Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

I wanted to include spaetzle as a side dish in the new book I’m working on. As I searched for something other than a colander to press the batter through, there, beckoning from a bin of kitchen utensils as if actually waving to me, was the Badass Perforated (aka Egg) Spoon. Would it work? Lo, I scooped up a spoonful and pressed the batter through it into the boiling water. When the batter was through, I scooped up another spoonful. Worked like a charm!

I will now be making spaetzle, the homemade pasta translating from German as “little sparrows,” more often. The recipe below comes from my partner in Charcuterie and SalumiBrian Polcyn, as I can’t give out the recipe that Little, Brown will be publishing. (But, shh, my ratio basically works out to 1:3:3 by weight, egg to liquid to flour, plus seasoning and fresh herbs—plug that into your Ratio app and see how it works!) Brian’s batter is considerable stiffer, almost like a dough.

Once cooked, these little birds can be sautéed in butter as a side dish or added to soups. Absolutely delicious and satisfying. I recommend experimenting with different flours, such as my current favorite, spelt. See also the interesting rye spaetzle gratin from the NYTimes (link below).   Spaetzle-cooked-@1020


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  1. Whisk together all the wet ingredients.
  2. Combine the baking powder and flour and whisk into the wet ingredients.
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, then fold in the parsley.
  4. Adjust the amount of flour—by texture it should be somewhere between dough and batter, just falling off the hand whisk.
  5. Push the dough/batter through a spaetzle maker or Badass Egg Spoon into boiling water.
  6. When they float, they’re done. Shock in an ice bath to stop the cooking.

If you liked this post on Spaetzle, check out these other links:

© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


28 Wonderful responses to “Spaetzle: Little Sparrows”

  • Nicole

    I love spaetzel and make it fresh all the time. I found a spaetzle maker on Amazon, which basically amounts to a glorified cheese grater, but saves me from the colander method (which was horrible, for the record). I think using the perforated egg spoon is genius though (my dough is pretty wet like yours), and can’t wait to see what your new book is all about!

  • Dan

    Another Spätzle lover here! I have one of the plastic boards that one sits over the pan and has holes in it through which one pushes the dough. In a pinch, I’ve also used a potato ricer.

    Curious about the baking powder in your recipe, though…mine just has eggs, flour, water and seasoning and has always been well received by the Germans in my life (my ex was Swiss-German, so I made it regularly for him).

    • John Robinson

      Baking powder would make them lighter, which in my opinion is a bad thing. Who wants fluffy Spatzle?

  • Ian

    I was taught to make them when I was Chef’s apprentice. most of the brigade were German or Swiss German. We used to put the dough on a specialized wooden board and use a palette knife to portion off tiny bits into seasoned boiling water. Toss in fresh butter and add a few chive and some freshly ground pepper and we were good for family meal.

  • Attrill

    We make spaetzle at least once a week, and I’ve become a big fan of the dedicated spaetzle maker (a hopper that slides on perforated plate). I’ve also used spoons before, as well as the cutting board method, colanders, and also large ziplock bags with the corner cut off. All of them work well as long as you make the batter the right consistency for the method – stiff for the cutting board or bag methods, and loose for the others.

    My favorite way to finish it is to fry it in a pan with duck fat and sprinkle fresh thyme on it.

  • Jessica

    Spaetzle is amazing! Very versatile. I have a spaetzle maker which is quite convenient.
    Spaetzle with apple sauce (apfel muss) is magnificent. Cheese spaetzle as well.

    • The Professor

      Skip the baking powder…not only is it not necessary, it totally messes up the texture.

  • Glenn

    Got to try the Spätzle!! Another great idea for this “bad ass” spoon! I’ve found it to be perfect for mashing bananas for banana bread & stirring riced potatoes as I add in butter & half & half. Its strength & size makes it ideal for all kinds of kitchen duties.

  • Misty

    How wrong is it to just dump the batter into a pot of boiling water and whisk it? 10 years ago when I was just beginning to cook, that’s all I had the patience for, and I remember being perfectly happy with the results. That said, 10 years ago I also held boneless skinless chicken breasts in highest regard. Might need to revisit making spatzle soon.

  • Steve Allen

    9 eggs, 1 1/2 cups milk 3 cups semolina 3 cups all purpose flour, salt, pepper, parsley and nutmeg. Makes a bit of a stiff batter but tastes and eats light when sautéed afterwards. Use any vessel with holes. 2″ perforated pans works well in a pinch. Use larger/ deeper pot with less water so that dough passes through steam first, then plunges into water for separation. I am sure chef Brian has this recipe as well . Other names ;’Swiss noodle and German dumpling.

    • Jessica

      German dumplings usually goes under the name knödel (in Bavaria the term kloss is used). There’s a variant of Knödel, semmelknödel, that uses bread instead of potatoes.

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  • Tim Donahue

    I used a perforated spoon a few times and then, at a local cookware store in my little southern city, found a “tin” spaetzle maker for less than $7. So much more convenient.

    Get used to making these in advance of dinner and then reheat in butter or other fat, with herbs if you like.

  • Susan B.

    My Hungarian grandmother used to make csipetke, little pinched dumplings, which were delicious but a lot of work. Then I discovered spaetzle, even buying a specialized tool in my enthusiasm for this new treat. The tool has gathered dust for over 10 years, and my mate now avoids gluten. But thanks to this post I’m looking forward to making herbed spelt spaetzle, formed with a perforated spoon.

  • Audrey

    This us awesome. I was just looking at a veal with spaetzle recipe that is awesome yesterday that I want to make but didn’t want to get a spaetzle maker for. Thanks for being a genius!

  • gooditsall

    Also can use one of those perforated pans designed for barbecuing small items.

  • Froggy

    Hi there,

    I am sorry to say, but you are mixing up Knoepfle with Spaetzle.

    A dough pressed through holes produces Knoepfle, which means “little buttons”.

    Knoepfle or Spaetzle dough is n e v e r made with baking powder. Ingredients are eggs, flour, water or milk and salt.

    Spaetzle are always elongated (the length is at least four times longer than their diameter – Knoepfle: the relation between length and diameter is under two).

    Offering genuine scraped Spaetzle is considered as a hallmark of excellence as it demands not only skill but also devotion.

    They are scraped from a wooden plate with a knife, just as shown in the video that Jason referred to.

    It is not difficult. The only difficulty is to overcome your inner fears! Practice helps.

    When you don’t know what do do, dip your scraping knife in the hot water and continue. You will always end up with something eatable. And even if your Spaetzle are not as thin as in the video shown, they will be delicious.

    The advantage of the cutting board method is that is less messy than using a press.

    As soon as the Spaetzle come up in the cooking water (it takes only seconds) you take them out with a slotted spoon and drop them in ice cold water. You have to do so, even it means more work, probably because it stops the cooking process.

    Take them out of the cold water, put them in a bowl. You can do this well in advance of finally serving.

    When ready to serve, you reheat them in a pan with butter, tossing.

    In winter you can offer them with lentils and high quality Wiener sausages. It is a classic. Enjoy!

  • Debbie

    My Oma left the dough in the bowl and just used a small spoon and “raked” off small pieces of dough into the water. No special tools in her kitchen.

  • Mary Beth

    I have used schmaltz instead of oil in my spaetzle. Great when it accompanies a chicken dish of some kind. I also have a round flat pan with holes the size of tiny peas that is supposed to be used on the grill for items that could fall through the grate. This is perfect for sitting on top of my pan of boiling water- I use a plastic bench knife to rub the the loose dough into the water. Works really fast and well.

  • Michael Trippe

    Seeing as my wife is Celiac, I’m gonna try this using Cup4Cup GF flour. Hope it works… Can’t see why it wouldn’t. I’ll check back.

  • Andy Brown

    Thank you so much for all that you write. I have almost finished Egg: A Culinary Exploration… and I must say that each book gets better than the last. It partly through your books and website that with continued luck I will be attending the Culinary Institute of America starting in January. After two tours in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan I think I am finally ready to start my culinary training. Seriously though, I hope to carry on in the tradition of great ones like you, Chefs Symon and Bourdain. Thank you again!