That Spätzle Feeling


It goes without saying that cooking should be fun. I know what you’re thinking:  I have LOTS of fun!  Eating, maybe. But the truth is preparing a meal can be a stressful act, especially when trying to impress someone with that big ambitious dish. Which makes it that much more rewarding when you find a dish where the process is just as much fun as the outcome. If you’re looking to bring a little more enjoyment into the kitchen, spätzle is the thing for you.

A recent trip to Reading Terminal Market (i.e. Foodie Paradise) here in Philly got me in a German/Eastern Europe mood and I picked up some kielbasa and sauerkraut from AJ Pickle Patch.  Needing a suitable starch to go along with this meat & cabbage feast, I decided to have a go at homemade spätzle.

The ingredients are simple, but it’s all about technique for this one…


– 1 cup A.P. flour
– 1 egg
– 1/4 cup water or milk
– Salt, pepper and nutmeg
– 2 Tbsp (more or less) butter

Couldn’t be simpler, right?  First, get a large pot of salted water going, bring it to a boil and reduce to a decent simmer.  In a bowl, combine the flour with a decent pinch of salt and a couple of grates of nutmeg, add the egg and mix.  Once the egg is incorporated, slowly add the water or milk, stirring constantly, until you reach a smooth batter with a consistency that’s thicker than pancake batter but thinner than traditional pasta dough.  Essentially, you want something that can be pushed through, but won’t immediately drip through, your steamer insert.  Hopefully, the holes are evenly-sized and about 1/8″ in diameter.

This is there the fun comes in.  Place the insert over the simmering water, pour the batter evenly around the insert.  Take a rubber spatula and start “painting” the batter so that it drips through, creating small, irregularly sized dumplings.  Seriously, feel free to regress to your inner second-grader and imagine you’re wearing one of your dad’s old dress shirts backwards as a smock.  Is there a better word in the English language than “smock?”

As best as I can tell, this style of spätzle is called knöpfle which translates as “small button,” which should give you some indication of the relative size.

Let them simmer for a few minutes and then drain them in a colander.  Melt the butter in a non-stick pan and saute the spätzle until it gets a little bit of color.  Season with salt and pepper and it wouldn’t hurt to toss in some finely chopped parsley if you had it.

It’s a great little side dish, can be made with items you already have in your kitchen, and the fact that you get to play with your food will put a smile on your face.  It doesn’t get much better than that.


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  • ML January 27, 2010  

    I once tried out dried spatzle from a box. No dice.

  • Nee Nee January 27, 2010  

    Wow! This looks like so much fun! I’ve never contemplated making it myself. My homemade sauerkraut just finished fermenting last weekend, so I think it’s totally time to try out spatezle and have a Bavarian party. Thanks for the inspiration.

  • tvff January 27, 2010  

    Nee Nee: Do it! It’s so easy and if you have homemade sauerkraut, I may stop by to give you some pointers (and sample the kraut)!

  • lorac yehcac January 27, 2010  

    you can use a ricer, too.

  • BS January 28, 2010  

    yum. gonna have to try this one out.

  • gansie January 28, 2010  


    my friend stefan thought i wrote this post and almost wrote this snarky comment before he realized it was you. im pasting his email to me for all to enjoy anyway.

    First of all…Spatzle and sauerkraut? I am offended. The correct starch is saltzkartoffeln (potatoes).

    Second…forget the nutmeg

    If you want to get fancy they have Spatzle presses or you can go old school and hand cut them on a cutting board over the water.

    Finally how dare you not call me for tips and more importantly thanks for inviting me over for the meal

    Your German Friend

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