Authentic German Spaetzle (Easy)

Spaetzle is one of Germany’s most beloved and widely consumed foods. This recipe for traditional German spaetzle is easy, foolproof, and authentic — you’ll love it!

A bowl of German spaetzle dumplings.

Spätzle is a traditional food originating from the Swabian region of South Germany. Spaetzle are a type of egg noodle or dumpling made with a simple combination of flour, egg, milk or water, salt, and an optional dash of fresh nutmeg.

Similar dumplings can be found throughout Europe and beyond, and every country will have some variation of a recipe like this. In Hungary for example, the exact same dumpling is made but they call it nokedli and it is a traditional accompaniment for chicken paprikash.

If you love traditional German and Central European cuisine as much as I do, check out my other recipes, like rotkohl, a side dish of sweet and sour braised cabbage, liver dumpling soup, or German sauerkraut soup made with meatballs.

How To Serve German Spaetzle

  • Simple buttered spaetzle. Hot buttered noodles are a simple and delicious side dish to anything you’re making. Toss drained spaetzle in melted butter with a pinch of salt. Serve with anything — like underneath saucy chicken paprikash, or with schnitzel and braised sauerkraut.
  • When spaetzle is served as a separate dish for roasted meats like sauerbraten or rouladen they are traditionally sprinkled with toasted, buttered bread crumbs and served alongside rotkohl. You can see that variation in my photos and I give you those instructions in the recipe card — it’s my favorite.
  • With sauces and gravies as in jägerspätzle, a thick, creamy mushroom sauce.
  • Make cheesy German Käsespätzle, spaetzle noodles served with melted cheese and caramelized onions, another favorite recipe in our home.
  • In soups: instead of the egg noodles my recipe for grandma’s old-fashioned chicken noodle soup calls for, add spaetzle cooked directly in the hot broth.

Ingredients, Notes, & Substitutions

Spaetzle requires few ingredients. Read on to see what you need to make them properly, my favorite way to make them, and the substitutions you can use that will still work for this recipe. All of the ingredient quantities can be found in the recipe card below which you can also print.

All of the ingredients needed to make authentic, traditional German spaetzle dumplings.
  • Flour | My recipe calls for unbleached all-purpose flour mixed with some fine or coarse durum semolina. You can also use double 00 flour, or make spaetzle entirely from fine durum semolina.
  • Liquid | I prefer to use whole milk. You can also use: water, lighter kinds of milk, a mixture of milk and water, sour milk, whey, buttermilk, or mineral water. You can also omit the liquid and use only eggs or even extra yolks.
  • Nutmeg | a fresh grating of nutmeg adds something extra that stays in the background flavor-wise. Entirely optional but highly recommended.
  • Salt
  • Butter | After the spaetzle is cooked, they are tossed still-hot into melted or softened butter.
  • Bread Crumbs | I love to toss my spaetzle in toasted sourdough bread crumbs with plenty of extra butter. Entirely optional.

Spaetzle Maker

You need a spaetzle maker to make this recipe, but luckily there are multiple options at different price points — and a free one. I own all the products linked below and find that I use them all, so these are my personal and tested recommendations.

  • The most affordable is this variety of narrow stainless steel boards with large holes. I have this one and use it for both spaetzle and Haluski, so it is pretty versatile on top of being inexpensive.
  • This spaetzle press variety is the type that makes long, thin noodles. It is similar to a ricer, but the holes are of different sizes. I have this exact one, and it is made in Germany and very clearly built to last. I love to use this one for soups especially. The downside is that is quite expensive, but it will last you forever.
  • This wide, round stainless steel plate with holes comes with a rigid but flexible scraper and it is an excellent choice. My MIL uses something like this for Haluski, so it is versatile. A great, affordable choice.
  • A wooden board. If you have a small, narrow, wooden cutting board, you can stretch the spaetzle dough across it and then use a bench scraper or knife to quickly cut and scrape narrow spaetzle noodles directly into boiling water. This is how spaetzle was made before gadgets became a thing and it absolutely works just great, so don’t be dismayed if you don’t want to purchase something.

Along with a spaetzle maker, you need a slotted spoon or skimmer to remove the spaetzle from the boiling water as they float to the top.

For mixing the spaetzle batter, you can use a stand mixer, hand mixer, or a large spoon. I’ll give you instructions for all three, but I find myself using my stand mixer the most often. The most challenging part of spaetzle is that it must mixed for a good 15 minutes to develop the dough properly.

Instructions (Step-by-Step With Photos)

An egg cracked into a bowl of flour next to a jug of milk.

Step 1: Sift your flour into a large bowl and then add the rest of the ingredients.

Milk being added to flour.

Step 2: Start mixing and beating the ingredients.

If using a stand mixer: use the dough hook attachment. Speed 2 is what I use.

If using a hand mixer: use a low-speed setting.

If using a spoon: start vigorously beating the dough. Consider setting a timer for 20 minutes.

Whatever you use, the important thing is to achieve the right consistency.

As your dough mixes, monitor it.

We’re looking for a cross between a very thick pancake batter and a sticky bread dough.

After 5-10 minutes of mixing, do you have this?

If not, add more liquid or more flour and keep going.

Step 3: Here is an example of spaetzle batter that is the correct consistency.

The finished spaetzle batter with bubbles.

Step 4: You will know that the batter is ready to cook because bubbles will begin to appear.

The finished spaetzle batter which is the consistency of a very thick pancake batter.

Step 5: Make sure your spaetzle batter is stretchy and not too stiff like bread dough. This photo shows a really good consistency and you can clearly see the bubbles too.

Now it is time to rest the batter for 20-30 minutes. Do not skip this step.

Set a large, deep pot of salted water to boil. Salt the water as if you were making pasta; you should be able to taste the saltiness.

Spaetzle batter being passed through a spaetzle maker into a large pot of boiling water.

Step 6: After resting, bring your spaetzle batter to the pot of boiling water and use a spoon to fill your spaetzle maker.

You will need to add the batter in batches.

Depending on your spaetzle maker, you will either press the batter into the water or run the steel basket full of batter (pictured above) back and forth over the holes as the batter falls into the water underneath.

Work quickly as the spaetzle cooks very quickly. It is almost ready when it floats to the surface, but give it another 2-3 minutes to cook out any taste of raw flour.

Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer the spaetzle noodles to a bowl with butter and toss.

Your spaetzle noodles are done and ready for serving, as pictured below, but there is one further step you can take.

Finished spaetzle dumplings with butter in a bowl.
Bread crumbs and butter being toasted in pan.

Step 7: I love to toss my spaetzle in toasted bread crumbs for serving.

To toast the crumbs, melt butter in a hot pan and add in the bread crumbs after the foam has gown down.

Stir constantly until the crumbs are golden brown.

Cooked spaetzle dumplings being tossed in melted butter and toasted bread crumbs.

Step 8: Finally, I’ll add my buttered spaetzle noodles for a toss in the crumbs and serve.

A bowl of German spaetzle dumplings.

Hint: Traditionally, Spätzle batter is thicker than what you see here and in most recipes. That is because, to make noodle-cutting easier, he using a board and knife as would have been historically done to a thicker dough is simpler to cut. A Spätzle press can achieve the same results but it will require some muscle. If you’re using a press, it might take some strength to push through the batter; if it’s too hard, adding a bit more liquid can help make it easier to handle.

Storage

Spaetzle can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator (covered in an airtight container) for up to 5 days.

Melt some butter in a large pan or pot and toss the Spätzle in it to heat it through again.

To freeze spaetzle: drain it well, then wrap it snugly to eliminate as many air pockets before freezing for 3-5 months.

FAQ

How is spaetzle different from pasta?

Spaetzle and pasta are very similar, especially regarding the ingredients used. You can consider spaetzle a type of pasta or dumpling and both terms seem to be used to describe it. There is no potato used in spaetzle, as is done with gnocchi or haluski, making it more like a noodle — especially when made on a wooden board or with a spaetzle press versus a modern stainless steel board.

What is German spaetzle made of?

Every commercial variety of German spaetzle I have seen sold in stores is made with 100% durum semolina flour. But most home cooks and recipes combine a bit of durum semolina with mostly all-purpose flour.

What do Germans eat with spaetzle?

Germans eat spaetzle alongside other side dishes and with roasted meats like sauerbraten and rouladen. When serving with those traditional meat dishes, rotkohl is usually always served. Spaetzle noodles are also transformed into Kasespatzle, a decadent German mac and cheese that kids and adults alike love. Spaetzle is also cooked into soups in some regions. It is quite versatile.

A bowl of German spaetzle dumplings.

Authentic German Spaetzle (Easy)

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: German
Servings: 4
Calories: 748kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Equipment

  • Spaetzle Maker
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Hand Mixer or Stand Mixer Or just a large spoon and muscle.

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour sifted, and more as/if needed, see notes for substitutions.
  • 4 Tablespoons Durum Semolina Flour optional, coarse or fine both work.
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk and more as/if needed, see notes for substitutions.
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
  • Teaspoon Nutmeg feshly grated is best

For Serving (Optional)

  • 1 Cup Breadcrumbs optional
  • 1 Stick Butter optional

Instructions

  • Prep your ingredinets: sift your flour, get all of your ingredients and equipment ready and have them on hand.
  • Sift your flour into the large bowl you will use for making the batter and then add the eggs, milk, salt, and freshly grated nutmeg.
  • Start mixing and beating the ingredients:
  • If using a stand mixer: use the dough hook attachment. Speed 2 is what I use.
  • If using a hand mixer: use a low-speed setting.
  • If using a spoon and doing it manually: start vigorously beating the dough. Consider setting a timer for 20 minutes.
  • As your dough mixes, watch it. We're looking for something that is a cross between a very thick pancake batter and a sticky dough. After 5-10 minutes of mixing, do you have this? If not add more liquid or more flour and keep going.
  • You will know that the batter is ready to cook because bubbles will begin to appear in the dough. This will take 15-20 minutes no matter what you're using.
  • Now it is time to rest the batter for 20-30 minutes. Do not skip this step.
  • As the batter is resting: Set a large, deep pot of salted water to boil. Salt the water as if you were making pasta, you should be able to taste the saltiness.
  • After resting, bring your spaetzle batter to the pot of boiling water and add it to your spaetzle maker. You will likely need to add the batter in batches.
  • Depending on your spaetzle maker, you will either press the batter into the water or run the steel basket back and forth over the holes as the batter falls into the water underneath.
  • Work quickly as the spaetzle cooks very quickly. It is almost ready when it floats to the surface, but give it another 2-3 minutes to cook out any taste of raw flour.
  • Using a slotted spoon or skimmer, transfer the spaetzle noodles to a bowl with butter and toss.
  • Your spaetzle noodles are done and ready for serving or making into other dishes like cheese spaetzle, but there is one further step you can take too.

Optional Serving Method

  • In a large skillet, melt a stick of butter. When the foam subsides, add the breadcrumbs and stir them until golden brown and toasted. Toss your spaetzle in this and serve. You may need to add more butter if the mixture is too dry.

Notes

Storage
Spaetzle can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator (covered in an airtight container) for up to 5 days.
Melt some butter in a large pan or pot and toss the Spätzle in it to heat it through again.
To freeze spaetzle: wrap it well to eliminate as many air pockets and freeze it for 3-5 months.
Ingredient Notes:
  • Flour | My recipe calls for unbleached all-purpose flour mixed with some fine or coarse durum semolina. You can also use double 00 flour, or make spaetzle entirely from fine durum semolina.
  • Liquid | I prefer to use whole milk. You can also use: water, lighter kinds of milk, a mixture of milk and water, sour milk, whey, buttermilk, or mineral water. You can also omit the liquid and use only eggs or even extra yolks. 
  • Nutmeg | a fresh grating of nutmeg adds something extra that stays in the background flavor-wise. Entirely optional but highly recommended.
  • Salt
  • Butter | After the spaetzle is cooked, they are tossed still-hot into melted or softened butter.
  • Bread Crumbs | I love to toss my spaetzle in toasted sourdough bread crumbs with plenty of extra butter. Entirely optional.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 748kcal | Carbohydrates: 94g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 169mg | Sodium: 1044mg | Potassium: 287mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1029IU | Vitamin C: 0.003mg | Calcium: 161mg | Iron: 6mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
5 from 9 votes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I’ve always wanted to try this! It was fantastic! Definitely looking forward to making it again!

  2. 5 stars
    This was such a unique and unexpected dish that does not disappoint! Quick, easy and delicious; definitely, a new favorite recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve always wanted to try this! I’m so glad I finally did – it was delicious and really fun to make!

  4. 5 stars
    My mother used to make this for us. Her parents were German and Russian. This reminded me of home. Thank you.

  5. 5 stars
    This fabulous spaetzle looks so elegant but is really a simple side dish that goes with so many main dishes. I’m added this to my meal plan right now.