Spaetzle
Basics, Dumplings, Noodles, Sides, Spätzle, Swabian, Vegetarian

Spaetzle (‘Spätzle’)

14 comments

Last Updated on 7 months by Tim

Spaetzle – the German way of making pasta. Beloved all over Germany: As a side to soak up the flavor of mouthwatering sauces, or as the main player baked together with cheese. And compared to their Italian counterpart easy and quick to make.

The master recipe for spaetzle is simple. You probably already have all the ingredients in your cupboard to make a batch. Flour, eggs, salt, and carbonated water. Nothing more is needed. So if you have a little time, why not make some spaetzle to accompany your dinner this evening?

They are super easy to make if you follow my five tips.

The Building Blocks of German Cusine

This article is part of my basics series, which will introduce you to key ingredients and preparation methods. You can find all these articles in the ‘Basics’ category of this blog. Listed below are the articles that have yet been published in this series:

1. If possible, use carbonated mineral water

Mineral water is water that contains a large number of various minerals such as salt and sulfur compounds. It is taken directly from a mineral spring and only minimally processed. In Germany, bottled mineral water is easily available and beloved for its refreshing taste. It’s best to use mineral water that has been carbonated to achieve extra fluffy spaetzle. If you don’t have any carbonated water on hand, don’t worry. Just use regular water. The difference will be subtle.

2. Beat the spaetzle dough until air bubbles start to form

Beaten dough with a wooden spoon

This is the most essential step for making great spaetzle. A lot of times people only briefly mix the dough. That’s the wrong way! You need to beat the dough. Use a wooden spoon and be violent with it. You will need tremendous strength and endurance in your arms, but in the end, it will all be worth it. Once the dough starts forming air bubbles, you will know it is ready. And remember to let the dough rest for ten minutes before cooking the spätzle.

3. Scraping, spaetzle press, or spaetzle maker: Choose your method

The traditional way to produce spätzle is to scrape the dough into boiling salted water using a confectioner’s knife or dough scraper. This technique needs a little practice to become second nature, but you will be rewarded with a superb texture. The spätzle will have a rough, unique, uneven look. The surface will be covered with tons of small pockets to soak up the sauce. On the recipe picture, you can see what scraped spätzle should look like. Have you ever seen more beautifully shaped noodles? Take a look at the video below to see a demonstration of the scraping technique.

Spreading out the dough in a thin layer
Scraping the spaetzle into the hot water

The most common method to make spaetzle in South Germany nowadays is to use a tool called ‘spaetzle press’. It’s basically a potato ricer (I use it to make potato puree too). It’s very easy to use, and there’s no chance to mess it up. Just pour the dough into the spaetzle press, and press it into the boiling water. You will get long noodle-like spaetzle, which will look like very thick spaghetti. They won’t have the same delicate texture as hand-scraped spaetzle, but they taste delightful nevertheless.

Spaetzle press
Spaetzle maker

The most famous tool to make spätzle outside of Germany seems to be the spaetzle maker. The spaetzle maker is basically just a plate with holes in it through which you scrape the dough into the boiling water. The spaetzle will typically resemble short little droplets instead of long noodle-like dumplings. There’s nothing wrong with it, besides the fact that a true Swabian would refuse to call this spaetzle. In Germany, these are called knoepfle. But besides the name and shape, the dough and method are the same.

4. Salt your cooking water

Ok, this should be common sense. Same as with all other kinds of noodles or dumplings. Salt your cooking water. It should taste like the sea. You don’t want bland spätzle.

5. Don’t overcook your spaetzle

Cooking the spaetzle

I don’t want to give you any illusions. Spaetzle will never be as ‘al dente’ as a great Italian pasta. But they can be overcooked. Instead of light and fluffy, they can easily become soggy and mushy. Fresh spaetzle require a cooking time no longer than two minutes. So be smart and work in batches. It won’t take that much longer. Make sure to cool the cooked spätzle in ice-water immediately to stop the cooking process. Once you’re done, drain them and they are ready to use.

One more thing before you dive into the recipe

So now you’ve finally made it to the recipe. If you want to get consistent results, use a food scale. However, the typical Swabian won’t use a scale when making spätzle. Once you’ve mastered them, you will be able to adjust the dough consistency by experience.

Serve your spaetzle with sour tripe, lentil stew, cheese, beef soup, pork pot roast, goulash or any other saucy dish.

14 Comments

  1. Ha. Looks like it would take years to learn the scrapping technique! She was a master, obviously!

    • Yes, it might look very intimidating at first. But once you’ve done it 3 or 4 times it will be easy. The most important thing is to get the dough consistency right so that it isn’t too runny. And don’t worry if they look uneven. That’s a sign of superior quality in Germany ?. I hope you’ll give it a try Terre! It’s a lot of fun.

  2. I’d never seen the scrape method before. Thanks!

  3. My Swiss friend gifted me a spaetzle maker and is as you describe like a plate with a handle and the spaetzle are like little droplets but still taste very good…Nice post…Thank you for the follow ?

    • Thank’s Carol! Yes, the Swiss seem to prefer the droplet shaped ones, called spätzli or knöpfli by the locals. It’s a bit like with Italian pasta. A wide variety of different shaped noodles can be made from one master dough.

  4. Hausgemachte Spätzle sind immer gut !! ?

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  9. Anonymous

    Just made some with Spelt (Dinkelmehl), has a great nutty taste and they ar softer than made with regular flour, cannot wait to fry them up, wonderful?

    • Yes, I often make them with spelt flour too. Fantastic! If I like them a little more toothsome I replace some of the flour with semolina. Works perfect and gives a nice bite.

      Also, with spelt flour I always use a little less water than with wheat flour because spelt flour cannot absorb as much (which is a pain when baking bread).

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