Knedlíky (singular: knedlík) are simple boiled dumplings from the Czech Republic, a small country located in Central Europe surrounded by Poland, Slovakia, Austria, and Germany. The bread dumplings are made with flour, yeast, egg, salt, and milk and are boiled and then sliced. Knedlíky are a staple food of Czechian cuisine and are served on the side of many traditional dishes, including the quintessential Czech dish vepřo knedlo zelo.
Knedlíky have a long and rich history, much like that of Czechia. The land which makes up the Czech Republic today has a history of monarch, religious, and communist rule, but today is a market-based republic. The first known accounts of dumplings in the area date back to the days of ancient Rome when dumplings made of meat, vegetables and grains were boiled or fried in animal fat.
Flour-based dumplings were first recorded in the Middle Ages and were often filled with meat and vegetables and fried in animal fat. The tale of today’s boiled knedlíky dumplings dates to Czech war times in the 1800s, when it is said a military cook decided to boil his dough loaves in water when his oven was destroyed by enemy fire. Whether or not the story is true, the water-boiled Czech dumplings popular today were not recorded before this time and instead were similar to meat pies and baked dough balls, which are still popular throughout Central Europe.
Originally served as a main dish filled with meat and vegetables, today knedlíky are a common accompaniment to many dishes in Czech cuisine, which is rich in meats, stews, soups, pickled vegetables, and sweet pastries. The dumplings are typically used to soak up meat and vegetables sauces and while most often now made with quick-rising wheat flour and cut into slices after boiling, they have also been made with rice and other flours and have taken many shapes over the years.
Bread dumplings variations are popular in cuisines through Europe and variations are also often called knedlo, knedlíky, knödel, knédli, knedľa, kniddel, knedle, cnigle, and canederli depending on their country or culture of origin. These variations on knedlíky can be found in Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Italy, and each culture has created their own take on the boiled or baked bread dumpling.
Klöße are a popular knedlík variation made from mashed potatoes, eggs, and flour and are steamed or boiled and a similar variation named grízgaluska from Hungary are made with semolina flour. Semmelknödel from Germany are made in a similar fashion to Czech knedlíky but are sometimes boiled wrapped in a napkin and are then called serviettenknödel, and if stuffed with ham are called speckknödel. Sweet dumplings are also popular throughout Europe and are often filled with fruits, jams, and honey.
As Central European immigrants moved to other areas of the world, they modified their techniques and ingredients in their new countries and created new variations of knedlíky. For example, German immigrants in Brazil make Klöße from white rice and wheat flour. In the United States, they created klub from local grain flours, and in Canada, they make meat and gravy dumplings named poutine râpée. Jewish matzah balls are also thought to be a take on the traditional boiled dumpling made from matzah meal, and originated from Ashkenazi groups in Central and Eastern Europe. You can even find steamed bread dumplings in China as we showed you with mantou!
Knedlíky are a simple and easy staple recipe from the Czech Republic that pairs well with meat and gravy and stew or soup recipes. Enjoy knedliky with Czech favorites like kyselica, svíčková na smetaně, goulash, or vepřo knedlo zelo to have a truly traditional Czechian meal!
This recipe is validated by our culinary expert in Czech cuisine, Kristyna Montano. You can find Kristyna on her food blog CzechCookbook.com.
Knedlíky are simple boiled dumplings from the Czech Republic, that are served on the side of many traditional dishes, including goulash.
- 4 cups quick-mixing or instant flour
- 1 cup milk ,warm
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Combine the sugar, the yeast, and the milk. Whisk and set aside for about 10 minutes or until it is foamy.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, the egg, the salt. Add the yeast mixture and knead until the dough detaches from the edges of the bowl.
- Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it rise for 2 hours, in a warm area away from drafts.
- Dust the work surface with flour and form the dough into 3 loaves.
- In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Carefully place the dumplings in the pot.
Reduce the heat to low and cook covered for 20 minutes, turning the dumplings half way through the cooking. You need to maintain a rolling boil throughout the cooking.
Take the dumplings out of the pot. Poke the dumplings in a few places with a fork to let the steam out.
- Slice the dumplings delicately with a sewing thread, a dental floss, or a serrated knife. Slices should be about ¾ inch thick.