Käsespätzle (German Cheese Spaetzle)

A traditional and authentic recipe for käsespätzle, or German cheese spaetzle noodle dumplings, which are smothered in gooey cheese and caramelized onions and then baked until bubbly. This is simple comfort food at its best and an easy favorite family recipe of mine.

A plate of cheesy spaetzle, or German käsespätzle.

I like to think of käsespätzle (pronounced kae-zer-spetzler), decadent cheesy spaetzle dumplings, as a German or Austrian macaroni and cheese casserole.

This is a delicious side dish or main meal and both children and adults love it.

If you love German food, check out my other German recipes, like Rotkohl, a side dish of braised red cabbage. Other favorites are my liver dumpling soup and sauerkraut soup made with meatballs.

If you love spaetzle, you must make my authentic Hungarian chicken paprikash with spaetzle, too.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

All of the ingredients needed to make authentic this Käsespätzle recipe, or German cheese spaetzle dumplings.

Käsespätzle Ingredients

  • Spaetzle | I will provide the basic recipe to make spaetzle in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. Check out my German Spaetzle recipe for more step-by-step photos and guides if you need help or have never made spaetzle before.
  • Cheese | You have options. I generally always opt for a 50/50 mix of Gruyere and Emmentaler because Costco and Aldi sell them, and they’re flavorful and easy. I also add sharp cheddar regularly. Jarlsburg is another excellent option. Look for high-quality imported Swiss cheeses. Any cheese you experiment with should be a melting one.
  • Onions | I always choose yellow or brown onions because they make the best and tastiest caramelized onions.
  • Butter | You can choose any oil or fat you prefer to caramelize your onions, but I think butter, or a mixture of lard and butter, is best in this recipe.
  • Parsley | Optional. For serving.

Spaetzle Ingredients

  • Flour | All-purpose or double 00 flour is best. I like adding durum semolina to the mix, but this is optional.
  • Liquid | You have options. I prefer to use whole milk, but feel free to use water or a mixture of milk and water.
  • Egg
  • Salt
  • Nutmeg | Optional but recommended.

Cheesy Spaetzle Instructions (Step-by-Step With Photos)

To keep this post short, I will give you instructions on how to make the actual spaetzle in the recipe card. Here, you will find the step-by-step guide on making only the Käsespätzle. If you need more photos and tips for the spaetzle itself (and if you’re a newbie) check out my in-depth German Spaetzle recipe post, as I already mentioned.

Thinly sliced white, raw onions.

Step 1: Onions take about 45 minutes or slightly longer to caramelize, so get them started first. Thinly slice the onions and then move on to the rest of the recipe once they’re on the stovetop.

Thinly sliced raw onions in a pan with butter.

Step 2: I start my onions in a cold pan with a pinch of salt and butter, or butter and lard, on the lowest setting. Keep an eye on the onions and stir them infrequently, keeping an eye out for burning. If onions start to burn, add more fat or oil or a splash of water.

You will want to preheat your oven sometime while cooking the onions. Only you can know how long your particular oven model takes to get to the right temperature.

Deeply golden brown caramelized onions.

Step 3: As the onions are caramelizing, I’m preparing the rest of the ingredients: grating the cheese and making the spaetzle dumplings if they’re not done already.

The onions are done once they are a deeply golden brown caramel color, as in the picture above. You can also caramelize your onions slightly less if you prefer, but I love them like this.

A casserole dish full of spaetzle, with shredded cheese added on top.

Step 4: I like a deep casserole dish for this recipe. I’ll add the spaetzle noodles to the dish and toss the hot noodles in butter.

Next, I’ll add all of the grated cheeses on top.

A casserole dish full of cheesy spaetzle, with caramelized onions added on top.

Step 5: Finally, I’ll evenly spread the caramelized onions over the top of the cheese.

This will go into the oven uncovered until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

If your casserole dish is very deep you may wish to alternate layers of plain spaetzle dumplings with the cheese and onion toppings instead of putting them all on top of the spaetzle.

A casserole dish full of cheesy spaetzle, or German käsespätzle.

Step 6: A sprinkling of fresh parsley is optional but provides a lovely color contrast and a subtle fresh vegetal taste to your cheesy spaetzle.

Let the käsespätzle stand for 3-5 minutes before cutting into it with a spatula and serving.

Hint: Toast 1 cup of bread crumbs by cooking them in 1 stick of butter until golden. Add this on top of your cheese spaetzle before putting it in the oven. Cheese spaetzle is a great make-ahead dish. I love to bake several casserole dishes worth of this recipe and then freeze it for reheating whenever I’m in the mood.

A casserole dish full of cheesy spaetzle, or German käsespätzle.
A plate of cheesy spaetzle, or German käsespätzle.

Käsespätzle Variations

  • Mushroom Gravy | Jägerspätzle is spaetzle dumplings with a savory, rich mushroom sauce added on top instead of cheese and caramelized onions. I personally like to keep some cheese in the recipe and add the mushroom gravy for one of the most decadent and delicious things I have ever eaten.
  • Bacon | One of my favorite additions to cheesy spaetzle is bacon. I love to dice bacon very fine and then add it to the onions when they’re about halfway done caramelizing, at about the 25-minute mark or so.

Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:

A plate of cheesy spaetzle, or German käsespätzle.

Käsespätzle (German Cheese Spaetzle)

Käsespätzle, or German cheese spaetzle, are homemade noodle dumplings smothered in gooey cheese and caramelized onions before being baked until bubbly.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: German
Servings: 6
Calories: 421kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Ingredients

  • 1 Double Batch Homemade Spaetzle Noodles Make a double batch of my recipe for spaetzle. See notes below for a quick recipe if you're familiar with spaetzle.
  • 3 Large Onions Feel free to use more — caramelized onions really make this dish!
  • ¼ Cup Butter And more as needed.
  • 2 Cups Emmentaler Cheese Grated.
  • 2 Cups Gruyere Cheese .Grated
  • 1 Tablespoon Parsley For serving, optional.

Instructions

  • Finely dice your onions into thin and small pieces. Grate the cheese. Get your ingredients ready to make the spaetzle noodles and everything else so that it is on hand and ready.
  • In a large pan, add the onions and butter with a pinch of salt. Let the onions caramelize on the lowest heat. This should take 45 minutes. Stir frequently and keep an eye on onions. You can start with a higher heat and lower it as the onions begin to cook. Onions should be a deep golden brown color when done. Add more butter as necessary if pan begins to dry out or even some water towards the end. 
  • As the onions are caramelizing, make the spaetzle noodles as per instructions.
  • When the spaetzle is ready, toss it into the casserole dish with a few pats of butter, just enough to coat it lightly and prevent it from sticking too much.
  • Add the grated cheese on top. Add the caramelized onions on top of the cheese when they are ready. If using a deep casserole dish, feel free to layer thinner sections of spaetzle with cheese and onions. You can also use several casserole dishes.
  • Place in oven and leave until cheese has melted and is starting to bubble (10-15 minutes)
  • Serve hot with optional fresh parsley on top.

Notes

Make Spaetzle (Quick Reference, See Orginal Detailed Spaetzle Recipe Here)
  •  3 Cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tablespoons Durum Semolina Flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 Teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
  • ⅛ Teaspoon Nutmeg
Mix all ingredients and beat them until bubbles appear in the batter (about 20 minutes) using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or big spoon. Batter should be like thick pancake batter. Add more liquid or flour as needed. Let it rest 20-30 minutes. Add batter to spaetzle mixer and drop into boiling water. Toss in butter when ready.
Käsespätzle Ingredients, Notes, & Substitutions
  • Cheese | You have options. I generally always opt for a 50/50 mix of Gruyere and Emmentaler because Costco and Aldi sell them, and they’re flavorful and easy. I also add sharp cheddar regularly. Jarlsburg is another excellent option. Look for high-quality imported Swiss cheeses. Any cheese you experiment with should be a melting one.
  • Onions | I always choose yellow or brown onions because they make the best and tastiest caramelized onions.
  • Butter | You can choose any oil or fat you prefer to caramelize your onions, but I think butter, or a mixture of lard and butter, is best in this recipe.
Hint: Toast 1 cup of bread crumbs by cooking them in 1 stick of butter until golden. Add this on top of your cheese spaetzle before putting it in the oven. Cheese spaetzle is a great make-ahead dish. I love to bake several casserole dishes worth of this recipe and then freeze it for reheating whenever I’m in the mood.
Käsespätzle Variations
  • Mushroom Gravy | Jägerspätzle is spaetzle dumplings with a savory, rich mushroom sauce added on top instead of cheese and caramelized onions. I personally like to keep some cheese in the recipe and add the mushroom gravy for one of the most decadent and delicious things I have ever eaten.
  • Bacon | One of my favorite additions to cheesy spaetzle is bacon. I love to dice bacon very fine and then add it to the onions when they’re about halfway done caramelizing, at about the 25-minute mark or so.

Nutrition

Calories: 421kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 445mg | Potassium: 177mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1010IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 785mg | Iron: 0.3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Recipe Rating




5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this spaetzle for my husband and he LOVED it! I did too. Definitely adding to our regular rotation!

  2. 5 stars
    I was so excited to make this! My neighbor is German and makes it all the time and it’s soooo good but she wouldn’t give me the recipe! (“Family secret”) I think this version is even better than hers!

  3. 5 stars
    Interesting recipe. Something new to try. So flavorful and delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  4. 5 stars
    Love this Käsespätzle recipe, so creamy and full of flavor, will make it for dinner soon. Thanks for sharing 🙂