Semmelknödel are traditional German Bread Dumplings, a popular starchy side dish in Bavaria.
This recipe is our favourite way to use up stale bread in the fridge or freezer. You’ll love transforming a sad slice of stale bread into these plump onion and parsley dumplings.
Our authentic German Bread Dumpling recipe is quick and easy to make, ready to serve in under an hour.
Homemade Semmelknödel features flavours like onion, parsley, nutmeg and black pepper. They’re best served slathered in turkey, pork, beef or mushroom gravy.
Meat lovers can transform this simple Bavarian Bread Dumpling recipe into Speckknödel with the addition of crispy smoked bacon.
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What Is Semmelknödel?
Semmelknödel is one of Germany’s most popular side dishes.
The name originates in southern Germany, where semmel means bread rolls and knödel refers to something that has been kneaded.
Stale white bread is cut into thin slices or cubes, and softened with hot milk. The dough is then mixed with parsley, egg, and some salt. Bread crumbs can be used to thicken the dough as this depends on how old and dried the bread rolls are. Some ingredients, especially the use of onions, vary depending on the region where the family recipe is prepared.
Another variation, Speckknödel (bacon dumplings), are prepared exactly the same way but they have the addition of crispy bacon.
These plump dumplings are hand-rolled into the shape of a sphere, the size of a tennis ball. They are typically served alongside meat dishes like rouladen, sauerbraten, pork knuckle or bratwurst.
Travel to Germany by Cooking Semmelknödel at Home
I love traveling to Europe.
As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in Europe, from traditional markets to award winning restaurants.
For over ten years, I’ve been on the hunt for the best Semmelknödel recipe. I’ve embarked on culinary adventures at German restaurants throughout Western Europe in Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland and Austria.
On a road trip of Germany, I’ve slurped through steaming bowls of traditional Semmelknödel at restaurants in Freiburg, Berlin, Ahrenshoop, Hamburg, Spreewald, Potsdam, Dresden, Leipzig, Frankfurt, Cochem, Mettlach, Nennig, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Munich, Koblenz and Rudesheim.
The first time I ever ate Semmelknödel was during a memorable first meal in Munich. An oversized plate arrived at my table featuring a massive pork knuckle, fermented pickles and two plump German Bread Dumplings.
I hadn’t seen Semmelknödel on menus in Berlin so was delighted to encounter the classic dumplings popular in Southern Germany. I enjoyed them with a swig of fresh beer and ordered them whenever I could while galavanting through Bavaria.
After you’ve enjoyed your first taste, you’ll realize why Semmelknödel are a must-try when visiting Germany!
Where To Eat Authentic Semmelknödel
Haven’t traveled to Germany before? It may be helpful to first sample traditional Semmelknödel at a local restaurant to better understand how the starchy side dish is served. You’ll get an idea of how large to roll your German Bread Dumplings and what sauces or garnishes to add to the plate.
My Family Loves German Bread Dumplings
After traveling to Germany, Switzerland and Austria several times I decided to treat my parents to a traditional German feast featuring homemade Semmelknödel.
I like to serve these stuffed German Bread Dumplings during the colder months of the year in the fall and winter. There’s honestly nothing more comforting after shoveling snow during a blizzard then slicing into a plump parsley dumpling.
Semmelknödel Health Benefits
Our German Bread Dumplings recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of leeks can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Eggs contain two vital nutrients that are not present in many foods: iodine and vitamin D. Eggs are also rich in tissue-building protein and vitamin B12, which helps your body manufacture blood cells.
Consuming dairy products (such as milk and cheese) provides health benefits — especially improved bone health. Dairy foods provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
Nutmeg is said to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, strengthen cognitive function, detoxify the body, boost skin health, reduce insomnia, increase immune system function and improve blood circulation.
An excellent source of vitamin K, as well as vitamin C, folate, and iron, parsley helps keep your bones and blood healthy, and protects your skin from damage by free radicals.
Whole wheat flour is rich in vitamins B-1, B-3, and B-5, along with riboflavin and folate. It also has more iron, calcium, protein, and other nutrients than white flour.
German Bread Dumpling Tips
This homemade Semmelknödel recipe is quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips:
- Use a large cast iron dutch oven with a high rim to hold as many dumplings in the boiling water as possible.
- There are many regional variations of German Bread Dumplings. Traditional recipes feature stale German buns, also known as Kaiser rolls. You can also use stale bread slices, hot dog buns or hamburger buns.
- If you follow our recipe you might notice the dumpling dough is too wet or too dry. This is due to the fact that your bread might be more or less stale/dry then what we used. Don’t fret! We suggest having additional warm milk or stale bread cubes in case you need to add more to achieve the desired consistency.
- These Semmelknödel are vegetarian. We do not suggest trying to prepare vegan bread dumplings as the butter, egg and milk is necessary to bind the bread so it doesn’t break apart in boiling water.
- Parsley is the most traditional herb to incorporate in Semmelknödel recipes but you could also get creative by using chives, tarragon or sage.
What To Serve with Semmelknödel
If you’re making simple Semmelknödel you can top them with chopped parsley and serve them with hearty German meat dishes like sauerbraten, pork knuckle or bratwurst.
If you’re hosting a German-themed dinner party you might also want to serve Flädlesuppe German Pancake Soup, German Pork Rouladen with Bacon, Apple & Pickles, Kartoffelknödel German Potato Dumplings and Speckknödel German Bread Bacon Dumplings.
In Bavarian kitchens and restaurants they are traditionally served smothered in turkey, beef, pork or mushroom gravy.
After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe, Cinnamon Babka For Chocolate Lovers or Black Forest Pancakes.
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Storing German Bread Dumplings
If you have leftover Semmelknödel you can store them in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. To reheat, simply zap them in the microwave.
They also freeze well, so I like to often double the recipe, cook them, freeze them separated on cookie sheets, and then transfer them to ziplock freezer bags. When you want to eat them later, all you have to do is thaw and reheat them in the microwave.
How To Make Semmelknödel German Bread Dumplings
Semmelknödel German Bread Dumplings
- mixing bowl
- French knife
- measuring spoons
- measuring cups
- Slotted spoon
- Dutch Oven
- 11 oz White crusty bread or rolls left out to dry and diced into small cubes
- 1 cup Milk
- 1 tbsp Butter
- 3/4 cup Yellow Onion finely diced
- 2 Large eggs beaten
- 3 tbsp Fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black pepper
- 1/4 tsp Ground nutmeg
- Slice the dried bread into tiny cubes and place them in a large mixing bowl. Pour the hot milk over the bread, cover and let sit for 20-30 minutes.
- Heat butter in a skillet and cook the onions until transparent, 3-4 minutes. Add the cooked onions to the bread mixture along with the eggs, parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Knead the wet bread mixture together with your hands until 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 approximately the size of a tennis ball. Press the knödel between the palms of your hands to make sure they're nice and compact.
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a light simmer. 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 German Bread Dumplings losing shape or falling apart. Carefully lift them out with a slotted spoon.
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