feasting with friends

Michigan Monday: Frankenmuth Hot Buttered Noodles

Frankenmuth Hot Buttered Noodles

Willkommen to Frankenmuth… a sign, stating this message, greets visitors upon entering this small town. It is located in the mid-section of the lower peninsula of Michigan. Frankenmuth is known as “Michigan’s Little Bavaria” and is rich in German history.

Frankenmuth has much to offer it’s visitors… dining, shopping, a brewery, entertainment, German culture and… Are your ready for it?… The world’s largest Christmas store. That’s right, Frankenmuth is home to Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, billed as the worlds L A R G E S T Christmas Store. It measures 1½ football fields in size and offers over 50,000+ items of the gift and holiday trim type. This time of year, it is a mad-house. Crazy crowded, kind of mad-house. Personally, I won’t set foot in there after Halloween (too many people tend to bring out my Grinch side). February through October is just fine with me!

Frankenmuth Hot Buttered Noodles

We venture to Frankenmuth at least yearly. And surprise, surprise… it’s the food that inspires to make the 45 minute drive. There are many restaurants to choose from in the town, but for most visitors the destination is one of two “main” restaurants, Zehnder’s or The Bavarian Inn. They are essentially the same, menu-wise, and were founded by members of the same family (the Zehnder’s). Both restaurants are known for their all-you-can-eat, family style, chicken dinners. Course, after glorious course of food. Stollen bread, fruit preserves, a variety of salads, golden (aka, fried) chicken, potatoes, gravy, stuffing, hot veggies, and the highlight of the meal (for our family) the hot buttered noodles. They are OMG delicious!

Frankenmuth Hot Buttered Noodles

Duplicating these addicting noodles at home has been a decades long project of mine. It sounds simple enough… buttered noodles. But it wasn’t. They never tasted as good as the restaurant version. Oma (grandma) Dorothy Zehnder even shares “The Recipe” on the website. Let me just say… that sneaky Oma is leaving out something. Like butter… there’s no mention of buttering the noodles in her recipe… I have her number, she can’t fool me!

Frankenmuth Hot Buttered Noodles

Shops in the restaurants will gladly sell you bags of their noodles. In addition, most grocery stores in our area sell the same type of noodles. Thick egg noodles, or kluski, is what one needs. Note: these are “thick” noodles… not “wide”. Using Oma Dorothy’s recipe as the “base”, and through much trial and error, I’ve figured out a recipe/procedure that satisfies the buttered noodle monsters in our house.

Frankenmuth Hot Buttered Noodles

Frankenmuth Hot Buttered Noodles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients for Noodles:
8 ounces medium egg noodles, thick or kluski
2 quarts chicken broth
1½ teaspoons poultry seasoning (instant bouillon is fine)
pinch of pepper

Ingredients for Topping:
1 cup crushed saltine crackers (crumbs)
2 Tablespoons butter

Ingredients for Butter Sauce:
1/4 cup chicken broth
4 Tablespoons butter

Heat the chicken broth, poultry seasoning and pepper to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles. Cook according to package ingredients (normally 15-20 minutes for thick noodles).

While the noodles are cooking, make the topping and sauce.

For the topping: In a skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Stir in the cracker crumbs to coat with the melted butter. Saute until light brown, stirring often. Remove from heat and side aside for serving.

For the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the 4 tablespoons of butter and the 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Heat over low heat. Keep warm.

To Serve: Drain the noodles and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour the hot broth/butter mixture over the noodles. Stir well. Top the noodles with desired amount of browned cracker crumbs; serve additional topping on the side. Note: Noodles will initially be slightly “soupy”, but will absorb the additional liquid as they sit.


  1. Patty

    My grandma use to make them as well and she always used a seasoning from frankenmuth called frankenmuth chicken seasoning. 🙂 It has a stronger flavor verse poultry seasoning. Can’t wait to try this recipe!!! Thanks for sharing.

    • I do use the same seasoning, Patty, in most cases. My goal with this recipe was to provide an alternative to those out of state/country who were unable to “acquire” the seasoning. 🙂 I make these noodles at least once a month (shameful, I know!) and this recipe is pretty darn close to the flavor profile of the restaurant version. I hope you enjoy them!

    • I think many agree with you, Kristy. 🙂 I like it both ways, though my family felt the flavor profile was closer with the saltines cooked in the butter on the stovetop.

  2. Mandy Borsenik

    Thanks for the shout out to Dorothy and the yummy noodles, but your recipe is missing the magic ingredient…Bavarian Inn Chicken Seasoning. This is must with Dorothy’s famous noodles. You can purchase it the restaurant’s website or at the Bavarian Inn Castle Shop Bakery.

    • My pleasure! Oh yes… There is ALWAYS chicken seasoning in my pantry! My goal was to provide an alternative to those who live out of state or the country. Though this recipe is not an exact copy of Dorothy’s recipe, it has provided our family with a more than satisfying variation to keep our taste buds happy in between trips to Frankenmuth! Thanks, so much, for taking the time to visit… It is greatly appreciated

    • That’s the combination I use when in a hurry. 🙂 There’s just something extra flavorful with the crackers cooked stovetop in the butter…yum. Maybe it’s in order to try the Ritz prepared stovetop. 😉

  3. kim

    I finally made these for my daughter last night. I should tell you, I used to work at Zehnder’s and the only seasoning they use is in the cracker crumbs. The noodles are cooked just like any other noodle. After the noodles are cooked they are not drained but a good amount of salted butter is added.

  4. How satisfying to finally get a recipe right, after trying so long. I had the same experience with a pasta and smoked salmon dish. I only went to Frankenmuth once, back in the day. Liked it — a lot! — but never went back for some reason. I don’t recall the noodles. I seem to recall the fried chicken being their “thing” at the time. I’ve often thought of taking Zia there one day but wondered if it was still as good as it once was. Nice to know that it is. Looks like we may be taking a road trip this Summer. 🙂

    • To say it was satisfying is an understatement, John… it was a relief, LOL! Thank goodness I wrote everything down and can now move on to the next experiment. Chicken is still the main draw at the Frankenmuth restaurants and thankfully, it tastes the same as it did 40 years ago! A road trip with Zia sounds like a worthwhile excursion… yummy …. especially if you can manage it on a weekday (it’s much more enjoyable with smaller crowds)!

  5. Buttered noodles and winters…made for each other. I visited Frankenmouth once and my kids absoluteky loved it. Got few ornaments etc but it is a place to viait once atleast if not every year. Drove down the town and did see The Bavarian Inn but didnt stop. Thanks for sharing the recipe :).

    • Frankenmuth is a great, fun-filled destination for families. It’s too bad you didn’t eat at the Bavarian Inn, they serve great meals. My kids always got the giggles when they saw the waiters in their lederhosen! We tend to visit in the spring or summer, when it’s warmer, so we can stroll through the town. Even if you never get back, at least you can sample the noodles. 😉

  6. I think I would like Frankenmuth. I love those noodles. I actually make an Italian version. Love buttered egg noodles and that crispy crumb topping sounds so good. I don’t think I could step foot in that Christmas store crowds scare me. Love those noodles.

    • The Christmas store this time of year is much like Disneyworld on a school break – way too many people. In the summer, though – it’s not too bad.
      These noodles just aren’t the same without the crumb topping. It’s amazing how much flavor (and texture) two simple ingredients can add. Thank you so much, Suzanne! I would love to see your Italian version sometime. 🙂

  7. I have not made it up there yet this year – a must to get their “family style dinner”. I love noodles, as a matter of fact my mom always served them on Thanksgiving. Kluski noodles are what I use in my chicken noodle soup – maybe I got that idea from visiting that fun town!

    • Best to wait until the January “return” season is over at this point, Judi. It’s amazing how long of a wait it is to get seated for a meal this time of year. I use kluski in my soup, too… great minds think alike. 🙂 They’re so hearty, a bowl of soup becomes a easy, complete meal.

      • Konnie

        I used to live in the Muth and my son was a server there but he didn’t get me any recipes! Is this truly the recipe for their noodles? I love them so much!

        • This is a “copycat” recipe. I’ve played around with a home cooked variation for years and it is the closest I’ve come to replicating that wonderful restaurant taste. The noodles there are my absolute favorite part of the meal! When Freeway Fritz was open, I’d get a quart of noodles to go just for me. 😋

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