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Dad's Liver Dumplings recipe

Dad's Liver Dumplings recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Soup

This was my dad's way of making sure our family got our weekly dose of liver. It's one of those recipes that he never wrote down. Most of the time he added it to soup, but once in a while he served it with fried onions.

37 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 450g (1 lb) raw pork or beef liver
  • 50g (2 oz) fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 dash salt, divided
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2L (3 1/2) pints boiling beef stock

MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:30min ›Ready in:1hr

  1. Grind liver in a food processor until smooth. Blend in breadcrumbs, egg, flour, salt and pepper. Using a wet spoon, drop spoonfuls into boiling stock. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(22)

Reviews in English (24)

Warming comfort food! I only boiled the dumplings for about 5min though. Also used veg stock with some veg thrown in (they needed using up). Added basil, oregano, mixed herbs and garlic to the dumpling mix which worked well.-21 Nov 2013

by wsf

I liked this recipe, but found it a bit bland. I added 1 finely chopped onion, and 2 T. of oregano, as well as doubling the salt. I then cooked it in broth...cheers,Wayne-28 Jan 2008

by gosia4ever

Personally, I don't like liver dunplings, but my family loves them. They all raved about these, but I altered the recipe slightly. I soaked about 4 small day old white bread dinner rolls in some milk (just enough to cover the rolls), until the rolls absored all the milk. I added the milk soaked rolls (but not any excess milk) to the liver dumpling mixture. I also added some more bread crumbs to make the dumpling mixture a little easier to form the balls. These were a huge hit. They were devoured.-19 May 2006

  • 1 onion
  • 10 g parsley
  • 400 g beef liver
  • 150 g bacon (diced)
  • food processor

Peel and finely dice onion and mince parsley. Cut liver into smaller pieces and transfer to a food processor. Add diced bacon and mix until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine ground liver, egg, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and breadcrumbs, adjusting with milk if too thick.

Shape into walnut-sized balls. Bring broth to a boil and drop dumplings in. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered for 15 minutes.

While dumplings are cooking, cut meat from bones into bite-sized pieces and cut the carrots and celery into bite-sized pieces.

When dumplings are cooked, return meat and vegetables to soup, if desired, but most Czech liver dumpling soups feature a clear broth.

Dino Schmidt shared his recipe on our Facebook page.  He's in Germany and can buy his Leberknödel already prepared. Here's his posting and the English translation.

  1. Die Leberknödel kaufe ich schon fertig.
  2. Ich laße die Knödel sehr lange ziehen, erst aufkochen lassen, dann bis zu 3 Stunden köcheln, simmern oder ziehen lassen.
  3. Ich würze mit etwas Brühe, Muskatnuß, Petersielie (den brate ich etwas in Butter an).
  4. Auch noch hinzu Suppengrün, Kartoffeln, Zwiebel.
  1. Use purchased liver dumplings.
  2. Simmer on low (very low), for about 3 hours, the dumplings. (Ziehen is like a tea bag sitting in hot water, stewing) 
  3. Season with broth and nutmeg. Fry some parsley in butter and add to soup.
  4. Add Suppengrün (soup greens), potatoes and onion.

Suppengrün: Is purchased in Germany as a bundle and usually has a leek, a carrot, and some celery root. Parsley, turnips, and onions are sometimes included.

I like the way Dino cooks. It's like a bit of this and a bit of that. Just like my Oma and my Mutti did, and now how I usually cook as well. Thanks, Dino, for sharing this with us!

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Chicken Liver Dumplings

Lee Anne Wong calls these offal-based bites the &ldquoMVP in my dumpling arsenal.&rdquo She credits the chicken livers, an often underrated organ meat, as the key to keeping these dumplings moist and juicy, no matter how you cook them&mdashboiled, steamed, panfried, or deep-fried&mdashthese doughy morsels come out deliciously. Wong says they&rsquore a crowd-pleaser at parties, but try using this recipe in response to your next takeout craving.


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice, black, or Chinese red vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and finely julienned
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 3 scallions, both white and green parts, chopped, for garnish
  • 3 ounces dark meat chicken, ground
  • 1/3 cup garlic chives or Chinese chives, chopped 1/8-inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pinch ground white pepper
  • 3 ounces chicken livers, cleaned and trimmed
  • 1 recipe dumpling dough or 60 round dumpling skins


Make the soy&ndashginger dipping sauce: in a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients until the sugar dissolves. Refrigerate and allow the ginger to macerate for at least 1 hour.

Make the filling: in a large mixing bowl, combine the ground chicken, garlic chives, Shaoxing, soy sauce, ginger, sugar, salt, and white pepper. Pulse the chicken livers in a food processor until chopped small, or chop by hand. Combine the livers with the rest of the ingredients until the filling is well combined.

Place 1 tablespoon of filling on each dumpling wrapper. Brush the edge of the dough with water and then immediately fold the circle in half and pinch all the way around to seal the dumpling. Alternatively, pinch opposite points from each quarter of the circle together at the top of the dumpling to form a four-pointed dumpling.

Choose your cooking method.

Boiled: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the dumplings in small batches, so as not to crowd the pot. Return to a boil and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Bring the water to a boil again and add another 1/2 cup of cold water. When the water boils for the third time and the dumplings float, remove the dumplings from the water and serve (the dumplings should take about 6 minutes to cook).

Steamed: steam the dumplings on a piece of greased parchment paper set over a boiling water bath until the filling and dumpling skins are cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Panfried: in a liquid measuring cup, mix 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of flour until the flour has dissolved into the water and the mixture is cloudy. Heat a small nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the pan and place the dumplings in the pan, lined up next to each other. Cook until the bottoms of the dumplings turn golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the flour-water mix to the pan it will react with the hot pan and steam and splatter a bit, so be ready with a tight-fitting lid. As soon as you add the flour-water mixture, cover the pan with the lid. Cook the dumplings, covered, until almost all of the water has evaporated and a thin golden crust begins to form in the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes. Remove the lid and cook until all the water has evaporated, about 3 more minutes. Carefully remove the dumplings from the pan and serve immediately. Wash the pan and repeat with remaining dumplings and flour-water mixture. Be sure to keep stirring the flour and water slurry periodically since the flour will sink.

Deep-fried: preheat a large pot of canola or vegetable oil to 350°F. Carefully drop the dumplings one by one into the hot oil, frying in small batches and making sure not to overcrowd the pot. Cook the dumplings for 3 minutes, until the exterior is golden brown. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining dumplings until all are cooked, making sure the oil temperature returns to 350°F before frying the next batch.

Scatter the cooked dumplings with the chopped scallions and serve immediately with the soy-ginger dipping sauce on the side.

From Waste Not: How to Get the Most from Your Food by The James Beard Foundation/Rizzoli Publishing.

Liver Dumplings Reign Among Local German Pastas

By Bob Mueller
Special to the Herald
Every town has a special food to put it on the map. Liver dumplings — or as the locals usually call it, liver knaeflies — are one of Ste. Genevieve’s special foods, along with Oberle dog.
This delicious specialty was brought to the area by the German immigrants from the duchies of Baden and Schwabia who arrived in Ste. Genevieve between 1832 and 1870. The word knaefly is a phonetic spelling of the German word Knopfle, which means “little button” in English. Ste. Genevieve knaeflies are usually made with liver as an ingredient, though in Germany, they are usually made without liver.
If you ask for a liver dumpling in Germany, you would be served a big round liver dumpling in a bowl of broth. In the last few years, Audubon served their schnitzel with a non-liver pasta-type knaefly and sometimes you will find this style on the Old Brick’s Friday buffet.
Liver knaeflies are a special occasion dish in many households here in Ste. Genevieve. They have become a traditional part of many family’s Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. You can also find them at various restaurants in town and at some of the local church picnics and gatherings after funerals. You can also buy cooked or frozen liver dumpling dough from various organizations during the year if you don’t want to make them yourself.
Every Ste. Genevieve cook has their own special recipe for liver dumplings.
During the fall Deutsche Tage celebrations of 1999, 2000, and 2001, liver dumpling contests were held to determine who made the best — an honor which was hotly contested. Ste. Genevieve even had its own “liver dumpling” mascot named Oliver.
Knaeflies are typically made of flour, ground pork, beef, chicken livers or mixtures of livers, eggs, herbs and other seasonings. This is mixed to a rather stiff dough and then cut into the knaefly shape and cooked in boiling salted water. To get their shape, you can force the dough through a colander, use a sliding spätzle maker or “scratched” off a flat board (called a spatzlebrett in German) or the side of the mixing bowl or plate like my mother and many others did.
Knaeflies are sometimes fried in a little grease and served with bread croutons (called cockleburs in some Weingarten families) and parsley. They are a traditional part of a Ste. Genevieve fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and liver dumpling dinner. Many like them covered with gravy but some like them plain, covered in molasses, or with saltine crackers and onions on top. Leftovers have been known to be scrambled with eggs and onions the morning after, but who has leftover liver dumplings?
A knoplfe is smaller and rounder than another German pasta called spatzle. These too can be found on the tables of Ste. Genevieve. Spatzle, which is German for “little sparrows,” can either be made with or without liver. In our family, knaeflies had more of the Spatzle shape (long and skinny rather than round) because of the way our mother made them.
In Germany, those containing liver are called leberspatzle and are usually served topped with fried onions. Kasespatzle or spatzle baked with cheese is another favorite in Germany and it is their style of macaroni and cheese.
Here in Ste. Genevieve, spatzle are usually served with navy beans and stewed tomatoes as part of the traditional Friday “White Meal.” They are also sometimes served with fresh green peas or just by themselves as a side dish with fried croutons and gravy. Our family has found that adding spatzle to ham and bean soup makes for a hearty and filling winter meal.
A third type of German pasta served in Ste. Genevieve is called rivelies (also known called ribilies, rebilies, rively, or rivels). These are very small bits of a flour and egg mixture that are added to soup at the end of cooking.
In Germany, the dough is made stiff and grated into soup or broth. Our family’s method of making them was to mix flour and a beaten egg with your fingers until you had small crumbles of dough. They were added to the boiling soup and cooked for a few minutes. The first time my wife, who is not from Ste. Genevieve, had rivelie soup, she asked what the floaters were in it. So now we have another name for them.

Sirros restaurant has been serving their rively soup during the winter for 30 years. Susie Tatham says that Ruthie Flieg made it there and her recipe is still used today.
The last and smallest of the German-inspired pasta in Ste. Genevieve are noodle or nuedln. They are a mixture of flour, eggs, salt and water. A rolling pin is used to roll the dough in a large circle or rectangle, then the dough is rolled up into a tube shape and cut into long noodle size strings of dough. The noodles are allowed to partially dry on a rack, the back of a chair or on a dish towel laid on a table or bed. They can be added to chicken soup as is or boiled, drained, fried with a little shortening, and served with homemade fried croutons. Sometimes the noodles are cut in trapezoidal shapes and boiled in chicken stock for chicken and dumplings. These thinly rolled dumplings are called sliders in our family and have been a lifelong favorite of my brothers and their offspring.
During this time when we are self-quarantining because of the coronavirus and doing our own food preparation, try some of these pasta shapes from Ste. Genevieve’s German heritage. Or if you have some liver on hand, teach your children how to make liver dumplings. It’s a good time to teach the next generation some tasty dishes and some lifelong skills.
(Bob Mueller is historian with expertise in Ste. Genevieve traditions.)


We grew up in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. Unless you grew up there, outsiders turn their nose up. Except… my dad got all our Chicagoan suburb friends hooked on it. Italians, especially! All nationalities entwined with our family. Secret: don’t use chicken livers! Ugh! Use beef liver, grind it with the old fashioned grinder! He added parsley and salt, pepper, cut it into pices in a boiling pot of water. Clot to the top, they are done. Drain. Make sure jus gravy with tons of onions! Pour over the dumplings, I could eat only that and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Never eat it dry, ever! Lot of parsley and no verwhelming abundance f beef liver! Lot’s of sautéed onions in August gravy, bingo. If you eat it everyday, it’s not healthy! But wow, I miss our tradition! From Spring, Texas. Ps: don’t use chicken livers. Dough must be firm to cut off drops in boiling water and slimy, too! Our grandkids can’t eat buying and ordering from Ste. Genevieve. They got the recipe! Gramps! Chicken livers are cheaper, but no thanks. It’s how you serve them with sauté onions and au jus gravy! Not regular flour gravy! They seemed to know the history but you don’t serve dried liver dumplings!

The Liver Experiment Week 3: Austrian Liver Dumplings (Leberknödel)

Yes it is already time for the next instalment of The Liver Experimentwhere I will try to acquire a taste for liver. Over a 10 week period I will cook, consume and post my experience once a week about trying to appreciate my food nemesis. If you want to know why I am doing this in the first place please read my Week 1 post. Again, thank you all for your comments and support. I am really enjoying the exchange with my readers with this series all over the social medias and comments. I hope my experiment will inspire you to try the same with your own personal food nemesis. And even if you are determined to hate liver for life I hope you will follow along throughout the whole series.

I was so happy to be able to combine Week 3 with this month’s Creative Cooking Crew, our first one of 2014! This month our theme was dumplings: any kind from any nation so there was plenty of room for creativity. I decided to follow my ancestral roots for this challenge. One of the most authentic foods you will find in Austrian cuisine are a type of dumpling called knödel. This week we will prepare Austrian Liver Dumplings, one of the most popular knödel dishes.

Although my father is Austrian we never ate many of his native dishes. My mom is the cook and she is French-Canadian. The first time I had a knödel was at a dinner at a cousin’s place on my dad’s side of the family. A big breaded ball in my soup dish left quite an impression. There are many variants on this recipe but one of the most classic recipe is called Leberknödelsuppe, or Liver Dumpling Soup, which is served in a simple broth. I chose to serve mine more as a meal and I placed my dumplings atop of heap of sauerkraut. If you want to see another popular type of knödel check out the Tirolerknödel which is made with sausage. Let me make a quick mention here that my dad is the only one in the family who likes liver so I thought this recipe was a perfect choice for the challenge.

A knödel is a large dumpling made with potatoes, flour or bread that is boiled or poached. Most Central European country will have their own variant. You can have a savory knödel with your meal, or as your meal, or enjoy a sweet version for dessert. A knödel made with bread usually requires cubes of bread to be soaked in a liquid (like milk) which is then added to the rest of the ingredients. This is the case with the basic liver dumpling recipe where is liver and bread are pureed before shaping.

Educational notes of the week:
Want to buy liver but do not know where to start? I was advised by many to stick to chicken, and veal or lamb liver, as they are the most delicate in taste and more tender. Along the lines of tastes of liver these have a sweeter note. The lamb liver is apparently a little less flavorful. After that is the beef liver with a tougher texture and, how should I say, a more “mature” or “full bodied” flavor. Pork liver is the most intense one of all apparently. And of course foie gras but that is just awesome stuff so I have exempted it from this experiment, that is a whole other category.

OK so I will admit I got a bit cocky with the success of last week’s recipe. So I thought I was strong enough to go with the most intense flavored liver there is: beef liver. I was very wrong. I will never be able to stomach beef liver. Just the smell of it turns my stomach inside out. So for me I have to say this week was a fail for my taste buds. Thankfully my friend Michele was over at my place Sunday and she took all the dumplings away as she likes beef liver. Her verdict was that the recipe was excellent. So if beef liver is your thing this recipe is a thumbs up. And I am sure if I had used calf liver instead I may agree more with her. I have ordered this dish years ago in Munich and did like it. So I will have to give this recipe another shot.

Thank you Lazaro Cooks and Foodalogue for this month’s fun challenge. Check out what the other members have created on our Pinterest board by clicking on the banner below.

Ingredients German Liver Dumpling Soup

(serves 8)
2 liter beef broth – How to Make Beef Broth –
750 g beef liver
300 g beef
8 older wheat rolls (preferably German rolls)
4 onions
fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, tarragon, thyme, lovage (Liebstoeckel)
3 eggs
salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste

The Key to Avoiding a Strong Liver Taste

I don’t eat liver of any kind�, pork, or chicken𠅎xcept in liver nips. I remember once telling my grandmother that I had tried to eat liver dumplings at a dinner of my mother’s extended family. The liver taste was offensively strong to me, and although I felt badly about it, I threw them in the garbage. Granny cautioned that the key is to cook the liver first. Grinding raw liver and adding it to the dumpling mixture produces nips with a really strong liver taste.

Liver Dumpling Soup - Bohemian Style

As a kid I always despised liver. I even recall an old “Far Side” comic that displayed a “Liver N Onions” truck driving down a quaint neighborhood road and children are running in the opposite direction with terror on their faces. Not exactly the ice cream man. I do have a soft spot for two liver” bi-products”. One of them is the commercially made liverwurst or Braunschweiger. The other is the super delicious Bohemian liver dumpling soup. This soup is typical of most Czech restaurants and is usually served in a very clear consommé or beef soup. My recipe captures the flavor but does not match the clarity one would find in a Czech restaurant. The difference being that I like to add back the remaining ingredients (in tiny bite size) pieces as it seems a waste to throw them away. My recipe also cheats with using a prepared stock aside from making the stock a la natural with oxtails or soup bones. If you want to go that route, by all means do so. Otherwise, stick to this recipe to save some time. Also consider doubling the recipe for some meals later in the season.

Bohemian Beef Liver Dumpling Soup

2 cans (14.5 ounce cans) Beef Broth
1 lb Chuck roast or soup bone with meat, trimmed of fat
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled
1 stalk of Celery
1 clove garlic, minced

1 lb of beef or calf liver (Veins removed and ground fine).
1 cup breadcrumbs (ground up Saltines).
½ cup flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
Salt, pepper, marjoram – to taste
Milk – To moisten dumpling dough

1. Place beef and vegetables in stock pot or dutch oven and cover with beef broth and four cups of water.
2. Cook until beef and vegetables become tender.
3. Remove beef and vegetables from stock pot and set aside keep remaining liquid simmering over low heat.
4. Prepare liver dumplings by combining ground liver, breadcrumbs, flour, egg, parsley and seasonings into a bowl. Add enough milk (if necessary) to allow a moist enough consistency to shape.
5. Form dumplings into miniature meat balls (just smaller than golf ball)
6. Return soup in stock pot to a boil.
7. Reduce heat to simmer and place dumplings into pot and partially cover for about fifteen minutes.
8. Meanwhile chop up remaining reserved carrots and celery and shred reserved chuck steak.
9. Return meat and vegetables (celery and carrots) to soup to warm up, adding additional salt and pepper if necessary.
10. Serve

Watch the video: How to Make Liver Dumplings - German Recipes - Episode 10 (May 2022).