Easy German Spaetzle Recipe
Jun 19, 2023, Updated Nov 10, 2023
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Easy German Spaetzle Recipe – delicious easy German dumplings for an authentic biergarten comfort food side dish!
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Homemade German Spaetzle
This spaetzle is one of our favorite easy side dishes – my kids love it and ask for it all the time. Spaetzle has two steps – parboiling and pan frying, but is incredibly easy to make – anyone can do it! There are only a few basic ingredients, it comes together quickly, and has a rich, buttery flavor – like little tiny dumplings pan fried in butter. Perfect alongside our easy chicken schnitzel recipe!
One of our favorite dishes to grab when traveling in Germany (before this we’d try to go once or twice a year to visit my brother and sister in law and my niece who live near Heidelberg) is always schnitzel and spaetzle!
There is a biergarten right down the street from my brother in law’s apartment that makes the best schnitzel and has a really fun outdoor dining area – it’s always our first stop when we land in Germany. We make this recipe a lot at home, it brings back so many amazing memories of traveling through Germany!
For more of our posts about traveling through Germany, please visit some of our favorites below:
How To Make Spaetzle
To make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- All-purpose flour (1 cup): This is the primary ingredient in spaetzle. It provides the structure and body to the dumplings. All-purpose flour has a medium level of protein, perfect for yielding a soft yet sturdy texture.
- Milk (¼ cup): The milk helps to tenderize the dough and gives the spaetzle a richer flavor. The fats in milk contribute to a softer, more tender texture.
- Eggs (2): Eggs act as the binding agent in this recipe. The proteins in eggs set as they cook, helping the spaetzle hold their shape. They also add flavor and richness.
- Ground nutmeg (½ teaspoon): Nutmeg adds a warm, sweet, and slightly nutty flavor that complements the rich, eggy spaetzle. It’s a traditional spice used in many German dishes, including spaetzle.
- Freshly ground white pepper (1 pinch): White pepper provides a subtle heat that underlines the other flavors in the spaetzle without overpowering them. It’s milder and less complex than black pepper.
- Salt (½ teaspoon): Salt enhances the flavors of the other ingredients. It’s essential in most savory recipes, including this one, to season the dough.
- Boiling hot water (1 gallon): The boiling water cooks the spaetzle, setting the proteins in the flour and eggs to create the noodle’s texture.
- Butter (2 tablespoons): The butter is used to sauté the spaetzle after boiling, which gives them a slightly crispy exterior and adds a rich, buttery flavor.
- Chopped fresh green onion (2 tablespoons): Green onions add a fresh, slightly sharp flavor that contrasts well with the rich, buttery spaetzle. They also add a pop of color, making the dish more visually appealing.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following process:
There are two stages to making spaetzle – making the dough and boiling it – and then pan frying in butter.
- Prep. To form your dough for spaetzle, you’ll mix together flour, pepper, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Form a little well in the flour and add egg and milk into the middle, gently mixing to incorporate. If your dough is very thick, add more milk a tablespoon at a time. Dough should be loose like thick pancake batter, but not so thin it’s runny – somewhere like pumpkin bread texture.
- Boil noodles. Once your dumpling batter is ready, spoon into spaetzle maker (or use cheese grater or slotted spoon with holes) and “push” batter across to let it drop through the holes into the boiling water below. Boil for about 5 minutes, until dumplings float.
- Pan fry. When cooked, remove from water with a strainer, and set aside in a large bowl. After parboiling dumplings, pan fry in butter in a nonstick pan, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned and crunchy. The amount of time will vary based on how much spaetzle you put in the pan and how big your pan is – it pan fries faster if using a large pan and cook in smaller batches so it can crisp and brown a bit.
- Enjoy! Drizzle a little lemon juice and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper or sliced green onions to serve!
Tips and Tricks for Perfect Homemade Spaetzle
Quality of ingredients: Start with fresh, high-quality ingredients. Use large eggs and unbleached all-purpose flour for the best taste and texture.
Right consistency: The dough should be somewhat elastic and sticky. It should not be as hard as pasta dough, nor as thin as pancake batter. If your dough is too thick, add a little more water or milk. If it’s too thin, add a bit more flour.
Resting the dough: Allow your dough to rest for about 15-30 minutes before you start making the spaetzle. This will allow the flour to fully absorb the liquid, leading to a better texture.
Using a spaetzle maker or colander: Traditional spaetzle is made with a spaetzle maker or a large-holed grater or colander. The dough is pushed through the holes directly into boiling water to create small, irregular dumplings. If you don’t have a spaetzle maker, a large-holed colander or grater can do the trick, but it can be a bit more work.
Boiling and stirring: Make sure the water is boiling before you add the spaetzle, and stir gently after adding the dough to prevent it from sticking together. Spaetzle is done when it floats to the top of the pot.
Rinsing and draining: After boiling, immediately rinse your spaetzle in cold water to stop the cooking process and remove any excess starch. This will help to firm up the noodles and prevent them from sticking together.
Sauteing: For added flavor, saute the cooked spaetzle in a bit of butter until slightly browned. You can also add onions or garlic for extra taste.
Seasoning: Don’t forget to season your spaetzle. While the dough itself usually only contains a small amount of salt, adding more seasoning after cooking will greatly enhance the taste. Try tossing your spaetzle in fresh herbs, cheese, or serving it with a flavorful sauce.
Practice makes perfect: Making spaetzle can be a bit tricky at first, but don’t be discouraged. With a bit of practice, you’ll soon be able to make perfect spaetzle every time.
This spaetzle recipe can last in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
To reheat, pan fry in a little melted butter until hot and slightly crispy.
If you don’t have a spaetzle maker, a slotted spoon or cheese grater works just fine – simply hold above boiling water and push dough across the holes to drop into the boiling water below!
We find long, flat wide-hole cheese graters to work the best.
The most commonly used flour for spaetzle is all-purpose flour. However, you can also use bread flour for a more chewy texture or substitute a portion of the all-purpose flour with semolina for a firmer result.
Yes, you can. You can use a colander or a cheese grater with larger holes. Just press the dough through the holes straight into boiling water.
Yes, you can freeze spaetzle. After cooking, rinse, drain, and let it cool completely. Then spread it out on a baking sheet and freeze it. Once frozen, you can transfer it to a freezer-safe bag. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.
Yes, you can use a gluten-free flour blend to make spaetzle. The texture might be a bit different, but it should still be delicious. You might also need to adjust the amount of liquid in the recipe, as different flours absorb liquid at different rates.
Spaetzle is very versatile and can be served with a variety of dishes. It goes well with stews, roasts, and sauces. You can also sauté it with a bit of butter and herbs for a simple side dish, or add cheese to make Käsespätzle, a German version of mac and cheese.
What To Serve With Spaetzle
We often make schnitzel when making spaetzle, but spaetzle goes with all sorts of delicious main dishes. Spaetzle goes perfectly with pork dishes- pork is insanely popular in Germany – pork chops, pork tenderloin, and even pork steaks are fantastic alongside spaetzle.
Meat dishes: Spaetzle is traditionally served with dishes like Sauerbraten (a pot roast, usually of beef, marinated before it’s slow-cooked), Wiener Schnitzel, or bratwurst. It’s also great with roasted pork or beef, or with meaty stews or goulash.
Sauces: The small, dumpling-like noodles are great at soaking up flavors, so they go very well with sauces. Try them with a hearty brown gravy, a creamy mushroom sauce, or even a tomato-based sauce.
Cheese: Spaetzle is delicious when mixed with cheese, such as Emmentaler or Gruyere, in a dish called Käsespätzle. It’s often described as the German version of mac and cheese.
Vegetables: Serve spaetzle alongside roasted or sautéed vegetables. Red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and carrots are traditional choices, but feel free to experiment with your favorites.
Seafood: While not as traditional, spaetzle can also be served with seafood dishes. Try it with pan-seared salmon or shrimp.
In soups: You can add spaetzle to soups just like you would with other types of pasta or noodles. They’re particularly good in hearty, meat-based soups.
For more of our favorite main dishes, visit recent posts below:
You can also find our complete main dish recipe archive here.
Easy German Spaetzle Recipe
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- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 pinch freshly ground white pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 gallon boiling hot water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh green onion
- To form your dough for spaetzle, you'll mix together flour, pepper, and spices in a large mixing bowl.
- Form a little well in the flour and add egg and milk into the middle, gently mixing to incorporate.
- If your dough is very thick, add more milk a tablespoon at a time.
- Dough should be loose like thick pancake batter, but not so thin it's runny - somewhere like pumpkin bread texture.
- Once your dumpling batter is ready, spoon into spaetzle maker (or use cheese grater or slotted spoon with holes) and "push" batter across to let it drop through the holes into the boiling water below.
- Boil for about 5 minutes, until dumplings float.
- When cooked, remove from water with a strainer, and set aside in a large bowl.
- After parboiling dumplings, pan fry in butter in a nonstick pan, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned and crunchy.
- The amount of time will vary based on how much spaetzle you put in the pan and how big your pan is - it pan fries faster if using a large pan and cook in smaller batches so it can crisp and brown a bit.
- Drizzle a little lemon juice and sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper or sliced green onions to serve!
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 211Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 109mgSodium 393mgCarbohydrates 25gFiber 1gSugar 0gProtein 7g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.