German Käsespätzle Recipe - German Mac and Cheese | Hank Shaw (2024)

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5 from 10 votes

By Hank Shaw

February 07, 2022


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While the word might look odd, German käsespätzle is really just their version of mac and cheese, using spätzle, little pasta dumplings. It’s easy to make, versatile and kid friendly.

German Käsespätzle Recipe - German Mac and Cheese | Hank Shaw (2)

Pronounced something like “KAYS-a-schpet-zleh,” käsespätzle is an alpine dish with renditions ranging from Germany to Austria to Switzerland, and there is something similar in alpine Italy, too.

At its core, this is basically a German mac-n-cheese with some pheasant bits tossed in. It’s easy, homey, and kids love it. You can serve käsespätzle in a big casserole, or, for a dinner party, in individual ramekins. It reheats well, so you might want to make a big batch on the weekend and eat it for weeknight meals.

Obviously, any boneless light meat works here, not just pheasant breast. Chunks of chicken, wild turkey breast or rabbit are especially good here. It’s a good recipe for quail breasts, chukars and partridges, too.

Caramelized or at least well-fried onions are also crucial, and lots of them. When you want to make a batch of käsespätzle, you can make the caramelized onions up to a few days in advance. It’s always good policy to have caramelized onions around, anyway.

Most recipes don’t include a protein other than cheese, but I really wanted one, and pheasant breast seemed like a perfect fit. Think of this as a German answer to my recipe for green chile mac and cheese, which also uses shredded white meat.

The Spätzle

You can buy premade spätzle in most supermarkets, either in the “Ethnic” section near the Jewish foods, or it will be in with the pasta.

That said, spätzle are easy to make. Here is a basic spätzle recipe (it’s in the recipe card), and I have a number of other cool spätzle recipes here on Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, such as acorn spätzle, squash spätzle, spinach spätzle and spätzle made with rye flour. Any of these will work for käsespätzle.

Feel free to substitute flours here. With game, I like using old wheats like emmer, einkorn, or spelt. Rye, barley, or whole-wheat flour are also fun.

Note that if you make your own spätzle, you will want a spätzle maker. They are cheap, and make the process way easier. A perforated pan works well, too.

German Käsespätzle Recipe - German Mac and Cheese | Hank Shaw (3)

The Cheese

There are two traditional cheeses for kasespatzle, both common in American supermarkets: Gruyere and Emmentaler. Both are great, but I prefer gruyere.

If you can’t find either, a white cheddar will work, as will a good Swiss. And you can mix and match. I used a semi-hard provolone once and it was great.

5 from 10 votes

German Käsespätzle

Think if this like German mac and cheese, using spätzle dumplings instead of macaroni. You can add cooked, shredded meat if you want, usually light meats, or skip it. Mushrooms are a great choice for vegetarians.

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Course: Appetizer, lunch, Main Course

Cuisine: German

Servings: 6 servings

Author: Hank Shaw

Prep Time: 45 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes minutes

Total Time: 1 hour hour 10 minutes minutes


  • ¾ pound cooked pheasant or chicken, shredded
  • 4 cups onions, about 2 large, sliced root to tip
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons honey


  • 2 cups flour
  • A few gratings of nutmeg, about ¼ teaspoon
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • A healthy pinch of salt


  • 5 ounces Gruyère or Swiss cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup chopped chives or parsley


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F, and grease a casserole dish or ramekins.

  • Caramelize the onions. Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and sauté the onions until they begin to brown on the edges. Then turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Toward the end of this time, stir in the thyme and honey. When the onions are pretty and brown, turn off the heat and set aside.

  • You can make the spätzle while the onions are cooking. Mix all the spätzle ingredients together into a batter that should be a bit thicker than pancake batter. Bring to a boil a large pot of water and salt it well.

  • To make the spätzle, use a spätzle hopper—easy to get on for less than $20—or use a colander with wide holes. Add the batter to the hopper or the colander, hold it over the simmering water, and drip the batter into the water (if you’re using a colander, a rubber spatula will help move the batter through the holes). You’ll be making lots of little dumplings. Let them boil on the surface for a minute or two, then scoop the dumplings out with a slotted spoon and arrange them on a baking sheet to cool. Coat them with a little butter or oil to keep them from sticking together.

  • Make the dish by layering some spätzle, then pheasant meat, then caramelized onions, then a bit of the chopped herbs, then cheese into the casserole dish or ramekins. Shoot for at least two layers—three is better—and be sure that shredded cheese is on top.

  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese melts and begins to brown.


Once made, kasespatzle reheats well. Put portions in an ovenproof container, cover and reheat at 350°F for about 20 minutes.

Keys to Success

  • If you don’t want to use shredded white meat, cooked mushrooms or chopped, crispy bacon or cooked ham are good options.
  • You can mix the spätzle with the pesto of your choice for added color and flavor. My choice would be arugula pesto or parsley pesto.


Calories: 523kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 162mg | Sodium: 243mg | Potassium: 455mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 780IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 344mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

Categorized as:
Featured, German, Pheasant, Grouse, Quail, Recipe, Wild Game

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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German Käsespätzle Recipe - German Mac and Cheese | Hank Shaw (2024)


What does Käsespätzle mean in German? ›

Käsespätzle is a Bavarian egg noodles dish with butter and cheese. In English the name means 'cheese spätzle' and is pronounced 'kays-shpatz'l'. Sometimes the spelling 'kaesespaetzle' is used in English to convey the umlaut a sound which falls between a and e.

Do people eat mac and cheese in Germany? ›

While the word might look odd, German käsespätzle is really just their version of mac and cheese, using spätzle, little pasta dumplings. It's easy to make, versatile and kid friendly.

What does Käsespätzle taste like? ›

It is pretty much the epitome of comfort food. Warm, creamy, cheesy, savory… absolutely delicious! If you aren't already familiar with Käsespätzle, it is a German and Austrian dish that falls somewhere in between mac and cheese and gnocchi.

What goes on top of spaetzle? ›

Spaetzle is basically a blank, buttery canvas that will absorb whatever flavorings you care to mix into it. I've served the dumplings plain with melted butter and chopped chives. I've crisped them in a pan of brown butter and almonds. I've topped them with hearty beef stew.

What does Spätzle mean in German? ›

The short noodles are usually irregularly shaped and made from a simple batter of eggs mixed with flour (all-purpose or semolina) and milk or water. Its name derives from the word spatz (“little sparrows”) but is also thought to mean “clump” in German. It's known as spätzli in Switzerland and nokedli in Hungary.

Which country eats the most Kraft mac and cheese? ›

It was introduced under the Kraft Dinner name simultaneously in both Canada and the U.S. in 1937. The brand is particularly popular with Canadians, who consume 55% more boxes per capita than Americans. There are now many similar products, including private label, of nonperishable boxed macaroni and cheese.

What nation eats the most mac and cheese? ›

Sure, Americans love their mac and cheese. But not as much as Canadians. In fact, Canadians love macaroni and cheese, and they love it more than anyone else in the world and consume the most macaroni and cheese per capita!

What is the difference between spaetzle and knöpfle? ›

In everyday language usage, the two names refer to the same product made from the same dough and are interchangeable. There is no clear distinction between how the two names are used, and usage varies from region to region (for example, in Alsace, knöple are typically larger than spätzle).

What's the difference between gnocchi and spaetzle? ›

Gnocchi are dumplings made/shaped by hand from a potato dough, and boiled like pasta. (See history).. Spaetzle is made from a more fluid batter (think pancake batter consistency)with egg, milk/cream, and flour. Not a potato in sight.

Is spaetzle Swiss or German? ›

Spätzle (or Spaetzli): - Origin: Spätzle is a type of soft egg noodle/dumpling that originates from the Swabian region of Germany but is also commonly found in Austrian and Swiss cuisine. - Ingredients: It is typically made from eggs, flour, and water or milk.

What meat goes well with spaetzle? ›

You often see it with veal or pork, but chicken is also popular and it's my preference for summer. The meat is pounded thin and breaded in a mix of breadcrumbs or panko and quickly fried.

What does Schnuckiputzi mean in German? ›

(mein) Schnuckiputzi / Schnucki. (my) sweetie pie, darling.

What is Käsespätzle made from? ›

This käsespätzle, also spelled kaese spaetzle, is a tasty homemade pasta tossed with onion and Emmentaler cheese. It's a German version of macaroni and cheese.

How do you say tasty in German slang? ›

The simple word “lecker” is used by most Germans to say that something is delicious, often in response to the question, “Schmeckt's?” … “Ja, lecker!”


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