Fresh Pasta Dumpling or “Knöpfli”

Source:  Mother-in-law, Switzerland cir. 1990’s

Knöpfli or fresh pasta dumplings

Fresh Pasta Dumpling or “Knöpfli”

This is a German/Swiss delight loosly translated as dumplings, but I wouldn’t exactly agree. The Germans call this plate Spätzle. The Swiss call it Knöpfli, which means “little buttons”. They are referred to as dumplings, but in my mind dumplings are more of a potato base, where as the Knöpfli 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. If this is clear as mud to you (as it was to me) refer to Youtube for an instructional. Don’t use their recipe though, as they are not authentic. The video helped me to see how the dough was to be and how to use the shaver tool. You must have a Spätzle slide as it is called. 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.
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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