Southern German Yeast “Dampfnudel” Dumplings: A Soft And Crispy Treat

Originally posted July 23, 2015. Revised and updated September 21, 2016.

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This recipe is a traditional dish of Southern German cuisine. The thing that sets these dumplings apart from all others is in the preparation, and the fact that the dumpling is simultaneously steamed and roasted in a pot with the lid closed.

Whether you serve them for dessert or make them a meal, German Dampfnudeln are simple to make at home, and super delicious. Get the recipe:

Because of this, the bottom becomes crunchy while the surface stays soft.

Want to try a different dumpling that's moist and chewy on the top, and nice and crunchy on the bottom? The ever-popular German Dampfnudel is not to be missed! Read more and get the recipe now on Foodal.

The German term for the dish is Dampfnudel, which would be translated as a literal combination of “steam” and “noodle.”

When you take a look at the ingredients, you will notice that there is no similarity to Italian pasta dough, and the name does not derive from the Italian language.

Homemade German Dampfnudeln, German Yeast Dumplings |

One assumes that “noodle” is meant to be a variation of dumpling (Knoedel) in German. The prefix “steam” refers to the process of cooking until the liquid has boiled away.

This yeast dumpling is enjoyed in both sweet and savory variations in different local areas. The people of Rhineland-Palatinate eat it as a main meal with sweeteners such as vanilla sauce or preserved fruit.

Delicious with homemade vanilla syrup and jam, we share the recipe for German Dampfnudeln (steamed yeast dumplings):

A savory alternative is to have it together with a soup, salad, or a stew like goulash. The sweetened version uses milk for boiling the dough, while the savory alternative employs salted water for the cooking process.

Just swap out the vanilla, maple syrup, and milk if you prefer this method, and season your dough accordingly.

German Yeast Dumplings with Vanilla Sauce |

You can also fill your dumplings. Try apricots and pay homage to Austrian Marillenknoedel, or add some plum jam (get the recipe here) and dust with poppy seeds to make something like traditional Germknoedel.

Homemade German Dampfnudeln, German Yeast Dumplings |

Of course, there are other possibilities like applesauce or pureed berries. A scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream or vanilla sauce really compliments the sweet variety of these dumplings. For a fun German-themed baking afternoon, make it alongside delicious homemade pretzels.

German Dampfnudeln or steamed yeast dumplings. We've got the recipe:

To achieve a nice and crunchy bottom, you will need a heavy pot with a nonstick coating so that you can take the dumplings out properly, without breaking or tearing them apart.

A cast iron Dutch oven with a lid is a good choice for this recipe as well.

German Dampfnudeln or sweet German-style yeast dumplings - learn to make this delicacy at home with our recipe:

The Recipe

German Yeast Dumpling Recipe |
"Dampfnudel" German Yeast Dumplings
Votes: 7
Rating: 4
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 dumplings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 2 hours
Servings Prep Time
12 dumplings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 2 hours
German Yeast Dumpling Recipe |
"Dampfnudel" German Yeast Dumplings
Votes: 7
Rating: 4
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
12 dumplings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 2 hours
Servings Prep Time
12 dumplings 20 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
30 minutes 2 hours
  • 4 cups flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1/2 fresh yeast cube (21 grams)
  • 2 cups lukewarm milk divided
  • 1/2 cup butter room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Servings: dumplings
  1. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod, and reserve the pod (you will need it later!). Mix the flour with the salt, sugar, and vanilla pulp in a large bowl. Form a small well in the middle of the flour mixture.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in 3 tablespoons of milk and pour the mixture carefully into the well. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Cut about 5 tablespoons of the butter into small cubes, and scatter over the top of the flour mixture. Add the egg and half of the milk, and knead together to form a soft dough. This can also be done with a food processor or standing mixer with the dough hook attachment. Cover again and let rise for about 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
  4. Knead the dough again, then form twelve balls of equal size. Place them onto a floured countertop and cover with the kitchen towel for 30 minutes.
  5. Pour the remaining milk into a Dutch oven, and add the butter, the vanilla pod, and the maple syrup. Place over low heat and gently warm it up so that the butter starts to melt, then take it off the stove.
  6. Place the dough balls into the pot in a single layer so they are touching. Place the back on the stove and cover tightly. Bring just to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat down to low immediately.
  7. Let the dumplings steam for about 30 minutes. It is really important that you do not open the lid, or they won’t become fluffy on top and caramelized on the bottom.
  8. Here's how you'll know that the dish is ready: At first you might hear something like a singing, chirping sound as the dumplings start to crackle in the pot. This means the liquid has evaporated and the dumplings have formed a nice crust.
  9. Take the pot off the stove and let it sit off the heat for about 5 minutes, with the lid still in place.
  10. Take out your dumplings and serve while they are still hot, with homemade vanilla sauce.
Recipe Notes

Need a little help working with yeast? Read our comprehensive guide. We also have some helpful tips for kneading and shaping dough.


Nutritional Information*

Nutrition Facts
"Dampfnudel" German Yeast Dumplings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 412 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 17%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 41mg 14%
Sodium 93mg 4%
Potassium 187mg 5%
Total Carbohydrates 69g 23%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 8g
Protein 11g 22%
Vitamin A 6%
Calcium 5%
Iron 22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Activate Yeast

These directions are for the sweet version of Dampfnudeln.

First, scrape the pulp from your vanilla pod, and set it aside for later – you’ll need it to prepare the liquid that your dumplings are steamed in. Combine it with the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Make a small well in the center of the flour mixture.

Pour 3 tablespoons of warm milk into a small bowl, and crumble in your yeast. Stir to combine until the yeast is fully dissolved, then pour it carefully into that well that you created. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel, and set in a warm place for about 15-20 minutes.

Step 2 – Mix and Knead

Making Dampfnudel Dough |

When your yeast mixture is bubbling, cut about 5 tablespoons of butter into smaller pieces, and scatter them over the flour mixture. Add the egg and ¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon of milk to the well, and gradually mix in the rest of the flour. Then knead to form a soft dough.

You can also do this with a food processor or the dough hook attachment of a stand mixer if you don’t want to do the kneading by hand.

Cover again and let rise for about 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.

Step 3 – Shape

Knead the dough again for a few minutes, then divide it into 12 equally sized pieces with a bench scraper, and shape them into smooth balls.

German Dampfnudeln, or steamed yeast dumplings, can be made sweet or savory. Learn how to make your own at home:

Place them on a floured countertop or baking sheet and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest for 30 minutes.

Step 4 – Prepare Steaming Liquid

Now it’s time to prepare the liquid that you will cook your dumplings in.

In a Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, combine the remaining cup of milk, 3 tablespoons butter, and the maple syrup. For the best flavor, I like to use a darker variety of pure maple syrup. Add the vanilla bean and place on the stove over low heat.

Let the liquid warm up just enough so that the butter begins to melt, and then remove the pot from the heat.

Step 5 – Steam and Serve

Place your balls of dough in the pot in a single layer. It’s alright if they’re touching each other – they’ll expand as they cook.

German Yeast Dumplings, Ready to Steam |

Place back on the stove, put the lid on top, and bring just to a boil over high heat. As soon as the liquid begins to boil, turn the heat down to low.

Let the dumplings steam for about 30 minutes, without taking off the lid to peek! You’ll know the dumplings are ready to eat when you hear a chirping and crackling sound coming from the pot, indicating that all of the liquid has evaporated away, and a nice caramelized crust is forming on the bottom of your dumplings.

Serve right away, with homemade vanilla sauce or your favorite toppings.

German Dampfnudeln are a type of yeast dumpling with an interesting history. Learn more:

German-Style Vanilla Sauce for Dampfnudeln – Get the Recipe Now
How will you serve your Dampfnudeln? Will you go sweet, savory… or maybe both? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by Nina-Kristin Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.

*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Nina-Kristin Isensee

Nina lives in Iserlohn, Germany and holds an MA in Art History (Medieval and Renaissance Studies). She is currently working as a freelance writer in various fields. She enjoys travel, photography, cooking, and baking. Nina tries to cook from scratch every day when she has the time and enjoys trying out new spices and ingredients, as well as surprising her family with new cake creations.

39 thoughts on “Southern German Yeast “Dampfnudel” Dumplings: A Soft And Crispy Treat”

  1. Serve the sweetened dampfnudel with a scoup of sea-salt and caramel ice cream. That would be a satisfying dessert!

    • That sounds wonderful! I’ve recently read a recipe about salted caramel brownies and cake, I think this is a popular combination right now. But I can imagine that is goes great together with the right balance between sweet and salty.

  2. To be honest, I had no clue that dumplings were a German thing. I feel ignorant!

    They look absolutely delicious. If anything has been missing from my life thus far, it’s these dumplings! I have to try this recipe some time.

  3. I’ve never had sweet dumplings, but the serving ideas suggested sound delicious. I think I’d enjoy both the sweet version and the savory one, so I’ll have to think about how I can incorporate this recipe into my menu. For starters, I think I will try out the sweet variety, with the vanilla sauce. I like the idea of a fruit stuffing, as well.

  4. This looks like a sweet dish, and also something savory. I have never seen dumplings as something sweet, just in savory dishes.

  5. This is something I have to try. My grandfather was German, and while I often made food from different parts of my heritage (usually Italian stuff from my grandmother on the other side), I’ve never really explored Bavarian food, aside from various types of wurst and some potato salad here or there. This sounds like the perfect introduction to a greater exploration of that cuisine.

    • That’s great, I think these dumpling make the right introduction. You will find some other German recipes by browsing foodal, I’m sure there are some nice ideas you can use for your exploration 🙂
      Yeah, weisswurst and potato salad would be two typical – especially – Bavarian foods. They have lots of different recipes to offer as well but many dishes are just not popular internationally.
      Hope you enjoy this discovered specialty!

  6. So versatile! The traditional vanilla sauce sounds lovely with the sweet variation, and the plum jam and poppy seed idea really appeals as well. Thanks for posting the recipe. My friend from southern Germany would be quite proud of me for trying it out, haha.

  7. I love anything vanilla, and I’m sure that I would enjoy this! I have tastex numerous German desserts, but I have not personally attempted to create any. I’ll add this to the list of German recipes that I need to try (snickerdoodles, anyone?). Thank you for the article.

    • I hope the desserts you have tasted made a good impression! Definitely try the recipes on your list, I am sure you will enjoy them.
      I have to look up if there is a German name for snickerdoodles because I thought they were of American original as I only know their English name, so I need to check out their history 😉

  8. I bet this tastes really good. A very simple sauce. I was sitting here wondering if I’m missing something because I couldn’t think of what a vanilla pod was so I look it up. Hello, the vanilla bean pod. I’m like I get it now. This I’m going to say is really going to add a ton of flavor because it is real. Not like vanilla extract.

    • You are absolutely right. It just makes a difference if you use natural ingredients rather than artificial flavoring. When it comes to vanilla, I think “extract” can also be natural sometimes but one has to pay attention to the ingredients. When the packaging says “vanillin”, it is mostly not authentic.

  9. This looks delicious, I did not know they were German! The maple syrup sounds like an awesome addition and the vanilla sauce looks simple yet incredible. I will definitely need to try this.

  10. I’m flabbergasted. I’ve been living in Bavaria for more than a year and nobody offered me this yet! And since it looks delicious, I have no idea why the heck they’ve been holding out on me! XD

    But mostly I’m curious, because I’m used to Asian dumplings (usually filled, savoury or sweet) and this kind of reminds me of it. But with the “mystery” of something new!

  11. This makes my efforts look bleak. It looks so delicious and hearty. I like the cooking method and the versatility. I think I prefer to have the savory type, because I usually have them in my soup. I can see having them with some chunky stew. I would plate it with the large dumpling in the middle and the vegetables surrounding it. I would spoon on some gravy from the stew.

    • That is a good idea too, putting a large one in the middle with vegetables around. Everyone can just cut off a piece, I also like that serving suggestion. Enjoy it!

  12. One, these are German?? Two, a sweet version? I never heard or even thought of them as sweet. That’s crazy but I’d love to try it. Can I use the vanilla sauce for other things or is it specific to this recipe? I wonder has anyone out in the comments tried this yet and what was their experience?

    • I was actually surprised that sweet dumplings are kind of unknown because here in Germany (and Austria as well), there are lots of sweet dumpling-recipes, served with sauces like above or fruit compotes. The savory version is less popular – but tastes great too.
      Sure, you can use the vanilla sauce for every other dish or dessert too. 🙂
      Good luck when trying out, I always find it hard not to open the lid and have a look but that is one of the important aspects. I hope it works out fine!

  13. These look so good! I’ve recently been thinking of trying to make my own dim-sum, but would need to buy a steamer basket and learn. It looks complicated to me. But I have everything I would need to make these and I love a good dumpling. I bet stuffing them with roasted chicken and topping with a honey mustard sauce would be delicious!

    • I also ever wanted to try these Asian dumplings but – like you – I am not sure about buying an extra basket etc. If you make the “dampfnudeln” small enough, I think they might be a good alternative although I am not sure if dim-sums have a crusty bottom like them. But it wouldn’t matter to me.
      Your recipe suggestion sound delicious by the way. It is before noon here right now and I’m getting hungry 😉

  14. I’d always considered dumplings to be a savoury food, usually served with stews and casseroles. This dessert idea looks fantastic – like proper comfort food! The hot vanilla sauce sounds amazing although I guess that a chocolate sause would be an equally acceptable addition!

    • Oh yes, chocolate sauce goes well with it too. I like it in combination with some red berries because I love the sweet-and-sour flavor.

  15. i never really thought that the sound of yeast could actually sound delicious. But you certainly have proved me wrong. I ll definitely give this recipe a try!

    • I’m happy to hear that you’re going to try it. The dumplings are a great dish, now that autumn is coming. I hope you have fun and, for sure, success while listening to the crackling yeast 😉

  16. Germany is my homeland’s neighbor, and yet I had no idea that they love dumplings there!
    I mostly eat those with meat, or mushrooms and cabbage, so this is a surprise.
    The ones presented are you look very tasty… but I guess those are a n-no for people with candida?
    I am asking because my friend is suffering from it, so I wouldn’t want to make them when she comes to visit.
    I can’t wait to hear how those German dumplings sing, haha!

    • Most of the dumplings are indeed eaten in savory dishes, just like you say. I think the sweet version is a delicious alternative, so I wish you success for hearing them making their singsong 😉
      Well, I haven’t heard of candida before, so I had to look it up. I just found out about the “special diet” that is suggested without refined carbohydrates or sugar. As I can’t give you any medical advice, unfortunately I don’t know how bad she suffers or if she could eat or tolerate one single dumpling. Or you may ask her if she banned white flour/sugar from her menu completely. I really hope you will find a way to serve her a nice treat like this.

  17. I’ve never seen these before, but they look so good! It’s a really interesting recipe…almost like a bread with the yeast, but then different from bread in pretty much every other way 😛 All the butter and egg sounds like it would lead to a very soft texture.

    The vanilla sauce is definitely going into my recipe book, too. It would go well with so many different desserts!

    • Oh yeah, it is somehow difficult to describe its exact consistency or to categorize it. But you can be sure that it is wonderful soft inside and cripsy on the outside. Like the texture of a yeast bread with the crust of a farmhouse bread maybe 😉
      And you’re right about the vanilla sauce, it is an all-rounder recipe that goes well with lots of goodies. Enjoy!

  18. Well I do not think that I eat as many dumpling as I should, or feature them in the kitchen as much as I should. They are just not something that I grew up eating or making, so it is going to take some time to really perfect the craft. I am up for the challenge, though, and if you can describe something to me as soft and crispy, I am usually all on board. This definitely looks like something that I need to add to my list of things to make, so for that, thanks for sharing.

    • I agree with you. Recipes like that may not turn out perfect the first time one is making them, some time and patience is necessary, but it’s great to hear that you’re willing to take the challenge 🙂 It is indeed a wonderful contrast one can taste: the soft inside and the crispy bottom is a winner for me. Have fun while making these.

  19. I try to watch my carbs, but there are days when I really just crave a sweet treat. I especially enjoy something warm and homemade, and this looks like the ticket. Yum.

    I would think something like this might be a bit tricky, but it appears to be fairly simple. The ingredient list is quite manageable as well. I might just have to cheat a little and check this out.

    • I know those times 😉 Sometimes it can be really hard to resist for treats like that. So I hope these dumplings will become a worth-to-cheat recipe for you, enjoy them!

  20. My family is Polish and German, and sometimes these would show up at big dinners or funeral meals- I can’t remember what our family called them. I’ve never seen them served with vanilla sauce before. We used to eat them with chicken noodle soup. I’ll have to try it this way at Christmas dinner. I’ll probably get a few odd looks, but I think that it might just become a new family favorite.

  21. German yeast dumplings? Sign me up for that. I’m not really sure if the maple syrup helps the taste but I’m sure they are delicious eitherway. The vanilla cream is the cherry on top, I wonder if these are good with chocolate syrup as well.

  22. All these days I thought dumplings were hard to make but after reading this article I can assume that I can make them with ease. Also I am going to prepare these today for brunch. I think these dumplings will go well with a chocolate dip and I would prefer some chocolate syrup. I have eaten dumplings with chocolate before and they taste heavenly.

  23. This reminds me a lot of pork buns. I wonder if the texture is similar?
    Wow, now I’m thinking of a dumpling like this filled with sweet pork with vanilla sauce drizzled on. This is what I get for reading food articles near midnight… I’ll definitely keep these in mind as a dessert option though.

  24. My grandmother used to make us dumplings almost every weekend growing up. I lost the recipe that she had given me and I haven’t had dumplings in the years since. I’m so excited about this recipe and I am looking forward to trying it out. They really look scrumptious. Thanks for sharing it.

  25. My ex-MIL always said this was “war food” (cheap, filling) and was a meal when served with applesauce. She is now deceased, but I’ll make dampfnudel every now and then for the ex and his sister and brother-in-law. Learned to make pretty good schnitzel, spaetzle and goulash from her, too. Have tried a few times to make brotchen, but not nearly as successful getting that to turn out properly. Oh well… I’ll keep trying and eating the failures. LOL

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