Dampfnudeln, German steamed yeast dumplings, are one of my very favorite Christmas market foods! Here is my recipe.
They're fluffy, steamed buns often served with warm vanilla sauce and topped with a poppy seed-sugar mixture. And let's not forget about that caramel crust on the bottom! Just heavenly and addictive! I have been making them at home for years.
Many people get confused about the difference between Dampfnudeln and Germknödel. And I must say I was, too. Both are yeast dumplings. Dampfnudel means 'steam noodle' in German and Germknödel means 'yeast dumpling' in Austrian German.
The main difference is that Dampfnudeln are steamed sitting in a butter-sugar-milk mixture in a shallow pan, giving them the heavenly caramelized crust, while Germknödel are steamed using salted water, leaving them soft all the way around. Both are often filled or topped with fruit compotes, which are optional add-ons.
My favorite filling (if choosing one) is plum butter and my favorite toppings are vanilla sauce and poppy seeds mixed with powdered sugar.
Germknödel are typically also a bit smaller than Dampfnudeln. I know both Dampfnudeln and Germknödel from the German Christmas markets and love them so much!
My Oma Sieghilde has also made them at home before and they are surprisingly easy to make, homemade vanilla sauce and all! In Germany, Dampfnudeln are often served as a main meal for either lunch or dinner.
The biggest tip I have is to NOT PEAK at your Dampfnudel dumplings while they're steaming, or else you risk them collapsing in your pan. What a sad moment. It helps to have a glass lid, so no lifting is necessary. I love Scanpan pots and pans. I first saw Gordon Ramsey use them on Masterclass and had to have them, too.
Pan size matters. You want to make sure your pan fits the dumplings with room around them to expand. If your pan is too small or too large, you may run into an issue of the steaming liquid either cooking off too fast or not fast enough.
Don't be scared of yeast dough! It's easy! I make sure to store my active dry yeast in an airtight container in the fridge to keep it fresh. When 'activating' or 'blooming' it, you'll mix it with the barely warm milk and sugar and let it stand for a few minutes to let it bubble up.
That's when you proceed with kneading together all other dough ingredients. Dampfnudeln are such a rewarding meal to make at home! Instant Christmas market vibes and you'll be so proud you made them!
How To Make Dampfnudeln
Good for you and me, Dampfnudeln are super easy to make at home! I have been making these German steamed yeast buns for years with success and I know you will love them, too. Instant Christmas market vibes.
First, you will make the simple dough by kneading together the dough ingredients after letting the yeast activate. While the dough rises, you will have enough time to prep some roasted chestnuts as I did or do some laundry or relax. Now it's time to shape your little dough balls and let them steam.
Add the butter, milk, and sugar to a shallow skillet (making sure you have a lid that fits) and allow it all to melt and boil. Add the dumplings, giving them plenty of room between each other since they will expand quite a bit! Now add your lid and turn the heat to medium-low and let the steaming begin.
Set your timer for 30 minutes and just trust that this will work out. DO NOT PEAK by lifting the lid or else your buns may collapse. The moisture will slowly evaporate and absorb into the dumplings, while the butter and sugar will form a caramel crust on the bottom of your Dampfnudeln.
While the Dampfnudeln steam, whisk together your vanilla sauce and powdered sugar-poppyseed mixture. Now top with the warm vanilla sauce and poppyseed mixture. Enjoy and imagine yourself at a Christmas market in Germany. If you love my Dampfnudeln recipe as much as I do, I would love a review of my recipe below.
My favorite Dampfnudel toppings are warm vanilla sauce and the poppyseed-powdered sugar mixture from my recipe. You can optionally fill your dumplings with fruit compote or top them.
Plum butter is my favorite Dampfnudel filling, but hot cherries or hot berries are popular as well for filling or topping as well (skip the poppyseed mixture if topping with fruit). Get creative and experiment with other toppings like chocolate sprinkles, cinnamon sugar, or filling with chocolate-hazelnut spread.
Here are the basic ingredients for making homemade Dampfnudeln with warm vanilla sauce and poppy seed topping.
- flour. I use standard, white all-purpose wheat flour.
- yeast. Active-dry yeast is what I commonly use. Make sure you're first activating or 'blooming' it with the barely warm milk and sugar before kneading your dough.
- sugar. Just a little goes into the dough, then you'll use more in the steaming pan to achieve that caramel crust on the bottom of your German steamed dumplings.
- milk. A little for the dough, steaming liquid, and vanilla sauce. Feel free to substitute for plant-based milk if you would like.
- salt. A pinch to add to the dough. In Bavaria, the steaming liquid also gets salt for a more salted, caramel crust. Feel free to add a little if you would like.
- butter. A little for the dough and steaming liquid.
- egg. You'll use a whole egg for the dough and an egg yolk for the vanilla sauce.
- vanilla bean. I use real vanilla bean and love the authentic flavor so much, but feel free to use one teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract as a substitute.
- cornstarch. To thicken the vanilla sauce.
- poppy seeds. For topping your Dampfnudeln. You won't need a whole lot for this recipe, but I recommend saving some money by stocking up, so you're ready to make a Mohnzopf (sweet poppy seed bread) next!
- powdered sugar. You'll mix it in a ratio of one part sugar and two parts poppy seeds to top your Dampfnudeln.
Read my Dampfnudel toppings section above for alternative topping and/or filling suggestions.
If you're lucky enough to have a Dampfnudel or two left over, simply store it in a sealed Tupperware container topped with the vanilla sauce and poppyseed mixture. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
When your Dampfnudel craving hits, pop in the microwave for one minute and enjoy. I can't tell you how happy I was to open the fridge to Dampfnudel leftovers!
Where are Dampfnudeln from?
The German states of Bavaria and Rheinland-Pfalz (where I grew up) are in dispute over which state can claim the Dampfnudel. They're fighting for ownership over the Dampfnudel recipe, and rightfully so because it's heavenly!
Funny enough, the version from the Pfalz oftentimes has a salt crust on the bottom, while the Bavarian version does not. Somehow I have yet to try it with a salt crust!
More German Christmas Market Recipes
Excited to try more foods typically found at German Christmas markets like my favorite market in my hometown Trier? Then try my Kartoffelpuffer (German potato pancakes), Eierpunsch (German-style eggnog), and Lángos (fried dough from Hungary topped with sour cream and other toppings like bacon and onions or cheese).
Dampfnudeln (German Steamed Yeast Dumplings)
- 1 large rimmed pan with lid I like having a glass lid, so I can see what's going on. It's important not to peak at the dumplings during the steaming phase!
- 1 Whisk for whisking together the vanilla sauce
- 1 dough tools these come in handy when removing dough from the mixing bowl and for dividing the dough into balls.
- 125 milliliters milk
- 100 grams sugar
- 100 grams butter
- Mix yeast with sugar and lukewarm milk, let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until bubbles have started to develop.3 ½ grams active-dry yeast, 25 grams sugar, 125 milliliters milk
- Knead together all remaining ingredients for the dough, then cover and allow to rise for at least 1 hour in a warm spot.250 grams all-purpose flour, 1 ½ grams salt, 40 grams butter, 1 egg
- Separate dough into 4 pieces and shape into balls/dumplings.
- In a high-rimmed skillet with a lid, mix together the steaming liquid ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce to just below medium heat and place the dumplings in it, leaving plenty of room between the dumplings to expland (they will double in size!). Top with a lid and do NOT lift the lid during the next 30 minutes, or else the dumplings will deflate!125 milliliters milk, 100 grams sugar, 100 grams butter
Warm Vanilla Sauce
- For the vanilla sauce, bring the milk, sugar and vanilla bean to a boil.450 milliliters milk, ½ vanilla bean, 25 grams sugar
- Add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil again.15 grams cornstarch
- Turn off the heat, whisk in the yolk and pour over the steamed dumplings when ready to serve.1 egg yolk
Poppy Seed Topping
- Combine poppy seeds and powdered sugar and stir together. Sprinkle with poppy seed sugar mixture if desired (my favorite way to eat Dampfnudeln). Read below for alternative topping and filling options.2 Tablespoons poppy seeds, 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar