOD: Preheat an oven to 180˚C (355˚F) Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a gentle heat. Add the salt and stir to combine. Peel the onions and chop them finely. Add to the melted butter, stir to coat the onions with the butter, and allow to soften over a very gentle heat for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes. Grate finely into a large bowl. Add the garlic powder (if using) and whisked egg and stir well to combine. Add the cooked onions, including all of the melted butter, to the potato mixture. Stir well to combine. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over a high heat until it just starts to bubble at the sides. Pour immediately into the potato mixture and stir well to combine. Grease a 2.5 litre (2.5 quart) roasting dish with plenty of butter and arrange the chicken pieces evenly to facilitate easy portioning later. The dish shown is 15¾ x 10¾ inches, but any size roasting dish will do as long as it holds at least 2.5 litres / quarts. Pour the potato mixture over the chicken pieces and spread evenly. If you like, score the top with the back of a fork to create ridges as the potato cooks. Bake the kugelis for 1 hour. I like the top of my kugelis golden, but if you like yours darker, turn the heat up to 210˚C (410˚F) for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Allowing the kugelis to cool for 10 minutes before serving makes it much easier to slice as it will set slightly. However, if you just can’t wait, feel free to dive in straight away!
44 Comments Post a comment
  1. Admir #

    Dear Juna,

    I was watching Travel chanel House Hunter International, and I like what you did with the house. I like your blog, I will try out some of your reciepes. i wish you all the best, to you and your husband. Best, Admir from Bosnia

    Liked by 1 person

    February 1, 2017
    • Thank you, Admir. Hope you enjoy the recipes! June.


      February 2, 2017
  2. Raymond Desparrois #

    My mom taught us how to make this as children in fact mom’s here now getting ready to to make a pan..

    Liked by 1 person

    January 16, 2017
  3. Kimberly #

    My family came over to the U.S. from Lithuania during WWII. We have never made it with chicken. We use bacon, onion, hot milk, eggs, butter, and salt and pepper. I am curious to know if you’ve ever had it that way. We love the leftover sliced thin and fried up with eggs the next morning. We will have to give this version a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    December 3, 2016
    • I haven’t tried it with bacon yet, Kimberly, because my husband loves it with chicken. The bacon version sounds like it might be a bit salty, but I really must try it as so many people seem to like it that way. We actually had kugelis for dinner yesterday and I’m looking forward to having the leftovers for lunch!


      December 3, 2016
  4. Thank you so much. My grandma, who made this dish for our whole family, passed away many years ago. I haven’t had kugelis since. I was always going to learn how to make it, but was young and didn’t realize the implications of passing on a family recipe. I can’t wait to try it!

    Liked by 1 person

    October 8, 2016
    • Thanks Kathleen! Yes, it is such a shame when family recipes disappear. There are some dishes my mother and grandmother made that I would love to recreate. Hope you enjoy the kugelis! 🙂


      October 10, 2016
  5. amazing! love kugelis ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    July 10, 2016
  6. This looks and sounds fabulous and will go in my ‘to try’ file. Thank you.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    April 18, 2016
  7. I’ve never met a potato dish I didn’t like.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 30, 2016
  8. Potato pie looks delicious.

    Liked by 1 person

    March 8, 2016
  9. sarah #

    I’ve just stumbled across your blog after seeing you on House hunters that just aired in Australia

    What a fantastic blog! Hope you’re still enjoying your lovely home


    Liked by 1 person

    March 5, 2016
    • Thanks Sarah! So far we’re loving our new life here. Still have a few finishing touches to do on the house, but we’re so happy with the result. Thanks for checking out the blog!


      March 5, 2016
  10. This sounds simply delicious. I was recently pondering how I could do something different with potatoes, and this looks perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

    March 1, 2016
  11. gvalentine2015sedboro #

    Even I can do this…Deffo’

    Liked by 1 person

    February 29, 2016
    • You’ll love it, Gary. It’s like a big hug in a pie dish!

      Liked by 1 person

      February 29, 2016
  12. That sounds and looks divine! A new one for me too which makes it more interesting. There must be a bookful of lovely Lithuanian recipes….. I will definitely give this a go. Thanks June!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 29, 2016
  13. Susan V. #

    I’ve never had Kugelis with chicken but this recipe sounds great. Do you have any suggestion on subs for the butter? I have to be dairy free but can do rice milk. Maybe just some bacon drippings? Lard? Oil? Any thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    February 28, 2016
    • I’d say a hard fat would be best, Susan. Bacon fat might make it too salty, but pork or beef lard should work well. Let me know how it turns out!

      Liked by 1 person

      February 29, 2016
      • Susan V. #

        Ačiu, I’ll let you know how it comes out. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        February 29, 2016
  14. lindydugan #

    Hi June, I’m trying to imagine a whole chicken thigh in the center of your wedge of kugelis. Do you have any pictures of the kugelis after Arunas has enjoyed a few bites?

    Liked by 1 person

    February 28, 2016
    • I don’t at the minute, Lindy, but I’ll try to take one next time we have kugelis. The thighs I use are quite small, so one fits nicely into a portion of kugelis. Because of all the individual muscles in the thigh they kinda soften and almost flake apart after cooking, so you can eat it with just a fork. Give it a try – I promise it’s delicious!

      Liked by 1 person

      February 28, 2016
  15. Mmm, spuds and chicken. My favourites 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    February 28, 2016
  16. Frances Onaitis Tennant #

    Thanks for including weights of potatoes and onions! So many recipes state so many sm/med/lg of a vegetable; that doesn’t say much. I have never heard of using chicken in kugelis; to my family, the meat is … bacon.

    Liked by 1 person

    February 28, 2016
    • I agree, Frances – the numbers and sizes don’t mean much. A “medium” in one variety could be a “small” in another. Weights are so much more reliable. I think the kugelis world is divided into those that make it with no meat at all, those that make it with bacon and those that make it with other meats! If you haven’t tried it with chicken it’s definitely worth giving it a go. If you do try it I’d love to hear what you think.


      February 28, 2016
  17. I have a book devoted to potato recipes and this is not in it. A sin indeed by the looks of it … I shall be giving your recipe a try (which short circuits all the hard toil you have put in trying different versions) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    February 28, 2016
  18. Can’t wait to try this – better than frying pancakes !!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 28, 2016
    • So much easier, Connie – just pop it in the oven and you’re done! Enjoy!


      February 28, 2016
  19. I didn’t realise that “but this side” was used for anything but nutmeg!

    Liked by 1 person

    February 28, 2016
    • Yep! Also used for citrus rind and parmesan!


      February 28, 2016
  20. Hi June, I’ll have to give this recipe a shot. Back in my college days a Lithuanian friend made kugelis for a holiday potluck, and I’ve been searching for the recipe ever since. Most of the ones I’ve found online aren’t exactly how I remember it, but the dish is delicious – how can one go wrong with butter, potatoes and cream/milk?

    Liked by 1 person

    February 28, 2016
    • Exactly! Do let me know if you try it – I’d love to hear how it turns out.


      February 28, 2016

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Lithuanian Cold Beet Soup | Šaltibarščiai [Recipe] | My Food Odyssey
  2. Lithuanian Koldūnai | Meat Dumplings [Recipe] | My Food Odyssey
  3. Lithuanian Christmas Eve Biscuits | Kūčiukai [Recipe] | My Food Odyssey
  4. Curd Cheese Doughnuts | Varškės Spurgos [Recipe] | My Food Odyssey
  5. Lithuanian Cabbage Rolls | Balandėliai [Recipe] | My Food Odyssey
  6. Lithuanian Sauerkraut | Rauginti Kopūstai [Recipe] | My Food Odyssey
  7. Cepelinai for Beginners [Recipe] | My Food Odyssey

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