Homemade Spaetzle is one of Germany's most popular and cherished side dishes. It's an easy, hearty egg noodle dish that goes beautifully with classic German recipes such as Rouladen and Cucumber Salad.
What Are Spaetzle?
Spaetzle is a popular German egg noodle side dish.
You might associate Spaetzle with the Swabia region of southern Germany, but you will find fans of this fresh pasta dish all over Germany.
This recipe has been around for over 200 years!
And like many German recipes, there are regional variations.
Sometimes you'll find spaetzle recipes that include milk instead of water. As always, I share the recipe that I grew up with and am most familiar with.
Spätzle, Spaetzle, Spatzle - What's The Difference?
Yes, first, let's chat about spelling and pronunciation. You might wonder what the difference is between Spaetzle, Spatzle, and Spätzle.
What's the story with the a and the two little dots? The answer is simple.
Spätzle is spelled the German way, and Spaetzle (or sometimes just Spatzle) is spelled the English way.
In German, certain vowels a, o, and u sometimes have two dots on top to make the reader pronounce the vowels softer.
These letters are called "Umlaut" and are part of the German alphabet.
The letter "ä", it's pronounced like "ae" in English. Because we don't have these umlaut letters in English, we break them up into ae (or "oe" for "ö" and "ue" for "ü"). Pretty simple.
So if you see the words "spätzle maker" and "spaetzle maker," or even "spatzle maker," you know that all of these terms mean the same thing.
The only difference is that one is spelled the German way and the others the English way.
Pronunciation - How Do You Say 'Spätzle' in German?
To get an idea, you can listen to me pronounce the word in German.
As a native German speaker, I'll be the first to admit this word is awkward to pronounce! The way I'd break it down is "sh-pets-luh."
Now that we've got our German lesson let's learn how to make these famous egg noodles.
And I promise making the recipe is more straightforward than learning German. 🙂
Why This German Spaetzle Recipe Works
CLASSIC GERMAN FOOD - If you're looking for a traditional, authentic German side dish, these easy German noodles are for you.
INGREDIENTS - I bet you have everything you need in your fridge and pantry. For this easy German recipe, you need flour, eggs, water, and a little butter. And that's it! If you have nutmeg and fresh parsley, great, but you can also make this recipe without these ingredients.
KID FRIENDLY - This German pasta dish is popular among grown-ups and kids. It's a homemade European version of buttered pasta.
ECONOMICS - With food prices through the roof, this recipe is an inexpensive option. Best of all, you can easily double or triple batch this recipe.
RELATED RECIPE - Another easy, inexpensive German recipe is our German Potato Soup recipe.
For a printable detailed ingredient list, please check the recipe card below.
This easy German recipe boils it down to flour, eggs, and water.
FLOUR - bread flour works well, but I typically use and recommend all-purpose plain flour.
EGGS - You'll need 4 large eggs.
NUTMEG - One little-known fact is that Germans love nutmeg. It's something I wasn't even conscious of all kinds of dishes. But if you don't have any on hand, no problem.
BUTTER - Be sure to use unsalted butter. You need the butter to fry the Spaetzle.
WATER - I typically don't elaborate about water as an ingredient. But I will this time. In the recipe card, you will see that I recommend using ⅓ cup of water. You may have to adjust this depending on the brand or type of flour you use.
Therefore I recommend adding the water slowly to the batter. You don't want a batter that's too sticky or too runny. Watch the video to get a visual idea of the consistency you're looking for.
You might need a little less or a little more. It typically works out to be a ⅓ cup of water.
PARSLEY - Technically, it's optional and mostly used for garnish. But parsley also adds a bit of sweetness if you make this recipe from scratch. I'd recommend adding it. I prefer curly parsley.
How To Make German Spaetzle
There are three key steps to making this classic German side dish.
Step 1 - Making Batter
- BATTER - Beat flour, eggs, nutmeg, and water in a large bowl with a hand mixer (a whisk or wooden spoon) and beat until you have a thick batter.
- REST - Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Step 2 - Cooking The Egg Noodles
- BOIL WATER - Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil and add salt.
- SPAETZLE MAKER - Push the batter through the spaetzle maker into the simmering water.
- COOK - Cook until the noodles float to the top. About 2-3 minutes.
- SLOTTED SPOON - Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the floating Spaetzle. Transfer into a bowl. Repeat until you've used up the batter.
Step 3 - Pan-Frying The Cooked Spaetzle
- BUTTER - Melt a pat of butter in a large skillet and the cooked Spaetzle.
- FRY - Sprinkle with fresh parsley and fry for 1-2 minutes over medium heat.
Tools - Do You Need A Spaetzle Maker?
Do you need special equipment to make a Spaetzle? No.
But a designated spaetzle maker (or a potato ricer) makes the job A LOT easier.
You can use a regular large-holed colander if you don't want to buy new equipment.
And if you want to go old-school, all you need is a small cutting board and a flat butter knife.
If you invest in a Spaetzle Maker (about $10-$15), you can choose the kind that gets placed on top of a large pot (no more than 12 inches wide).
This comes with a plastic scrape that helps you to push the batter through the holes. It's easy to use and the one I use.
Alternatively, you can use a potato ricer. You can use this multi-tool powerhouse not just as a potato ricer but as a potato masher, sweet potato masher, and even a spaetzle maker.
I have never used this to make Spaetzle, but others have and like it.
No Tools - The Traditional Method
Lastly, you can make use of the "Oma-Method." A traditional method that doesn't require any "fancy equipment."
So if you don't have a spaetzle maker or large-whole colander, use the wooden board (Holzbrettchen) method. It might take a minute to get the hang of it, but this is how my Oma used to make it.
- Place a small amount of batter onto a small wet wooden cutting board.
- Use a wet butter knife to scrape small amounts of batter into the boiling water.
- Proceed as described above.
The noodles won't have the same uniform shape, but you'll get that authentic homemade look. But that's part of the charm.
For more tool recommendations, please check the recipe card below.
Recipe Tips And Trick
This is truly an easy recipe. But like with every recipe, sometimes you can run into a bit of trouble the first time. Here are the two most common issues.
PROBLEM - Help! My batter is too runny!
SOLUTION - Mix in a small amount of flour. Go in small increments, adding a tablespoon of flour and increase if necessary.
PROBLEM - Help! My batter is too sticky!
SOLUTION - This is another easy fix. Slowly pour a small amount of water into the batter. Again start small.
STORE - Transfer any leftovers into an airtight container. You can store leftover Spaetzle in the fridge for up to
FREEZE - You can freeze cooked Spaetzle for up to 6 months. First, place the Spaetzle onto a baking sheet and pre-freeze for an hour. This will make ensure that your Spaetzle won't clump. And once frozen, transfer the frozen Spaetzle into a freezer-friendly container or plastic bag and store them in the freezer.
REHEAT - When you want to reheat leftover Spaetzle, place them in a skillet. You might want to add a little extra butter. Don't be tempted to reheat them in the cooking water. This won't work, and you'll end up with inedible, hard pasta.
More Easy German Recipes
Apple Pancakes - Start your breakfast with these yummy pancakes.
Cold German Potato Salad - An iconic German side dish with 5 simple ingredients.
German Cheesecake - A classic German cheesecake recipe reworked to make with ingredients you can easily find in US grocery stores.
Flammkuchen - Germany's version of flatbread pizza.
Cherry Coffee Cake - Delicious sheet cake with cherries and thick crumb topping.
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Making the Batter
- In a large bowl combine flour, eggs, and ground nutmeg. Beat with a hand mixer and slowly pour water into the batter. Continue to beat until the batter has a thick and sticky consistency.
- Cover the bowl with a towel and rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt.
- Place the spaetzle maker on top of the pot. Wet the scraper.
- Pour a little bit of the batter on top of the spaetzle maker. Use the scraper to push the batter through the holes of the spaetzle maker into the simmering water.
- Cook until the spaetzle rise to the top. About 2-3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the cooked spaetzle into an empty bowl. Repeat until you've used up the batter.
- Melt butter in a large frying pan. Toss the cooked spaetzle in the melted butter and fry for about a minute. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.