German Dumplings

written on 05/11/2020
by Jutta Triebe

Dumplings are a consistent part of German cuisine. All over the country you will find different varieties.

Here are some of them to make yourself:

Semmelknödel from Southern Germany - German Bread Dumplings

this recipe is from Kimberly Killebrew - The Daring Gourmet

A specialty of the Bavaria region of southern Germany, drenched in gravy these Semmelknödel are simply heaven!  Serve them with beef or pork roast, any kind of sauce/gravy, goulash and more!

Ingredients for 4 persons: makes 6-7 Semmelknödel, depending on the size.

  • 11 ounces (approx 300 g) white crusty bread (traditionally Brötchen are used), left out for a few days to get hard and then diced into small cubes
  • 1 cup hot milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup very finely diced yellow onion
  • (4 strips bacon, diced and fried until crisp, optional for a variation called Speckknödel, Bacon Bread Dumplings)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt (you can use less if using bacon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • breadcrumbs, as needed

Chop the hardened bread into small cubes and place them in a large bowl.  Pour the hot milk over the bread, cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes or until softened.

Heat the butter in a frying pan and cook the onions just until transparent, do not brown them. Add the cooked onions to the bread mixture along with the eggs, cooked bacon (if using), parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg. 

Knead the mixture together with your hands until very thoroughly combined, breaking up as many of the bread cubes as you can until it's a soft and chunky-smooth consistency.  If the dough is too wet, add breadcrumbs (not flour).

Wet your hands to prevent the dough from sticking and form Knödel about the size of a tennis ball (they will expand slightly when cooked).

Press the Knödel between your palms to make sure they're nice and compact. Bring a large, wide pot of lightly salted water to a very light simmer - not boiling but just on the verge of boiling with tiny fizzy bubbles floating up. 

Carefully drop the Semmelknödel in the water and let them "steep" 15-20 minutes. Do not at any point let the water boil or you risk your Knödel losing shape or falling apart.  Carefully lift them out with a slotted spoon.  

Variant: Serviettenknödel

(from Upper Franconia / Southern Germany) means napkin dumpling, as they were cooked in the old days in a napkin or fine kitchen towel (cotton).

In this variant of the bread dumpling, the dough is kneaded again briefly on a lightly floured work surface and formed into a roll approx. 5 cm thick. Roll the roll very loosely in a damp kitchen towel and tie the ends together with kitchen twine. Leave it to rise for 15 minutes.

Cooking method 1: Bring plenty of lightly salted water to the boil in an oval roaster. Put the roll in the boiling water and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes over a mild to medium heat. Lift the dumplings out of the water, drain well and carefully roll them out of the cloth.

Cooking method 2: In the southern German kitchen, the dough is wrapped in a napkin or other linen cloth and cooked in steam, i.e. over the boiling water. There are metal pot inserts for this purpose. Cut into 8 thick or 16 thin slices and possibly sauté on both sides in butter until golden brown. Serve with roasted goose.

Grüne Klöße (from Vogtland, Thuringia) - Green dumplings 

Ingredients for 4 persons:

  • 1 ½ teaspoons of salt per litre of water
  • 2 pinches of salt for the dough
  • 2 kg potatoes, peeled, floury
  • 1-2 pinches of pepper (optional)


Bring the salted water to a boil in a large saucepan.

Grate the potatoes (which works best with a juice centrifuge / grater for larger quantities, only make sure to leave out any 'leftovers' so that no coarse pieces get into the dumpling mixture). Squeeze the grated potatoes vigorously, let the liquid stand a while so that the starch can settle and then pour off the liquid.

Pour the pressed dough into a bowl. Take a tablespoon of starch from the potato juice (it settles on the bottom) and add it to the mixture.

Now gradually add as much hot (this is important) water to the mass with a ladle and mix it until it has a consistency that, when you hold it in your hand, the mass almost flows through your fingers. Mix in salt and pepper, if desired.

Now comes the most important trick, otherwise the dumplings will turn into soup: Do not boil or re-boil the water anymore, but just keep it hot!

Now form the dumplings and slide them into the hot water. It's best to do this with two people, the other person can remove the lid and then put it back on so that the water doesn't cool down too much. Because the mass is very soft.

When all the dumplings are in the pot, let it stand for about 20-25 minutes, under no circumstances boil, otherwise the dumplings will fall apart immediately.

When the dumplings are all floating on top, let it stand for another 5 minutes, then they are ready. They taste great with roulades, duck, broilers, goose and many other dishes with sauce. Don't be alarmed, these dumplings will turn really green.

Tip: if you want to eat beef roulades with it, pull the dumplings apart and brush with medium-spicy Bautzen mustard, and pour roulade sauce over them. It tastes great, even if it sounds unusual.

Variant 1: with ⅔ grated raw and ⅓ boiled potatoes

Peel and mash the potatoes cooked in their skins and add to the squeezed, grated raw potatoes and the starch and mix everything well, mix with the potato flour until the dough sticks a little so that you can roll it into a ball in your hand.

Variant 2: The dumplings can be filled with white bread croutons roasted in butter. Especially liked by children..

Wickelklöße (from Westsachsen/ Erzgebirge/ Thüringen) - Wrap dumplings

Variant of the potato dumplings

Wrap dumplings are actually a variant of potato dumplings filled with breadcrumbs, which are typical in West Saxony, Ore Mountains and Thuringian cuisine.

In West Saxony, dumplings are made from the same batter as dumplings. The difference is that the dough is not shaped into a round dumpling, but rolled out wide. A simple pasta dough consisting of flour, eggs, baking powder and water is prepared for the Thuringian Wrap dumplings.

Nutmeg is used in the Erzgebirge Wrap dumplings and the palm-wide pieces are pressed together at the ends:

Ingredients for 4 persons:

  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 200 g flour
  • 100 g potato starch
  • 150 g breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • salt, some nutmeg
  • a little butter


Boil the potatoes, peel them and mash or grate them while they are still lukewarm, let them cool down.

Knead the potato mixture with the egg, the flour, salt and nutmeg and, if necessary, some milk to form a smooth dough. Fry breadcrumbs in butter. Roll out the dough about 1 cm thick on a well floured work surface or cloth. Spread the breadcrumbs on top.

Cut the dough into approx. 12 x 12 cm squares and roll up. Press the cut edge well. Let it steep in slightly simmering salted water for 20 minutes. It tastes good with Kassler with Sauerkraut or solo with fried bacon cubes.

You can also roll up the entire sheet of dough and then cut pieces approx. 6 cm wide. The leftovers are very tasty when fried in the pan.

Königsberger Klopse (from East Prussia) - Meatballs from Königsberg 

also known as Soßklopse, are a German specialty of meatballs in a white sauce with capers.

Ingredients for 4 persons:

  • bread rolls (from the day before)
  • 1 onion
  • Anchovy fillets (approx. 6 g each)
  • 500 g minced veal
  • 1 egg (size M)
  • 1 teaspoon medium hot mustard
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 l vegetable stock
  • 45 g butter
  • 45 g flour
  • 100 g whipped cream
  • 30 g capers
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 6 stalk (s) of parsley


Soak the rolls in cold water. Peel the onion and dice very finely. Chop the anchovies very finely. Squeeze the water out of the breadroll. Knead the mince, egg, onion, roll, mustard, anchovies, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in a mixing bowl. Form approx. 8 equal-sized dumplings from the mince.

Bring 2 l vegetable stock to the boil in a large saucepan. Bring the dumplings to the boil briefly in the boiling water and let them simmer for about 12 minutes over a low to medium heat.

When the dumplings float to the surface, let the pan stand for about 5 minutes, then skim them off and put them in a sieve, drain and keep warm. Measure out 650 ml of cooking water for the dumplings.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, let it turn light brown, stir in the flour and remove from the hob. Stir in approx ¾ l of the meat stock. When the sauce has reached a creamy consistency, there is enough broth in it.

While stirring, add the cream and quickly stir in the egg yolks (mixed with a tablespoon of milk). Do not bring to the boil, stir in capers and lemon juice, season with salt, pepper and sugar. Briefly heat the dumplings in the sauce.

Parsley potatoes are served with it.

Germknödel (from Bavaria) -Yeast dumplings 

Light and fluffy yeast dough filled with fine plum jam: yeast dumplings. The yeast dough classic is traditionally served with poppy seed butter and is considered a sweet main course.

Ingredients for 4 persons:

For the yeast dumplings:

  • 75 ml + 4 tbsp milk
  • 21 g yeast
  • 250 g flour
  • 50 g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • 1 packet of vanilla sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 tbsp plum jam
  • 2 teaspoons of sunflower oil

For the poppy seed butter:

  • 50 g butter
  • 25 g of blue poppy seeds


Warm 75 ml milk until lukewarm. Dissolve the yeast in the milk and stir in 30 g flour until smooth. Let the pre-dough rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes.

Melt 50 g butter over low heat. Mix the egg, egg yolk, 1 tbsp powdered sugar, 4 tbsp milk, vanilla sugar, salt and lemon zest together. Stir in butter.

Knead the egg-butter mixture, pre-dough and 220 g flour with the dough hook of the hand mixer to form a smooth dough. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

Shape the yeast dumpling dough into a roll on a work surface dusted with flour and divide into 4 pieces. Press each piece flat with your hands. Put 1 tablespoon of plum jam in the middle. Press the dough together and shape into balls.

Place the yeast dumplings with the seam facing down on the floured work surface or a baking sheet, cover with a cloth and let the dumplings rise for another 20 minutes.

Brush the dumplings with oil.Bring approx. 150 ml of water to the boil. Place 2 dumplings side by side in a steamer insert, cover and steam for 20-25 minutes over low to medium heat.

Take out the finished dumplings and place them on a greased baking sheet while still warm. Prepare the remaining dumplings in the same way.

Tip: If you don't have a steamer, you can put water in a large pot. Span the tea towel over it so that a depression is created. Tie with kitchen twine. Place yeast dumplings on the cloth, cover with a domed lid and cook.

For the poppy seed butter, heat 50 g butter, add the poppy seeds and roast for about 1 minute while stirring. Pour the poppy seed butter over the finished yeast dumplings. Dust with 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar - enjoy!