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Canederli: the simple recipe for making Italian bread dumplings

Total time: 45 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 4 people
By Cookist
45 g
speck, diced
150 g
100 ml (2/5 cup)
3 to 4 slices
Beef broth
Green onion

Canederli are Italian bread dumplings that can be served either as an entrée or main. It’s similar in taste and texture to the German dish known as knödel. It’s actually known as “cuisine of the poor” as it makes use of inexpensive ingredients that everyone has at home. Some cooks might even add a few luxury ingredients.

The Canederli are made from a mixture of cubed bread, flour, eggs, and milk. It’s a great way to use up stale bread and inexpensive ingredients, and you can also add other ingredients like onions and speck— a flavored, smoked, and cured ham.

Canederli in broth originated in the North-East of Italy, in the Trentino-Alto-Adige region. Just on the other side of the border—on the Austrian side—they enjoy the same type of dish as knödel! For some, the texture is reminiscent of gnocchi, and some may even call it bread gnocchi (gnocchi di pane). You can add different flavorings and ingredients to this recipe, but one quintessential ingredient is the speck or ham. Serve it with a broth and you have a satisfying meal for dinner!


Tips For Italian Bread Dumplings

If you have the time, it’s really best to make a homemade beef broth for this dish. Alternatively, use a high-quality store-bought brand. Beef, chicken, or vegetable broth will all work.

If you cannot find speck or ham, you can use pancetta. Other meats will also work: bacon, sausage, or even spicy ground turkey.

Use any white bread for the canederli. You usually need thicker slices, so store-bought sliced bread won’t necessarily work. Even better if you can use day-old ciabatta.

Other flavor additions: cooked spinach (make sure to squeeze out the excess moisture first), cooked mushrooms, steamed and mashed pumpkin.

Feel free to make it more cheesy with cheddar, feta, or even goat’s cheese.

It’s important to use the right amount of flour. If you add too much, it will be too dense. If you don’t use enough, the dumplings will fall apart in the broth.


How To Store Canederli in Broth

If you’re using homemade broth can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in the fridge.

Store canederli leftovers in the fridge (in an airtight container) for up to 2 days. 

Can You Freeze Canederli?

The boiled canederli can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

How To Make Canederli 

Slice the speck into small pieces.

Dice the onion.

Cook the onions in melted butter until softened.

Add the speck and continue cooking.

Chop the bread into smaller cubes and place in a bowl.

Add the eggs to a bowl with chopped bread cubes.

Add the speck and onions and green onions.

Pour over the milk and make a dough.

Form balls.

Put the balls in the beef broth and cook.

Serve the balls with the broth.


Serve with a grating of fresh parmesan and chives or sage fried in brown butter.

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