Do you sometimes enjoy spaghetti, tortellini, or fusilli as part of a nice dinner? Well, now is your chance to enjoy a delightful specialty from southern Germany instead.
Beware: spaetzle should not be confused with Italian macaroni! The Swabians are very proud of their flagship dish, with its own centuries-long tradition.
The dough is what makes all the difference between better-known types of pasta and this recipe. The Swabian version is more moist, softer, and it would tear apart if you tried to work it and roll the dough like pasta.
You can actually trace the documented preparation of spaetzle back to the 18th century, with written records going back as far as 1725, and perhaps even earlier.
Believe it or not, the traditional food even had it own poem. No surprise, when you consider that the name could be a diminutive form of the German word for sparrow (Spatz). Quite a charming history, don’t you think?
This dish is traditionally prepared by hand, with a wooden board and a kitchen scraper.
This might require some practice, but you shouldn’t worry too much since the individual pieces are meant to look a bit rustic. After a few attempts, you should be able to scrape your homemade spaetzle perfectly.
Are you ready for some fabulous fare from the “old country?” Try German spaetzle! This German noodle dish can be prepared many different ways but our recipe uses the Swabian variation of adding sautéed onions and cheese for yummy comfort that’s quick and easy to make.
- 9 oz all purpose flour ((about 2 cups))
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 tbsp water
- butter (to taste)
- Salt and Pepper (to taste)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove. While this is heating, sift the flour into a bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the salt and water.
- Gradually add the egg mixture to the flour and whisk together by hand or using an electric mixer until the batter is well beaten and bubbly, without any clumps of flour.
- Using a spaetzle maker or cutting board and bench scraper (or a long, think chef’s knife) spread a thin layer of dough onto the board and slowly scrape strips directly into the boiling water.
- After 3-5 minutes, the first spaetzle that were added to the pot will begin bobbing to the top. This means they are cooked. They can be taken out with a skimmer and put into a colander to drain.
- Toss to coat with butter and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Optional Frying and Topping
- Lightly pan fry in butter until light brown and a bit crispy.
- Serve sprinkled with grated cheese, crumbled bacon, chopped fresh herbs, or sautéed onions.
These noodle are fairly easy to make, especially if you have a stand mixer to assist in the preparation of the dough.
Note: dietary information calculated for basic noodles only. No toppings were included.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 5 mins
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: German
Keywords: German Food, Oktoberfest, Pasta, Swabian
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Prepare the Dough
While you bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove, it’s time to prepare the dough.
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, and set it aside. In another smaller bowl, combine the eggs, salt, and water. I like to stir these together into fully combined, using a large balloon whisk.
Gradually add the egg mixture to the flour, whisking together completely between each addition. Continue to mix until the batter is well aerated and bubbly, and no clumps of flour remain.
Step 2 – Scrape the Spaetzle
You’re ready to make some macaroni! If you have a spaetzle maker, now’s the time to use it. These come in a variety of shapes and materials, but this usually consists of a top piece for pouring the dough into, and a bottom piece with holes for extruding the dough that looks something like a box grater.
If you don’t have one of these, no problem – it’s simple to use other multipurpose kitchen tools that you already have on hand, like I do here. Grab a cutting board and a bench scraper, or a long chef’s knife.
What you want to do is place your thick batter onto the board, and scrape just a thin stripe to end edge, and directly into your pot of boiling water. Continue to do this until you have done this with all of the mixture.
Step 3 – Boil and Drain
Within just a few minutes, your noodles will begin rising to the top of the bubbling water, a good indicator that they are finished cooking. Remove them carefully with a skimmer or slotted spoon, and place them into a colander if you like, to continue draining.
Step 4 – Serve!
Toss with butter and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and serve immediately. Or, you can add an extra step like I have done here and lightly pan fry in butter until light brown and a bit crispy. Serve sprinkled with grated cheese, crumbled bacon, chopped fresh herbs, or sautéed onions.
Do you have a favorite German-style noodle or method of serving it? Share with us, in the comments!
Originally posted March 23, 2015. Revised and updated August 15, 2018. Photos by Nina-Kristin Isensee, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
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.