German Spaetzle

sautéed spaetzle with butter and parsley

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Rest Time: 15 mins
Total: 35 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 4 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
225 Calories
5g Fat
33g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 225
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 7%
Saturated Fat 2g 11%
Cholesterol 130mg 43%
Sodium 424mg 18%
Total Carbohydrate 33g 12%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 9g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 60mg 5%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 137mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Spaetzle has to be one of the most accessible and versatile side dishes in the world! Once you see how fast and easy spaetzle is to fix and cook, you'll make it all the time. There are several kinds of spaetzle makers and presses on the market, but if you'd prefer to avoid more kitchen equipment, there are plenty of everyday utensils you can use to put out these perfect little dumplings. A few possibilities are a skimmer with holes, a slotted spoon, a colander, the large holes on a box grater, a potato ricer, and a silicone spatter shield. Or you might want to try the more rustic manual method: spread the thick batter on a small cutting board and use a scraper to scrape thin lines of the spaetzle batter into the boiling water.

Culturally, spaetzle—also spelled spätzle—is associated with Swabia, a region of southwest Germany. You'll find spaetzle and spaetzle-type dumplings in the cuisines of southern Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, Alsace, Moselle, and South Tyrol.

Making homemade spaetzle is surprisingly faster and easier than making store-bought dried spaetzle. All you have to do is mix a simple batter of flour, eggs, milk, and salt and use the spaetzle utensil of your choice to drop the batter into boiling water. Another great thing about spaetzle is that it cooks in about 2 minutes.

The thickness of the batter is the key to perfect, tender spaetzle. It should be like a thick pancake batter but thin enough to pass through the holes of your utensil with a bit of help from a scraper or spoon.

"This batter yields rich, eggy spaetzle that goes with anything. We enjoyed some freshly boiled and some sautéed in butter, and even the simple, boiled version was delicious. I used a spaetzle maker to drop the dough into boiling water, and the batter was the perfect consistency."—Danielle Centoni

German Spaetzle Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

For the Spaetzle:

  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon fine salt, or to taste

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup milk

  • 2 teaspoons butter, or more for serving

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, or other fresh herbs

For Sautéed Spaetzle (optional):

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Steps to Make It

Make the Spaetzle

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil.

  3. Meanwhile, prepare the spaetzle batter. In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt; stir to blend.

  4. In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup of milk with the eggs.

  5. Add the milk and eggs to the flour mixture and beat with a wooden spoon or whisk until the batter is smooth and elastic. It will have a consistency similar to pancake batter. When you lift the spoon, it shouldn't flow; it should drip from it slowly. If too thick, add some milk, and if too thin, add more flour. Let the batter rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

  6. Place your spaetzle maker or another slotted utensil over the simmering water; add some of the spaetzle batter, and press it through the holes and into the gently boiling water. The spaetzle cook quickly, so it's best to cook them in two or more batches depending on the method you use.

  7. The spaetzle will take from 1 to 3 minutes to cook, depending on their size. The dumplings will float to the top when done.

  8. Use a slotted spoon to remove the spaetzle to a bowl and toss with a teaspoon or two of butter. Repeat with the remaining batter.

  9. At this point, you may sauté the cooked spaetzle (see below) or refrigerate until it's time to sauté and serve.

    If you're skipping the sauté step and are serving them immediately, taste and add more salt and butter, as needed, along with the freshly ground black pepper and herbs. Toss and serve hot.

Sauté the Spaetzle

  1. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat until lightly browned.

  2. Add the spaetzle to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Sauté the spaetzle, stirring frequently, for about 3 to 7 minutes, or browned as desired. Taste the sauteéd spaetzle and add salt, as needed, along with freshly ground black pepper and fresh herbs. Toss and serve hot.

Tips

A spaetzle maker is ideal for forming the spaetzle quickly, but you probably have several options already in your kitchen. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Colander: Use the round or square holes in your colander (not mesh) to make your dumplings. Hold the colander over the boiling water and press the batter through with a large spoon.
  • Box grater: Hold the box grater horizontally over the boiling water, spoon some batter into the inside of the grater over the large holes, and press it through the holes with a spoon. Alternatively, use a paddle grater with large holes.
  • Silicone splatter screen: Hold the splatter screen over the boiling water and press batter through the small holes. The small holes make little orzo-sized dumplings.
  • Slotted spoon or skimmer: Use a spoon to press the batter through the holes—this works well but can only accommodate a small amount of batter at a time, so you might have to make several small batches.
  • Potato ricer: Fill the potato ricer about two-thirds full and squeeze to press the batter into the boiling water.

How to Serve Spaetzle

Serve spaetzle with classic German dishes or be a little non-traditional. Here are some ideas for serving the little dumplings.

How to Store Spaetzle

  • Refrigerate spaetzle in a covered container for up to 4 days. To reheat leftover spaetzle, melt a tablespoon or more of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cold spaetzle and cook, stirring, until hot. Add a little water if the spaetzle sticks together.
  • To freeze fresh spaetzle, let it drain thoroughly and transfer it to zip-close freezer bags. Remove as much air from the bags as possible. Label bags with the name and date and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating.


What is the difference between gnocchi and spaetzle?

  • Gnocchi are soft Italian-style dumplings made with a dough that traditionally contains potato and flour and may or may not include eggs.
  • Spaetzle are German-style dumplings made with a batter that contains eggs, flour, and milk or water.

How thick should spaetzle batter be?

Spaetzle batter should be thick and elastic—it will look like a thick pancake batter, and will ooze from the spoon while breaking into globs.