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Spaetzle is a unique, fun, and easy German dumpling that everybody should learn how to make. Done in just minutes, these are great on their own, as part of a traditional German meal, or perfect for any dish that might use macaroni pasta. Give this Traditional German Spaetzle recipe a try today!

Bowl of Spaetzle with parmesan cheese on top.
Tasty and easy spaetzle dinner!

🇩🇪 What makes this recipe special?

To start with, they taste great. Another great thing about Spaetzle is that it is one of the easiest pasta to make. While also a dumpling, I consider it pasta, and I use them that way. 

The difference, though, is that Spaetzle is super easy to make. They are great because you can have something that has the flavors of fresh pasta, and it is so quick to make. 

Not only are they easy to make, but they are also versatile. This fits the bill if you are looking for a quick but homemade lunch. If you want to make something a bit more unique and comforting, you can also use Spaetzle. 

Finally, I love foods from my German heritage. Check out one of my favorite dishes in the world, Knoephla soup, which has a dumpling that is a close cousin to Spaetzle. Or serve this as a side to this delicious Rouladen recipe or this Easy Pork Schnitzel recipe? We love German Recipes! 

🥟 What is Spaetzle?

Spaetzle, or spätzle, is a simple dumpling or small noodle typically associated with German food heritage. Maybe you could call it a spaetzle noodle, but I am more apt to call them dumplings. If you have ever made a simple egg noodle, it is almost identical in ingredients and easier to make.

Often, this is served as a side dish to some main German courses, such as this Easy Pork Schnitzel recipe. Of course, this can also be served by itself. Here we make a simple spaetzle recipe and then fry the dumplings in butter and thyme.

They can also be the base for other recipes, much like pasta. I have been known to use them much like macaroni in a macaroni and cheese dinner.

🥚 Ingredients

Spaetzle themselves are super simple and have very few ingredients. That is one of the great things about them! They contain:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Eggs
  • Whole milk

I include a few other ingredients for making a simple dish for fried spaetzle, but check out the recipe card for more details. 

See the recipe card for quantities.

🍲 Instructions

The batter is simply flour, eggs, whole milk, and salt. These spaetzle dumplings are made from a batter similar to pasta dough but not quite as thick. Instead, the consistency of uncooked Spaetzle is more like a very heavy pancake batter. 

Traditionally, the batter is placed on a flat board, referred to as a spaetzle board, but it could be anything. Then, using a straight edge, cut small pieces of the batter from the board directly into boiling water. 

Today, however, a few kitchen tool can make the process easier. I use a Spaetzle Maker [Affiliate Link] that appears much like a cheese grater with a hopper. I place the batter in the hopper over boiling water and move it back and forth. 

Showing how to make Spaetzle and fry it.
First, mix the dough ingredients. Then, use your spaetzle maker and drop the dumplings into boiling water. Allow to cook until they float and use how you would like! I love frying them with some butter and cheese.

The dumplings will float to the top as soon as they are done. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. Once the dumplings start floating, immediately start removing the dumplings with a slotted spoon.

Many should be done by the time all the batter is added. If it takes a while to finish adding the batter, I might put my hopper to the side halfway through the process and remove the finished Spaetzle.

Spaetzle can just be eaten, but that usually is no fun, particularly with such a versatile dish. I am sharing a fundamental buttered spaetzle preparation to get you going.

Once all your dumplings are done, place them aside in a covered dish. Add some butter to a heating frying pan on medium-high. Once melted, add your Spaetzle to the pan, add just a little thyme, and allow to fry for just a few minutes. Three to five minutes should do it, but cook them to your desired texture.

Finally, top with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese to your taste. 

🤷 Substitutions and variations

If you know how to make the recipe fit a particular diet, let the reader know here. Don’t fake it – only provide guidance on topics you have actual experience with.

  • Fried Spaetzle – I use certain herbs and cheese in this, but you can use whatever you want. This works like a simple dumpling or pasta. 
  • Nutmeg – Many spaetzle recipes call for nutmeg. I just don’t like it in this dish…. so I don’t add it.
  • Cheese Spaetzle – I use parm, but you can use all sorts of cheese variations with spaetzle. Cheddar, gouda, or swiss would be great with this dish.

What if you don’t have a spaetzle maker?

If you don’t have a spaetzle maker and aren’t interested in buying one, you do have a few options. First, like the spaetzle board, perhaps you have a cutting board that would work for this. To cut the Spaetzle, you will want a straight edge.

Second, if you have a strainer with large enough slots or holes, it may also work well for this. You won’t be able to use a fine-mesh strainer for this, but if you have a strainer with some larger wholes, it could work along with a rubber spatula to push the dumplings through.

Seriously, though. If you want to make Spaetzle, I suggest spending the money to get the maker. 

📦 Storage

I recommend using these up. One of the great things about this dish is that it is so simple to make! 

I suppose you could keep them in the fridge for a few days and reheat, but this recipe is meant to be eaten fresh.

🎓 History tidbit

I previously covered the History of Knephla Soup, which has a shared history with Spaetzle. In fact, they are fairly similar, with the most apparent difference being size. Spaetzle is a bit smaller than knöpfle dumplings. 

Like knöpfle, this dish has a Swabian heritage or the southern part of Germany that, includes much of the land around the Rhine river. 

The story goes that spelt was a kind of grain closely related to wheat and could grow in poor soil conditions. Because of the grain’s versatility, you could make a dish from this.

If you pare this recipe back to just flour and water, instead of milk, this would be a very reachable recipe to the poor. That is how this started. As time passed, it became a dish for all classes of people. So, of course, we added butter and dairy to give a rich flavor that the original dish did not.

❓ FAQ

How do you pronounce spaetzle?

The American pronunciation would be like saying “Spat Sill.”

Can you make Spaetzle without a spaetzle maker?

Yes. The old-fashioned way is with a wood board and a straight edge cutting small chunks of the batter into water. Also, you can use a strainer to make these dumplings.

Can you freeze spaetzle?

I think you can, but why? One of the great things about this recipe is that it is so easy to make! 

Is spaetzle a dumpling?

Yes, but I consider it a cross between a dumpling and a pasta.

Spaetzle in a bowl on a gold platter with two spoons.
A nice bowl of butter fried spaetzle!

📝 Tips and tricks

  • There are a few different kinds of spaetzle makers. You might be able to get away with a strainer and using a rubber spatula to push the batter through.
  • I use thyme, but I think many herbs, such as sage or oregano, would work as well.
  • Not all flour is the same, and not all eggs are the same size, so your batter might have slight differences. Feel free to add more milk or flour to manipulate the consistency to match that of a very heavy pancake batter. When put into the spaetzle maker hopper, it should not be freely flowing through the holes. The batter should be thick enough where it only passes through as you push the hopper back and forth.
  • If you are using this as a main dish or are very harty eaters, consider doubling the recipe.

🛠 Products used in this recipe

😋 Did you make this recipe?

That is awesome, and thank you so much for giving this German Spaetzle recipe a try. If you could leave a rating in the comment area below, it would be greatly appreciated. This lets me know how I am doing and also helps others decide if they want to make this recipe. Most of all, thanks for visiting Ramshackle Pantry.

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Bowl of Spaetzle with parmesan cheese on top.

Traditional German Spaetzle

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Ben Myhre
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Dumplings
  • Method: Boil
  • Cuisine: German
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Description

Do yourself a favor and learn how to make this Traditional German Spaetzle recipe a try! Somewhere between dumplings and pasta, this dish is easy to make, versatile, and so tasty. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 4 Tablespoons butter for serving
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh snipped thyme (optional)
  • Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste.

Instructions

  1. Bring large pot of salted water to boil
  2. While water is heating, mix flour and salt
  3. Add eggs and milk to flour and combine well. It should be the texture of a very thick pancake batter.
  4. Add batter to spaetzle maker hopper (or similar tool – see notes)
  5. Push batter through spaetzle maker and the drops should be about the size of a solid macaroni noodle or a large orzo pasta.
  6. Once spaetzle is floating on top of water, remove with slotted spoon and place in covered container.
  7. Once all noodles are done, optionally heat butter in pan over medium-high. All steps from here forward are optional. This is spaetzle. From here forward is a simple and easy way to serve these as a stand-alone dish. 
  8. Add thyme (optional), pepper, and season with any more salt you might want.
  9. Add cooked spaetzle and heat until desired temp and crispiness

Notes

  • There are a few different kinds of spaetzle makers. You might be able to get away with a strainer and using a rubber spatula to push the batter through.
  • I use thyme, but I think many herbs, such as sage or oregano would work as well.
  • Not all flour is the same and not all eggs are the same size, so your batter might have slight differences. Feel free to add more milk or flour to manipulate the consistency to match that of a very heavy pancake batter. When put into the spaetzle maker hopper, it should not be freely flowing through the holes. The batter should be thick enough where it only passes through as you push the hopper back and forth.
  • it only passes through as you push the hopper back and forth.
  • If you are using this as a main dish or are very harty eaters, consider doubling the recipe.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 407 calories
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Sodium: 653 mg
  • Fat: 18 g
  • Saturated Fat: 9 g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 9 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 45 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 13 g
  • Cholesterol: 216 mg

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5 Comments

  1. Great instructions and this was really good and easy. I am definitely going to be making this more often.






  2. My Grandma is German and I have very fond memories of making and eating Spaetzle with her. I was craving them not too long ago and they really hit the spot and reminded me of hers. I’m making them tonight to go with Christmas dinner, like she always did. Thanks!

    1. That is great. Sometimes food like this really hits home, doesn’t it? It is great to help find some of those comfortable and wonderful memories with food… and then share them with our loved ones.