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Homemade German Spaetzle are part noodle, part dumpling, and they go with practically anything! Saute them in butter, add cheese, or cover them in sauce! This is one of my favorite traditional German recipes!
If you haven't realized yet, I'm a huge fan of German cuisine! It's so good and always makes me miss one of my favorite countries I've ever been to. Every time I go, I make sure to eat my fill of spaetzle while I can!
But really, it's not difficult to make spaetzle at home, especially if you have a spaetzle maker. Although if you don't have one, don't fret! A colander with large holes will work almost as well and lets you enjoy fresh-made spaetzle any time you want!
Also, even though the recipe itself is traditional, I make it a bit easier by mixing up the spaetzle batter in my stand mixer rather than whisking it by hand!
What is Spaetzle?
Spaetzle (also spelled spätzle and pronounced SHPEHT-sleh) is a traditional German dish that is similar to American dumplings or egg noodles, although they are some differences in terms of ingredients and method of preparation. It's a carby side, similar in use to rice, potatoes, or any other kind of pasta. It is also lightly flavored with just a small amount of nutmeg.
Spaetzle has a higher egg and liquid to flour ratio than egg noodles or dumplings. This makes for a stickier dough that is pushed through small holes directly into a pot of boiling water to form the dumplings or noodles, rather than being rolled out on a floured surface and cut into strips.
Spaetzle isn't unique to Germany, and you may have seen it if you have visited Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, or Poland.
How to make Spaetzle
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, salt, and nutmeg and stir with the paddle attachment.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk.
- Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the egg mix inside.
- Mix on medium-low speed for about 6-8 minutes until smooth, occasionally stopping to scrape down the paddle.
- Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat on your stove.
- Prepare a large bowl with an ice bath and set a colander inside of the ice bath.
- Reduce the heat to medium so that the water is simmering.
- Using a spaetzle maker, press the spaetzle into the hot water, working in small batches.
- Cook the spaetzle for -3 minutes until they float to the top and then transfer to the colander that’s in the ice bath using a slotted spoon.
- Lift the colander to drain the spaetzle, and then toss with a drizzle of melted butter so that they don’t stick together.
- Repeat with the remaining spaetzle dough.
- Cold spaetzle can be sauteed in a pan with a little melted butter until hot. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
What to serve with spaetzle
Like many pasta dishes, you don’t need much else on your plate because German spaetzle is so filling and delicious on its own. You can make entire meals around the spaetzle by adding cheese or sauteeing in butter with herbs and bacon!
That being said, I love to serve homemade spaetzle with two other traditional German recipes: sauerbraten and rotkohl. Having all three on the plate is my idea of an ideal German-themed dinner.
How thick should spaetzle batter be?
You want your German spaetzle dough to be nice and thick, much like you would want a drop biscuit or dumpling texture to be-only smoother.
How to make German spaetzle without a spaetzle maker
If you plan on making German spaetzle often, you might want to invest in a spaetzle maker to help with the process. But if you have never made spaetzle before and don't have one, you can absolutely make this recipe just using a colander or steamer with large holes on the bottom.
The batter will be too thick to just pour through the holes of the colander or steamer, but just use a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon to press the dough through the colander holes into the boiling water. Just be careful not to burn yourself from the steam while working!
Even a cheese grater with large holes would probably work, since that's awfully similar to what my spaetzle maker looks like! I've also heard that you can use a potato ricer, so there are lots of options to choose from!
How do you reheat spaetzle?
When you are ready to serve your spaetzle, you can choose one of three different ways to reheat your dough.
- Saute: Saute in a saucepan with a little butter. This is my favorite approach because the German spaetzle can get a little crispy on the outside and I love the buttery flavor.
- Nuke: Microwaving the spaetzle until hot is not my preferred method, but it works. The amount of time will depend on how much spaetzle you are attempting to reheat.
- Boil: Or bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the already cooked spaetzle just long enough to warm it up, about 1 minute. Then drain well and serve immediately.
More German Recipes You'll Love
- Homemade Soft Pretzels with Mustard Cheese Dip
- Apfelstrudel Recipe (German Apple Strudel)
- Sauerkraut and Sausages with Apples
- Aunt Becky's Black Forest Cake (okay, not the most authentic version, but it's still my favorite)
- Zwiebelkuchen (German Onion Pie)
Homemade German Spaetzle
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 5 large eggs room temperature
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup butter melted (optional)
- Chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
- Combine the flour, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl and whisk together.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, and milk.
- Make a well in the center of the flour, then add the egg mixture and mix together until smooth and thick. Traditionally this was done by hand, but I have found that it is easiest to just use my stand mixer with the paddle attachment mixing on medium-low speed for 5-6 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat on the stove. Add a heaping tablespoon of salt to the water.
- Reduce the heat so the water is just at a simmer. If using a spaetzle maker, fill the cup with batter and quickly slide the cup back and forth to drop the spaetzle into the water. With some spaetzle makers, you will actually press the spatzle batter into the water. If using a colander, steamer, or cheese grater, use a spatula or wooden spoon to scrape the spaetzle batter through the holes into the water. You will need to work in batches to cook all of the spaetzle so as not to overcrowd the pot. I can usually do all of the spaetzle in 2-3 batches total.
- Cook the spaetzle for about 2-3 minutes until they float to the top of the water, which is your indicator that they are done.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the cooked spaetzle to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process, if you are planning to saute the spaetzle in butter. Otherwise, serve immediately.
- If sauteing in butter, drain the spaetzle well. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat, then add the cooked spaetzle. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until hot and the spaetzle is starting to crisp on the edges a bit. Sprinkle with parsley before serving, if desired.