Slovak Bryndzové Halušky (Potato Dumplings with Cheese & Bacon)

An authentic recipe for Slovak bryndzové halušky from my Slovak mother-in-law who taught me how to make this popular national dish from her homeland. Creamy cheese coats the halusky dumplings, and the dish is topped with caramelized onions and bacon. You don’t need Slovakia’s famous bryndza sheep cheese to make it; Slovak immigrant women figured out how to replicate the flavor with what they had available in their new American homes. I’ll show you both ways.

A bowl of creamy bryndzové halušky topped with caramelized onions and bacon.

Slovak bryndzové halušky has little in common with the American haluski dish made with egg noodles, save for the caramelized onions and bacon. The word halušky refers to the dumplings, which are more of a cross between German spaetzle and Italian gnocchi. You can make this recipe with either of those dumplings too.

In Slovakia, halušky is a quintessential peasant dish that would have been eaten daily in times past, often for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, depending on how poor you were and what was available. As my in-laws remember those stark post-WWII times before they fled the communism that had overtaken their home, everyone always had potatoes, flour, bryndza (sheep’s cheese), bacon or salt pork, and cabbage or sauerkraut.

If you love hearty, simple meals like this, try Slovak strapačky, halušky with sauerkraut and bacon. And American haluski is very delicious too! German spaetzle and Käsespätzle (cheese spaetzle) are similar and delicious. If you want to explore more food from this region, check out more Czech and Slovak recipes and try my Segedínský Guláš, a pork and sauerkraut stew.

Equipment

My MIL uses an old frying pan with holes drilled into it by her husband decades ago.

You will probably want to buy or use a traditional German spaetzle maker; that link takes you to the one I use most frequently, but I also have this one and it’s even cheaper. They’re both under $20.

You will need a slotted spoon to take the halusky dumplings out of the boiling water.

Ingredient Notes, Variations & Substitutions

You can find the exact ingredient quantities in the printable recipe card at the end.

Bryndza Cheese & Substitutions: Bryndza is a famous Slovak sheep cheese. It is soft and creamy and has a sharp smell and taste with a salty finish and tang. You can sometimes find it in North America in European grocery stores and delicatessens, but it is quite rare. The substitute is simple cream cheese mixed with feta. You can also add some sour cream. I’ve eaten and made Slovak halusky both ways — it’s equally delicious, and the flavors are extremely similar.

Strapačky Halušky: Instead of cheese, make halusky with sauerkraut. The caramelized onion and bacon topping remain the same. I usually make both at the same time. Get my recipe here: Slovak Strapačky Halušky (Sauerkraut and Bacon).

Potatoes: You can choose a wide variety of potatoes here. I prefer fresh potatoes that are still quite full of water, but you honestly cannot choose poorly.

Egg-Free: To make Halušky without egg, omit the egg from the recipe. The water content may need to be adjusted slightly; you’ll want enough liquid to form a cohesive but still sticky dough. Egg-free Halušky might be a bit less rich but can still be delicious and hold together well, especially with the grated potato acting as a binder.

All of the ingredients needed to make an authentic and traditional Slovak bryndzové halušky.

Instructions (Step-by-Step With Photos)

Onions and bacon diced and on a cutting board.

Step 1: Prepare all your ingredients and have them ready. Dice your onions and bacon. Grate your potato as finely as possible, reserving the starchy water.

Egg being mixed into grated potato.

Haluski batter.

Step 2: Combine the flour, salt, and grated potato in a large bowl. Add the egg and start mixing. Gradually add water, stirring until a thick, sticky dough forms. Adjust with a bit more flour or water as needed.

Caramelized onions and crisp bacon in pan.

Step 3: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, begin to cook the bacon and onions. Heat butter or oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, cooking slowly, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent. 5-8 minutes. Add the diced bacon and cook until the onions are deeply golden and caramelized and the bacon is crispy, about 15-20 minutes.

Halusky batter added to basket of steel spaetzle maker.

Haluski being pressed through stainless steel spaetzle maker.

Step 4: Press the batter through a halušky/spaetzle maker or a colander with large holes into the boiling water, or use a teaspoon to form small dumplings. Don’t overfill the basket. Once the dumplings float to the surface, cook for 2-3 more minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, rinse under cold water, and drain well.

Finished halusky dumplings.
A bowl of creamy bryndzové halušky topped with caramelized onions and bacon.

Final Steps:

For a traditional bryndza or alternative cheese sauce, mix your chosen cheese(s) and sour cream (if using) until smooth. Adjust the consistency with a bit of milk or water if needed.

Toss the warm halušky in the cheese and stir until well coated. Serve with the bacon-onion topping and optional sliced green onions or chives on top.

Top Tips & Tricks

  • After my feta and cream cheese (and sour cream if I added some) have melded and melted into the halusky, I’ll occasionally add some extra chunks of feta on top just for fun like you can see in some of the photos.
  • Pay attention to the consistency of the halusky batter/dough you are creating, not to my exact measurements. Your potatoes may have less water or more, your egg might have a larger yolk, etc. You want a thick, heavy batter. Don’t stress over it either — it will turn out!
  • Grate the potato as finely as possible for a smooth texture in the Halušky dough.

Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:

A bowl of creamy bryndzové halušky topped with caramelized onions and bacon.

Slovak Bryndzové Halušky

Bryndzové Halušky is a quintessential Slovak dish of dumplings and bryndza sheep cheese. For those unable to find bryndza, a blend of feta, cream cheese, and a bit of sour cream can offer a surprisingly similar taste.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Course: Dinner/Appetizer
Cuisine: Slovak
Servings: 6
Calories: 537kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Equipment

  • A Spaetzle or Halušky maker

Ingredients

Ingredients for Halušky:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour About 312 grams.
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large potato Finely grated, water reserved. About 1 cup once grated.
  • ¾ cup water 180 grams. You may need more or less, adjust as needed.
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Ingredients for Topping:

  • 1 cup bacon Diced. About 200 grams.
  • 2 large onions Diced.
  • 1 tablespoon oil or fat I prefer butter.

Ingredients for Traditional Bryndzové or Alternative Cheese Sauce (Pick One):

    If you have access to traditional Slovak bryndza cheese, use 1 1/2 cups of it (about 150 grams). Otherwise, use the following:

    • 1 cup feta Crumbled. 150 grams.
    • ½ cup cream cheese 112 grams.
    • 2 tablespoons sour cream Optional. Adjust as needed.

    Instructions

    • Prepare the Halušky Batter: Combine the flour, salt, and grated potato in a large bowl. Add the egg and start mixing. Gradually add water, stirring until a thick, sticky dough forms. Adjust with a bit more flour or water as needed.
    • Cook the Halušky: Boil a large pot of salted water. Press the dough through a halušky maker or a colander with large holes into the boiling water, or use a teaspoon to form small dumplings. Once they float to the surface, cook for 2-3 more minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, rinse under cold water, and drain well.
    • Cook the Bacon & Onions: While the halušky cooks, heat butter or oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the sliced onions and a pinch of salt, cooking slowly, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent. 5-8 minutes. Add the diced bacon and cook until the onions are deeply golden and caramelized and the bacon is crispy, about 15-20 minutes.
    • For a traditional bryndza or alternative cheese sauce, mix your chosen cheese(s) and sour cream (if using) until smooth. Adjust the consistency with a bit of milk or water if needed.
    • Toss the warm halušky in the cheese and stir until well coated. Serve with the bacon-onion topping and optional sliced green onions or chives on top.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 537kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 1075mg | Potassium: 539mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 158IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 223mg | Iron: 3mg
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