We use these noodles for many of our favorite comfort foods, from chicken soup to tuna casserole. Does it matter which one you buy?
How We Tested
Egg noodles are at the heart of many of our favorite comfort foods, whether they're swimming in chicken soup, laced through a casserole, or supporting an ample serving of beef stroganoff. Unlike most boxed pastas you find in the supermarket, these noodles have a deeper yellow color and slightly savory flavor from the addition of eggs to the dough and are most commonly found in a broad, loose corkscrew shape (though other shapes and styles do exist).
In search of the best egg noodles, we tried seven top-selling products priced from $2.50 to $4.15 per package ($0.21 to $0.27 per ounce). If a company made more than one shape, we picked its “wide” or “broad” noodle, which we call for most often in recipes. All the products in our lineup are available nationally, except for one; our former winner from Pennsylvania Dutch is a major seller but must be mail-ordered if you live on the West Coast. We sampled the noodles boiled and tossed with butter, in Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup, and in Skillet Tuna Noodle Casserole.
Tasters Favor a Classic Corkscrew Shape
Ultimately we can recommend all the noodles we tried, but there were some key differences that set our favorite products apart. The first was shape. Though all the noodles are sold as “wide” or “broad,” these terms aren't standardized. In fact, the noodles in our lineup ran the gamut from thin, wispy corkscrews to long, thick, flat planks. Shape had no bearing on the noodles' flavor, but we found that it did make a difference in the overall texture and cohesiveness of a dish.
The products also ranged in length, from 1½ to 4½ inches, and the longest two fell to the bottom of our rankings. When we used these noodles in casserole, tasters thought the dish was less cohesive—the lengthy strands didn't hold the other ingredients together very well—and when we ate them in soup, they slipped off our spoons. But shorter wasn't always better. One corkscrew-shaped product was the right length yet too narrow: Less than ¼ inch wide, these noodles evaded our forks when we ate them plain and disappeared among the other ingredients in tuna-noodle casserole. The noodles we liked best were a thick corkscrew shape, about ½ inch wide and 1½ inches long when dry. Once cooked, these noodles were easy to scoop up with a spoon in soup or pierce with a fork when eaten plain or in casserole—no chasing noodles around our plates. Their gentle curves also held on to sauce, tuna, and peas in casserole, providing perfectly cohesive bites.
The Importance of Using Whole Eggs
The factor that had the biggest impact on flavor was the amount and type of egg used in each noodle. Some of the companies tout their noodles as “yolk-free” to appeal to people watching their cholesterol or saturated fat intake. These products still contain egg whites and were almost indistinguishable from yolk-rich products in tuna-noodle casserole, where there were a lot of other ingredients competing with the noodles. But yolk-free products fell short when we tasted them plain or in soup, where the noodles were front and center; tasters described them as too pale and firm, “like rice noodles.”
Our favorite products embraced rich, fatty yolks. The top two had 3 and 2.5 grams of fat per serving, compared to just 1 to 2 grams in most of the lower-ranked products. Since most of the fat in noodles comes from egg yolks, it's likely that our top-ranked products used more of them; tasters said they were richer and heartier.
Look for Egg Noodles with Semolina Flour
Finally, type of flour separated our winner from the rest of the pack. While most of the noodles we tried are made with only durum flour, our winner also uses semolina. Both flours are milled from the same type of wheat, but semolina is ground coarser, giving the noodles more grip. We thought sauces clung especially well to the product made with a combination of semolina and durum flours.
Our winner is once again Pennsylvania Dutch Wide Egg Noodles (also sold as Mueller's). It had a relatively high amount of fat compared to the other noodles in our lineup, and it held on to sauce well thanks to the addition of semolina. Its thick corkscrew shape was perfect for soups, casseroles, and just eating plain. For readers on the West Coast, where our winner isn't available, we recommend our runner-up, Manischewitz Wide Egg Noodles. These noodles are also corkscrew-shaped and performed well in all our tests. We'll continue to rely on these standbys for our favorite comfort foods.
Panels of 21 America's Test Kitchen staffers sampled seven top-selling egg noodles, priced from $0.21 to $0.27 per ounce, in three blind tastings: plain, in Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup, and in Skillet Tuna Noodle Casserole. If a company made more than one noodle shape, we picked its “wide” or “broad” noodle, which is the shape we call for most often in recipes. Two products we tried are sold under different brand names depending on region, but we confirmed with manufacturers that they are the same formulation: Pennsylvania Dutch is also sold as Mueller's, and Light 'n Fluffy is also sold as Skinner, American Beauty, and Creamette. Ingredients and fat were taken from nutritional labels and are reported per 55-gram serving; length and width of dry noodles were measured in-house. Prices shown were paid in Boston-area supermarkets. Results were averaged, and products appear below in order of preference.