These filling, pillowy potato dumplings are one of Germany’s best loved comfort foods and are wonderfully easy to make.
- Go straight to the Recipe Card or
- Read on for relevant tips and step-by-step pictures (1-2 mins)
Kartoffelknödel Bavarian Potato Dumplings
Dumplings are a favorite in German cuisine and are lovingly served with soups, stews, braises and roasts (along with plentiful gravy). Often times they are simply enjoyed on their own or as an ingredient to other dishes (ex. bread or pretzel dumplings salad with radishes is a traditional offering on many of a beer garden menu).
The potato dumplings we focus on in this post are especially loved in Bavaria, where they are traditionally plated next to Schweinshaxe or Schweinebraten. Known as Kartoffelknödel or Kartoffelklösse they are often prepared with a tasty filling which amplifies their comfort food appeal.
As far as delicious starchy carbs are concerned these little numbers will satisfy almost any craving. While we don’t eat them too often, we always indulge when they make an appearance at our table. Kartoffelknödel are also quite easy to make, even when a filling is used.
Ingredients You Will Need
- Potatoes. You need starchy potatoes known as Mehligkochende Kartoffeln (mealy/floury cooking potatoes) in Germany, of which there are many varieties. In the US use Russet potatoes.
- Egg. Use a large egg and if needed add an extra yolk or a whole other egg – it depends on how starchy the potatoes you are using are.
- Starch or flour. To help the dumplings stay in place a binder such as corn or potato starch or simply flour is needed.
- Salt. To season the potatoes. You can boil them in salted water (harder to control how much salt they will absorb) or season the potato dough.
- Pepper and nutmeg. Freshly ground black pepper (to taste) and a pinch of nutmeg (optional, but traditional) to season the dough.
- Bread. Optional in case you want to make croutons to use as filling for the dumplings. You would need a slice of day old bread or simply a toasted slice.
- Butter. Optional, if you are making croutons. To pan fry the cubed slice of bread in until gloriously golden.
- Parsley or dill. To season the dumplings and also the croutons (if making).
How to Make Potato Dumplings from Scratch
- Make the dough. Boil potatoes until soft enough to be pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside to cool down. As soon as they are comfortable to touch, peel and press through a potato ricer. Add egg, starch and salt and using your hands mix until you can turn out a soft dough. If you are using flour instead of starch, work the dough minimally so as not to activate the gluten too much which can result in chewy dumplings. If needed add an extra yolk or even a whole extra egg.
- Shape the dumplings. Use a 2/3 or 3/4 cup measure to scoop the potato dough with so you work with approximately the same amount for each dumpling (about the size of a peach). Shape into a ball (#7) and repeat until you have used all the dough. You may coat hands with starch to make the process easier.
- Cook the dumplings. Bring water to a boil and using a slotted spoon lower dumplings into the water (work with 2 or 3 at a time). Once they rise to the surface allow them to cook for about 5 minutes (3-4 if small dumplings). Scoop the cooked dumplings with a slotted spoon and place them onto a warm plate. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.
TIP: We find that the easiest way to cook the dumplings is in boiling water. Many recipes recommend that you should simmer them in water that has been brought to boil but then placed over medium heat, others encourage that you submerge them in water just below simmering temperature and leave them in it for 20 minutes, etc, etc.
Often times following the ambiguous guidelines of what constitutes simmering or below simmering results in the dumplings dissolving in the water, which is why we recommend that you stick with the recipe as written in the Recipe Card and use boiling water only.
How to Stuff Kartoffelknödel
By far the most popular filling for Bavarian potato dumplings is bread croutons browned in butter and seasoned with salt, pepper and finely chopped parsley. Alternatively, you can cook down chopped ham or speck (German smoked bacon) along with diced onion. You can also cook down spinach and mix it with shredded cheese.
The following image sequence demonstrates how to stuff potato dumplings with the filling of your choice. The cooking method for stuffed dumplings remains exactly as described above.
- Prepare the filling. Cube a slice of stale (or toasted) bread and brown in butter until golden. Season with salt, pepper and parsley.
- Stuff. Form balls out of the potato dough. Using your thumb gently create a cavity inside each ball, place a couple of croutons (or a spoonful of other stuffing you may have prepared) then carefully reshape to close the opening. Finally, smooth out the dumplings applying gentle pressure.
What Color Should Potato Dumplings Be?
The color of Bavarian Kartoffelknödel can range from off-white with faint yellow tones to rich yellow. It all depends on:
- the color of the potatoes – In Germany Mehligkochende potato varieties (mealy, floury cooking potatoes) have deeper yellow color than the very pale, borderline white US Russets variety. Therefore dumplings made with German starchy potatoes tend to have a deeper yellow coloring.
- the diet of the hens who laid the eggs – if the diet included feed rich in carotenoids the yolks will be a strong orange color which will contribute towards more intensely yellow dumplings.
Traditional Ways to Serve and Enjoy German Potato Dumplings
- a simple sprinkle of chopped parsley or dill over steaming hot Kartoffelklösse
- butter parsley sauce – over medium-low heat melt a stick of butter, season with salt and pepper, stir in a tablespoon of finely chopped parsley and drizzle over each dumpling
- gravy – either use gravy you prepared from the drippings of a roast or prepare gravy from scratch (mushroom gravy is very popular)
- placed inside soups – simply add the dumplings center plate a bowl of clear German soup (like Hochzeitssuppe) or place them inside servings of stews
Other Recipes You Might Enjoy
- 2 lbs Russet potatoes
- 1 large egg*
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp corn or potato starch**
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- pepper (to taste)
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
- 1 tsp finely chopped parsley (for garnish)
Crouton Filling (Optional)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 slice dry (or toasted) bread (use artisan white bread or German rye sourdough)
- pinch salt and pepper
- 1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
Bacon Filling (Optional)
- 4 slices smoked bacon
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1/2 onion, diced
- pinch salt and pepper
- 1 tsp parsley, finely chopped
1. Boil the potatoes until easily pierced with a fork. Drain and let cool down until comfortable to touch. Peel and press through a potato ricer, over a large bowl. (While the potatoes are boiling you can prepare one of the two fillings below (optional).
2. Add egg and starch to the riced potatoes, add salt and pepper, nutmeg (if using) and mix with your hands until a soft dough forms. (You may need to add an extra yolk or a whole extra egg if the mixture is too dry).
3. Divide the dough into 8 (or 10) portions*** or simply use a 2/3 cup measure to scoop out equal amounts of dough. Shape each portion of dough into a ball (about the size of a peach). (Optional: if using a filling press into each ball with thumb to create a small cavity, place filling inside, then carefully reshape and reform dumpling).
4. Bring 5 quarts of water to boil. Using a slotted spoon carefully lower each dumpling into the boiling water. Work with 2-3 dumplings at a time. Once the dumplings rise to the surface of the water, let them boil for about 5-6 more minutes. Remove one by one using a slotted spoon and place on a warmed plate. Proceed with the remaining dumplings. Sprinkle a bit of chopped parsley as garnish and serve.
CROUTON FILLING (OPTIONAL)
Cut bread into cubes. Over medium heat melt butter and brown cubes until golden. Season with a bit of salt, pepper and chopped parsley and let cool down.
BACON FILLING (OPTIONAL)
Cut bacon into small pieces. Over medium heat cook bacon and diced onion with the 1 tbsp oil. When all the bacon fat has rendered season with salt, pepper. Let cool down a bit and add the parsley.
*have another egg on hand as you may need to use it if the potatoes you are working with are particularly starchy.
** you can use flour instead, but in that case knead the dough minimally so as to avoid activating the gluten too much which will result in a chewier texture instead of a fluffy one
*** you can also make more, smaller dumplings, especially if you will not be stuffing them
TIP: If it is your first time making potato dumplings from scratch follow these steps in order to take any uneasiness out of the equation.
- Once you have mixed the dough as per above, shape only one dumpling.
- Bring water to boil and test the dumpling to be sure that everything happens as dictated by the recipe. If the dumpling falls apart and seems too loose, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of starch or flour to the dough, mix again and shape and test with another dumpling.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 121Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 497mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g