Homemade Swiss Pasta (Spätzli and Knöpfli)

The many ways to eat Spätzli and Knöpfli

While you can find ready-made Spätzli in the convenience food shelves of all Swiss supermarkets, this is one of those dishes where home-made is so much tastier than factory-made. They are versatile too; they’re delicious with any meat and brown sauce (meatballs, chicken breasts, Gschnätzlets (sliced meat in brown sauce), beef stews and so on), or as a pasta bake with cheese, cream and steamed vegetables. I often cook two batches and use one batch immediately accompanied by meat and sauce, and the other batch as a pasta bake a few days later. You can also amend the recipe and add cooked, blended spinach for green Spätzli or anything else.

Spätzli and Knöpfli, what’s the difference?

As for the names, I call mine Spätzli, but they are, in fact, Knöpfli. Spätzli are long in shape and made by spreading the pasta dough onto a chopping board, then cutting off each single Spätzli with a knife before cooking. This is a very laborious process. The good news is, there’s the Knöpfli too. Knöpfli (translated: little buttons) are made with exactly the same dough and also taste the same, the only difference is that they’re more round in shape than long and it takes only minutes to make them. 0There are various tools to make Knöpfli. I’ve tested many but my one and only favourite is the Knöpflisieb (Knöpfli sieve) which you can get for about CHF 15 in most larger supermarkets (see photo). You can buy this sieve in some other countries too, or as a workaround you can use a grater from IKEA which has the same sized holes. As for the flour – you can use plain white flour or you can use Knöpflimehl which is durum wheat flour (located in the same shelf as all the other flour types). I think it makes a huge difference which flour you use – the Knöpflimehl makes much softer, better shaped Knöpfli.

Spätzli and Knöpfli are very popular in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and other Central European countries.


Knöpfli recipe for 4 people

  • 300g Knöpflimehl or plain white flour
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1.5dl milk-water (3/4 water, 1/4 milk)


Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix with a whisk until you have a smooth dough. Let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In a pan, bring 2-3 litres of water and a little salt to the boil. Once it’s boiling, press dough through the sieve and cook for 3-5 minutes. Drain Spätzli, add some butter, let it melt and mix.


7 Comment

  1. I looked for a spatzle sieve in Coop City yesterday but they’re all fancy ones for CHF35-49! Will keep hunting 🙂

    1. Little Zurich Kitchen says: Reply

      Oh no! I have this one from Migros (CHF 14.90, it’s my favourite, and I saw it at Neumarkt) https://produkte.migros.ch/spaetzli-knoepfli-blitz-cucina-tavola Coop has a slightly different one (looks like a grater) for around 20.- but I can’t find it online

      1. Found one that looks very similar to your pics that comes with a plastic spatula at Globus for 19. My tip for other knoepfeli n00bs – YOU GOTTA BE QUICK!! Otherwise the dough starts cooking onto the sieve and blocking the holes. Now that I know this, it’s all goooood 😉

        1. Barbara says: Reply

          You will need a bigger pot then, as the water shouldn’t be more than a third to avoid boiling the Knöpfli before dropping from the sieve. They require some free falling before they boil 🙂

          1. Little Zurich Kitchen says:

            Yes there are many variations. I’ve been cooking Knöpfli in my pot for more than 20 years and they turn out well 🙂

  2. Got myself a sieve! Very excited to give this a shot! Migros didn’t have the knopflimehl, though, so I have plain white, and I also got zopf flour just for fun… no idea what the diff is with all these. Wil let you know how it pans out 🙂

    1. Barbara says: Reply

      I substitute the Knöpflimehl with my own mix: 2/3 of universal flour, 1/3 wheat semolina! Good luck 🙂

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