Knoepfle (Swiss Spaetzle Recipe)

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Knoepfle is the Swiss version of Spaetzle, an drop noodle made of an egg noodle dough. It’s our family tradition and they are the best holiday side dish recipe.

It’s kind of a labor of love but it’s worth every second!

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I know, it’s a weird word: Knoepfle. Until 2011 I thought it was spelled k’niflea and then I googled and was astonished. You pronounce it the way I thought it was spelled: k – ni – flea. I’ve been eating these Swiss egg noodles my entire life and I just had to share the recipe with you.

Knoepfle is a type of egg noodle. Have you ever heard of Spaetzle? Spaetzle is the more popular form of this noodle. Spaetzle is a German egg noodle, but is (supposed to be) longer and thinner, somewhat like spaghetti. Knoepfle is the “button-shaped” equivalent to spaetzle. I equate it with Switzerland, because my dad is Swiss and we always explained it by calling knoepfle a “swiss noodle.” I think that Knoepfle originated in Germany and, from my research, I learned in Switzerland it is spelled Chnoepfli.

For me, knoepfle means two things: holidays and daddy.

close up of kneopfle

Knoepfle is a special occasion food. It’s one of those things that is not entirely simple to make and it’s time consuming. We would eat it on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and maybe one other time of year when the stretch between Christmas and the next Thanksgiving got to be too long. My dad’s whole family makes it. I remember my Nana and Uncle preparing it when I was a child. But, really, I equate it with my dad, because no one makes it like him.

As a child celebrating Thanksgiving, I never new people ate mashed potatoes with their meal. We would have stuffing and knoepfle. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving staple. During the first year we were married I wasn’t even going to make potatoes until it dawned on me that my husbands’ family was attending our meal and would probably miss one of their traditions.

There are only 3 ingredients in the noodle recipe:

  • Eggs
  • Flour
  • Milk

However, even with only three ingredients, it was time consuming to make. The mixing was done by hand, with a wooden spoon, and the dough was thick. You have to beat it until it’s a bit glassy looking and there are no lumps left, which would take several minutes. The time and arm strength made it a holiday-only dish…until my dad got himself a KitchenAid mixer. Now we eat knoepfle all year long!

plain knoepfle in dish

Are you wondering how you get the little drop rounded shape of the noodle? When my dad was young the would do it by hand with two spatulas or a spatula and a knife and rake them into the boiling water one by one. You can see that huge bowl up there – the smallest amount we ever make – and can imagine how long that took!

When my nana visited Switzerland in the 1950s, she brought back the best invention ever: a knoepfle machine.

knoepfle spaetzle machine

Basically, it’s a flat sheet of metal with holes and a cup that you can put the dough in to run it over the holes.

That’s one of the original in the family (my dad, my uncle, my aunt, and my grandparents all had one). As people have passed away, they’ve handed down the machines so now some of the grandkids have them.

Don’t worry – you don’t have to go to Switzerland to get your own knoepfle machine: amazon has them. (Of course it does.)

Get your own Knoepfle (Spaetzle) machine here.

knoepfle with onions

There are a few ways to serve your knoepfle:

  1. Plain (or with parmesan cheese) – which is the only way I eat it. (I’m picky.)
  2. With fried onions – that’s the way we traditionally serve it. While my dad makes the dough, my mom fries the onions and they’re mixed with the noodles as they come out of the pot.
  3. With onions and Swiss cheese – my grandparents used to mix them with onions, then coat them with Swiss cheese and bake it like a casserole until melty.
  4. With lots of gravy!

Regardless of how you serve them you have to use a lot of butter. A LOT!

I’ll always remember my mom melted an entire stick of butter in a pan while frying onions (2 large yellow ones). And if you’re making them plain, you have to add butter to the dish to stir them with or they’ll stick to each other.

Knoepfle is synonymous with lots and lots of butter. (Bonus if you use Challenge Butter – that’s literally the ONLY butter my family has used. EVER.)

Those are my parents. 🙂

If you’re going to make these knoepfle, know that they seem hard but they’re really not. Here are a few tips:

  • The rule of thumb is equal parts eggs and flour, then milk to get to the right consistency.
  • When adding milk and beating, pay attention in the video how thick the dough is. You don’t want it so thick it won’t go through the machine, but not so thin it runs through like spaghetti.
  • For a small family dinner we’ll make the recipe as written: 4 eggs to 4 cups flour. More often, he does up to 6 or 8 eggs!
  • Use a large pot, preferably with a strainer insert. It makes it easier.
  • Remember to add butter to the cooked noodles and stir after each addition so they don’t stick.
  • If you have leftover, they freeze well!

If you try these, be sure to take a photo and tag me on social using #crazyforcrust. I want to see!

I hope they become a family tradition, just like they are for us.

Want even more? Subscribe to Crazy for Crust to get new recipes and a newsletter delivered to your inbox. And stay in touch on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram for all my latest updates.

knoepfle with onions
5 from 2 votes
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Knoepfle (Spaetzle)

Knoepfle is a Swiss egg noodle that we make every holiday season! It's the perfect side dish and everyone loves them once they taste them.

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword pasta
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 400 kcal
Author Dorothy Kern

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk approximately
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 2 medium onions

Instructions

  1. Beat eggs and about 1 cup milk in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add 2 cups flour and mix for a minute, then add the remaining flour. The batter will be very thick. Add about 1 cup more milk and beat until glassy and thick. It's the right consistency when it takes 4-5 seconds to drip off a wooden spoon. If it's too thin, add some additional flour. If it's too thick to drip, add more milk.

  2. While you're mixing up the dough (or after, it's okay if the dough sits), chop your onions to small dice. Melt butter in a frying pan and cook the onions until translucent, but don't caramelize them. Set aside. (If you don't want to serve with onions, skip this step, but you'll still need the butter.)

  3. Meanwhile, begin boiling your water. It is best to use a large stock pot that has a nested colander. Once water is boiling, add approximately a cup of batter to the spaetzle press and slowly slide the press back and forth to create your knoepfle. Watch for the knoepfle to float to the top of the water, stir to get any that are stuck on the bottom to float, then boil for an additional one minute (after they are all floating). Strain and place into a large bowl. Bring water back up to a boil between batches.

  4. Once adding a batch to your serving bowl, add either some of the onions or 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir so they don't stick together.

  5. Serve with the sauted onions, extra butter, gravy, and Swiss or parmesan cheese.
  6. These freeze well if you have leftovers.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

The ratio for ingredients is approximately 1 egg : 1 cup flour. It's easy to up how much you make by simply using more eggs and flour following that ratio (and more milk).

Nutrition Facts
Knoepfle (Spaetzle)
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 400 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 25%
Saturated Fat 9g 45%
Cholesterol 129mg 43%
Sodium 453mg 19%
Potassium 181mg 5%
Total Carbohydrates 50g 17%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 3g
Protein 11g 22%
Vitamin A 11.7%
Calcium 9.6%
Iron 18.5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

**Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!**

Other holiday recipes you’ll love:

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Cornbread Stuffing

cornbread stuffing with andouille sausage is a Thanksgiving side dish that will please everyone!

Homemade Dinner Rolls

overhead shot of buttery homemade rolls

Knoepfle is the Swiss version of Spaetzle, an drop noodle made of an egg noodle dough. It's our family tradition and they are the best holiday side dish recipe.

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17 comments

  1. Yum!! Thanks for sharing this at Savory Sundays! It looks great!!

  2. What a neat dish and a great tradition.

  3. What a great post, Dorothy!!!

    That pizza costume is AWESOME!!!

  4. Cute post, I will try and make this in the next week. – Karl

  5. How cool is that recipe? Where the heck would I get a press?

    Thanks so much for linking up to Made it on Monday!

  6. @Lark (SparkyLarky)

    I got mine from the local cookware shop.
    Just look around the area for potato mashers. Mines not metal, but plastic and has different size disks you put in to alter consistency.

  7. I LOOOOVVVVEEEE Spatzle. I like all the sizes from small to large, but I prefer the large ones. My mom and grandma use the knife and bowl method. Have you ever tried them in marinara sauce with Swiss or Parmesan? (I think that’s from the Italian region of Switzerland)

  8. My mum’s Swiss, and we used to eat them all time! Delicious! I’ve always pronounced them k-nerp-fli, though, but it might just been me. I have such vivid memories of begging my motherto let me let make them, and then making the biggest messes because I wasn’t quite strong enough. Sometimes we would make them with pumpkin, and we would always serve them with butter and cheese, and we would occasionally fry them before serving for a bit of crunch. Just wanted to add my two cents, great to see that other people enjoy them.

    • My dad loved to eat the leftovers that way, with swiss cheese! I need to try frying them for dinner sometime, for holidays we gotta keep them traditional. But fried – yum!

  9. Yummy!  My mom always serves spaetzle with gravy!  I bet this is delicious!!

  10. Looks like you published this several years ago. I was tempted to write a while back, but didn´t…. My grandparents were Swiss, and we used to love knoepfle, made by our dear aunt. I still love it, but contrary to my aunt´s patience, it taxes mine. Thanks for the post.

  11. I’ve spent 55 years trying to get these right. Today, it’s as if I’m sitting at Grandpa’s table, sharing our favorite. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  12. OMG! My grandmother would make Knoepfles every winter; it was a staple for my family., probably once a week. They were served with sauerkraut and pigs feet! No fancy utensils to make; she used a teaspoon to dip into the batter and drop into the boiling water. I have never seen this recipe before and it makes me so nostalgic. Thanks for the recipe and walk down memory lane.

  13. I grew up with knöpfles-it was an old family recipe from my mom’s side of the family and I always loved them. Mom always makes them with lots of onions, butter and swiss cheese and I always pig out.

    Made them myself one time-what a laborious process and the sticky dough is a pain to deal with. Will have to try it again sometime.

  14. These are the best.

  15. Pingback: Knoepfle (Swiss Spaetzle Recipe) – allfoodsmagazine.com

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