When making spätzle, it is common to chill each batch in ice water to stop the cooking. I need to make spätzle as part of a large feast for 10 people; I'm wondering if I can just leave the spätzle in the cold water bath for 4-5 hours to hold them aside, or if they will become gummy and waterlogged in that time.

If the answer is, yes they will become waterlogged, can I drain them and hold them in a bowl for 4-5 hours without them sticking together?

(if relevant, I'm planning to use a spätzle grater and not the board-and-knife method)

  • 6
    This Swabian born and bred cringes at the thought - and I would never use milk... >.<
    – Stephie
    Oct 28, 2019 at 13:08
  • 10
    Europeans tend to use a lot less ice than Americans. If you see a purportedly-European recipe that calls for ice water, it might be a sign that the recipe is not actually of European origin. (I've been cooking spaetzle for 20+ years, and never once have I so much as rinsed it in cold water, nevermind ice water. Neither has my mother, or her mother. We just dump the hot cooked pasta in a casserole dish. A little butter or oil solves any sticking issues.)
    – Marti
    Oct 28, 2019 at 17:17
  • Marti: how does that work if you need to make 3-4 batches of spatzle?
    – FuzzyChef
    Oct 29, 2019 at 2:35
  • 1
    @FuzzyChef You may want to check my answer here. Just cook batches, then put them back in the pot or pour the last batch, water and all, over the previous ones in the colander in the sink to unstick any that may have stuck together of the previous batches.
    – Stephie
    Oct 29, 2019 at 7:56
  • 1
    @FuzzyChef: 3-4 batches work exactly the same as one batch, except for the size of the casserole dish. You can put on a bit more butter and stir after fishing each new batch out of the water.
    – JPmiaou
    Oct 29, 2019 at 14:44

3 Answers 3


I would not keep them in water; they will absorb water and get soggy.

I'd just drain them and toss them with a little bit of oil, just enough so that they will not stick together and put them in the fridge.

A little bit like when you're making pasta salad.


I agree that they should not be kept in water.

I usually rinse them well with cold water (from the tap, but no ice) after taking them from the pot, and then let them drain well. After rinsing, they also don't stick together very much.

Before serving, I heat them by lightly sweating them in a frying pan with butter.

  • Yes, this is what I have done too. A rinse under cold tap water works very well. Oct 29, 2019 at 3:59

Plunge in cold water to stop them cooking any longer. Wait 90 seconds. Drain and leave as little water on them as possible. Toss in mild olive oil, just a small amount to help prevent them from sticking. Transfer to a bowl and cover. You can then store them for up to 24 hours in the fridge.

  • 6
    A Swabian wouldn’t use olive oil. Either butter (typically) or a very neutral oil, like refined sunflower oil. And up to three days in the fridge is perfectly fine, both with regards to food safety and quality.
    – Stephie
    Oct 29, 2019 at 7:57

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