Austrian Mac and Cheese (Käsespätzle)

I am insanely in love with cheese. For me, cheese is food for my soul. It’s a culinary delight and I have to admit, no matter if creamy, mild, or aromatic, I could wallow in cheese. Of course Käsespätzle, the Austrian or German version of Mac and Cheese, is one of my favorite dishes. Using the right cheese for the Käsespätzle is the secret to success. Normally, I prefer some sort of hard, fully aromatic cheese from Austria or Switzerland like typical Tirolean Bergkäse, Alpkäse, Appenzeller, or Gruyère cheese. If you can’t get this kind of cheese you can experiment with other types, but rather adhere to the strong and fully aromatic side.

The traditional way of making Spätzle is to hand-cut the dough with a large knife from a wooden board and let the bits drop in a pot of boiling salted water (see also how to make hand shape spaetzle). However, if you don’t prefer the rustic way, your favorite retailer for kitchenware should offer a variety of different Spätzle makers. Here are some examples from Amazon:

Spaetzle maker Hopper-style
Spätzle maker 1: Hopper-style – Spätzle are formed by moving the hopper back and forth

Spaetzle maker lid and scraper
Spätzle maker 2: Lid and Scraper – Spätzle are formed by scraping

Spaetzle maker press
Spätzle maker 3: Press – Spätzle are formed by pressing

If you don’t want to invest in a Spätzle maker, a colander or steamer with large round holes and a spatula might suit as a viable alternative. However, this method could be a little bit tricky or end up messy.

Steamer with large holes
Alternatively to a Spätzle maker use a steamer with large holes and a spatula

As you can imagine this dish serves a square meal. Hearty, homey and just delicious, but definitely not that kind of spa food. To balance this heftiness serve green salad as a side.

Print Recipe
Spätzle Austrian or German version of Mac and Cheese
Time
60 minutes
Servings
servings
Unit
Ingredients
3 eggs
0.4 cup milk
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour (all purpose or plain) for the onions
0.5 bunch chives
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Make the batter
    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix together flour, eggs, milk, salt and nutmeg. Knead in mixer on medium speed for 15 minutes to form a smooth and thick batter that flows freely. If you don't have a stand mixer, use a wooden spoon for kneading. If the batter seems too solid add some milk; if the batter seems too liquid add some flour. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
    Spaetzle batter
  2. Prepare the ingredients
    While the batter rests, peel the onion. Slice half of the onion into rings and coat them with flour. Dice the other half of the onion. Chop the chives and grate the cheese. Heat a large pot with salted water until boiling.
    Ingredients Spaetzle
  3. Make the Spätzle
    Place a Spätzle maker (or steamer) over the pot with simmering salted water. Depending on which Spätzle maker you have, press or scrape the Spätzle (you will find instructions on the Spätzle maker's package). Don't use too much batter, work in batches if necessary. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes or until they float to the top. Remove cooked Spätzle with a spider and transfer to a large strainer. Run cold water over the Spätzle to stop the cooking process (like cooking pasta). Repeat the procedure until all batter is cooked.
    Make Spaetzle
  4. Cook the onions
    In a large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil on medium-high. Add the coated onion rings and fry them for about 2 minutes per side or until the onion is crisp and browned. Clean the pan and heat butter on medium high, add the diced onions and brown them.
    Brown onion rings
  5. Combine Spätzle and oninons
    Transfer Spätzle to the browned onions in the pan, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes or until the Spätzle are warm. Add the grated cheese and mix together until the cheese is melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn of the heat.
    Combine Spaetzle and Cheese
  6. Serve the Spätzle
    Add chives to the Spätzle, place them on a plate and top them with the fried onion rings. You may serve green salad as a side.
    Serve Spaetzle
My little secret

I am a huge fan of Spätzle with herbs. Just add freshly chopped herbs like basil or parsley to the batter. Spätzle without cheese and onion are also a well-suited side for various meat dishes or stews. Just toss Spätzle in butter instead.

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