Friday, September 22, 2017

How to Make Spätzle (aka Spaetzle) – Little Sparrows for Big Meat

Apparently “Spätzle” translates to “little sparrows” in German, which makes a lot of sense when you consider their shape. What doesn’t make sense is why these micro-dumplings are also called “spaetzle.” Is it an alternate spelling? A different recipe? I’m hoping maybe some of our German foodwishers can clear this up.

Since my favorite German restaurant calls this stuff spätzle, that’s what I went with, and they are as easy to make, as they are hard to correctly pronounce. You only need a few ingredients, all of which you generally have on hand at all times, and they take just minutes to cook.

Once boiled, you can toss in butter like I did, or sauce them any way you’d sauce similarly shaped pasta. While wonderful served as-is, they make the perfect side dish to any large hunk of slowly braised meat. I paired mine with a pork shoulder stewed in hard cider, and it was amazing.

I thought I’d posted a video for that, but it was actually a cider-braised pork cheeks recipe I was thinking of, which would work perfectly here. So, I may have to do a braised pork shoulder after all. In the meantime, I’m sure you’ll have little trouble figuring out what to serve yours with, and I really do hope you give this Spätzle recipe a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes 2 portions:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more to adjust
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of cayenne
1 tablespoon cream fraiche, sour cream, or yogurt
3 tablespoons milk

61 comments:

Julie Biddle said...

They have a different name but are also big in Hungarian cooking. Perfect with Veal Paprikash and awesome with Stroganoff. They sop up that gravy/sauce so wonderfully!

There are many ways for these to go wrong and turn into a pot full of rubber bands.

wierdrules said...

Spaetzle is indeed an alternate spelling. If your keyboard cannot make the umlaut symbol (the two dots over the ä) it can be spelled out "ae" instead! This actually is true for all German vowels with the umlaut (ä, ë, ö, ü), if you can't or don't know how to create the character you can substitute a following "e" in its place. Similarly, if you don't know how to make the ß character it can also be spelled "ss".

Ralph Miko said...

Actually, Spätzle is a little Spatz, which is a Starling (not Swallow). It is also used as a nice way of calling your "better half", Spatz, Spatzi, or Spätzle. As far as spelling, the only way you write "spaetzle" is when you don't have the "ä" on your keyboard. Since, both spellings are correct and mean the same. ... Hope this helped.

wierdrules said...

Spaetzle is indeed an alternate spelling. If your keyboard cannot make the umlaut symbol (the two dots over the ä) it can be spelled out "ae" instead! This actually is true for all German vowels with the umlaut (ä, ë, ö, ü), if you can't or don't know how to create the character you can substitute a following "e" in its place. Similarly, if you don't know how to make the ß character it can also be spelled "ss".

wierdrules said...

Spaetzle is indeed an alternate spelling. If your keyboard cannot make the umlaut symbol (the two dots over the ä) it can be spelled out "ae" instead! This actually is true for all German vowels with the umlaut (ä, ë, ö, ü), if you can't or don't know how to create the character you can substitute a following "e" in its place. Similarly, if you don't know how to make the ß character it can also be spelled "ss".

Bethany said...

Thank you so much! I remember a frozen version of these that was served with green beans from my childhood. Now I can make a much better version!

Ralph Miko said...

Sorry, I meant Sparrow (not Starling), my English is not what it used to be.

Emily Jean said...

Spaetzle is an alternate spelling for countries where the umlaut (ä) is not a common character.

A Spätzle eater said...

The proper way to spell this dish in German is "Spätzle", as German nouns are all capitalized : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_nouns

"spaetzle" would be when someone forgot to capitalize (or borrowed the term to use in another language such as English), and the "ae" stems from the lack of the umlaut to type "ä", which is replaced by "ae" : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_orthography#Umlaut_diacritic_usage

BTW, the store-bought spätzle that I buy are meant to be pan-fried (or it's one of the proposed methods), so IMO it's better to pan fry these after having boiled them, to get this little extra crunch on the surface and a different flavor profile.

Also, some variant I buy contains some vegetables, such as carrots, leeks and maybe some other stuff, so I suppose you simply use a blender to finely puree these veggies, and add them to the dough. Not sure about the proportions, but I suppose around 1/4 to 1/3 of the final product's weight would be these veggies, and if the taste of the veggies isn't noticeable, I surmise you could concentrate the veggies' flavor by sauteing them till they lose a fair amount of water.

Florian Wombacher said...

Hello Chef John,
Spätzle and Spaetzle means exactly the same. But the second spelling is only used in case you don't have an "ä" on your keyboard. Same goes for ö and ü, if you don't have it, always use oe and ue as a replacement.
Btw. Spätzle is the (alemannic-swabian) diminutive of Spatz which actually means sparrow (swallow = Schwalbe).
Last but not least in Swabia (a cultural region in the southwest) no restaurant would dare to call this Spätzle instead of Knöpfle (Spätzle are supposed to be at least four times as long as their diameter). The Swabians would also very much frown upon the cream fraiche and the milk ... and the cayenne (like all the old german "tribes" they are very protective of their traditions ;-). However in the rest of Germany most people won't care or even know the difference.

Bri said...

Spätzle and Spaetzle is the same thing. If you can't type ä then the closest is ae.

Jan Fischer said...

The two hands down best ways to finish spaetzle are baking them with onion, bacon, and cheese on top as well as spaetzle with lentils, which some might argue is more of a winter dish (they're wrong). If you need authentic German recipes let me know.

Glenn Strycker said...

Digging way back into my high school German... umlauts (double-dotted vowels) can always be alternatively spelled with an e, so ä= ae. So “spaetzle” is a nice google-friendly alternative to “spätzle” if one can't find that ä on their keyboard.

jorsh said...

The umlaut A is equivalent to "ae", pronunciation-wise. Sometimes German words with umlauts are transliterated as "vowel-e".

Bellethiel said...

Hey Chef John,

ae is just another way of writing ä, so it basically is the same. Well actually only ä would be the correct one, but back then when people were writing on the first typewriters, they didn't have any mutated vowels (or umlaute) on them, so the only way to write the words like Spätzle was to write them with ae. For obvious reasons that sticked around since today, especially since most non-german people won't have any ä on their keyboards, so it would be a bother to type it that way I guess. But generally if you see something, that is written in two different ways, but only the letters ä and ae are different (or ö and oe or ü and ue) you'll be fine, just writing the umlaut and you'll have it right.

Moses Jurassic said...

Sorry to be such a nitpicker, but "Spätzle" translates to little sparrow, not little swallow. In Germany, we often use a special spätzle flour which is coarser than all-purpose. Excellent idea to use a cheese grater. Have never seen that.

Lucas Frey said...

Hello Chef John,
Thanks for the recipe. Your spätzle turned out awesome... This is coming from a german. You could easily turn your awesome but regular spätzle into some far superior käsespätzle. It not a lot of work and easy. Thanks again for all your recipes.

Peter Niepel said...

Alternative spellings for umlauts are for people who use an I.e. US keyboard layout. Since they don't have the special keys you use 'ae' for 'ä', 'oe' for 'ö' and 'ue' for 'ü'. Hence 'spaetzle'.

Hope this makes sense.

Cheers

Peter

Peter Niepel said...

Alternative spellings for umlauts are for people who use an I.e. US keyboard layout. Since they don't have the special keys you use 'ae' for 'ä', 'oe' for 'ö' and 'ue' for 'ü'. Hence 'spaetzle'.

Hope this makes sense.

Cheers

Peter

Bianca Pistoll said...

Spaetzle is just another way of spelling it, many people use "ae" as a substitute for "ä" if they don't have it on their keyboard. You also use "ae" instead of "ä" in crossword puzzles.

Jochen Venus said...

being a german, i can assure you: Spätzle and Spaetzle are the same, and the words a pronounced the same as well. It's just a different spelling, due to typewriters, that lack the "ä"-character.
In southern germany käsespätzle are very popular. Similar to mac and cheese, in Käsespätzle the Spätzle are mixed with grated cheese and fried onions and than baked.

p0rnbaer said...

It is usually and correctly spelled Spätzle but in some cases "ä" is written as "ae" for example if you don't have a German keyboard or you think the ä might cause some trouble on coding. The pronunciation is the same. (the same can be done for ö=oe and ü=ue).

Marcus said...

haha... you just use ae as an replacement if you can‘t find an ä... same with oe and ue for ö and ü... glad you found an ä for the title ;-D
greetings from germany

Unknown said...

In Germany the e is usually used when you can't find your dots :-)
So ü = ue, ö = oe, ä = ae.
Spätzle as a diminutive of Spatzen is actually swabian (south german) dialect. But sometimes they actually get translated to (standard german) Spätzchen, or bavarian spatz(e)n. Although, where I grew up there also were spatzn that were actually bigger (like walnut sized mini dumplings from the same dough). Then of course there's also the swabian knöpfle ( little button) that seem to be either the same closely related. :-)
And the best way to eat them where I grew up is as kasspatzn. Mixed with loads of cheese and fried onion.

Carlsson said...

For your info - It should only be "Spätzle" - But it seems to be easier for the "Menu printers", or due to the US keyboard, substitute it for 2 letters "ae" (aka "Spaetzle") - "æ" in one character as in Danish or Norwegian, has the same sound as the German or Swedish "ä"...

Christopher Myers said...

Thank you so much for doing another German recipe! I can't wait to try this! Perhaps a pork recipe next for Oktoberfest? Just a thought ;)

Jim Phillips said...

Spatzle with an "umlaut" over the a tells the speaker to pronounce the word as if it were spelled spaetzle (with an e after the a). Therefore English speakers spell it as it sounds, spaetzle (English doesn't use crazy things like umlauts). A lot of the German language and grammar doesn't really make a lot of sense to non-speakers.

Joe Bernth said...

Hi chef John,

Not a German, just and American that has been learning German for a few years and wanted to clear up the spelling differences for spaetzle! Both Spätzle and spaetzle are in fact the same word meaning the same thing, the "e" following the vowels "a, o, and u" is just a way to show that the vowel is supposed to have an umlaut and you don't want to look for the keystrokes to make it.
Thanks for the recipe and I'm looking forward to all your recipes, German and otherwise!

andra Stone said...

the spelling "spaetzle" was started by people who don't know how to make an "a umlaut" (aka the a with 2 little dots above it) on an average English keyboard :) the proper spelling is Spätzle, like you used it

Bill said...

'What doesn’t make sense is why [Spätzle] are also called “spaetzle.” Is it an alternate spelling? '
Essentially. In German, the diacritic mark (¨) and the following "e" both indicate that the vowel is pronounced with an umlaut. Even if a word is conventionally spelled with the dots, if that's not practical (say, on a typewriter) writers use the -e.

ash2504 said...

Chef John, please do a chicken paprikash recipe! It would work so well with the spatzle.

Malin said...

Hi Chef John,
love all your tutorials and recipes, really like your style of cooking!
But as a german Chef i have to say, this is not how we make Spätzle
in Germany. And im not talking about the Cayenne, there your right, this is our loss :)

We use: 1kg Flour, 10 Eggs, 0,5L Mineral Water and Salt.
And then we beat the dough really hard with cooking spoon
till the dough is nice and smooth.

Thanks for all the inspiration you given me
and greetings from Bavaria :)

Alexxius said...

ae is just an alternative spelling of ä, because the umlaut adds an "eh" sound to a vowel, especially useful if you only have an English alphabet on hand. Spätzle and Spaetzle are not alternative names, they just use different ways of spelling the letter "ä".

Unknown said...

Hi John, fellow German here.
Thank you for the nice video! Love the use of the cheese grater!

The difference between ä and ae lies just in the spelling, it's pronounced exactly the same. Changing the "ä" to "ae" is no big deal and perfectly acceptable, e.g. if your keyboard has no umlaut keys (same for ö to oe and ü tu ue). Every German will understand both spellings.

But be careful the other way around, e.g. not every "ue" is pronounced like "ü", sometimes it's just "u" and "e" standing next to each other. :)

A traditional dish with Spätzle especially in southern germany is "Käsespätzle" which is Spätzle mixed with shredded cheese and garnished with parsley and fried onions. Lots of melted cheese, very delicious but enormously filling. You have to try this!

The darkest Side said...

In German the Letter Ä (ä) can also be written like AE (ae), this also helps you to make the sound of äe which is like trying to say a and e at the same time (of course in german). same for ö (oe) and ü (ue)

Marc D'Olimpio said...

Spaetze = Spätzle. It is just an alternative spelling. The ä can be written 'ae', which is useful when you don't have an ä on your keyboard. This applies to the other vowels with umlauts in the German language. Thus, ö = oe, ü = ue.

Dominik Schmich said...

Hey Chef John,
I'm from Germany as well as the region where they come from. The propper spelling is correct with an ä. The ae is usually used as substitute for "non German" keyboards which don't have the ä,ö or ü.
Greets,
Dominik

rashep142 said...

Chef John:
Adding an "e" after the "a" is a substitute for putting the umlaut over the "a". The umlaut is of course the 2 dots over the "a".
So, both "Spätzle" and "Spaetzle" are correct spellings and are pronounced the same way.
If your keyboard doesn't have vowels with umlauts, just add an "e" after the vowel.

Surwifel.com said...

A 'Spatz' (Spaetzle / Spaetzli = little Spatz) is more a sparrow than a swallow. I'm not an expert in Ornithology, but I believe they're two different kinds of birds.
That being said, I just looked it up on German Wikipedia. The dish seems to originate in the German area of Swabia, and 'Spaetzle' is thought to originate either from the name of the bird or an obsolete word for 'lump'. In my native country Switzerland we also call them 'little knots'. My favorite way of making them is adding blanched, chopped spinach to the batter, boiling them in hot water, then frying them up in butter.

Pointy said...

The different terms are just orthographic variations: "ä" means the same thing as "ae", pronunciation-wise. The "ae" variation is what you type when it's hard to type "ä".

E&D said...

Hi Chef John, love your channel and blog.
"Spaetzle" is simply the American/English spelling, the "umlaut" over the a becomes an "ae".
Keep up the good work!

rashep142 said...

These are especially good with sauerbraten and rouladen.

PreludeInZ said...

Chef John! Have you ever had nalysnyky? Spaetzle with a little bit of sugar and dill and a splash of heavy cream or a dolloop of ricotta are my favourite way to have a sort of of cheaters nalysnyky.

http://www.claudiascookbook.com/2010/06/23/nalysnyky/#more-26

incapability87 said...

The "ae" is an alternate spelling for the Umlaut "ä" since that isn't always alvailable (keyboards might not have it, website adresses can't have it, etc).

It's traditional to serve these baked with loads of slowly cooked onions and lots of cheese (just alternate a few layers and bake until delicious).

Jerry Drzewiecki said...

Couscous is the world's smallest pasta not spaetzle.

ala lang said...

Hi Chef John, this is just an alternate spelling (ä=ae) but the s, the first letter should be big since Spaetzle or Spätzle is a noun. All nouns in german common or uncommon should be capitalized.

AliciaHowell said...

Chef John, can you help me with a cooking problem unrelated to this recipe (though it does look delicious)? I am trying to figure out what brand/style of cookware to purchase. When we got married my husband and I received nonstick cookware, but it is already worn out just a few years later. It looks to me like you use some type of stainless steel in your videos? Any advice for us?

Unknown said...

ae and ä are interchangeable in the German language.

Ph Uh said...

Hello Chef John, been following your amazingness for quite some time now. You do such an amazing job at inspiring people. Thank you for that!
As for the spaetzle or Spätzle: both ways of spelling work for the same thing. The combination ae is just another way of writing the ä. Germans use ae when writing with people that do not have the umlaut. Simple as that.

As for the recipe, which is a true staple of southern German cuisine, you are pretty much spot on. Yet the original does not have any milk or other dairy products included in the mixture. People in the south were poor farmers so they only used water as a liquid. Swabians also use a pinch of nutmeg in the batter.
You should try your hand at adding Swiss cheese to the spaetzle after you cook them making cheese-spaetzle.
The versatility of spaetzle can also be seen in the different varieties: adding minced raw liver to the batter or any kind of fresh green herb such as parsley or chives.
Thank you chef John for opening up German cuisine to a larger audience. Please try making Maultaschen or Schupfnudeln next.
All the best from Germany

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Lupe said...

Hi, Chef John!

Sorry, wrong bird. A Spatz is a sparrow, not a swallow, which is a Schwalbe.

Lupe Christoph

Julian Hoch said...

Spaetzle would be an alternative spelling if your keyboard doesn’t have an “ä” key. The correct spelling is Spätzle (or Spätzli in Switzerland).

Trish Benedict said...

And what I learned in German class is that the umlaut is actually a representation of the missing E. The AE came first, - the Ä is just a shorthand. In Germany there are a lot of old signs that have a little E above the A or a small E inside of an O or U.
From wiki on the Ä listing: "The letter was originally an A with a lowercase e on top, which was later stylized to two dots"
Probably more than you wanted to know, but there it is...

rodentraiser said...

Chef John, now that everyone's told you about the alternate spelling, here's a way to type an 'a umlaut': simply press the ALT key on your computer and while holding that key down, type o228 on the number pad and release. Like this: ä

For more ALT combinations, here's a site:

http://www.starr.net/is/type/altnum.htm


And one they don't seem to include is ALT 0162 for ¢

Have fun!

Markus B. said...

I wonder if it would be nice to try making these using wholewheat spelt flour. Would make them much more satiating, wholesome and probably give a nice nutty flavour. Thanks for reminding me of making these again. I'm from Bavaria, where this is a very traditional side dish, and hadn't had Spätzle in quite a long time. I'll keep in mind to try making some with wholewheat flour.
Anyone with experience on that out there?

Andrew Schwartz said...

If I want to make them ahead of time, how do I store them so they're not all clumped together? Toss with canola oil, let cool, refrigerate?

apfriesen said...

Hi Chef John,

Could you make a maple bacon risotto for us Canadians?

Steaphany said...

The recipe that I learned from my Hungarian Grandmother was to use Water instead of milk and Nutmeg instead of Cayenne. I also tend to make a much larger batch starting with two or three cups of Flour.

Chef John, Since you do NOT have a category for Hungarian, What's your take on Hungarian Goulash ?

( Here is one example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6X0L5XFsUdM )

I love Goulash served over a large portion of Spätzle

Jooonatan Pølsemaker said...

As a Swabian I have to weigh in here. No dairy in Spätzle!!! That's the equivalent of using concentrated lemon juice or cheap parmesan.
My mom is a chef and was in the 70s an apprentice of chef Teuringer, the Paul Bocuse of Swabian cuisine. Here's his recipe:
- 500g flour
- 10 eggs (medium)
- club soda (heavily carbonated)
- 2 tbsp semolina (fine)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- salt and a pinch of muscat

Replace milk and creme fraiche with club soda. The preparation shown in the video is correct except for two things. The dough should rest for at least 30 minutes so the flour can soak up the liquid. The consistency should be a tad thicker than in the video.

You can make Spätzle in big batches and freeze them. Just put them into cold water after cooking, let them drain well and freeze immediately. You can freeze them for at least 3 months.

Brian Bricker said...

Simple and easy recipe that works! I didn't have any sour cream/crème fraiche so I used all milk with a splash of apple cider vinegar. Came out wonderful... Kudos on the cheese grater option. Never would have thought of that and worked a treat. I recall the days when I worked foodservice using a perforated half hotel pan over a steam kettle.

Keep up the good work!

Nemo said...

I just found a really nice technique for making larger SPAETZLE :)

https://foodal.com/recipes/pasta/dont-call-them-pasta-original-swabian-spaetzle/