Skillet-Browned Spaetzle

Once upon a time in the Catskills, I ate spaetzle and sauerbraten on New Year’s Day. We’d taken a bus from the city, in a blizzard, to meet friends at a many-bedroomed house we rented for the weekend. A bus that stopped at country gas stations all the way up scenic Route 87 until we landed, later than expected, in a town without taxis. When our friends peeled into the parking lot in the old brown Mercedes, the party had been going on for hours. At midnight, we toasted in our red and yellow underpants, while counting our wishes, eating twelve grapes, a tradition we’d brought North with us from Mexico. The next day, we rose before noon to ride inner tubes down a snow-covered mountain. And that night, we crowded around a cozy fireplace in a chalet style Swiss-German restaurant, where we had Schnapps and fondue and various wursts. I knew the year ahead would be chaotic, dynamic, rowdy, silly and a little sad, if this January 1st had been any kind of augury.

It was chilly here today, colder than it’s been in months. I knew we needed comfort food and this is what I came up with. A pork roast I smeared with garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and cooked at 40o degrees for about an hour. Green beans sauteed in olive oil and shallots, steamed with vermouth. And spaetzle. Little dumplings that cook very quickly go nicely with lots of butter. While there is a special spaeztle tool, a plain old colander works just fine, I found. Be prepared to steam up the kitchen while you stand over a pot of boiling water. But on a brisk fall evening like this, it’s the very perfect thing to do. It’s also excellently fun to say.

Skillet-Browned Spaetzle


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped


In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg, eggs, and milk. Cover and chill batter in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Place a colander over a large pot of salted boiling water. Use a rubber spatula to press the batter through the holes and cook in batches, 2-3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked spaetzle to an ice water bath. Then drain in another colander. Finally, transfer to a bowl and coat the spaetzle with olive oil, so that the pieces don’t stick together. Can be made one day ahead. To finish, heat butter with sage leaves in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Toss the spaetzle in melting butter until lightly browned. Throw in a handful of parsley and serve.

Jillian Bedell

Jillian Bedell is a writer and mother living in a farmhouse in Cushing, Maine. She is very good at talking about herself in the third person. She is co-author of Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road.


  1. YESSS! i photographed a spaetzle dinner with a green salad and sausages as my first date with my new camera a few months back. it was a terrible disaster so i am still planning to post about spaetzle, a childhood food-memory of mine. you cooked it exactly like i do! thanks for the reminder to make it again. Your trip to the Catskills sounds kickass.

  2. My spaetzle NEVER comes out right. I’ll think it’s a great idea–forgetting my previous attempts–then after I make I remember it’s always a disaster. The first problem is that the batter always cooks as soon as it hits the colander, plugging the holes. I finish the job with the plate-and-knife method, but what I always end up with is something that looks like scrambled eggs. Help!! I’m pretty sure this will be the last time I ever give it a go.

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