For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.
Although I generally make these dumplings alongside other German dishes (like my Bavarian-style Sauerbraten), they really dress up any meal. You can serve them dropped into soups/stews or as a stand-alone side dish with melted butter and grated Parmesan cheese. One bite and you’ll be hooked!
The ones pictured here are a little larger than traditional German späetzle, which literally translates as “tiny sparrow.” It’s a cute little name for an adorable little mini-dumpling, but unfortunately, while I was making this particular batch, I was also dealing with a toddler who was fascinated with the stovetop so I was trying to work at top speed before Jamie got too close to the boiling water.
The result was that my späetzle pieces were a bit bigger than usual, but they still tasted scrumptious!
There are only 4 ingredients (all of which you probably have already), and the prep is so quick and easy you’ll scratch your head in amazement that people actually purchase that yucky box-pasta version after you try this recipe.
Begin by bringing a large stock pot of water to a rolling boil. While water heats, sift 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour together with 1 teaspoon salt into a medium-sized bowl. (The original version calls for 2-1/4 cups flour, but I like to
add that extra little bit, even if I sometimes can’t get it all worked in, because the dryer your dough is, the easier and faster it will be to separate into tiny pieces for boiling.)
Beat one egg and pour into flour mixture; stir a little. Gradually add 1/2 to 3/4 cup lukewarm water, mixing constantly until most or all of the flour mixture has been kneaded in and dough is stiff.
If you do not own a späetzle hopper (an inexpensive gadget that resembles a long cheese grater with a sliding reservoir across the top of it–I bought mine about 8 years ago for
less than $5 on a clearance rack), transfer dough to a floured portable surface (like a cutting board or large plate) and flatten out dough to about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick.
Using a sharp, wet knife, score the flattened dough into very small pieces (like deformed lima beans) and blade-flick them into the boiling water as quickly as possible. (Alternative method: Flour a standard-holed colander and place ball of dough inside to be “strained” into pieces if you prefer, using a knife to cut them every inch and let drop into boiling water. I get spattered a lot using this method, so I don’t do it, but to each his own.)
The trick is to get as many pieces of späetzle into the boiling water in a short amount a time as possible so that the
cook time is fairly standard within a batch. You only want one layer of dumplings at a time in the boiling water. Allow each round to cook between 5-8 minutes, depending on size and thickness. Appoint a tasty-looking sacrificial dumpling to check for doneness
after 4-5 minutes to gauge cook time. (Aren’t they yummy??)
This recipe can be doubled or tripled. I can get a batch the size of this recipe to all go in one round in my 8-quart stock pot, but if you need to do a couple of rounds or batches, that’s okay too. Just use a large, slotted spoon to remove cooked dumplings
from the boiling water between rounds.
Spoon finished späetzle into serving dish and top immediately with melted butter. Be prepared for many compliments!