buttered noodles for frances

For the last four weeks my son, the child who actually likes and encourages my cooking, has been at sleepaway camp, leaving us home alone with the one I affectionately call Buttered Noodles for Frances. Have you read the book? [Amazon, Bookshop, more indies] In it, a very picky badger named Frances doesn’t want to eat any of the food her mother makes, she only wants bread and jam. Her parents decide to give her exactly what she wants while the rest of the family eats poached eggs, green beans, and breaded veal cutlets. It does the trick — she tires of it and begins to embrace what the rest of the family is eating. Well la-de-da, good for them. Our badger is cut from more stubborn cloth. After the first week of trying to serve regular meals — food with variety and interest, the kind of stuff you might find on any page of the site but this one — I gave up and made buttered noodles every night. I want you to know that on what might be the sixth or sixteenth day, I’ve stopped counting, she has yet to request anything else.

buttered noodles -2

We joke that she is the child I had coming. Every recipe writer deserves a child that will simply not participate in their antics; it keeps us humble! It’s the inevitable conclusion of our culinary hubris! But I did not, it turns out, conjure her out of thin air. Once upon a time, I wrote in a cookbook [Amazon, Bookshop, More indies] about my own love for buttered noodles. I mentioned that I’ve been asked a few times over the years what my desert-island foods would be and that I’ve often disappointed people who were hoping I’d say something nuanced or epicurean when I’ve said, instead, buttered egg noodles. I said that it turns out to be a total conversation thudder because you cannot explain the bliss of buttered egg noodles to people who do not derive bliss from buttered egg noodles. But I also insisted, and still insist, that “not all beloved things elicit, or need to elicit, popular fervor.”

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And so with that understanding, from the depths of the dual midsummer trenches of heat waves and cooking ambivalence, please welcome the recipe I make more than any other on this planet. Because I have yet to figure out how to turn my brain off when I’m cooking, here are a few parameters:

  • Let’s get this out of the way: These are just butter, noodles, and salt. Would it be excellent with some browned butter, minced garlic, parmesan, flecks of parsley, paper-thin slices of scallions, crushed salted pistachios, and/or my favorite, a finishing glitter of minced chives? Yes it would. Would my Frances eat it? No she will not. Will she one day come around to these things? I remain hopeful. But this is not that day.
  • While there are no cheffy twists, the only tiny cooking technique I employ is finishing them in the pan with some cooking water and butter together, creating a glossier emulsification that better clings to the noodles. Most of the butter goes in then. A pat always must be added at the end over the top. This is the butter you taste the most.
  • The butter should be salted. There’s a place for basic butter and a place for better butter. I buy basic unsalted butter for baking and salted higher butterfat butter for spreading on toast (or blueberry muffins, which my daughter picks the blueberries out of, or zucchini bread). When a recipe has two ingredients and one is butter, that moment is now. If the butter isn’t salted, be sure to season it well.
  • The correct amount of butter for buttered noodles is not a wading pool or anything, but enough so you might have a little runoff puddle at the bottom of the bowl to drag that last, lucky noodle through. I am insistent that a mid-bowl forkful of noodles shouldn’t drip back into the bowl with butter runoff, in part because I’m the one getting the stains out of clothes and in part because buttered noodles should suggest excess, not wallow in it. Oh you want this in tablespoons? I’m sorry, but this is not the moment for such earthly concerns. You will know in your heart whether you’ve correctly buttered your noodles that day.
  • I’m choosing egg noodles here because they’re pure comfort food for me and I don’t have enough excuses to feature them, but any pasta shape will work. While they shouldn’t be cooked to mush, this isn’t the time for an aggressive al dente. Egg noodles needn’t have a real bite to them.
  • Finally, just a little vibe check: Every one of us knows that the way to get a child to stop eating buttered noodles every day is to stop making buttered noodles every day. This isn’t a cry for kid-feeding help or anything. I’m amused by my 7 year-old and believe we all need buttered noodles in our lives. Part of the reason I accede to her dietary proclivities on days when my cooking ambivalence is high is that she also has a nearly insatiable appetite for fresh fruit and vegetables. I can put out a plate with a mix of stuff, even chunks of raw cabbage and iceberg, and she will chomp her way through it all, usually before dinner starts. If she wants to chase this with a plate of buttered carbs, I keep looking inside myself for a single protest to give, and coming up with a shrug. (I’ll get working on that parenting book, stat!)

buttered noodles -7

Buttered Noodles for Frances

  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

Some ideas to further branch out the flavor here: brown the butter before adding the pasta; add minced garlic to the butter and cook it until just barely golden at the edges; minced fresh parsley, chives, or basil on top; crushed salted pistachios, thinly sliced scallions, grated parmesan or pecorino, and many grinds of black pepper stirred in the end. Or we can just let buttered noodles be buttered noodles, and proceed below.

  • Kosher salt plus some pinches of flaky sea salt to finish, if you wish
  • 1 16-ounce package of egg noodles or box of dried pasta
  • 6 tablespoons salted butter, divided, plus more as your spirit requires that day
  • Any extras you see fit, listed up top

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add noodles, cooking them to just the tiniest bit below done, about 30 seconds to 1 minute early. Before you drain them, reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. Drain the noodles. Melt 5 tablespoons of the butter in the empty pot. [Here is where you’d brown it, or cook in garlic, should you wish.] Add the drained pasta and most of the reserved cooking water. Cook them together over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until all but a thin puddle of butter-water has absorbed and the noodles are nicely coated, splashing in more cooking water as needed to keep things moving. Season with salt, as needed. Transfer the noodles to a serving bowl, scraping all of the buttery gloss at the bottom of the pot over the noodles, and finish the bowl the last tablespoon of butter, letting it melt over the noodles. Add a few flakes of sea salt [or any of the other ingredients listed above, if you wish] and dive right in.

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348 comments on buttered noodles for frances

  1. sallyt

    I kid you not – I have two kids as well, oldest eats everything – favorite food is mussels – younger one is pretty particular, but better than she was when she was younger, when she went to “food school” to try new foods (= success, she now eats salmon, buttered noodles, etc.).
    When younger child (age 10) went to sleepaway camp last month, we all said, you’ll have to branch out and EAT the food. I picked her up today – YAY! – and said, what kinds of things did you eat for lunch? Response?! BREAD AND JAM. It’s like she remembers that book from preschool years. It keeps me so humble.

    1. Lia

      I have my own Frances (and she is truly a Frances/Frankie!) and I’m reading this at 10:30 pm in my kitchen over a boiling pot of noodles that will become, yes, buttered noodles for tomorrow’s lunch because I’m a night owl, not a morning lark, and things must be made ahead because I do not enjoy morning lunch packing. My Frances had been flirting with a buttered noodles only diet for months now, supplemented by the occasional salty olive binge, so I’m quite the expert. I agree wholeheartedly with your recipe. Salted butter is a MUST.

    2. Jen

      Yes, what is food school???
      I tried to google it and all I got was public school/USDA food programs telling me to encourage them to try new foods by “putting a sticker on it”. *dies laughing*

  2. Amy

    The entire vibe of this post is why I’ve been reading and baking your recipes for the last decade-ish. Thanks for always writing about food in a way that’s so true to actual, real life.

    1. Erika’s Test Kitchen

      +1 to this! I too loved Frances’ adventures, especially when she packed an immense picnic to snub Albert.

      1. Nicole

        That book is one of my favorites from childhood! I wanted the little salt and pepper shakers she had for the hard boiled eggs in the worst way!!

          1. Nicole

            As the mother of a 9 year old that physically shudders at the mere mention of mashed potatoes this may be my favorite post you’ve ever done. Those early years of homemade all organic food sourced from the farmers market come back to mock me every day when I send him off to school after a breakfast of Nutella on white bread with a plain dry bagel (codtco, not the good ones) in his lunchbox.

          2. Lynda Rugg

            My 3 year old granddaughter is a fanatic about noodles. But must have “shaky cheese “ on top. Shaky cheese is Parmesan out of the jar that she has to do herself

        1. Annie

          And the little vase of flowers…violets maybe? I credit Frances for my deep appreciation of a beautiful table setting. My favorite book from childhood!

        2. Anne West-valle

          Frances books are the best. And the doilies! She had a great mom packing those lunches. Thank you Smitten kitchen for fun reads and delicious recipes.

          1. serin

            In 2020 I had to spend Christmas alone — not sick but in quarantine — and I decided to make myself a little solitary Christmas dinner inspired by Frances’ picnic. I made dishes little by little so I wouldn’t have to cook all day for half an hour of eating, and I made ham and potato gratin and some kind of Moroccan-inspired winter squash dish that I’ve since forgotten because it was boring and a homemade roll and some raw sugar snap peas and a good navel orange. And I made it come out even.

            1. Mtn grrl

              The comments in thos section are hilarious. But, to all parents of a picky eater, there’s hope. My girls , for a few years, only ate what I called “the white diet”: white bread, white pasta, white cheese, white chicken. It was trying to an adventurous cook like myself. But they are grown now and great, adventurous cooks!

        3. CYNTHIA Kay Rucker

          My kids are all over 40. I can recite Frances’ entire diatribe from the book Bread and Jam for Frances:
          Jam on biscuits, jam on toast
          Jam is the thing that I like most. Jam is sticky, jam is sweet,
          Jam is tasty, jam’s a treat,
          Strawberry! Blueberry! Gooseberry!
          I’m very
          Fond of jam.

          Not sure if I got the berries right, but I haven’t read it in years.

      1. Rachel

        I too am raising a Frances. Butter noodles is her perfect dish. Mac and cheese is over done; but butter noodles are bliss. To get the ‘sheen’ described in the recipe, I use a combo of grape seed oil and butter. I’m considering trying Deb’s cooking water trick, but am also concerned that I might be busted for changing the recipe.

      2. Miche

        Just made a double batch for a delayed Xmas tomorrow. With braised short ribs/gravy, pioneer woman mashed potatoes, decobbed defrosted corn from the summer, mushrooms, salads, snacks, etc, I’m going to guess the one thing we don’t have extra of are these!!! I may have to police the adults, :) in our kidless household we call them ‘Boods’

  3. Wendy

    Iconic! I am forever fascinated by the ways people feed their kids and forever looking for more ways to feed mine (3, 5, 7). My 7-year old is the most particular (for example, she can’t stand melted cheese – no pizza or grilled cheese for an easy meal), but she’ll chow down on kale salad or roasted Brussels sprouts, so I think we’re ok.

    1. elyse

      My oldest was like this for many years. Then she went to sleep away camp and realized that grilled cheese is actually delicious. Thankfully, she also still likes kale and Brussels!

      1. Lori

        Mine will eat melted cheese but not UNmelted cheese & has now gotten to the point of an aversion to “raw” cheese.

        1. Julie

          Omg Wendy, do we have the same child?? Because my 7-year-old always says “Mama you KNOW I don’t like a lot of melty cheese,” yet loves kale salad and Brussels – hah! It was such a pain during lockdown: no pizza, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, lasagna – all the perfect pandemic comfort foods!!

    2. Allison

      Hi Wendy, I am your 7 year old! I was the weird child who would not eat pizza or tacos but loved kale and Brussels sprouts (and sushi…). Here to tell you from middle-adulthood that her food future is bright and full of adventurous and largely healthy eating. What I think worked for me was being exposed to a ton of variety and, as I got older, being allowed to create my own weird meals. Like Deb said, as long as there are fruits and veg…*shrug*

  4. Rachel G.

    What a lovely post and recipe! Makes me think so fondly of reading that book to my kids when they were little. They used to ask for breaded veal cutlets with string beans and a baked potato for their birthdays bc that book made that menu appear the most special. You’re a gem, Deb!

    1. Donna MacNeir

      Yes. This. My staple during chemo and radiation. I prayed to the noodle God to not turn me away from a good bowl of buttered noodles. Cottage cheese got kicked to the curb, but not buttered noodles.

      1. Laura Bower

        Buttered noodles always remind me of summers spent at my grandparents’ farm when I was a child. My Grandma Edith, would feed me buttered egg noodles daily. And they were perfection! Pure comfort food even to this day. My husband turns his nose up at them but these noodles have gotten me through those days when I just can’t anymore. Takes me back to those long summer days on the farm & grandmotherly love. Thanks for this recipe! My Grandma would’ve been delighted.

      2. Bekah

        Donna, call me crazy, but might I suggest (assuming your palate can accommodate it now now) adding cottage cheese TO buttered noodles. My husband makes this comfort food, calling it Cottage Cheese and Shells, and it’s a family favorite. I, of course, have complicated it over the years and like to add caramelized onions and sautéed thinly sliced cabbage. It’s buttered noodles, elevated.

  5. Rachel

    The Frances books are the best! My favorite is where Frances runs away to under the kitchen table. She packs prunes and sandwich cookies.

    1. MJ

      Wow, my recollection is that Frances ate prunes and rice when she ran away (which rhymed with “living all alone isn’t really very nice”). But it has been 30+ years since I’ve read it. I was all set to disapprove of Deb’s serving buttered noodles every night until she said he daughter eats all kinds of fruit and vegetables — that’s hardly a restricted diet!

        1. Rachel

          Exactly right, Emma! You beat me to it. It’s harder to bring rice when you run away.

          And in Come Back, Angus, he packs a sardine sandwich when he runs away.

    2. Alexandria

      I always chuckle when I read that part to my kids – and then ask what they would pack. Somehow prunes never make the cut…

  6. Rachel

    Our family tradition is cabbage and noodles with the cabbage being sauteed in butter until soft and browned in spots. To really bring it over the top, add toasted (in butter, natch) breadcrumbs. It’s comfort food heaven.

    1. Liz

      I only tried adding cabbage and onion to my buttered noodles this year and now I regret all of the years I wasted! I have been known to sneak a little bacon or kielbasa into them as well.

    2. Kathy

      Rachel, my family tradition is not unlike yours, however my Mom would make toasted croutons of white bread IN the butter (like grilled cheese sandwich bread) then saute the noodles IN said butter to brown them up a little. Then she’d toss the fried buttered noodles, the toasted buttered croutons and the butter sauteed cabbage all together with a sprinkle of cider vinegar (literally just a tiny sprinkle) and black pepper on top. Then, with a final dose of perfection–a dollup of soft butter. *mmm* Takes me right back to being 7 again.

      Now I know what to have for dinner some night next week!

    3. Annie

      My family makes this too big, being of Polish descent, we call them “little pierogies.” Much less labor intensive than real pierogi! Really good when you deglaze the pan with some apple cider vinegar. My mom requested this as her special birthday dinner when she was a little girl, ha

  7. My pickiest eater is also the one who can eat his birth weight in fruits and vegetables. I have never been worried that he is not getting enough nutrition, instead I get bored of the parameters.

  8. Jessica

    Yum. And my favorite part is the vibe check. No one should be giving unsolicited parenting advice here, or anywhere else.

    1. Carol

      100% agree! As a mom of a very picky eater, his father and I require no advice on how to handle his food choices. This recipe gives me great joy, as I make yet another PB&J for him and fondly think of Frances, my favorite character of all my childhood books.

  9. Laurie

    With mine, it was buttered noodles with a sprinkle of parmesan. Not enough parmesan to call it mac’ncheese and definitely not delicious *real* grated parmesan mind you, but there had to be parmesan from the green can. They grew up healthy, but to this day I can’t look at buttered noodles.

    1. Tara

      Oh God, green can parmesan. This is my kids too! Well, three out of four of them. The fourth won’t eat any parmesan. Where have I gone wrong?? Haha.

      1. Elisa

        My childhood staple was lokshen and cheese, aka wide egg noodles with a little butter and a scoop of cottage cheese. It’s what I was served whenever I wouldn’t open my mind to what the rest of the family was eating, which was often. I’m mostly grain free these days and it’s one of the few things I miss.

        1. Heidi

          Not odd at all – those are the two on the table at pizza places! The container is the same, so the name must be the same as well!

          We call it tap cheese at our house.

  10. Katy

    My 4 year old will crunch her way through ramen noodles dry. She only ever wants them done in hot water if she wants them cooked at all. I let her eat what she wants and trust her when she says she is full, even if she hasn’t finished her savoury food and just wants some pudding, because she will often choose fruit over chocolate and unlike me generally stops when she’s full of pudding, whether she has finished or not. It’s just another food to her, and I am really proud of that and hope that never changes

  11. Andrea

    popped on to say that “Bread and Jam for Frances” is my son’s FAVORITE book!! he was obsessed with it at age 5- and I just read it to him (still? again?) last night at now age 7. oddly- he is and has always been my most adventurous eater, and last night he just told me how good all of the family’s dinners looked!
    “jam on biscuits, jam on toast, jam is the thing that I like most!” I could probably recite the whole thing.
    and thank you for these tips, because buttered noodles are also delicious!!

  12. Erika

    The Austrians and Russians in my family eat this — the Austrians since time immemorial. We grew up eating it. Our kids eat it. I still eat it, particularly when I am sick, because it reminds me of my mother. She’s the only one who could make these perfectly and made them for every child anytime they wanted them. One niece and an ex added parmesan on occasion, which is fine, but that isn’t buttered noodles.

    1. k

      This is such a stunning thought, Sheila – carbs and carbs and butter and butter. I love it so much. Similarly, my tiny country grade school had a cook who was a dear, older woman who had been cooking for many years. She made an entree I have never forgotten and haven’t tried to replicate because my memories are sacred: mashed potatoes, brown gravy ladled in, and topped with (presumably leftover) toast, cubed up. IT WAS SO GOOD.

      1. k

        Oh! And to be clear: our cook was an adult when the Great Depression flattened things, and I’ve always assumed this meal came out of her experience in those days.

  13. France

    This is my favorite post of yours! Ever! And I’ve read every single one (love that “surprise me” feature!). I too had a Frances. That Frances now cooks a variety of foods for herself and enjoys foods like Indian and Ethiopian as well
    as French, Italian and American. Hang in there – there is hope for your Frances!

  14. Alyssa

    I LOVE this post, and this book, because while Frances steals the show with her little songs, her best friend Albert who “likes a good lunch” is my spirit animal. I have a print of him with and Frances with her lunch spread from the end of the book hanging in my kitchen as inspiration

    1. Ellen

      Alyssa, I am a lifelong fan of Frances – please, please tell me where you found the print of Frances and Albert at lunch! Thank you

    2. Molly F. C.

      Alyssa, I too am asking about the Frances and Albert print. My own Frances would appreciate one in her soon-to-be new apartment’s kitchen. I had no luck with an online search. Thanks!

  15. Ashley

    Love this so much. Thanks for keeping it real. I’m a former buttered-noodles kid (hold the parsley, ftlog) and managed to grow up into an enthusiastic and adventurous eater.
    Been reading and loving your blog for 12+ years!

  16. Emjay

    I adore this post and the way it is so filled with humour and deep love (and, as always, sensible cooking tips). Thank you so much for everything you do, Deb!

  17. Pro tip for Frances: You can get away with this for another decade by ordering “fettuccine alfredo sans alfredo” at restaurants. They will think you charming, and at least one chef will plaintively sprinkle some parsley on top. Source: it’s me, I did this well into my high school years

    1. Leslie Donofrio

      Oh, YES. Have eaten noodles with sour cream my whole life. My kids eat their noodles with butter and garlic salt.

  18. Katie T

    Thank you for always bringing us laughter, humor, and real life warmth in tune with your recipes!! Happy Thursday, Deb :)

  19. Lauren

    I love this! I ran into the buttered noodles in your book just last week and rushed to show my husband that I wasn’t the only one in my love of buttered noodles. So far my only pregnancy cravings have been buttered noodles and popcorn. I loved buttered noodles as a kid, and when my family had spaghetti, I would have buttered noodles with spaghetti sauce in a separate bowl, because I didn’t want my noodles contaminated. They still have a soft spot in my heart, and are a great midnight snack too. I look forward to trying your recipe with water after draining to get that perfect butter-covering! I’ve always just plopped the butter on and sometimes it seems like it just falls off again.

    1. Elizabeth

      I too love to cook and I too have been blessed with a child who at age 5 still only eats about 15 foods (including no vegetables and only apples for fruit). Some of it is karma as I am a picky eater too, but she makes me look like a food explorer. I would try this, but she purports to hate butter (I sneak it on her toast anyways because while she thinks she likes dry toast, no one has ever served such a travesty in this house, but if she *sees* the butter the world will end) and egg noodles are shaped differently than spaghetti, which is the only noodle she will eat. Don’t get me started on how I birthed a child that purports to not like cheese (yet can (thankfully I guess?) drain plenty of milk) when it is a primary food group for me. This is the same child who will occasionally eat mac & cheese if it is one of two brands, but apparently that cheese doesn’t count. Same child with whom I had a 2 hour standoff over trying the tiniest bite of a tortellini known to mankind when my patience for not making food a battle ran out. One day (maybe in college?) she will discover new food, but I am not holding my breath. My comfort food is buttered al dente spaghetti topped with a paste-making amount of parmesan and a sprinkle of black pepper (basically an unemulsified version of cacio e pepe), which is something my dad always made and I still reach for on rough days.

      1. Tortellini

        Sounds like your attitude and your approach is the problem here, not the child. Two (!?!) hours to force her eat tortellini? Yikes. Maybe if you chill a bit..

        1. Mel

          Having a very fussy eater is extremely stressful as a parent, snarky comments like this are not helpful they are just mean.

  20. Annie

    I’ve been waiting for this post – it does not disappoint!! Love this “recipe” the most, I’m sure it speaks to every single parent and makes me smile a lot. Actually it’s not quite true that it’s my favourite recipe, your consummate chocolate chip cookies and broccoli fritters are two of many of your recipes on constant repeat in our house (in fact I have made up the cookie dough this evening, currently chilling in the fridge).

  21. Michelle

    Our family recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation is buttered noodles with brown sugar, topped with a scoop of cold cottage cheese and if you are feeling fancy a sprinkling of crushed corn flakes :)

  22. Frances

    You can call it “al burro” to pretend to be a classy person who makes somewhat more adult food!

    I’m a full-grown adult whose favorite food is still buttered pasta, although I prefer different shapes AND now I even add lots of really good Parmesan. I still regularly make it as a side. Like, dinner last night was grilled pork chops, fresh green beans, and buttered orzo — and it was perfect.

    I was definitely odder as a kid — I was never allowed to go on a jag like your Frances, but for example, I refused to eat pizza or drink soda but I loved spinach and beets. Kids are weird, food is weird. I still love spinach and beets, am very reluctant about pizza, and won’t touch anything carbonated. But I haven’t starved yet!

  23. Sarah

    I love that book and I love buttered noodles.

    My mother made us try everything and now, decades later, my siblings and I are all over the map on what foods we like, choke down, and shun entirely. Knowing when to quit is the key to parenting, I think. And my mother now claims she never made any of us eat anything, so I guess she got religion eventually.

  24. Alexis

    I’m just here to say I’m appalled by people who make buttered noodles with spaghetti. Egg noodles now and forever and ever.

    (But if you want a different topping rhe answer is sour cream, cottage cheese, salt, and black pepper. The best cottage cheese is Friendship 2% Pot Style.)

    1. Zoe

      Agreed 100% on the sour cream + cottage cheese topping! And no stinting on the black pepper! It’s equally delicious when the noodles are hot and when they’re cold. We ate this all the time when I was growing up (creatively calling it “noodles and cheese”). It’s still one of my favorite zero-effort things to cook!

    2. Bea

      Now I have to try the noodles! Being Italian, of course our childhood “pasta al burro” is spaghetti :) – I’m not even sure what noodles are

  25. Chloe

    I can’t believe the timing of this recipe; I’m making stroganoff tonight, and I always serve it over buttered egg noodles. This looks like the ideal companion for tonight’s recipe!

  26. Wendy

    Buttered noodles were my favorite food as a child. I’ve since branched out a lot, but maybe I need to give them another go, what’s not to like?

    1. Jen L

      Many moons ago, before I had children, I was at the 9th Ave. Food Festival in NYC and saw a young, handsome man with his perhaps 3 or 4 year old daughter, having a great time slurping down raw oysters together. I said immediately, that’s gonna be my kid, right there! You can obviously guess what happened…🌭 🍔🍟but also 🍣🍜🥟🥝


  27. Anne

    My mom would make us this as kids but with poppy seeds added. Still one of my favorite comfort foods and an easy dish that my husband doesn’t mind eating when I don’t feel up to cooking

  28. Jane Herriot

    WE LOVE FRANCES. Her parents are an inspiration. I buy A Baby Sister For Frances for every single soon-to-be big sibling we know. And, as a big sibling myself, Frances’ angst over her little sister’s birthday in A Birthday for Frances is all too familiar. Everyone go buy all the Frances books!

  29. Julie

    Have you heard of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle? In the book “Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle” she cures picky eating in a very similar way. If only it was that simple, sigh.

    1. Brittany

      Oh, Julie! You just brought back such fond childhood memories. I’d forgotten all about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, but I loved that book so much as a child. Buying it now to read to my 3!

      1. Laurel

        The audiobooks of the Mrs Piggle-Wiggle books are fantastic. Narrated by Karen White. I will say, though, that there is a LOT to talk about with your kids when reading/listening to Mrs Piggle-Wiggle. Some dubious parenting choices, extremely outdated view of gender roles (“you’ll make someone a good wife some day” kind of stuff) and a few of the “cures” are problematic. That said, we still listen to them repeatedly and then just talk about how things have changed. It’s no more problematic than the Little House books or many other classics.
        We still talk about the Chompo bar from A Birthday for Frances and Frances’ response to Thelma in A Bargain for Frances is so clever.

        1. John F Bramfeld

          Chompo bars are legendary in our family also. Did you know that the Frances stories are available in spoken form? By which I mean tapes. There are two versions; read by Glynis Johns or performed by a cast. As lovely as the books are, I prefer the ensemble reading. Frances’ voice, in particular, is perfect.

  30. Billie

    Your (slightly neurotic) dedication to getting things people actually like to eat just right is why I’ve been a follower for over 12 years. So good!

    I also have a younger child who lives nearly exclusively on pasta – solidarity!

    1. Lia

      I have my own Frances (and she is truly a Frances/Frankie!) and I’m reading this at 10:30 pm in my kitchen over a boiling pot of noodles that will become, yes, buttered noodles for tomorrow’s lunch because I’m a night owl, not a morning lark, and things must be made ahead because I do not enjoy morning lunch packing. My Frances had been flirting with a buttered noodles only diet for months now, supplemented by the occasional salty olive binge, so I’m quite the expert. I agree wholeheartedly with your recipe. Salted butter is a MUST.

  31. Jennifer

    As a picky kid (and adult, let’s be honest), I can tell you she’ll look back with such fondness on these foods. I wanted a toasted bacon and cheese sandwich for lunch every day for several of my elementary years, and the particular smell of bacon on toasted bread sends me straight back to childhood and feeling seen as I was and cared for.

  32. Ruth

    Oh, this is too funny! I will say that the Frances (or Frank, in our case) in our lives back then is now a college grad and a splendid, mindful cook, who regularly turns out nuanced, flavorful dishes to feed himself and others. He asked for — and received — a food processor as a college graduation gift and is a far better cook than I was at that age. But it took a while, you know?

  33. Ellen

    I think I read some AAP guidance that says if your child routinely munches through entire plates of raw fruits and veg, you can serve them chocolate cake for dinner.

    Also, I made some amazing brown butter and garlic pasta from a fancy chef book last week and it was basically . . . buttered noodles.

  34. Meredith

    My grandmother was a TERRIBLE cook and she would have been the first person to say so. She made only a handful of things that were edible, and one of my very favorites was buttered egg noodles (really margarine because it was “healthier”) with breadcrumbs from the Progreso canister. #teambutterednoodles

    1. Alexis

      Ahhhh, sometimes my mom would put Progresso breadcrumbs (Italian style of course) on the noodles! So addictively savory-salty-carby.

  35. Deanna

    Maybe she just has expensive tastes if she’s not eating produce or carbs…didn’t she eat birthday lobster? My most comforting comfort food is my mom’s sour cream egg noodles with minced onion, so I am here for buttered egg noodles. I did not realize this shape of egg noodle was so specific to the US (I haven’t seen it in English, Kiwi or Australia grocery stores) so now I make people bring me back bags of it.

    1. Alexis

      I think this style of noodle originally goes back to Central Europe. In the UK I did find them in kosher stores, but never in a regular grocery.

  36. Susan

    I still occasionally indulge in simple buttered foods as a meal. Buttered noodles, buttered rice, buttered baby potatoes and/or buttered bread. Nothing to interrupt that pure, uncomplicated flavor of salted butter.

  37. Sara Leigh Merrey

    I absolutely love buttered noodles, always have. I was my mother’s very picky eater. To this day, when I’m sick, buttered noodles are my go-to dish to make me feel better.

  38. Sarah

    This recipe sums up why you are amazing, and why I’m still here 10+ years later following you! Thank you for the belly laughs

  39. Colleen

    It does not matter how old I get, noodles with butter — and now likely some maldon salt — is comfort food. On a really bad day, which probably has not happened for a few years, it can be pasta with butter and salt and coarsely chopped cheddar cheese directly from the pan — because it makes the cheese sort of melt. As a child, different foods could not touch each other, but I did grow up in a house where you ate what was for dinner. (The exception was liver and onions which my father refused to eat, and we demanded equality.)

    I have grown up to eat nearly everything, and when people ask for a recipe and it came from this site or one of your books, I say it is from Deb, as if you were my personal friend. Your first cookbook never leaves my kitchen (and Jerusalem is also a permanent resident). What changed my life was going on a week long hiking/ backpacking trip in high school. We did not pick the food, but if you did not eat what was served, you were going to be hungry.

    My older niece baffled a waiter when she was about 8 by ordering half a dozen oysters and a grilled cheese. His brilliant response was to ask what he should bring first. My younger niece is in the buttered pasta and fresh produce and baked goods — which she makes herself. We are all wondering what will happen when she goes to college in the fall.

    Maybe your daughter will come around, but maybe not. Maybe she will figure out how good she has it when all of her friends are jealous when they find out who you are.

  40. Marynelle

    I love this. At a restaurant with my 5-year-old last night, we had to send back our first order of buttered noodles because it had parsley and pepper on it, and my daughter refused to eat it.

  41. Aimee nash

    I love this so much. I make buttered noddles the lazy way at least once a week for my picky eater – usually with egg noodles. I might just class it up with this method!

  42. KathyK

    I share my story to give you hope. Eldest would only eat plain pasta, hot dogs, chicken in nugget form, and his main meal at home was peanut butter on ritz crackers. He also ate lots of fruits and vegetables and grew to be 6 feet tall.
    Then he went to college, and friends cooked for him. He had is first hamburger, and lasagne, and stir fry. Now he eats anything I make, and on a trip to Paris this summer he tried snails, frog legs, and steak tartare.

  43. Amy

    My Frances hates butter, so she eats her egg noodles with too much Parmesan. I have to portion it for her because left to her own devices she will put the whole container of pre-grated Parmesan on top.

  44. Rachel Zuraw

    This makes me so happy, both as a human and as a mother of a toddler who is passionately fond of “A Bargain for Frances”. It also reminds me of a favorite comfort-food noodle recipe in our house, which I got from a friend’s father. Basically, cook egg noodles thoroughly and reserve a bit of pasta water; toss the noodles with equal quantities of sour cream and cottage cheese (start with half a cup of each for a package of egg noodles, increase from there as your heart desires) plus a small splash of pasta water and *PLENTY* of salt and pepper. That’s it. They are amazing, and one of the best cures I know for a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, if we may look beyond Frances for inspiration.

  45. Tee

    The minute I saw the title, I knew you were talking about my 7-year old grandson (not really, but…). I made browned butter egg noodles, with mince garlic and really nice salt and parmesan on top and he ate them. Ate them for weeks. Then he asked that no garlic be put on them. OK, I can add “my” garlic later. Then can we not have parmesan? OK, once again, I can add that to mine later. Then it was “how come the butter is brown and not yellow like how you put it on toast?”. OK then! We are down to simply buttered noodles, which is by the way, the side dish my mother put on our table for years and years. Just call it “Buttered noodles for Henrik”.

  46. Laura

    My “Frances” is now 6’3″ and makes his own noodles from a variety of flours. He also experiments with recipes beyond what I could have imagined 23 years ago. Many from this website! You go, mom! #Teambutterednoodles

  47. Margo

    I love this post so much! I ate strawberry jam sandwiches for lunch every day in 3rd grade. We had just moved to a new State and my Mother wisely understood I craved stability. While I long ago outgrew the daily habit, to this day I make myself toast with jam whenever I am feeling blue. Hooray for buttered noodles, cinammon toast, red popsicles on a summer day, and all the simple pleasures of youth.

  48. Kristine

    I have a picky kid who also has an egg allergy. We haven’t had egg noodles in our house for 5 years, its devastating. But we serve buttered noodles several times a week for the same kid. I love the idea of this technique and will absolutely try it out!

    1. Maggie

      I’ll probably get ripped for recommending a WalMart product, but I live rurally and my grocery options are extremely limited. They have a house brand of egg free pasta ribbons that worked excellently when cooking for a vegan friend, and if there’s a Great Value option, there must be others. Before I discovered the ribbons, I used to make the same dish with broken-up lasagne noodles, which were acceptable as well but a surprising amount of work.

      1. Lauren

        There is product called No Yolks, available in grocery stores, in a clear bag, generally right next to, or among the egg noodles. Don’t know if this would work for an egg allergy, but you might investigate it. I like them because I am watching cholesterol and fat, and with a dab of “fake” butter and some low fat parmesan ( I know, I know, a travesty…) Or in another preparation that are truly very good.

  49. LN

    I was not a picky kid, nor do I have a picky kid (although I did marry an ex-picky kid, having met him long after he reformed and grew up, possibly even in that order), and I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten buttered noodles, and I read the recipe and every comment with joy. I loved everyone’s buttered noodles stories. Good food is about so much more than recipes, and you’ve built a community that gets it.

    I bet you anything someone will need this recipe — the ex-picky adult mentioned above recently made us rice and bean burritos by looking up a recipe and painstakingly measuring out the cooked rice and canned beans in measuring cups. I laughed, but they were good burritos and someone else made dinner. I bet they’re good noodles too.

  50. Susan

    My husband has a selective palate. His go to dish at dinner is buttered extra-wide egg noodles with corn and peas and a dash of salt and pepper.

  51. Kristen

    I have never commented before, but have read for years. I am smitten with this post. It was absolutely charming! I appreciate your mature, sage parenting mindset to live in the middle…indulge some benign childhood wishes, but challenge the stubborn flesh to try new things. We all need some Frances.

  52. Jackie

    I love this so much. Thank you for sharing your joy and amusement in your delightful little one. It’s all about balance and your vibe check couldn’t be better. Would buy your parenting book in a heartbeat!

  53. Ursula

    When my daughter was about 8, we went on a trip to France, and in one particular seafood restaurant she could not find anything on the menu that she was willing to eat … so we asked for plain buttered noodles. They brought her a plate of dry pasta, an entire stick of butter on a side plate, and – I think merely because we’re Americans and they were already dumbfounded by our request – a soup bowl full of ketchup. We still laugh about “buttered noodles” to this day.

  54. Sara

    This is my kid’s favorite as well!
    In addition to the story book, There is a great song to go along with this meal, “Noodles and Butter” by Caspar Babypants!

  55. Kersten

    Oooh funny story: when I was about seven years old my Czech future stepmother tried to serve us roasted rabbit and I, a normally adventurous eater, was so upset and horrified when I heard what it was (they also had a pet rabbit at this time, albeit not the one who became dinner) that she gave up and served me buttered noodles with ground poppyseeds and powdered sugar.

    Two decades later I did try her roasted rabbit and I have to say I still prefer the noodles with poppy seeds and powdered sugar.

  56. ElaineNYC

    My from-the-old-country grandma died when I was too young to really appreciate having a grandma. My strongest memory of her lunch cooking when I visited her was buttered noodles. Sometimes she’d mix in a little ketchup. Judgement now, enjoyment then, and a memory to last many decades.

  57. Mosie Lasagna

    I’m a little confused about the first cooking time (pre-butter)…cook the noodles for only 30 seconds to one minute? Or cook them 30 seconds to one minutes LESS than the normal cooking time that would make them done? Thanks!

  58. Marcia

    My youngest ate only Gortons fish sticks for a very long time, and was brand loyal. Best quote, “ “I am really bored with everything I like” He got over it, but there were a lot of fish sticks in our family. We also loved all the Frances books.

  59. Sel

    “I do not like the way you’re fried
    I do not like your soft inside!
    I do not like you many ways
    And I could go for many days…
    …without an egg…”

    My sistren and I have never been picky eaters, and since I have no children, this is not a scenario I have ever been faced with. So learning that ‘buttered noodles’ was a valid dish was a revelation indeed! Sometimes you just want something that’s no mucking about. Although then I fry up some bacon, add tomatoes, a few basil leaves and…it’s not quite just ‘buttered noodles’ anymore!

  60. Randi

    My daughter ate only buttered noodles (without the other good vegetables) until 16. Now she is a healthy vegetarian eating everything I never dreamed she would. I 100% understand your life and love that you posted this! Buttered noodles are truly delicious and still her favorite. You are the BEST!

  61. Barb

    Hooray for you for bucking the constant chime of parents who insist you must never feed your kiddo something special. My younger son ate nothing but pizza, chicken fingers, and fries for lunch and dinner almost every day of his life until he left for college. He was always very healthy, and slender. His pediatrician had no problem with his “issue”, and in fact said we could give him a multi-vitamin if it made ME feel better (I didn’t). He made it through a week at sleep-away camp eating the saltines they had on the counter. He is now 33, healthy as a horse, and eats a super-healthy, mostly vegetarian diet. Sometimes, you just need patience…

  62. Mimi

    Without a doubt, this post is the best one you’ve ever shared with us. Sweet, funny, lighthearted and entertaining, your love for your family just shines through every word. I am a bit disappointed that we didn’t get to see a photo of your Frances enjoying her noodles. Did I miss a hidden link? Those kiddos are the best part of all your posts!

  63. Elizabeth

    My Frances was lucky enough to be taken to Babbo for dinner many many years ago. She ordered buttered noodles. Honestly they were the version against which all other buttered noodles are now measured.
    We tried to branch into kugel but to no avail.
    Now she’s more like Gloria “who liked to practice on a green bean when she could.”
    My favorite part of book was alternating foods -especially the cup custard – so it all came out even. Thanks for such a perfect post.

  64. Piggle Wiggle

    According to Jennifer Traig, author of Act Natural: A Cultural History of Misadventures in Parenting, there is very little evidence in the historical record for “concerns over children refusing what they were given” to eat much before the 1880s. That makes Betty MacDonald a seeress when she invented “The Picky-Eater Cure” in Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (1957). This cautionary tale zeroed in the sin of Will Pemberton,which was eating nothing but boiled noodles. His distraught parents consulted Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and came home with magic crystals, which when sprinkled on Will’s dinner, turned everything on the plate into his favorite (only) food. In time Will grew tired of nothing but boiled noodles and was forced to dig into other dishes. Before Will, there was Heinrich Hoffmann’s Suppenkaspar, who would not eat his good soup and wasted away for lack of nourishment. The marker on his grave was a tureen, naturally.

  65. Ceci

    I had one kid that basically didn’t eat until he was about 4 – like I would come home from work and be told “he ate a grape and a piece of zwieback”. Then he started eating basically everything, including what ever the server at the Laotian restaurant down the street put on a plate special for him. Green papaya? Sure! Recently, impoverished dissertation finisher, he mentioned that noodles with butter and garlic salt are amazingly good and cheap. So we all come to buttered noodles at some life stage.


  66. Juka

    I’ve never eaten buttered noodles. And so far don’t have pickiness in my almost 5 yr old eater but I enjoyed this post so much. I read through ALL of the comments and this knowledge that all of the Frances’ turn out healthy, and eaters of variety just gives me so much hope as a parent… thanks everyone and Deb!

  67. Linda

    This is probably my favorite post of yours, which is saying something as there are none I DON’T like and I’ve been a reader since way back. Also, my kids are now grown and this still resonates strongly.

  68. JC

    Also, the last few stressful years in the hellscape have probably been the hardest on the littlest among us. If they want a butter noodled haven built by their mothers in their otherwise well adjusted lives, noodles it is.

    1. Cara

      Oh my goodness. Thank you. My 7 year old has over the last couple years gotten a lot pickier. (Parents of truly picky eaters wouldn’t consider her one, but in the context of our house and what she used to eat her diet feels very limited.) She has also struggled with sensory issues, and her OT believes the stress of the pandemic turned mild issues she might never have noticed in to problematic issues. Reading your comment just brought home to me why her diet has changed. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before. We don’t fight about food anyway, but I will approach her food choices with much greater empathy now.

  69. Linda

    My “Frances” was my son who ate grilled cheese sandwiches for years. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. I tried coercion, threats, bribes and anything else I could think of. Nothing worked. Until one day I signed him up for cooking camp. He came home and said, “Mom, we made tomato sauce with pasta noodles…it was good.” He is now 28 and sent me a picture of himself on his travels in Thailand…eating crickets. Lol!

  70. JLB

    Yes! This is my family’s comfort food as well. Not feeling well? Here’s a bowl of buttered egg noodles. Had a bad day? Here’s a bowl of buttered egg noodles. Does it feel like a comfy couch day? Great…I’ve got a fresh bowl of buttered egg noodles. And it’s gotta be egg noodles. Such a difference.

  71. Molly

    I know we’re allowed to do what we want with this, but I am shocked that none of your go-to suggestions is toasted breadcrumbs. Just seems like an obvious choice but you continue to amuse me with your very specific food preferences. The Frances does not fall far from the tree.

  72. Mary

    Ha! I love this. I have a buttered noodles believer as well. She is 5 years old. Thank you for posting this… not because I need to know how to make buttered noodles (I’m a pro) but because it is good to know I am a not alone.

  73. Susan Doherty

    This brought tears to my eyes. When my children were small my grandmother lived in an apartment in our home. Her nickname for our 2nd daughter was Noodle Caitlin. Buttered egg noodles were and are one of her favorite foods and she would often visit her great grandmother just for a bowl. Often right before dinner!

  74. Sophie

    This blog, we come for the brown butter, we stay for the writting.

    Deb does it once again, a woman after my own stomach! I’ve gotten the first picky eater in our house (aka my husband) to come around to a variety of foods he previously “hated” (brussels sprouts, beets (in latke form but also salads), lasagna, cabbage, etc.) but my daughter could eat buttered noodles everyday of her life. She cheerfully belts out the song “Des Nouilles!!” (Noodles!) before supper every night (loosely translated, it goes like this “if it isn’t noodles, I don’t want it!”)

    I’m at least teaching her to *taste* those foods she thinks she doesn’t like. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, she still gets some veggies in her, and I will. not. make the dinner table a battleground.

  75. Neha

    I’m from the UK and the only egg noodles we get here are the Chinese kind. Are they the same thing? I tried to look this up when I saw you suggested them to serve your delicious goulash but I couldn’t work it out. Is there a brand I can look for?

    1. deb

      I know they’re from other places but I see them the most in German groceries, sometimes Russian. Here they’re sold everywhere and often used for chicken noodle soup instead of pasta.

    2. Emma O

      Hi Neha. I’m not an expert but in my head these are similar to the Italian dried egg pasta… you can find it in most big supermarkets or in Italian shops. For some reason it’s usually tagliatelle I see over here but it does come in all sorts of shapes. Try De Cecco or Barilla for brands… I think even Tesco “Finest” might have a dried egg tagliatelle.

  76. Jody Goodman

    My daughter is now 30, married and fabulous cook. When she’s in need of comfort food, all she wants is “buttered noodles” made by Mom.

  77. Barb Hubbard

    Frances is my all time favorite 😍
    We have a love of buttered noodles at our house too. My grandsons eat them with walnuts and parmesan.

  78. MMH

    My daughter has always eaten everything and still does at age 22. But – there was a short time when she was 2 when she only wanted cheese tortellini & peas (she called it nini pea) or a fresh udon packet with broccoli & shrimp mixed in. Healthy yes but a bit monotonous. So – thats how she learned to eat with chop sticks!

  79. Kelli

    Bless you for being a good Mama. And this too shall pass.
    Did I sit and cry and think my child would go to college in diapers because she was so hard to potty train? Yes, I did. She’s 20, and potty trained, no worries.

    I’ve learned that there are seasons in life for child and adult alike, so just roll with it. Pick your battles wisely (otherwise you’ll lose your ever loving mind). Most of the time I ask myself “Is this life threatening?” No? Ok- let it go.

    Life is short………..let her eat the noodles.

  80. susan

    OH, I loved that story! I bake from this site ALL the time but have never commented. nice that she is eating fruits and veggies so Let the Noodles REIGN!
    You are a good mother to do this for her.

  81. That bowlful of noodles with one escaping over the front edge reminds me of your daughter’s curly hair.
    Your descriptions are a delight to read, even (especially?) about such a simple dish. Thank you for sharing.

  82. Rachael H.

    Bread and Jam for Frances has always been a favorite in our house, as have buttered noodles. May you someday reach a day where your kid quietly whispers “what I am… is tired of noodles”

  83. Johanna

    My favourite comfort food from my childhood is a dish my Viennese-Hungarian grandmother used to make for us regularly — well-buttered noodles with freshly ground walnuts and some sugar. It’s heavenly and transports me, every time. We used to have it for dinner, usually after a bowl of homemade soup.

    Another favourite noodle dish she made and we ate often as a very easy dinner was noodles with cottage cheese and sour cream sprinkled with hot crunchy bits of bacon and paprika.

  84. Becky

    100% feed the kid buttered noodles! my brother ate only hot dogs through his childhood full of well-prepared family dinners. it’s fine. he’s a healthy, functioning adult and can feed himself efficiently.

  85. Kathryn Dunn

    My parents bought “The Spice Islands Cookbook” early in their marriage. They also bought or were gifted EVERY POSSIBLE spice/herb produced by Spice Islands at the time. My mother kept said spice museum in our house for decades. There may be a few originals still there, proving it’s always 1964 somewhere.

    My favorite recipe from that book was the “Sesame Noodles”. I still make it today. It’s basically buttered noodles with the addition of chicken bouillon powder to the butter before tossing with noodles, and sesame seeds at the end. I toast the sesame seeds, but that is my only upgrade. This is THE PERFECT SIDE DISH, (or meal, if I’m eating my feelings), in my humble opinion. Glad you posted about buttered noodles. Bless their carby loveliness.

  86. Sometimes I get frustrated when readers talk about how good a recipe looks to them before they try it, but I loved this post and all the comments. I am a grandmother now, and my days with picky eaters are behind me. But, I’ve recently developed a favorite of my own – pasta, pretty much cooked same way, with butter and feta cheese. OMG. Take heart, it all works out!

  87. KJill

    Now thinking of something that will go over buttered noodles as an excuse to make a huge pot of them. As a kid I always took a huge pile of noodles and a little of the topping making sure to keep it on one side so I didn’t ruin all the noodles. Absolutely MUST be egg noodles – PA Dutch thing…(as well as many other cultures)

  88. Sarah

    1. I absolutely LOVE that book. It was one of my favorites as a kid-I highly recommended the audio book version.
    2. Buttered egg noodles are intact one of my very favorite things to eat-especially if I am feeling uninspired about cooking or have made something extravagant recently.
    3. I 100% back this parenting method. It seems fabulously well balanced. And also a really good excuse to eat buttery noodles.
    Thanks for this :)

  89. Lizzy

    1. I love this post so much.
    2. I might love the comments even more! Everyone feels like a buttered noodle kindred spirit.

  90. lynn

    “buttered noodles should suggest excess, not wallow in it” is my new favorite line. I need it hanging above my toaster for the days I feel like my toast (the stupid skinny sliced, over-priced kind a la Dave’s that will soon be replaced with store-brand, thanks recession) wants to wallow, but my waistline doesn’t.

    1. Mel B

      Agreed – I love that line. Sheer perfection. Also chiming in your say that the seeded sprouted bread at Aldi is fantastic, just in case you have an aldi nearby

  91. Anastasia

    My nephew was the same at age two. His parents finally told him that there were no more noodles either at home or at the store, so he would have to eat something else. Needless to say, he was quite upset. The next day, they picked him up from daycare. Once home, he presented his mother with a handful of dried macaroni and advised her she could cook them for supper. It seems he had sourced out the “scarce” supply of noodles at the art table at preschool. How did he sneak them home? He hid them in his socks!

  92. Amanda

    I have three kids. The oldest one is by far my best eater. The middle one doesn’t like specific things, but still is a decent eater. The third one is utterly ridiculous and would rely on toast for 100% of her sustenance. No judgement here ever. If buttered noodles is what she likes, then that’s what she likes. Also, have you tried adding a bit of sour cream along with a smidge of the pasta water?? Takes it to the next level. Now I have a craving for buttered noodles.

  93. Tracy Poole

    I just want to say one thing – “Grandma’s Spot Remover” for the butter drips !! It hasn’t failed me yet (on any stain actually) as long as I catch the item before it gets washed. It makes my laundry days much less frustrating

  94. Julie

    Buttered egg noodles with lemon pepper and salt was my go-to dinner of my single years. I still make it when I’m hungry and craving nothing!

  95. HM

    I just wanted to say thanks for posting this. It’s been a rough week and I’ve been missing my family a lot (they live on the other side of the country).

    This post brought back fond memories of my parents *rinsing the pasta sauce off noodles* for me because I was spooked by any noodle sauce that wasn’t butter.

  96. BoFiS

    Also good, though not sure if your daughter will agree, is egg noodles with cottage cheese (also better with caramelized onions and plenty of salt/pepper.)

  97. Linda

    I LOVE everything about this post: the buttered noodles, the stories, tweaks & cooking additions in the comments (they sound delicious & delightful), Frances, Deb and the shared joy that rings through every word.

  98. Christine

    I was the buttered noodle kid. With a side of bread & jam and fresh fruits and veggies. My parents tried their best to nudge me toward other foods and even read me the Frances book…to no avail. All of the ‘no thank you portions’ and ‘three more bites’ were no match for my strong preferences and ability to push food around on my plate to make it look like I’d eaten more than I had. Eventually, though, I outgrew those preferences, branched out, and now love trying new foods and cooking almost everything. …Unless I’m early on in pregnancy. At which point I immediately devolve back into my seven year old self. Those buttered noodle look like a dream to me right now!

  99. I have spent years trying to perfect buttered noodles. There’s a restaurant in my area that serves them up on their menu and there’s just nothing like them. I’ve tried to recreate it, what feels like a million times, and only once did I get close. And I can’t remember what I did. LOL
    I think it has to do with the butter they use. I appreciate your recipe. I’m going to give it a shot. I know that I’ve added some chicken broth to my cooking water to give a little bit more flavor to my noodles – that’s the only thing I can remember doing differently. Thank you again!

  100. Yvonne S

    My “baby” is 25. Like yours, he was the picky one. Last week was his birthday. His dinner request? Buttered noodles.

  101. Ashley

    I think this recipe and the ensuing comments are lovely and inspiring. And, is this the first time no one has asked about substituting an ingredient . . . ?!? Have a lovely weekend, all.

  102. deva de chin

    So funny! Love this!
    Coincidentally, we are indulging in some white rice and pasta in this household for a week during my husband’s run up to a routine colonoscopy. In real life, he would rather not eat these kinds of carbs, but because of his upcoming procedure white rice and pasta are two of the few things he is permitted to eat. So, as a person of Chinese ancestry who LOVES white rice and pasta, I have been enjoying the free for all of adding these foods to all meals and seeing my husband eating them without complaint or judgement, several times a day. Last night I added creamy peanut butter, butter and lemon to orecchiette pasta. Too bad colonoscopies happen only once every 10 years…

  103. Susan

    I love this post. Bread and Jam for Frances is one of my favorite books. I read it to my daughter and now read it to my granddaughter who is three. Her favorite foods right now at our house are kettle corn and fruit gummies. (She does eat a pretty wide variety of foods but only when she wants to. ;-) )

  104. Tamar

    YES relate so much. We refer to our 5-yo as Frances quite often because of his own propensity to eat little other than bread and jam (he too will do plain-ish noodles, the most frequently requested being “pasta with oliveoilsaltandcheese!”). One now quote of his, upon asking him what else he wanted with his lunch, was “you KNOW I don’t like vegetables,” writing off an entire food group with one withering look. On the hopeful end, he has also told us that he’s open to liking them “when he’s older.” And we too will catch him snacking on cherry tomatoes or cucumbers from time to time, though far from dependably.

    Meanwhile, my husband is the personification of Albert, who delights in fixing himself multi component lunches.

  105. KathleenS

    This post brought joy to my heart, even though I’m childless by choice. May we all approach life with such kindness, humor, and compassion. Thank you Deb!

  106. Sarah in Vancouver

    The internet loves you Anna! And your mama. Keep enjoying those delicious buttered noodles.
    I adore this post.

  107. Yes, yes, yes. Love this recipe and approach to food. We have a one-year-old who, until their last checkup, was in the .2nd percentile (yes, there’s a decimal point there) for weight. Between that and the formula shortage, I’ve been stressed to the point of forgetting to enjoy food myself. Then I talked with a nutritionist friend who gave the best advice for solid food introduction: basically, chill the f*** out. (Plus, give solids in small portions and eat off the toddler’s plate yourself.) As soon we relaxed, our kid started eating — mostly buttered noodles and toasted sourdough with butter. I couldn’t be happier.

  108. Claire Johnson

    I had a picky eater for a daughter. She would only eat ten foods, and all of them had to be white. I was a woman who made buttered noodles every night for ten years. This drove my husband crazy, who came from the “clean-plate” club type of family, and never met a vegetable he didn’t love. This caused friction between us, as you can imagine. Her pediatrician told me, “You can’t win food battles. She’s never sick so she’s getting what she needs. Put her on a daily vitamin. If she starts getting ill, we have a problem.” She is now 32 and eats more vegetables than I do. She even eats Indian food! It’s a control thing. Don’t worry about it.

  109. Momo

    Do you have the book Bread And Jam For Frances? 😂 It was a favorite of mine as a kid. (Butter and noodles for Frances in this case 😉)

  110. Melanie

    Ex-professional chef here and I agree with it all. I have a wide and varied diet but my comfort food? Small shell pasta with American cheese and a little milk to make it creamy. Just like mom made. So yes please, Noodles (not pasta) and butter. The end.

  111. Mark Lerner

    Long time reader first time poster. Bread and Jam for Frances was my favorite book for a time as a wee one. I have grown into an adventurous eater but for a while simple things like onions and mushrooms and peppers were beyond me. I love that you are letting her grow and take her time. I love your writing and recipes. Keep it up!

  112. Jennifer

    I love your stories. My daughter would only eat mac and cheese. She even hated pizza. We were visiting family in Anchorage and they wanted to eat at a new fancy restaurant where there wasn’t a thing on the menu she would touch. Well, she would eat the white basket bread. So I asked the waiter if they could give me plain noodles w/butter and they agreed. We waited and waited for our food (it was a new restaurant probably still working out the glitches) and when my daughter’s plate arrived, the chef couldn’t resist and he sprinkled parsley all over the top. She wouldn’t touch them. Luckily, at 25 now, she has branched out but her birthday dinners are always fettuccine alfredo.

  113. Sybil

    Buttered egg noodles were (and are) a frequent food for me. When I was little my grandmother would make a dessert version by adding apricot jam.

    Your post also reminds me of the time my sister and I split a head of cabbage between us. It left my grandmother at a loss. On the one hand we had messed up her dinner plan but on the other, how do you scold children for eating cabbage?

  114. Stacy

    I love everything about this, especially that there are THREE photos of a bowl of buttered noodles, plus one of a bag of uncooked noodles that looks EXACTLY THE SAME as a bowl of cooked and buttered noodles. Your humor is a joy, and after a decade+ of reading here, with recipes like this, I am certain I won’t be giving up on this food blog anytime soon.

  115. mark

    I made this– but I swapped the noodles and butter for a nicely seared T-bone steak, medium rare, with a dollop of blue cheese on top, a fluffy, salt-crusted baked potato, some haricot vert sauteed in garlic, a Caesar Salad, a slab of Key Lime Pie, and a lovely 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon.

    1. Laura

      Thank you, Mark, for your original voice and for the laugh-out-loud moment! Such moments are rather difficult for me to source right now due to personal supply chain issues. Much appreciated!

  116. Alex

    I’m so jealous that yours will eat veggies! Mine is fruit, carrots, and buttered noodles. Here is to hoping for variety someday in the near future for our picky eaters!

  117. rosengilmom

    As one who finally grew out of the always-buttered-noodles phase, I say to those who have never tried them — How Could You! Missing out on one of the deliciousest, homiest, yummyest, easiest nourishments ever. My noodles are now more often linguine, as that’s what’s in the cupboard, and still make the meal rotation every other week or so. Thank you Deb.

  118. Terry Young

    I love this. I started working full time when my youngest was 2. She in middle brother ate anything. Oldest was selective eater, did not like a lot of texture in his food. I spent a lot of our precious time together after work trying to get him to eat different things. Finally decided, you know what? He’ll grow up and he will eat food and he will be okay. We don’t need to spend our time arguing or waiting it out, so this is what we’re having for dinner if you don’t want to eat it you know where the peanut butter is. He’s 39 now still selective in his eating but it’s okay. Favorite food story: he was little, we had peas with dinner. He didn’t want to eat them but we talked him into it. Clearing up after dinner, emptied the half inch of milk left in his cup and found the peas.

  119. Mickey

    Someday I will be old, and visit my adult children, and only eat chicken nuggets and buttered noodles at their home. Really looking forward to this.

    1. Laura G

      I burst out laughing when I read your reply! Thank you for the laugh!

      I will look forward to doing the same w my picky eater one day.

    2. Lauren

      I always threatened to rent a wheelchair and make them take me to the mall.. They then would have to help me in the bathroom, etc. I used to get SO-O-O-O tired of two toddlers and a stroller on a shopping trip. Never did it, but as I am now 74, I may still get a chance to have them squire me around. ( So far so good, but it will be a bright thought should I ever need to be in a conveyance for any length of time!!)

  120. Sarah

    I was also a buttered noodles child, and I still have vivid memories of eating it at the dinner table. We were a poor household, so mine was ostensibly margarine noodles, but I didn’t know the difference and didn’t care. 🥰

  121. Cara

    Growing up, one of the kids in our friend group ate nothing except rice cakes, peanut butter and apples. By the time I moved away and lost track, she was approaching pre-teen and that was still all she ate. (I think she agreed to take a multivitamin and maybe had added a couple more fruits and vegetables to the apples ) She is now a fully functioning adult. She’s still pretty limited in her food preferences, but she’s healthy.

  122. Jules the First

    Thank you for making me feel totally ok with feeding my toddler buttered noodles for dinner tonight. My only regret is that I did mine with olive oil and balsamic in an attempt to feel more grown up (they were delicious, but not as delicious as his leftovers)…

  123. mt

    Years ago I read a story about a kid who wanted the same thing for lunch every day, to the mom’s dismay. The article reinforced the idea of giving the kid what they wanted, with the following explanation:

    There is so much that is new and scary and out of a kid’s control…. how nice for them to have something steady and dependable for lunch? how nice that they know how to take care of themselves in this manner?

  124. alison prescott

    i love everything about this post, being a person with a deep love of buttered noodles, and also a person who served buttered noodles and broccoli with every meal for a loooong time when my son was little.
    thank you!!!!

  125. stephan

    My parents still remind me of how, once upon a time… I must have been 9 or 10, and my sister must have been 6 or 7… and we got tired of all the “weird” food they made. We wanted hot dogs, or pizza, or hamburgers…. So my parents made us hot dogs every night for dinner. I apparently lasted for about a week before I got tired and wanted the “weird” food again, and my sister went almost two weeks.

    So I sympathize with Frances, and your little one, and you.

    And I don’t really have any advice. My oldest, at 19, is still picky as heck. My 17-y/o eats almost everything, but rejects shellfish. My 12-y/o loves shellfish.

    Kids are funny that way.

  126. Laura Jane

    This is exactly the post I needed to read after three straight nights of my 18-month-old daughter (she’s pretty little so we’ll cut her some slack, ha) rejecting dinner (one night was Joshua McFadden veggie burgers that are SO GOOD). She’s really into pasta, farro, cheese, and fruit and this helps me to embrace that.

  127. Beth

    My second child refuses to try most of the food I cook for the family, especially the veggies and protein, and usually eats whatever our carb is as her main course, but will snack on veggies straight from our garden and forage edible plants from the yard pretty hardcore. I’m pretty sure it’s the main reason we grow a garden. As soon as the veggies come in from the garden to the house, the magic is gone and all bets are off.

  128. Rachel Timmons

    FRANCES IS THE QUEEN. (My favorite in the series is “A Bargain for Frances,” in which Frances sticks it to the duplicitous Thelma). No seriously. I worship this post, yet I have a 7-year old Frances who, while she will happily eat half a bag of bonito flakes or a can of smoked sardines, despises melted butter and loathes all vegetables. It is to weep.

  129. Katie

    Many years ago I saw you speak at a cookbook event and you said your daughter survived her second year of life on blueberries and air alone. I think of that often when my kids are saying no to whatever delicious meal I have just made for them. Even Deb’s kids don’t always eat her cooking. Thank you for the buttered noodles.

  130. STK

    I “discovered” buttered egg noodles with parm in my early 30s when I had kids and therefore finally started cooking. Which is to say it’s not silly at ALL for you to post this recipe as there are functional adults out there who do not find cooking pasta and then adding butter and cheese obvious! Thanks to the pandemic and your website/cookbooks my culinary repertoire has evolved, but we still eat this “comfort pasta” a lot!

  131. Skye

    I have literally ordered buttered noodles from a restaurant as an adult (with fully grown children) – “to go”, of course! 🤣 Comfort food in its absolute purest form. Am I the the only one who’s mom used to add just a lil’ *splash* of milk to theirs?!?

  132. Emma O

    Hi Neha. Fellow European here! I’m not an expert but in my head these are the ‘dried egg pasta’ type… found in supermarkets or italian shops, usually one of the big Italian brands (De Cecco, Barilla etc.). The ones I see most often are tagliatelle, for whatever reason, but they do come in other shapes. This kind of thing:

  133. Cy

    Year ago when I worked for The Basic Brown Bear company in San Francisco( not “build a Bear” that woman actually stole the whole idea and concept from this family ) the owners had three boys; the mother cooked very creatively, every cuisines and the boys complained about . It was hotdogs for them ( they said they wanted) breakfast, lunch and dinner. I think she said they lasted about a week and then never complained again. My nephew ate everything before he could speak and then went through, broccoli with ketchup, pasta with pesto and chicken nuggets only. Now he’s twenty one and eats everything and is also a pretty good cook. These things usually work themselves out. :) buttered noodles for the win! ( I like to use ramen)

  134. Mary

    Bread and Jam for Frances was one of my very favorite books as a child (my middle name is Frances) and read it to my own kids. I still have my copy from a Scholastic book fair oh so long ago. I also love buttered egg noodles and buttered white rice, two staples my mom made as I grew up in the 1960’s, which of course were not made with butter at all, but margarine…
    I can’t believe your daughter is 7 already! Thank you for this sweet article and recipe.

  135. Kristin

    Oh buttered noodles (with Parmesan in our case). How my child adores you. I actually packed noodles & Parmesan from apartment to apartment on our European trip this summer because there is nothing like noodles with butter and cheese after a day of sightseeing (and sometimes mom & dad just want a baguette with stinky cheese on the terrace and that’s hardly a proper dinner for a child).

  136. Susan

    My grandmother used to make me buttered elbows. Butter, salt and pepper, and a smidgen of milk. It dawned on me only recently (I am now 63!) that she was making a little sauce.

  137. Kathleen

    Ahahah! I love this, it’s so funny.
    I wish my 7 year-old ate fruits and vegetables like yours. He is really really rigid with food. Please write that parenting book. ;)

  138. leslie modena

    Buttered noodles or any kind of pasta, in MHO, always benefit from a teeny grating of nutmeg. See if Frances approves!

  139. Pam

    We are into the second generation of Frances fans. And because I was such a good mother, I get to have a delightful grandgirl named Frances too! As for the noodles and butter, it was a highlight of the dinner rotation as I grew up( ( as opposed to the dreaded broiled liver). My sister always mixed in cottage cheese, while I always favored cinnamon and sugar. Great memories of food and books!

  140. This is the recipe I wanted to see this week. I thought that you might have some secret something. Well – sort of – a nice list of additions. But mostly I wanted to hear the story that went with it. You have satisfied me completely, and I am delighted to sit here and contemplate Buttered Noodles for Frances. I think I will have it tonight! All the best to you –

  141. Marianne

    I checked out your list of indie bookstores, and, alas, Joseph Fox in Philadelphia is gone. Big Blue Marble in Mount Airy still lives, however.

  142. Whilst Buttered Egg Noodles are in the conversation for our Mount Rushmore of favorite pasta dishes, my wife and I would like to strongly like to add to the “extras” portion of the recipe our all-time single ingredient upgrade.

    Butter, Salt and Egg Noodles = delicious
    Butter, Salt, Egg Noodles and a tablespoon of homemade pesto = transcendent.

  143. Diane

    I loved this when I first read it a few days ago but I loved reading the comments today even more! My story is that when my son was in kindergarten (he’s now 53) his teacher comprised a recipe book for Mother’s Day of their favorite foods that their moms made for them. My son’s was “Buttered Noodles” – bake them in an oven for one hour at 350 degrees, put them in a bowl and put lots of butter on them! He had no idea how his food was made but he’s a terrific cook for his family now!

  144. Leah Lawrence

    This is the BEST post! I love it so much! I completely agree that we should not force kids to eat things they don’t want. I see nothing wrong with making her buttered noodles every day!!!! Thank you!!!! Now I WANT buttered noodles!!!!

  145. Vicki

    Molly McNearney
    Someday, God willing, I will attend my children’s weddings, refuse to eat what they serve and demand butter noodles and nuggets.
    11:12 AM · Jul 17, 2022·Twitter for iPhone

  146. Des

    My mom’s recipe, which is now my go to, is pretty much the same. The only difference is that we use a generous amount of finely ground black pepper and leave the noodles sit in the pot awhile on medium heat to crisp them a little. Ma called them butter fried noodles.

  147. Rita

    The “Frances” books were our favorites in the 90s. Such relatable family dynamics all rolled into a family of adorable badgers. I mean, come on! How awesome! Our Frances was only into “only buttered white rice please”, for a short span of time. Now, she is a 31 year old foodie living in northern California. Your egg noodle kid will no doubt turn her tastes more towards your amazing and delicious dishes!

  148. My heart skipped a beat when I saw this title!

    1. My name is Frances
    2. I loved the Frances the Badger books growing up (fun fact, the family is never named as badgers in the text, only an illustration choice)
    3. I work in food now but my comfort meal (and fridge is empty meal) is miso-butter pasta. Same as above but mix a spoonful of white miso into your emulsion. Probably not for the kiddo, but worth trying for yourself.

    Thank you for everything – I don’t comment often but I should. I have been reading for years and your popsicles have been keeping me alive this heatwave.


  149. Raluca

    This post and these comments are now one of my favourite places on the internet. Simply heartwarming!

    As an Eastern European, some of my favourite foods as a child were buttered noodles with ground walnuts and sugar and buttered noodles with ground poppyseeds and sugar. Now in my 40s, I still make them for a weekend brunch from time to time – comfort and nostalgia in a bowl!

  150. AlexK

    I will never not love cheese melted over white rice, so I feel you.

    Also, one of my kids currently only eats foods in combination of carb and dairy. Sometimes tomato sauce.

  151. Wendy Hampton

    Oh gosh! It is good to know someone else who loves buttered egg noodles. I am decided I will be making this more often and try out some of your add ins. This is comfort food to the max!

  152. Laura P

    This post made me smile. I loved buttered noodles, and the Frances books, as a child! Fortunately I grew up to be a much more adventurous eater, but lately I’ve been experiencing intense morning sickness, and sometimes all I want for dinner is a plate of comforting carbs. Can’t wait to try this, though I may add a little parsley from the garden!

  153. gabrielle

    I will echo everyone else and say this is exactly why I love you and your writing (and your food!) so much. Everyone deserves a plate of buttered noodles served with love!

  154. Linda D.

    My recently-turned-31-year-old-son drove from Palm Springs to the SF Bay Area at the beginning of July to visit me, as we’ve not really seen each other since Thanksgiving 2021. Expecting him to get here around dinner time, I cooked some pasta, and separately made a sauté of cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced zucchini, garlic, scallions, basil, lemon zest, and a lovely lemon-infused olive oil, to toss with the pasta upon his arrival.

    Traffic and a temporarily lost wallet delayed his travels until past midnight, and his first words after “Hi Mom” were “I’m starving!” I said I’d quickly heat the pasta, along with the vegetables, in the skillet, but his request was to have butter and salt on the pasta, and the vegetables on the side. Buttered noodles are definitely his comfort food, too!

  155. Gillian

    This is so timely and perfect. My Frances, 4 years old, is also a deep buttered noodle aficionado and I swear, I thought the email had somehow targeted my deep data. Thank you, for the laugh and the recipe for Frances. Frances in Calgary thanks you.

  156. Sylvia Hasbach

    Oh Deb…..
    You have such a glorious way with words!! Not only are your recipes enticing and inspirational, your stories are as well. I’m going to get busy with buttered noodles, throw in some caramelized onions and peas and love the laughter you just afforded me!
    You buttered me up!

  157. Susan

    “PEPPER? You would consider sullying this perfect dish with BLACK SPECS???” – my beloved little sister, circa 1986-1996, who sometimes went to school with a lunch of buttered white bread and water as though my parents had her on some kind of Depression era diet

  158. Erika

    My mother used to make her own egg macorni and then boil it. Then she would melt butter until slightly browned, add brown sugar and cinnamon and put noodles in the butter and mix well. To die for so yummy. Somehow it is not the same unless the macorni are home made.

  159. J

    For what it’s worth, I was this child. Buttered noodles, every meal that people would give them to me, for at least the first 20 years of my life. Honestly if my body hadn’t hit the stage of feeling bad if I don’t eat veggies, I might still happily eat them and nothing else for dinner several times a week.

    My parents insisted on a vegetable, but never fought me on the main course, so long as I’d make them myself, and I’m so very grateful for that. Food wasn’t a fight, it was something I enjoyed, and when I reached a point in my life where I wanted to try new things, it was just a continuation of that enjoyment, not something I did because I felt guilty for all the buttered noodles.

    They’re delicious. Enjoy them.

  160. rams27

    Just read your tomato and fried provolone sandwich post (dinner tonight!) and it sounds like your daughter took over control of your appetite while you were pregnant with her. So funny!

  161. Cathy Nakagawa

    Fussy eater? My daughter at age 3 or 4 only seemed to like food that was white in colour: her chosen birthday dinner? Rice, potatoes, cauliflower, perogies, tofu… you get the idea. At the not-infrequent extended family gatherings at Chinese restaurants it was almost impossible to convince the staff that we actually did want a whole bowlful of cold, cubed tofu! I may be mistaken, but it seems that the Chinese don’t eat cold tofu. Things did improve, but it was spending a year as student in Japan and living with a family there that helped the most (though she was able to eat as much cold tofu as she wished!).

  162. Diane

    This was me!! I just wanted buttery carbs for every meal. Eventually i hit the moment where i wanted more options and then i started trying all the food. My parents still are shocked sometimes by the things i put on my plate when i come to visit. I love the spot in your life forever reserved for butter noodles! the palette expands but favorite foods are forever.

  163. Marina

    I was so intrigued by the comment thread that I looked up “Frances”artwork, found an Etsy store with “Frances” items and printable artwork that I’ve put in my cart, but first I plan to read the book! Since my husband has celiac disease, buttered noodles are difficult because of the off-texture, but I’m tempted to try this!

  164. Jen

    I love this – probably because it resonates with me so deeply. My son loves a buttered noodle. So. Many. Noodles. He also loves Deb Perelman.

    I am a solid devotee, yet this is the first time I have commented. I love your writing and your recipes. I imagine us meeting in the city for Jewish deli and maybe some day dancing somewhere.

  165. Christina

    This post speaks to the heart of all parents who struggle with their own little Frances, or as my mom calls mine “a karma monster that I totally deserve”…. If you haven’t seen or read it, the comedian Tom Papa has an amazing essay called Plain Pasta.

  166. Gail

    Why are egg noodles called egg noodles? Doesn’t all pasta have an egg in it? What distinguishes egg noodles from regular pasta?

    1. k

      I can’t speak on the origin of the name “egg noodles”, but I do think that pasta can be made with water and/or oil additionally or instead. I do also note that, in the USA, “egg noodles” seem to refer to a specific type of wide-ish, flat, twirled-when-dry noodle often paired with things like butter, meaty brown sauces, and meaty creamy sauces – as opposed to red, tomato-based sauces (the kind often paired with spaghetti). I’m sure some informed, learned person has written about the reason we often make those associations, so I guess I’ll dig those things up at some point.

    2. Ellen

      Gail, Most dried pasta does not contain egg – it’s made just from wheat flour or semolina and water. Adding egg makes for a different texture, a bit more tender. Fresh pasta (vs dried) is usually made with egg, though not always; and egg pasta can also be dried.

  167. Liz

    I popped in today a week after the post, and I had just had buttered noodles yesterday. I was classically trained and worked as a chef when I was young. Sometimes nothing else satisfies so I am not surprised Francis loves them.

  168. Nicole Salomone-Bates

    We call this same recipe “I Love You Noodles” in my home. My late husband made them for me on one of our early dates and he said I love you, here are some noodles and every other one of the million times since then, when serving a bowl of these noodles, it’s accompanied by an “I love you”. It’s a wonderful comfort food.

  169. Annc

    I love to cook, but I’m such a low-life non-foodie if I was cooking just for myself. I’d be super happy with buttered noodles. Maybe some parm on top. I’d just buy the already shredded though if it was just for me.

  170. Alice

    As a child, my favourite meal was green spaghetti. Pasta, butter, parsley, oregano, basil. I would eat it every night if my mom would have let me.
    So I 100% understand the appeal of buttered noodles. In fact, add a bit of ground pepper and parm, and it’s one of my default quick and easy meals. ツ

  171. I just love this post – buttered noodles are THE BEST. And my dear little boy, when he was in preschool, asked me to please please please pack him an Albert lunch. We both enjoyed that experience so much!

  172. Nivek

    As a kid this was one of my favorite dishes, mostly because I knew it couldn’t hurt my belly. I still have yet to discover all the spices and other ingredients that effect me so, but I have found many culprits over the years, canned tomato sauce being one of them…

  173. Carrie

    When my parents split and my dad was a new bachelor, the only thing he really knew to make me, 8 years old at the time, was refrigerated cheese tortellini. I ate it plain with a little salt on top and loved it. I made this tonight and it reminds me of those dinners (I suspect the salted butter mimics the cheese). My 2 year old, who loves the Frances books, was also a big fan. Thank you!

  174. Kathaleeny

    My very famous pediatrician said “Guess what? She’ll grow up.” When I told him my three year old daughter would only eat a Swanson chicken pot pie (29 cents back in the day) every day. It lasted for over a year and then she was done. Ironically, she’s a vegetarian today. All that mom guilt for nothing.

    All these comments make me wonder why you don’t see stuff like this on Instagram.

  175. Zoe

    Oh my goodness, I love this post! My son became a picky eater around 4 years old. His preschool thought I only packed “white food” for lunch so that he would not get dirty. As my first and only, i was worried about nutrition, as in, eat the colors of the rainbow to be healthy. Early on I got him to take whole food multi-vitamins and probiotics. Then when the squeeze packs of organic fruit and veg arrived, I added them to everything I baked and slathered under cheese and in mac and cheese, cacio e pepe and Alfredo….i.e. Buttered noodles plus Parmigiano.

    Now he is eighteen and about to leave the nest and still does not know the extent of my sneaky ways. Luckily, he has branched out and tried many more things but still veg is a hurdle. He still takes his vitamins and I still bake and cook with the fruit and veg. In fact, I made Barefoot Contessa’s blueberry muffins with dark chocolate chips this morning plus a pouch of mango. I think I will wait until he is 30 years old to share this story with him. It warms my heart to read all the comments and know that there are so many of us in the same boat.

    On a side note, he also always seems to gravitate towards the most expensive items…i.e. Filet mignon, 36+ month Parmigiano, prosciutto San Danielle, proper bronze cut pasta, organic chicken, pine nuts that are not from China, etc…

    We moved to Dublin, Ireland 2 years ago for his education. We are blessed to have so much local food available here. Unfortunately, there was not a place for decent pizza that was not in the style of Napoli, So to feed my son, I opened up a spot in the evenings at a coffee shop. Oh the things that happen on the cool and crazy journey of parenting.

  176. Kaye

    My grand daughter also adores her buttered noodles but she is a fan of cheese on top. I am from the UK but living in France at the moment and I can tell you PLAIN buttered pasta is a BIG favourite and mainstay of French children also, my half-French grandchildren also. However, French children will also amaze you when they polish off a big bowl of mussels with their french fries and mayo! My UK grand daughter stays well clear of those. French children have three course lunches and are introduced to many what we would call very adult foods from kindergarten age . . . so no wonder they grown up with very adventurous palates.

  177. This is it. It’s why sometimes I love buttered toast sans jam.

    It also reminds me of TikTok’s obsession with “but where’s the seasoning???” My man, have you not had the chance to experience all the nuances of monotony?

  178. Heather

    This post made me so happy. Our first kid (now 13) would eat anything and Oh Boy was I secretly very smug about that fact. Second child, 5, is not interested in your foods that have been cooked together, seasoned, or are at all interesting. Glad to know I am not alone!

  179. Meghan Jordan

    Bread and Jam for Frances is one of our favorites! I have two kids (4 and 6; a Frances, who really loves Mom’s breaded chicken cutlets cooked in garlic oil; and an Albert, who thinks he eats everything, while his sister is a Frances). We are on such a huge Frances kick right now that I can’t help craving cream cheese, cucumber, and tomato sandwiches on rye every night. #teamalbert

  180. Leu2500

    I made these for my parents to go with pork chops. My mom really liked that they “weren’t dry”. Going on my rotation as easier than potatoes.

  181. Jackie

    Pure, nurturing, comfort.
    My husband had a scary concussion a few years ago and couldn’t keep down most food. I made this for him almost every night until he got better, and he would eat the whole bowl.

  182. Sarah Pedersen

    I have exactly the same buttered noodle and fresh veggie/fruit loving child. She’s 12 now and is starting to add some things into her diet. Like pesto! She wants pesto on everything. There’s hope.

  183. My son is a Frances, from France. I will try your strategy. It’s worth a shot. It feels better knowing I’m not alone though. I’m still trying, but vegetables are still a no-go. For some reason, he likes to eat edible flowers… although there’s not a lot of variation in that. I tried pushing that all the way to broccoli and artichoke but it didn’t work, they weren’t “real” flowers he said. Bummer.

  184. Susie Coffman-King

    I just love you, @debperelman! This is so funny and brings back memories of my twins, who I could have given just one dinner plate of food to each night because what one ate the other didn’t. Thx for sharing your life along with your amazing recipes. You are the BEST!

  185. Linda

    It is my fervent opinion that buttered noodles should be of the bow tie variety, but I respect the need for diversity.

    My love for buttered noodles started when I was a child and I could not abide spaghetti sauce-the ground beef and onions were too much for my gag reflex to handle. My mom eventually started letting me have my noodles with no sauce and just butter and a healthy sprinkling of parmesan cheese (the green can variety).

    To this day, it’s still the meal I make when I’m only cooking for me.

  186. Leann

    My own childhood favorite, they always tasted best when made by my grandma. She often topped them with toasted breadcrumbs, but I love them with or without.

  187. Lindsay

    My Frances is 3, and only eats cheese quesadillas. We went to a restaurant recently with a cheese quesadilla on the menu that, when served, had tiny cubed tomatoes inside. She spent 20 minutes painstakingly removing each tomato bit before taking her first bite.

    Reading about everyone’s grown up Frances’s in the comments made me a bit teary. Thank you Deb for sharing your stories, family, and of course recipes with us.

  188. Anne

    Don’t worry Deb. I was exactly the same as was my youngest son. I didn’t start appreciating food until I was in my early 20’s. Now I can cook, and eat, anything. She’ll come around one day.

  189. Ana

    I’m a grown adult, and buttered noodles is my go too! I started making it when I first moved out, since it was the easiest thing to make. It not has become my comfort food! Glad to know theres a lot more people like me in these comments!

  190. Jen

    My aunt has a friend who has five children, one of whom ate nothing but tortillas with PB and sunflower seeds on it for a year. He’s a married microbiologist now, so I guess it all worked out? I’m clinging to this since my 8yo has eaten nothing but honey nut cheerios and tortillas with cream cheese for the past month. I’m an organic farmer (of course) – we have a market garden, small orchard, chickens for eggs and meat, pigs, and wool/dairy sheep. Sigh.

  191. Kim

    I LOVE this post! (For the record, nobody can fault buttered noodles, and I love your twist!!) This brings back so many memories. While my son at age 3 asked for smoked lemon pepper bluefish, at age 5 asked for soft shell crab (I figured out how to cook them), at age 10 was given $50 (it was about 25 years ago) to buy whatever he wanted in a fancy mall and chose a sushi kit at Williams Sonoma, at age 12 made mango shrimp and lemon rice (he devised the recipe himself) for Spanish class that required every kid to bring a Spanish dish that was not Mexican (and the list goes on)—-my daughter subsisted on Le Sueur sweet peas in a can and tuna. But they both went to away camp from the time they were old enough — because camp is awesome and I would still go if I could). My son decided to quit after the year he and his buddy drove themselves.

    Nature versus nurture? I owned a kinda fancy catering biz back then. Who knows!

  192. kristina craig

    I am sad that I can’t see photos of your beautiful children anymore! I used to go on a search within your commentary!
    I am sure you have your reasons.
    Love, K

  193. Simone

    There is hope. The day my eldest son asked to have the cheese packet from the boxed macaroni and cheese, and not just buttered noodles, was a landmark day in our house.

  194. Jen

    I just love that you’ve referenced this most favorite book. We love all of the Frances books in fact! Spread the word! My now-pre and teen kids still find them hilarious.
    A word of encouragement to parents of Franceses: We’ve had plenty of Frances phases and they have all passed, mercifully, without fanfare or explanation, and most certainly un-commented-upon by us. Take heart!

  195. Peggy Musial

    Thanks for the memories: Growing up, I did not like to eat ‘dark dinners,’ which meant anything with red sauce or gravy or beef or veggies, other than corn and potatoes. Buttered noodles in a bowl or mashed potatoes drowning in a lava pool of butter were my favorites for many years. If I was still hungry, I’d top the meal off with a slice of white bread and butter. For some unknown reason, I would agree to Mrs. Paul’s Fish Sticks on Fridays. I elevated my game to boiled hot dogs and rice somewhere in my early teens.

  196. frabjous

    This post filled me with a longing for the egg noodles of my childhood. I don’t think I’d had egg noodles in well over a decade, but I went out and bought some and made them with your buttering technique. It was delicious and nostalgic! Sea salt on the top was a delightful addition.

  197. Holly

    I had a Frances – only she also did not like fruit and most vegetables (it was a big day when she announced she liked green beans). She (we) ate a mostly white diet through her childhood. The first time I visited her at college and we went out for dinner, she ordered a black bean burger. I couldn’t believe it – but she had noticed her college ski teammates eating far differently and decided to try things which, if offered in her childhood, would have caused her to run out of the room. She has gone on to become a gourmet cook, and introduced me to the Smitten Kitchen. Your pasta salad with roasted carrots and sunflower dressing was one of the sides at her wedding reception!

  198. Joanna

    My mom bought me two bags of egg noodles to bring home to London in my suitcase and make kugel. Which I love. But I haven’t make it because I love these buttered noodles even more.

  199. Sammy J

    My mother used to make buttered noodles. She would boil them and toss them into a frying pan with butter and bread crumbs. Delicious!

  200. Erika

    We were raised vegetarian, and my kindly grandmother—not questioning this but also not always sure in the beginning what to feed us—leaned heavily on buttered egg noodles when we visited. Love them so much to this day—

  201. Miriam Robin

    My mother made cottage cheese and noodles with a dab of butter, cream cheese, or sour cream (yogurt). I made it for my girls on Saturday nights before the sitter came. Now, we all make it for any kind of feel-good meals. Sadly, I don’t think the third generation embraces it.

  202. Jessica Gibbs

    Delicious! First thought was why do I need a recipe, but what a perfect recipe! Glad I ate alone since I “mmmed” after every single bite. Added hot pepper flakes and brewers yeast but it didn’t need a thing. Thank you!!

  203. Nitzan Blouin

    There is no greater joy than cooking for your child a dish they love. One they ask for over and over. The one they say, “mama, I ate in the restaurant but your is better”. This dish is it. So. Much. Joy.

  204. Cooking a dish that your child loves is an incomparable source of happiness. When they ask for it repeatedly and say things like, “Mom, I had this at a restaurant, but yours is better,” it brings me so much joy. And this dish is exactly that.