German Spaetzle are doughy little dumplings made with flour, eggs, yogurt, and milk. They’re shaped and boiled like pasta but have a soft, pillowy texture. Spaetzle originates in Swabia, Germany, and they’re still proudly made and enjoyed there today. This traditional Eastern European recipe features tangy yogurt, whole milk, and a dash of cayenne pepper for a very subtle kick. You can add more or less cayenne depending on your preferences and tolerance for spice, but all of the dairy and flour does a good job of masking any heat from the pepper.
Think of spaetzle like pasta or rice. You can serve the dumplings with any of the same toppings you’d use for other starches. Roasts, long-simmered sauces, stews, and chilis are all popular comfort food toppings for spaetzle. You can even serve a fully German feast by roasting up a few bratwursts to sere alongside your freshly make dumplings. On the side, be sure to serve a tall, cold glass of freshly poured beer for the full German experience.
From Italian red sauce with meat to creamy cheese sauces, you can pair nearly any flavor with a bed of freshly made German spaetzle. They’re delicious bathed in nothing more than warm butter flavored with fresh sage leaves, but they also hold up well to bolder flavors like pureed squash, red meat, sausages and even light, fresh herb pestos.
For a hearty dish, make a long-simmered mushroom and meat ragout sauce with wild fresh and dried mushrooms, sausages and ground beef. Add tomatoes, cream and fresh herbs at the end for a thick and creamy sauce that’s excellent with Spaetzle.
Yes, you can make your German dumplings ahead of time. Simply remove the Spaetzle from the water and let them cool in a glass container, uncovered. Drizzle the dumplings with melted butter or olive oil and toss well to prevent sticking. Then cover the container and store in the fridge for up to two days.
Before serving, toss the spaetzle in a pan of melted butter to heat through and unstick any dumplings that may have stuck together as they cooled. This makes spaetzle a great make-ahead recipe for meal prepping. The dumplings also travel well, so bring them to your next pot-luck and you’ll be a big crowd-pleaser.
The first step for homemade spaetzle is to combine flour, one egg, kosher salt, a dash of cayenne, yogurt, and milk in a mixing bowl. Whisk the batter thoroughly with a metal whisk.
Test that the batter is the right consistency by pushing some through a flat cheese grater. The dumplings should easily fall through the holes in the grater.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a bare simmer on the stove and set the grater over the pot of water.
Spoon some of the batter onto the grater and use a rubber spatula to gently scrape the batter through the holes and into the pot of water.
Repeat with the remaining batter and simmer until all of the dumplings are cooked through and float to the surface.
Meanwhile melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add a few fresh sage leaves, stirring until they’re crisp. Then use a metal strainer to transfer the spaetzle from the cooking water directly to the pan with the butter.
Remove the spaetzle from the skillet and serve with your favorite toppings.