Stinging Nettle Spaetzle

5 from 1 vote
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nettle spaetzle recipe
Photo by Hank Shaw

Ever since I bought myself a spaetzle maker a few months ago, I have been busily at work making oddly flavored spaetzles, from pumpkin spaetzle to acorn spaetzle. Now, to celebrate the coming of spring, here’s my most vivid dumpling yet: Stinging nettle spaetzle.

My friend Josh, Holly and I went out to Isleton the other day to pick our annual batch of nettles. I have a whole raft of nettle recipes on this site, and use the vibrant green pretty consistently from February through March. You need to collect nettles when they are still young, otherwise they get too fibrous. For more detailed info, I wrote a primer on collecting nettles a while back.

Spaetzle, for those who don’t know, are little dumplings native to the Alpine region between Italy and Austria, although they appear all over Northern Europe. Spaetzle are made with flour, eggs and often milk. Nutmeg is a common ingredient, as are supplemental flavors. Thus the nettles.

Nettle spaetzle are a shocking, lurid green. Greener than green. Their taste is pretty mild, although you can definitely taste the slight brininess of the nettle.

I like to serve these with brown butter, or with mushrooms. I made these spaetzle for a very special dish that I plan on writing about in a few days. Stay tuned.

nettle spaetzle recipe
5 from 1 vote

Stinging Nettle Spaetzle

If you don't have nettles, these spaetzle are equally good with blanched spinach, parsley, or oregano. Something green, tender and flavorful.
Course: Pasta
Cuisine: German
Servings: 6 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


  • 1 cup blanched stinging nettles
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  • To blanch nettles, boil a large pot of salty water (it should taste like the ocean) and toss 3-5 tong-fulls of freshly washed nettles into it. I say tong-fulls because you will be stung by the nettles if you grab them. Boil the nettles for 2-5 minutes; dwarf nettles need only 2 minutes, regular nettles need 4-5 minutes. Remove the nettles from the boiling water and dunk them into a bowl of ice water to cool. Let them sit there for a minute or so, then wring out as much moisture as you can from them. Now they are ready to use.
  • Bring another large pot of salty water to a boil -- or, if your nettles were nice and clean when you blanched them, you can use the same water, although it will turn brown because the chlorophyll leached from the nettles will overcook. I change the water.
  • Put 1 cup of blanched nettles into a blender with the cup of milk and buzz to combine. Pour this into a bowl and whisk in the eggs.
  • Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then mix in the wet ingredients. You will get a sticky batter.
  • Put this batter into your spaetzle maker and run it over the boiling water. Allow the dumplings to boil for 1-2 minutes on the surface. You can eat them now, or you can save them for later by shocking the spaetzle in a bowl of ice water and then laying them out on a sheet pan to dry a bit. Coat with a little oil to keep them from sticking together.
  • If you do not have a spaetzle maker, you can use a colander with wide holes, or you can put the batter on a cutting board and flick little pieces off with a knife; this is a country-style spaetzle.
  • Serve your spaetzle with brown butter, a cream sauce, with mushrooms, or really with anything you'd like. Once shocked in cold water and coated with oil, spaetzle will last in the fridge for several days.


Calories: 280kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 59mg | Sodium: 815mg | Potassium: 191mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 445IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 136mg | Iron: 3mg

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

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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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Recipe Rating


  1. IF: the stinging nettle pancake sounds like a poke recipe a lady in Southern Appalachia made for me a few times. Very tasty but i think the poke has to be harvested young and requires some special preparation or you may get sick!

  2. I don’t know what you mean by a spaetzle maker but I have a metal press my grandmother gave me. Basically a 3×4″ (if i remember correctly) cylinder w a lever on the top and holes in the bottom. The spaetzle my family makes are more noodly then some of the dumpling type ones I’ve also seen. As far as the cutting off a board technique, this is how my grandmother described the method her mother used. She would hold the cutting board on her chest a cut noodles off the doe directly into the boiling water.

  3. Hank, just wanted to say that I’ve made a couple batches of spaetzle using a version of your recipe. Our nettles still aren’t big enough to harvest. I’ve been subbing a nice homegrown mix of arugula, spinach, and chives. I’ve also been sweating (not sauteing) sliced onion in butter until lightly caramelized but still quite soft. When I drain the spaetzle, I toss them into the hot skillet with the buttery onions, then mix in a modest amount of grated gruyere. Put the hot skillet of spaetzle under the broiler for three minutes and eat. Very, very good. I figure if I persevere in making the recipe a few more times without benefit of a spaetzle maker, that will justify the expenditure. Nettles should be pickin size soon. More iterations to come.

  4. Oh man, spent Tuesday in the east bay hills, 6 hours later came back with two big bags of nettles and 4lbs of chanterelles… made a simple butter/garlic/vodka/chanterelle sauce for the nettle spaetzle (we use something i got in Austria called a Spaetzle Ace – a lid-like thing with holes that you set on top of a pot of boiling water, plop the batter on top, and use a pastry cutter to spread through the holes) and it was divine. We kept wondering how one could incorporate a protein into the dish simply – suggestions?

  5. OK, so the first batch of nettle beer was a bit of a flop — tastewise, very good — but very flat. Hmmm…I’m going to try something different for my second batch this weekend!

  6. Swamp Thing: You put the spaetzle batter in this little hopper set on top of a grate, and you slide the hopper back and forth to scrape off little knobs of dough into the boiling water.

    IF: I prefer freezing blanched nettles, but dried sounds like it would work, too. Making “nettle powder” might be a good method for pasta, too.

  7. Have you tried frying nettles? We dipped the nettle tips (without blanching) in a simple batter (egg, flour) and fried them in oil. A bit like small pancakes. I really liked the flavor, not bland at all.

    You can also dry nettles. When needed boil briefly and use in lasagna etc.

  8. Kate: I agree with Island Vittles. A colander works, but I prefer the country method of flicking off bits of batter with a knife. Actually, I much prefer using the actual spaetzle maker – it really, really makes a difference!

    Island: Let me know how the nettle beer comes out. Never made it.

  9. I love the vibrant green! I just set a batch of nettle beer to brew — I think the spaetzle are next…as for the previous comment, cheese graters work, but really, it’s just easier when you have the spaetzle maker — this from someone who hates 1 use kitchen gadgets — the spaetzle maker is an exception to the rule. Theresa

  10. These look divine. I must have a wander over to the place I transplanted some nettles last year. I utterly neglected them and they were alive in fall. Maybe they’re up by now, or soon. My colander has tiny holes. Do you suppose a cheesegrater would work? I’m guessing the mandoline won’t.