Spatzle, Pasta the German Way


The Italians aren’t the only pasta-lovers ya know. Many cultures have pasta dishes: Poland has Pierogis, the US has egg noodles, Spain has Fideo, China has ramen…you get the idea.  The German answer to pasta is Spätzle (spaetz·le). Spätzle are loved in Germany and are part of its identity and cooking culture.  Although Spätzle are served and enjoyed throughout Germany, they are considered a specialty of the Swabian (Schwaben) region. Spätzle originates from the German word Spatz which means “small sparrows”,of which these little dumplings are reminiscent(sort of). Spätzle are made from flour, eggs, water or milk, and salt. Compared to Italian pasta, the Spätzle dough is a lot moister and softer. Because of this, the dough cannot be rolled out. Instead, you need a colander or spätzle maker.  Or be very proficient at the original way of rolling the dough/batter off a wooden board in strips right into the pot.  Forget it-you don’t want to know.

There are several pieces of specialized equipment that are used for making spätzle, but you can also use a colander with large holes.  This is probably the easiest homemade pasta to make.  The “dough” which is actually a thick batter resembles a muffin batter in texture.  Thick enough to sloooowly roll off a spoon in a blob, but thin enough to press through the holes of a colander.  Smooshing rather than grating.

A Spatzle Maker And A Plain 'Ol Colander

A Spatzle Maker And A Plain ‘Ol Colander


Here’s how to make this German staple:



  • 1 C. All Purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground pepper
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¼ C. milk


  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Stir to combine.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the eggs until there is no white showing and add the milk.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour in the medium bowl and pour in the egg/milk mixture.
  4. Gently take a fork and draw in the edges of the flour well into the egg/milk area.  Combine until smooth.
  5. Let dough/batter rest for 15 minutes.

    The Dough/Batter Should Plop Off The Spoon

    The Dough/Batter Should Plop Off The Spoon

  6. Meanwhile bring a pot of salted water to a boil. And reduce to a nice simmer. Have a cold bowl of water ready and a skimmer or slotted spoon.
  7. Either place your spätzle maker on top of the pot or put a colander on sideways(so the large holes are used) and scrape about 1/3 of the dough/batter into the spätzle maker or the area of the colander over the pot. Push the dough/batter through the holes either with a rubber spatula (colander) or by slowly moving the small hopper on the spätzle maker.
    Putting The Dough/Batter Into The Hopper of the Spatzle Maker

    Putting The Dough/Batter Into The Hopper of the Spatzle Maker

    Smooching the Dough/Batter Through The Large Colander Holes

    Smooching the Dough/Batter Through The Large Colander Holes

  8. When the spätzle rise to the top, they are done (3-4 minutes).  Remove the spätzle with a skimmer or a slotted spoon into the cold water (this will stop the cooking and help remove excess starch).  Repeat with the rest of the dough/batter.
    The Spatzle Are Done

    The Spatzle Are Done

    And In The Cold Water

    And In The Cold Water

  9. Drain the spätzle.   At this point the spätzle can be held for several hours at room temperature or refrigerated.  You can also freeze the spätzle spread out on a cookie sheet.  When frozen, gather into a zip lock bag for storage.

To finish:

You can put any sauce you want on the spätzle, but the traditional German way is to melt some butter in a fry pan and add the spätzle, tossing to coat.  Cook for 3-5 minutes on medium high heat to give the spätzle some color. You can add about 1 TBL of poppy seeds or caraway seed and/or chives and toss to coat.  Season with some salt and pepper before serving.

Now you can say: “Why, yes, I do make my own pasta.”

spatzle cooked

Tags: , ,

Categories: international, Pasta


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