From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A bowl of Spätzle without meat or sauce
TypeEgg noodles
Place of origin
Main ingredientsFlour, eggs, salt, water

Spätzle ([ˈʃpɛtslə] ), or nokedli in Hungarian, are a type of Central European egg noodles typically served as a side for meat dishes with sauce. Commonly associated with Swabia and Alsace,[1] it is also found in the cuisines of southern Germany and Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Hungary, Vojvodina, Slovenia, Lorraine, Moselle, and South Tyrol.


Spätzle is the Swabian and Alsacian diminutive of Spatz, thus literally 'little sparrow'. They are also known as Knöpfle (diminutive of button). In Switzerland they are called Spätzli or Chnöpfli, in Hungarian Nokedli or Csipetke, in Slovenian Vaseršpacli or vodni žličniki and in Ladin Fierfuli. The Slovak Halušky (Hungarian: Galuska) is also similar.

Before the use of mechanical devices, the noodles were shaped by hand or with a spoon, and the results resembled Spatzen (plural of Spatz, meaning 'sparrows', 'sparrow' is Spatz or Sperling in German; Spätzle is the diminutive of Spatz, unchanged in plural).

Knöpfle means 'small buttons' and describes the compact, round form of the noodle. In everyday language usage, the two names refer to the same product made from the same dough and are interchangeable.[2] There is no clear distinction between how the two names are used, and usage varies from region to region (for example, in Alsace, Knöple are typically larger than Spätzle).


The geographic origin of Spätzle is not precisely known; various regions claim to be the originators of the noodles.

The tradition of making Spätzle can be traced back to the 18th century, although medieval illustrations are believed to place the noodle at an even earlier date.[3] In 1725, Rosino Lentilio, a councillor and personal physician from Württemberg, concluded that Knöpflein and Spazen were "all the things that are made from flour".[2] Spelt was grown widely in the Swabian-Alemannic area at the time. The cereal grew on poor soils and was very popular in the region, which was home to small farmers and characterised by poverty. As spelt flour contains high levels of gluten protein, and the dough could therefore be made in times of hardship without the need for eggs, Schwäbische Spätzle/Schwäbische Knöpfle were mainly made from spelt.[2] The product achieved fame in the Münsinger Alb upland area. As industrialisation began and prosperity increased, the noodles went from an ordinary, everyday food item to a culinary specialty eaten on feast days. In a description of a Swabian farmers' village written in 1937, Spätzle are described as a festive food. The great importance of Schwäbische Spätzle/Schwäbische Knöpfle in Swabian cooking can be seen, inter alia, from the 1827 novel Die Geschichte von den Sieben Schwaben, according to which the custom in Swabia is "to eat five times a day, five times soup, twice with Knöpfle or Spätzle".[2]

Today,[when?] Spätzle are largely considered a "Swabian speciality"[4] and are generally associated with the German state of Baden-Württemberg. In France, they are associated with Alsace and Moselle. Germany's estimated annual commercial production of Spätzle is approximately 40,000 tons.[5][better source needed] Pre-made Spätzle are also available internationally.

Protected geographical indication[edit]

Since March 2012, Swabian Spätzle and Swabian Knöpfle have been awarded the EU quality seal for protected geographical indication (PGI) and are protected throughout Europe as a regional specialty.[6] To be able to bear this sign, one of the production stages of the product must have taken place in the respectively defined region of origin.


Manual process by scraping from a board
A "hopper" type Spätzle maker (Spätzlehobel)
A "potato ricer" type Spätzle maker (Spätzlepresse)

Spätzle is a type of pasta or dumpling[2] or noodles.[7][8] Spätzle dough typically consists of few ingredients, principally eggs, flour, and salt. The Swabian rule of thumb is to use a number of eggs equal to the number of servings, plus one. Water is often added to produce a runnier dough.[9][failed verification] The flour traditionally used for Spätzle is bread wheat (not the durum wheat used for Italian pasta); however, a more coarsely milled type is used for Spätzle making than for baking. This flour type is known as Dunst, similar to US "first clear" or Czech hrubá[citation needed] type. This gives a chewier texture but can produce a dough too crumbly for scraping if no water is added, particularly when cutting short on eggs for dietary reasons. If fine ("all-purpose") flour and the full amount of eggs are used, all fat and moisture in the dough is derived from these, and water is rarely necessary.

Traditionally, Spätzle are made by scraping long, thin strips of dough off a wooden (sometimes wet) chopping board (Spätzlebrett) into boiling salted water, where they cook until they rise to the surface. Altogether, the dough should thus be as viscous as to slowly flow apart if cut into strips with a knife, yet hold the initial shape for some seconds. If dropped into boiling water, the albumen will congeal quickly in the boiling water, while the yolk will keep the dough succulent. After the pasta has become firm, they are skimmed and put aside.

Since this can be a cumbersome way to prepare Spätzle, several devices were invented to facilitate cooking that resemble a strainer or colander, potato ricer (Spätzlepresse), food mill or coarse grater (Spätzlehobel). As with scraped Spätzle, the dough drops into the boiling water. Those instruments that use muscle pressure in addition to gravity can be used with a firmer dough; that for a Spätzlehobel should be as "runny" as the one for scraping.

Dough varieties[edit]

For certain specialty dishes, the dough may be enriched with minced pork liver (resulting in Leberspätzle [de]), spinach or finely grated cheese.


Hungarian chicken paprikash with Spätzle (Hungarian nokedli)

Spätzle typically accompanies meat dishes prepared with an abundant sauce or gravy, such as Zwiebelrostbraten [de], Sauerbraten, Jägerschnitzel or Rouladen. In Hungary, Spätzle often are used in soup. Spätzle also are used as a primary ingredient in dishes including:



  • Kirschspätzle: Spätzle mixed with fresh cherries, dressed with clarified, browned butter, sugar, and cinnamon and/or nutmeg. In the Allgäu, this is served as a one-dish supper in late summer.
  • Apfelspätzle: Spätzle with grated apples in the dough, dressed with clarified, browned butter, sugar, and cinnamon. In the Allgäu, this is served as a one-dish supper in autumn.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Stevenson, Angus; Waite, Maurice (2011-08-18). Concise Oxford English Dictionary: Luxury Edition. OUP Oxford. ISBN 978-0-19-960111-0.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Publication of an application pursuant to Article 6(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No 510/2006 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs". eur-lex.europa.eu. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  3. ^ "German Embassy London - Spätzle". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-02-29. Retrieved 2007-11-09.
  4. ^ "Spezialitäten aus Baden-Württemberg" (in German). Archived from the original on 2007-03-04.
  5. ^ Spätzle a la Suppenküche
  6. ^ "Registration as a protected geographical indication". Official Journal of the European Union L69/3. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  7. ^ "spaetzle", Collins English Dictionary, accessed Jan 2, 2023.
  8. ^ "spaetzle", Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition, accessed Jan 2, 2023.
  9. ^ Basic-Recipes.com - Spätzle Archived 2007-11-14 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]