Canederli, the Italian Knödel


Canederli are bread dumplings only found in the north-east of Italy (Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli, and part of Veneto), where they are served as a first course or as a main entree. Variations of this dish are common in all south-eastern Europe, where they are also served as an accompaniment to meat stews and roasts. The word ‘canederlo’, in fact, derives from the German and Austrian ‘knödel’ (dumpling).

Canederli can be considered part of ‘cucina povera’ (cuisine of the poor), as they are made of simple and inexpensive ingredients: stale bread moistened with milk and bound with eggs and a small amount of flour. However, the mixture is often enriched with cheese and Speck (a kind of smoked prosciutto also local to the north-east regions of Italy).

There are several variations of this regional dish, the following recipe describes one of the most common: filled with cheese. Once the dumplings are prepared and boiled, they are either served “dry” with melted butter or in broth.

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Canederli, the Italian Knödel

Yield: 4-5 servings

Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 20 minutes

#Canederli, the Italian Knödel


     For the dumplings

    • 300 g (10 oz) stale bread, diced (which can be obtained by dicing 450 g of fresh bread and laying it on a perforated tray for 24-48 hours, covered with a tea towel) - it's important that the bread is fully dried out and crunchy
    • 225 ml (1 scant cup) milk
    • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 60 g (½ cup) white flour
    • 3 Tbsp (minced) flat leaf (Italian) parsley
    • 200 g (7 oz) cheese, e.g.: Fontina, Raclette (smoked or plain), or Gouda (smoked or plain), diced
    • 45 g (3 Tbsp) unsalted butter
    • 1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • ½ tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp pepper
    • ¼ tsp nutmeg
    • 3 liters (12 cups) of vegetable stock (for boiling)

     To serve them "dry"

    • 20 g (1 ½ Tbsp) (per serving) unsalted butter
    • 10 g (2 tsp) (per serving) grated Parmigiano
    • 1 small bunch of chives, thinly sliced

     To serve them in broth

    • 1 cup (per serving) additional vegetable stock
    • Some grated Parmigiano
    • Some chives, thinly sliced (optional)


    1. Put the stale bread into a large mixing bowl (1). Add the milk (2), the eggs (3), as well as salt, pepper and nutmeg.
    2. Mix well and let it rest for at least two hours, covered with a tea towel, in a cool place or in the fridge. Stir occasionally to ensure that the mix absorbs the liquid uniformly.
    3. After the two hours, add the flour (4), then the parsley (5), and the cheese (6). Mix gently.
    4. Finely chop the onion (7) and fry it in oil and butter for ten minutes at medium heat, stirring occasionally.
    5. Let the onion cool (8), then incorporate it into the mix (9).
    6. Let the mixture rest for another half-hour covered with a tea towel. It should look uniformly moist and slightly sticky.
    7. Using your hands, form the canederli by pressing together enough of the mix to make balls the size of a small orange (60 to 80 grams each). You should be able produce 14-16 balls out of the entire mix.
    8. After making each ball, roll it in flour to seal the outside and prevent the canederli from sticking to each other (10).
    9. When all the canederli are ready, re-roll them into flour and compress them a second time (11).
    10. Have the vegetable stock in a large pot, well boiling on the stove.
    11. Place the canederli gently in the pot (12-13), wait until the boil is resumed (14).
    12. Boil the canederli for 12-15 minutes (they will be floating the whole time), then drain them gently.
    13. If serving the canederli "dry", warm up the butter just enough to melt it. Place 3 canederli into each plate, pour the melted butter on them, then sprinkle with some thin-sliced chives, a generous amount of grated Parmigiano, and some freshly ground black pepper.


    Note: once boiled, the canederli can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

    If serving the canederli in broth, prepare more vegetable stock (as the one used for boiling will be cloudy because of the flour). Place one or two canederli into each bowl, then pour the broth on them. Finish with some grated Parmigiano and (optional) chives.

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    56 thoughts on “Canederli, the Italian Knödel”

    1. I grew up on Germany, and I had no idea Italy had knoedel, too! 🙂 These look a lot like Semmelknoedel, which are bread-based, not potato, like regular knoedel. One of my favorites! Great post, thank you for sharing!

    2. Thanks Marta, Missy, Kiri, Suzi and kdoltz – much appreciated.

      Kiri, special thanks for the feedback on German knoedel – I very much would like to try some potato knoedel!

    3. Isn't it interesting how bread that is no longer fresh is used to make a wide variety of dishes? My paternal grandmother made bread once a week and my father tells me that towards the end of that period, bread was really hard, so we have all these recipes where bread is soaked, like canederli, panzanella, pappa col pomodoro, etc. I agree with you that this dish represents well cucina povera, which, among other things, means wasting nothing. A serving of canederli in brodo, please 😉

    4. Very true, Simona. It's interesting also that we now buy fresh bread and intentionally make it go stale to prepare these dishes 🙂 We're so spoiled!

    5. Could you please post the recipe in U.S. measurements. This really sounds good and I would love to make it.

    6. Beautiful!! Love this and would love to try making them. I love everything Italian (well, at least if its vegetarian!). Great to "meet" you and excited to have found your blog!

    7. Sure Kathy, I will add the conversions shortly.

      Maggie, thanks for your comment. My fiancee doesn't eat meat, so all of my recipes are vegetarian. Luckily Italian food has plenty of naturally vegetarian recipes 🙂

    8. This sounds so good! Please do convert the ingredients to U.S. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

    9. What a gorgeous recipe. I have tried several types of dumplings and only some times succeeded. Your recipe is very straight forward and easy to follow and looks very delicious. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recipe.

    10. I adored this sort of thing in Vienna, and I can definitely see the influence. Fabulous recipe, and congrats (belated) on a well deserved Top 9!

    11. Looks great! I just made a much plainer Slovenian version to serve with goulash. Think I might prefer yours.

    12. I think I see where I had a problem with my recent attempt at bread dumplings. Bread not dry enough. (Day old but not stale.) Looks delicious!

    13. I come from the italian alps ( alto adige) where they serve canederli all the time.
      I found your recipe very authentic 🙂
      We also make a spinach version with or without cheese often eaten in a blue cheese sauce.
      they are called Spinatkoendel with gorgonzola sauce.
      i can post the recipe if anybody is interested!

      1. Hi there! Thanks for your comment. I love Alto Adige, it's probably my favorite place in the world, actually Рespecially the Funes valley (Villn̦ss).

        Yes, please do – Spinatknoedel sounds amazing!

    14. I made this recipe last night, and it brought back memories of the 2 times I ate this. One of the places I had it was the Hotel St. Sebastian in Bersone. I made a Porcini mushroom sauce to accompany them, and they were a huge hit- thank you for the recipe!

    15. I was in Trentino for some cycling and luckily paid for full board. I was served canerdeli as a starter. They were not stuffed, made into two inch long rolls a bit more than 1/2 an inch thick, served in a little broth (which was actually mainly butter) with a hint of parmesan. In the mountains this is normally winter food, but because of tourism happily some of these dishes are served in the summer.
      It would be hard to find such a simple dish that tastes so good. I had a couple of servings – the chef was happy to oblige because I was “doing Stelvio” the next day.

    16. Thank you! My ex’s nonna used to make these & they were my favourite.. I’ve been looking for a decent/accurate recipe for ages and stumbled on yours

    17. I just returned from Alto Adige and I had the dumplings at the speck festival. I also have a beautiful piece of Speck Alto Adige in my frig. Now I have my weekend meal!!!

    18. Fabulous recipe, Paolo! I learned to make Knödel in Vienna back in the day but decided to give your recipe a go last night. What a revelation! These are so much finer in both taste and texture than the ones I’ve been making all these years. I’ll be making them your way from now on.

      1. Frank, thanks for letting me know! So glad you liked them. It does seem to be a reliable recipe… Canederli have become a Christmas special for us, so we’ll be making them soon 🙂

    19. Was flipping the channels and caught the end of Mary Anne Esposito’s cooking show on public TV here in Miami and she was serving up Canderli. They looked delicious but I missed the recipe so went on line and found this one and made it today. Wow! Fantastic! I loved this recipe. It made me look good but was very simple and straightforward. Thank You.

    20. Just made these and they went straight to the freezer for Easter. It was all I could do to not steal one for myself because my house smelled amazing! Can’t wait to taste them, as I’m pretty sure they won’t disappoint. Thanks for a great recipe.

    21. These look wonderful. My maternal grandfather was from Denno. He died when I was very young, and much to my dismay. My mom continued to make traditional meals…polenta, gnocchi-(raw potato), and canederli…to name a few. She used to cut up hard salami and gently boil them in a broth. Now that I’m in my 60s, my tastebuds are more refined and I enjoy, to quote my mother, “ a poor man’s meal”. I do continue to keep memories and traditions alive for my family by looking up and cooking these wonderful recipes that were never written down, just loosely translated.

    22. I am in Canada and grew up making these and or potato Dutch and German dumplings. Great with Sauerbraten or Rouladen gravy.

      If you chop in food processor a quarter pound of fresh calves liver and stir into the bread mix the balls will be wonderful in chicken broth to which you have added Maggi.

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