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Meet Schupfnudeln—The German and Austrian Answer to Gnocchi

Meet Schupfnudeln—The German and Austrian Answer to Gnocchi

The traditional thick potato noodles you’ve been missing out on

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Lisa-Kristin Erdt

Lisa-Kristin Erdt

Food Editor at Kitchen Stories

Schupfnudeln (also sometimes known as Fingernudel) remind me of my childhood. Every time my mom made those thick, finger-shaped potato noodles, my sister and I would wait patiently at the dinner table—big smiles on our faces.

Not only are these delicious “noodles” simply wonderful as the main meal, they also work well as a side dish or even as a sweet treat. It’s their versatility and comforting nature that makes them one of my favorite dishes, and if you’ve never tried them before, let this introduction serve as the reason why you should.

What (exactly) are Schupfnudeln?

Schupfnudeln are thick potato noodles have gone through an exciting history on their way to become one of the most popular side dishes of Southern Germany and Austria. Originally, they were essential to the survival of soldiers in the Thirty Years' War: Soldiers mixed their rations of flour with water and used it to form the simple, finger-shaped noodles we know and love today.

Thanks to the subsequent imports of potatoes, the recipe was expanded to include this ingredient—making them even more similar to Italian gnocchi.

Since then, Schupfnudeln have became an increasingly popular dish and are often served savory with sauerkraut or sweet with poppy seeds and custard.

How to make Schupfnudeln from scratch

These rustic potato noodles are easy and quick to make. All you need are a handful of simple ingredients and the right technique.

The basic recipe for Schupfnudeln

To prepare the dough for your noodles, all you need is floury potatoes, egg yolks, flour, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. The most important part? Having the right technique!

After boiling the potatoes until tender and letting them cool down, mash them using a potato masher or food mill. Add the egg yolk, which serves as a binder and give them their distinctive pale-yellow color. Add some flour and carefully knead everything together with your hands.

After you've seasoned the dough with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, it’s time to form the thick noodles. Roll the dough into thin logs and cut pieces about 1-in. (3 cm) long. Then, with both hands on either end of each piece gently roll the Schupfnudeln into shape—creating tapered ends and a fatter middle.

How to cook Schupfnudeln

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then gently transfer the noodles to the boiling water using a slotted spoon. Reduce heat and let simmer for approx. 2 – 4 min., or until the noodles float. Remove with the slotted spoon and simply serve, add to a sauce, or even fry them in hot butter or oil to get a crispy texture.

How to store Schupfnudeln

As with many things, these German potato noodles taste best when freshly prepared and served immediately. But don’t worry, you can even enjoy these delicacies up to three days after their preparation, just keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. If you want to store them longer, you can freeze them for up to 2 months. Just remember to thaw in the fridge overnight before preparing.

International variations on Schupfnudeln

Even if you think these finger-shaped potato noodles are typically German, you can encounter them more often in international cuisines than you probably can imagine. Just think of delicious Italian gnocchi! Surprisingly similar to German Schupfnudeln, gnocchi are made from the same dough. The only difference appears in their form: Schupfnudeln are traditionally formed into tapered cylinders, while gnocchi are shaped into small rounds and pressed into the typical furrows, using a fork or special ridged gnocchi board.

Homemade gnocchi

Homemade gnocchi

Recipes with Schupfnudeln

An unchallenged favorite recipe is the traditional German sauerkraut and thick potato noodles recipe—soft potato noodles meet the pleasant acidity of sauerkraut completed by, of course, crispy bacon. A more than welcome hearty treat for cold winter days!

Sauerkraut and potato dumplings

Sauerkraut and potato dumplings

A stir-fry of sorts with Schupfnudeln and minced meat is also a good idea for a quick weeknight dinner. To make this delicious pan dish, start with sautéing ground beef along with diced onions and garlic, then deglaze everything with broth or cream. Add the freshly boiled thick noodles and let it cook for approx. 3 – 5 min. Optionally, upgrade your dish with other vegetables such as peppers, carrots, or leeks.

Schupfnudeln with creamed cabbage (German potato dumplings)

Schupfnudeln with creamed cabbage (German potato dumplings)

To make homemade Schupfnudeln you need just a few ingredients that you likely already have on hand. There is no universal recipe for these dumplings as there are many different regional variations, but ours is definitely Oma-approved! By adding the flour bit by bit you’ll ensure that the dough has the right tender texture. Form each dumpling into a long, tapered cylinder by rolling them between your hands–they should be thick in the middle and pointed at the ends. Accompanied by lusciously creamy savoy cabbage, it truly is a perfect comfort food.

Another very popular way to prepare the potato noodles is by leaning to the sweet side. If you already know that you want to serve the noodles for dessert, you can add some sugar or vanilla sugar to the dough. Then, after boiling them, melt butter in a frying pan and add some poppy seeds. Transfer the noodles to the frying pan and toss to combine with the poppy seed butter. Serve immediately sprinkled with some confectioner’s sugar or enjoy them with warm raspberry sauce, vanilla custard, or plum compote.

Schupfnudeln (German potato dumplings) with poppy seeds and plum jam

Schupfnudeln (German potato dumplings) with poppy seeds and plum jam

Have you tried German Schupfnudeln before? Do you think you would prefer the savory or sweet version? Let us know in the comments below!

Published on December 13, 2018

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