Fresh Pasta Dumpling or “Knöpfli”

Source:  Fam. Beerli cir. 1990’s

Fresh pasta dumpling or knoepfli
Fresh pasta dumpling or knoepfli

Fresh pasta dumplings is the American term, that frankly, I didn’t know what else to call it. Knöpfli or Spätzle is the term we use over here, which translated means dumplings, but I wouldn’t exactly agree. Dumplings to American’s are usually ‘maza’ ball style, large and round. As surprising as it may seem, this dish is still quite foreign to the American’s for some reason, and that’s OK. Because it truly is a regional dish over here. Regional means there will be lots of the local cheese and ham flavored into this lovely dish. It’s a very nice, warm and creamy dish to sit around and enjoy together as a family. In fact, as I’m writing this it comes to mind that maybe this is the Swiss version of America’s favorite dish…Macaroni and Cheese!

The pasta dumplings as I call it, the Swiss call it Knöpfli, which means “little buttons”. This is a very apropos term for them, because they look like little buttons floating in the water. The base of the Knöpfli dough are eggs, flour, and semolina fines. It’s very much like a pasta recipe, only you add milk instead of water to the recipe. And, instead of a doughy consistency which you aim to achieve in pasta, the consistency is more of a thick paste, or oatmeal paste which peaks when you lift it.

Making this Knöpfli or dumpling dish is a bit intimidating the first time. I used the help of a video to clear some things up for me. However, don’t use the recipes you find on the web. I think they are very inauthentic. The video helped me to see how the dough was to be and how to use the shaver tool. By the way, you must have the tool in the preparations of this dish. The Swiss invented a very crafty tool to get this dough shaped perfectly, and it makes the application quick, easy and clean. I found my tool @ the local thrift shop for CHF 1(~$1). If you don’t have a tool, I’d say forget it. Otherwise, you’ll have a mess on your hands. There are many options on the market, I’d avoid the press and use the slide.

Fresh Pasta Dumpling or “Knöpfli”

A lovely Swiss-German meal.  Takes the ordinary out of dinner.  Try it, it’s delightful.
Cuisine Swiss
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6 people



  • 500 gr white flour
  • 500 gr Semolina
  • 1-2 tbs sea salt sea salt is perfect for this recipe!
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 dl milk
  • 3 dl water


  • 500 gr cheese gratred, appenzeller or gruyere is best for this dish
  • 1-2 diced onions pre-cook, or carmalize and use as a topper
  • 50-100 gr ham cut in small pieces, sautee and top along with onions


  • Search for a semolina-based, or pure semolina flour. 
    Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.
  • In an electric mixer, combine eggs, milk, salt, and water together into a nice whip.
    (or mix by hand with wooden spoon)
  • Combine wet with dry by mixing w/ a large wooden spoon, or a whisk. Mix for about 5 min. until combined. Cover with a towel and let stand at room temperature for about 30 min. to about 1 hr.
  • Have your knopfli tool ready to use. As you will see in the next photo, you pour a few spoon-full of the dough in the center of the white slider. You then move the slider forward and back, as your dough cuts off and drops into the boiling water
  • Now begin to slide front and back, and your dough drops will drop and cook in the boiling water. This takes about 1 min. for them to cook. They (like fresh made pasta) rise to the top when cooked.
  • Use a large hand-held sieve to scoop out the cooked dough pieces which are now floating a top of the water.
  • Have a pasta type bowl near you to put the cooked pieces in a bowl and set aside. Be sure to drain as much of the water before you put the pieces into the bowl. Begin your layering with cheese and add in a spoon at a time of your sautee (onions, or mushrooms, or both)
  • adding your yummy sautéed onions and mushrooms in-between layering with cheese


  • My sister-in-law, Lotti whom is Swiss, told me that she layers. So, as they come out of the boiling water, she puts them in a baking dish, first layer Knöpfli, then cheese, then Knöpfli, then cheese-and so on until finished. When all is layered, she tops it with fried onions and serves. The heat from the Knöpfli melt the cheese and make it a great winter dish!
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