Homemade German Spätzle (and a brief intro to Baden-Württemberg)

homemade German spaetzle spätzle   

One of the most beloved foods in Germany that tourists go home talking about is Spätzle, the famous German egg noodles from the Baden-Württemberg region of southwest Germany.

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This area is also known as Schwabenland, or Swabia in English.  I grew up in Stuttgart, the capital of Baden-Württemberg.   It is both a bustling city of industry as well as one of great beauty and impressive history.

Stuttgart is Germany’s 6th largest city with a population of over 600,000.  Stuttgart is the proud home of Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Bosch, and the first VW Beetle prototype.  Stuttgart is also one of Germany’s largest wine-growing cities, and wine-making in Stuttgart dates back to 1108 A.D. where a Catholic monastery started making it.  Stuttgart is home to some of the greatest philosophers and literary giants, including Friedrich Schiller, and is also home to several large universities.  Stuttgart’s castle, Altes Schloss (“old castle”) dates back to 950 A.D..  And of course Stuttgart is also home to VfB Stuttgart, one of Germany’s soccer teams.

schlossplatz-stuttgart

Baden-Württemberg is home to the famous Black Forest and its cuckoo clocks, the Swabian Alb, numerous rivers, Lake Constance, and Mainau island – a unique and beautiful island with a castle in the middle of Lake Constance that sits above natural warm springs and features tropical growth, including orange and banana trees.   Other famous cities in Baden-Württemberg include Heidelberg, Baden-Baden, Tübingen, Ulm, Karlsruhe, and Mannheim.  The list of places to go and things to see is limitless.  Needless to say, there was never a dull moment growing up there and I never took for granted the beauty of the surroundings and the richness of the culture.  I get homesick whenever I think about it.

burg-hohenzollern-schwaben-alb ulm-in-winter    old-town-hall-of-karlsruhe-grotzingen baden-baden-germany alte-brucke-heidelberg

Now, back to the food!  Swabia is home to some of Germany’s best food.  Some, including myself,  would argue it’s home tothe best food in all of Germany (and that’s saying a lot because every region of Germany has some amazing, amazing food).  Swabia is known for its soups, sauces, meats and wursts, and its salads, to name a few.  Maultaschen, a unique kind of Swabian ravioli, is another popular and beloved dish and one that I’ll definitely need to feature on The Daring Gourmet at some point.

Today we’re featuring Spätzle.  A Swabian specialty, it is also enjoyed in Austria, Switzerland and Hungary.  It is a special type of egg noodle that is enjoyed with sauces and gravies as well as  incorporated into a variety of different dishes.  One example is Käsespätzle (a cheese spätzle casserole with crispy fried onions) and something that I will feature in the future on The Daring Gourmet.

A couple of additional facts from Wikipedia:  “The total estimated annual commercial production of spätzle in Germany is approximately 40,000 tons.  Literally translated, Spätzle means “little sparrow”.  Before the invention and use of mechanical devices to make these noodles, they were shaped by hand or with a spoon and the results resembled Spatzen (meaning little sparrows).”

So without further ado, let’s get to Spätzle makin’!

Note:  This spaetzle recipe uses a stand mixer to knead the dough.  This is actually the first time I’ve made it that way.  I’ve always done it by hand (you “knead” it by vigorously whipping it in a bowl with a spoon – over and over and over for around 20 minutes.  Now you know why we have that stereotype of stout, muscular German women!)  I decided to to try it with a stand mixer instead and it turned every bit as well (but shhhhh, I’m not allowed to admit that the old-fashioned way isn’t necessarily superior).

Add the flour, salt and nutmeg the bowl of a stand mixer.  Stir to combine.

Homemade paetzle spätzle

Crack four eggs into a bowl and whisk to combine.

Spaetzle prep 2

Make a well in the center of the flour and add the eggs.

Spaetzle prep 3

Add the milk and with the dough hook of the stand mixer attached, knead the dough on the “2” setting for 18-20 minutes.  Add more flour if the mixture is too runny, or more milk if it is too stiff.

Spaetzle prep 4

The dough is done when “bubbles” begin to form.  Use a wooden spoon and scoop and pull the dough,  If bubbly holes appear, the dough is done.  If not, continue kneading with the mixer for another minute or two, repeating the “test” process.  See the bubble hole below?

Spaetzle prep 5

We’d better check this out again to make sure you know what to look for.

Spaetzle prep 7

Better take another look – give the dough another stir and pull.  Two holes this time!

Spaetzle prep 8

Okay, it’s time to make the Spätzle!  Traditionally, Spätzle was made by hand using a Spätzle Brett, or Spätzle board.  You would rub a slab of dough out onto a wetted board and use a pastry cutter or long sharp knife to quickly cut off strands of the dough into simmering water.  Schwabian women of previous generations were highly skilled at this and could do it so fast it would make you dizzy to watch.  Nowadays most Germans use a Spätzle maker (and even more just buy it ready made at the store.  It’s the “convenience generation”).

As I already mentioned, there are a few different kinds of Spätzle makers out there and you can find them easily online.  The one below is mine that I bought in Germany and it’s awesome.  This kind is more pricey but will also last a lifetime.

Spaetzle prep 9

Let’s zoom on that baby.  The original, sturdy Spätzle maker.

Spaetzle prep 10 Let’s Talk Spätzle Makers

You can purchase this Original Kull Spätzle Maker, Made in Germany online.  This particular model is dishwasher safe.  And there is another Kull spätzle maker, same model, but it’s highly polished and thus not dishwasher safe.  Just a matter of personal preference. You can use either as a potato ricer, too.  Again, it’s pricey, but it’s the one I recommend because it’s built like a tank and will last a lifetime – and it will become a family heirloom you can pass on to your children and grandchildren!

Another option is the German Küchenprofi Spätzle Lid & Scraper.  I’ve used this one as well with good results and it’s much cheaper.  It produces different shape of noodle – a shorter, stubbier one.  Again, simply personal preference.  You see both kinds of Spätzle in Germany.

Lastly, there’s the Küchenprofi Spätzle Plane with Pusher, which is my least favorite as it can be a little clumsy, messy, and more difficult to work with.

If you don’t want to buy a Spätzle maker, you can alternatively use a colander or steamer with large holes.

Spaetzle prep 11

You would need a sturdy object with a straight edge, like this wooden spoon.

Spaetzle prep 12

You would place some of the dough in the steamer over the simmering water and scrape the dough through the holes.  I will say that this option can be a bit challenging and lead to some frustration.

Spaetzle prep 13

Again, there are several kinds of Spätzle makers,  but I’m going to use the one below.  Place it over a pot of lightly salted simmering water and scoop some dough into it.

Spaetzle prep 14

Press the Spätzle maker down to squeeze the Spätzle noodles out into the simmering water.  Simmer the Spätzle for about 2-3 minutes or until they float to the top.

Spaetzle prep 15

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the Spätzle to a colander and then immediately put them in a bowl of very cold water.  This helps them firm up to the desired consistency.

Spaetzle prep 16 Spaetzle prep 17

Drain the Spätzle again and toss with a little oil or melted butter to keep them from sticking.  Spätzle will keep in the fridge for at least a couple of days and then heated to serve.   Melt some butter in a pan and toss the Spätzle in it to warm through.

Serving Recommendation:  Serve with Hunter’s Pork Chops or with the sauce from  Hungarian Mushroom Pasta.

This will be a traditional Schnitzel with Spätzle type of dish.  Though the Hunter’s Pork Chops aren’t technically “Schnitzel”, the only difference is that the pork chops are left in “chops” form instead of pounded flat before they’re breaded and fried.  You can do that if you prefer.

Homemade German Spätzle (and a brief intro to Baden-Württemberg)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
The highly popular and beloved egg noodles from the Swabia region of southwest Germany.
:
Recipe type: Pasta
Cuisine: German
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (you can also use whole wheat flour)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1¼ cup milk or water (milk produces a richer Spaetzle) (start with one cup and add remaining ¼ cup as needed)
Instructions
  1. Add the flour, salt and nutmeg to the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir to combine. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk them. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the eggs in it. Add the milk. Attach a dough hook to the stand mixer and "knead" the dough for 18-20 minutes, or until bubbles appear (see pictured instructions for details).
  2. Bring at least 2 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Using a Spätzle maker of your choice, press the noodles into the simmering water and cook for about 2-3 minutes, or until the noodles float to the top. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the noodles to a colander, and then dump the noodles in a large bowl of ice water. Drain the noodles again and toss with a little vegetable oil or melted butter.
  3. They can be stored in the fridge for at least a couple of days and then heated to serve.
  4. To heat, melt some butter in a large skillet and toss the Spätzle in it to heat through.
  5. Serving recommendation: Serve with Daring Gourmet Hunter's Pork Chops (see website for recipe).

 

Spaetzle 8_edited

31 Responses

  1. wrote on

    My Heart leapt for joy when I saw this…. Will be trying very soon.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Stay tuned for a follow-up post that will feature a sauce to go with the Spätzle!

      • wrote on

        Saute with butter and bacon. Start with the butter on high heat, saute shallots, garlic and mushrooms. Add spaetzle and cook until it crips. Deglaze with more butter and add veg (spinach, or whatever). Tested and true.

        • The Daring Gourmet

          wrote on

          FABULOUS!! Thank you, Andrew!

  2. jesusan

    wrote on

    My heritage is Hungarian and I’ve always made haluska (very similar to spätzle) – by hand. The only ingredients are eggs, flour & a little salt, and I never measure anything when making them. It’s nice to have a recipe for genuine spätle.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Yes, haluska! I remember when I was in Hungary an older woman making Hungarian egg noodles. She would take a wad of dough into her hands and with quick, swift motions pinch off little chunks of it into the simmering water. Many Hungarians still make it this way. It’s similar in appearance to German Knöpfle (Spätzle “buttons”) which are made using the same dough but are instead grated across a board with large holes in it resulting in little chubby “button” noodles. Like the Hungarian noodles, some Spätzle recipes don’t milk or water, but use several more eggs instead which yields a richer, firmer texture.

      You enjoy a beautiful heritage! I love Hungary, it’s food and it’s people. Thanks for visiting and for you comments.

  3. Anonymous

    wrote on

    This is great! Thank you!!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thank YOU!

  4. Suzanne

    wrote on

    great recipe and love the pictures!! My parents are from Ludwigsburg, and we always made home-made spaetzle (long like spagehetti).

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi, Suzanne, and welcome! No kidding? I lived in Ludwigsburg for several years and loved it. Thanks so much for the compliment and I hope you’ll return here often.

  5. wrote on

    Can I make this dough ahead?

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Roxanna! The dough needs to be room temperature otherwise it won’t turn out. I’ve never heard of it being able to be made ahead and wouldn’t recommend that. What you can do though, and this is very commonly done, is to make the Spätzle itself ahead of time (up to a couple of days) and then simply reheat the noodles. The best way to do that is to melt some butter in a pan and then toss the noodles in it. They’ll turn out perfectly that way.

  6. Anonymous

    wrote on

    thanks for all the great information – and pictures!
    just confused by one one thing, the step by step directions say to use 4 eggs, and the recipe says to use 3

    thanks and merry Christmas!
    Arnette

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thank you for catching that! I’ve updated the recipe box – yes, it’s 4 eggs. A very merry Christmas to you, too! -Kimberly

  7. Teri

    wrote on

    Was recently in Germany and spent all of my time in the Swabia Region. You are correct is saying the that food is wonderful there. Everywhere we visited we were served that fabulous German Potato Salad. No it wasn’t hot and no it did not have bacon in it. Each time we had it it tasted the same – just plain good. I have searched the internet for this salad and nothing I found matches the taste. If you have a recipe for that salad, I would love if you could share it.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      I love, love, LOVE Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat! As much as I enjoy the kind with mayonnaise, the Swabian-style potato salad is my favorite and there are definitely some tips and tricks involved to get it “right” – like that kind you enjoy in German restaurants. Teri, I would love nothing more than to oblige your request! :) Stay tuned!

  8. Win

    wrote on

    I toss my spaetzle with butter and emmentaler or gruyere cheese and it is far better than these silly american mac and cheese! Please post a recipe for Kartoffelsalat if you get a chance!

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Win, YES! In fact, that reminds me – I need to post my recipe for Käsespätzle. Spätzle with butter and tons of Emmentaler or Gruyere, topped with tons of buttery caramelized onions, and baked. One of my all-time favorites!

      And you’re in luck – I just posted my Schwäbischer Kartoffelsalat! Be sure to subscribe to this blog (very top right of the screen) so you get an email notification when new recipes are posted (those are the only times you’ll get things in your mailbox from this site, I promise!).

  9. Verena

    wrote on

    Hello from Swabia/Germany! ☺

    I think, some day I will try to make Spätzle like you make it. It sounds interesting. But to be honest, this is not a traditional Swabian Spätzle recipe. There is no milk and no nutmeg in traditional Swabian Spätzle at all. We use only flour, eggs, water and wheat semolina. That’s how Swabian housewifes and cooks prepare Spätzle for generations.
    Maybe you want to try this version some day too?!

    Verena

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hallo, Verena, liebe Grüße aus Washington! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about Spätzle. I think we’re both correct. As with anything that’s a “traditional” recipe, there will always be some variations depending on who you talk to and family traditions. Variations can also differ between sub-regions within a region. I’m from Stuttgart, the heart and capital of Swabia, and most of the home cooks I knew, as well as some restaurant chefs I spoke to, use milk and water interchangeably when making Spätzle. I even have some old German recipes from the 1950’s that call for milk. Whether using milk or water, both are traditional and simply come down to personal preference. I’ve made it both ways – many times – and both ways produce great results. Milk produces a richer Spätzle noodle, which is my preference. The small pinch of nutmeg to add a little depth of flavor – again, personal preference. That’s how my Oma and Großoma made it. Also, I do like Spätzle with the Semmelbrösel (wheat semolina), but this recipe is just for the basic Spätzleteig Grundrezept (basic Spätzle dough recipe). I may write another blog post in the future with examples of different ways to serve up Spätzle. I will be featuring Käsespätzle on my blog at some point – another favorite! Danke nochmals, Verena, and I hope you’ll visit frequently! Best, Kimberly

  10. Bonnie Spielman

    wrote on

    Can these noodles be made and dried to use later? The reason I asked is I bought a package of them that were dried. I can not remember where I bought them but I loved them. I am only one in my home and it was so nice to be able to fix just what I needed at the time.

    • The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Bonnie! Yes, dried Spätzle can be purchased in stores throughout Germany just like any pasta and can be found in some specialty stores here, too. The recommended way to store the Spätzle for long-term use is to freeze it. This is how you would freeze it: After making the Spätzle, let it drip in a strainer for several minutes, tossing it to get as much moisture out as possible. Portion out the Spätzle into freezer bags according to how much you want to use at a time. Press as much air out of the bags as possible, starting from the bottom and ending at the top. Seal the bag. Put the bags in the freezer on a flat surface. Store in the freezer for up to six months for optimum taste (I would recommend using it sooner). When ready to use, remove the bag from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator the day before you use it in a recipe. Fry the defrosted Spaetzle in a frying pan.

  11. wrote on

    […] version of this dish by swopping the beef for mushrooms and using vegetable stock. Serve it with spaetzle or pasta and a generous dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of parsley. It’s […]

  12. Andrew

    wrote on

    Slightly confused. Your recipe makes thick bread type dough. I recently saw a recipe (which started this journey) where the chief said it should be a runny consistency and if it is too thick to add more water. Her recipe was for a Ricotta Thyme Spaetzle (Five ingredients fix). Does the traditional recipe require thicker dough? And does this make a longer noodle? Thanks for the help as I would love to try any one of these Spaetzle dishes.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Andrew! Yes, it should be a pretty thick dough and it requires effort, and muscle strength (!) to push it through the Spätzle press. In olden days they used a Spätzle Brett, a wooden board, and would cut the noodles. Spätzle should never by super soft or mushy. They should be fairly firm and springy to the bite. The recipe you mentioned using ricotta is very non-traditional and I would imagine the chef’s instructions are for that recipe alone. As to the length of the noodles, that simply depends on what equipment you use. Some methods yield long noodles, other shorter chubby noodles, and still others very short button-like noodles. All just personal preference.

  13. Jim

    wrote on

    Grüß Gott. und Danke for the great recipe.

    Spätzle is customarily made with “type 405 mehl” (flour) which I have never found Stateside. A close equivalent can obtained mixing AP flour with cake flour in a 2:1 ratio.

    I made a batch with this edit… great results.

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Hi Jim, it’s definitely true that German flour is different, and there are so many different types of flours in Germany, which I really miss. It’s a bit of an ongoing debate in Swabia which flour is best for Spätzle and you’ll find Swabians of varying opinions on that point. In practically every grocery store there you can actually find “Spätzlemehl” (Spätzle flour) which is specially made for making Spätzle and is different than type 405. Spätzle is supposed to have “Biss” (be slightly firm and chewy) and some argue that 405 doesn’t render the ideal texture of traditional Spätzle (ie, too soft). The fact is though that Spätzlemehl is a contemporary invention and housewives of old certainly wouldn’t have found it in stores. What many of them did was add a bit of Griess (semolina) to the batter to give it more “grip” or firmness. If you do go with the 2:1 ratio alteration you’ll most likely need to reduce the amount of water a bit or the Spätzle will be really soft. Thanks for making this recipe, Jim, and I’m thrilled you enjoyed it!

  14. Tolly

    wrote on

    Hi -great recipe and true to tradition. My only comment for those who have not made spatzle before is that you should try the old fashioned way of a scraper and board. It takes a bit of time to learn the trick and you’ll find your first few attempts may result in some odd sized and odd shaped noodles, but the thing is, because the dough is not compressed like it is thru the spatzle makers the noodles have a much lighter texture and more delicate consistency. It is much more time consuming to make them this way, but they turn out so much nicer. My family has stuck to making them this way for generations, (both my parents are from Germany; I am a first generation Canadian.)

    • Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

      wrote on

      Thanks for your comment, Tolly. I agree, I too prefer the shape and texture of Spätzle made with the Spätzlebrett (Spätzle board). I like the non-uniform shapes and sizes. The fact is though most people would have a hard time telling the difference in method used. If the Spätzle press were able to make the odd shapes and sizes like the Brett does and you had a dish of each side by side, most likely only a Spätzle purist would be able to tell the difference. Perhaps that’s what we are, Tolly :) When I the have time to make Spätzle using the board I do, but that isn’t often and these days I use the press more than anything. Psychologically it’s not quite as gratifying, but it’s still homemade Spätzle and nothing can beat it!

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