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Spätzle and Cheese

It’s mac and cheese with an umlaut!

4 to 6 side dish portions


20 minutes if you’ve already made the Butter-Fried Spätzle

Making the long version of spätzle and cheese involves multiple steps. To save time, make the cheese sauce in this recipe and keep it on the stove barely warm. Prepare the spätzle according to the recipe for Butter Fried Spätzle through Step 5: make and boil the noodles, but omit the ice-water bath. Instead, keep the drained noodles warm, sauce them and bake them in the casserole as below.


Mac and cheese is a wonderfully sinful dish—but it’s not always perfect. You know how the mac goes limp when it bakes? How the under layers capitulate to the molten cheese and lose their integrity? Well, with German engineering, this just doesn’t happen. Made with spätzle, mac and cheese keeps its character—in fact, the spätzle bites back a little. And you? You find yourself powerless to resist it.

Cooking Remarks

Our recipe calls for sharp cheddar cheese. The best sharp cheddars are usually white, not yellow. But should you be of the fervent opinion that mac and cheese must be gold to be good, use the ground turmeric option we offer. Turmeric tints the cream a rich yellow, while imparting almost none its own shadowy currylike flavor to the finished dish.

This recipe is fat-forward to say the least, way out there just on this side of excess. We reject the old-school béchamel variant that uses milk as the liquid component and flour as its binding agent because that combination cannot deliver the pure cream-and-cheese fix we’re after.

With our recipe, the finished sauce will feel like velvet and scream with cheese. However, if you push it, if you toss the egg yolks wantonly into the hot cream or leave the casserole in the oven too long, those silky sauce constituents will break and flood the dish with the fat from all the cream and cheese. Be on guard and you’ll be richly rewarded.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe you will need a box grater; a 2- to 2½-quart broilersafe gratin dish; a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan; a whisk; a medium heatproof mixing bowl; and a rubber spatula.

    • Unsalted butter for the gratin dish

    • 2
      cups heavy cream

    • 1
      teaspoon paprika
    • ½
      teaspoon fine sea salt

    • Pinch of cayenne pepper
    • ¼
      teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)

    • 2
      large egg yolks

    • 6
      ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2½ cups loosely packed)

    • 1
      ounce Velveeta, shredded (about ¼ cup loosely packed)
    • 2
      ounces Parmesan Reggiano, grated (about ½ cup loosely packed)

    • 1
      recipe Butter-Fried Spätzle made without the optional herbs and kept warm in a large bowl

    Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the broiler. Butter a shallow 2- to 2½-quart broilersafe gratin dish and set it aside.


    Pour the cream into a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir in the paprika, salt, cayenne, and turmeric (if using), reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the cream has thickened slightly and is reduced to 1½ cups, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.


    Whisk the egg yolks in a medium heatproof mixing bowl and, while whisking constantly, gradually pour in about ½ cup of the hot cream, followed by about ½ cup more. Pour the tempered egg-yolk mixture into the cream in the saucepan and whisk to combine. Add the cheddar cheese, Velveeta, and half of the Parmesan and stir until melted. If necessary, return the saucepan to low heat and whisk until the sauce is smooth.


    Immediately pour the cheese sauce over the warm spätzle and toss gently to combine. Taste for seasoning, and then turn the sauce-coated spätzle into the buttered gratin dish. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan over the top and broil until just heated through and lightly browned on the surface, 5 to 8 minutes. Serve hot.