Cheese Buttons

I recently read a book that took place in the late 1800’s, when North Dakota was part of the Homestead Act.  The characters in the book were Norwegian and settled in Eastern North Dakota.

As I read about the trial of homesteading, I thought of my own family history.  My great-grandmother’s family settled in Western North Dakota in the early 1900’s, after the Homestead Act, but I had to wonder if they faced the same trials.

Here is my review of the book:


An Untamed Land (Red River of the North, #1)An Untamed Land by Lauraine Snelling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very enjoyable historical fiction but SAD! The author did not hold back when it comes to the trials of homesteading!

View all my reviews

I have shared some family history in my Easter Bread and Korovai posts.  So I decided to try another family recipe.  On Good Friday, my mom always makes Shoup Noodles (a recipe from her childhood) and Cheese Buttons. My mom remembers the cheese buttons of her childhood being a sweet food. Her mother topped them with cinnamon sugar (instead of onions and breadcrumbs) and her dad added a dollop of sour cream for a sweet & sour treat. Later, my mom did her own research and started making the savory version. 

I don’t actually have my mom’s recipe for cheese buttons yet, but after reading the book, I decided I needed to give them a try and found one online!  My family has German ancestry, rather than the Norwegian in the story, but I’d imagine some of their stories of being immigrants to the midwest are the same.

This recipe for cheese buttons starts with Farmer’s Cheese (or cottage cheese, or ricotta).  Egg is mixed in and then the mixture gets stuffed into egg noodles (like a dumpling, or tortellini).  Then the cheese buttons are served with fried onions, a light cream sauce and toasted breadcrumbs!

This is a delicious meatless meal, served simply with a salad or veggie tray or with a vegetable-heavy soup!

Cheese Buttons (Kase Knoephla)

Adapted from From the Family Table

Farm Cheese

2 quarts whole milk

1/4 cup white vinegar

Cheese Filling

Farm Cheese (above)

1 egg

3/4 teaspoon salt


2 cups flour

3 eggs

1-3 tablespoons water

To serve

1 tablespoon butter

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 cup half & half

salt & pepper, to taste

Toasted breadcrumbs (2 slices bread fried in butter)

Place the milk in a saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the milk is steaming and just beginning to bubble (about 150 degrees F).  Stir in the vinegar, then cover and remove from heat.  Set aside for 45 minutes to cool, stirring occasionally.

Line a colander with cheesecloth.  Pour the milk mixture in the cheesecloth, straining the curds from the whey (I poured the whey in my winter garden, but there are many other uses for it!)  After draining, squeeze out the remaining liquid from the cheese curds.

Whisk the egg and salt into the curds, cover and refrigerate.

To make the noodles, place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the dough blade.  Mix until a ball forms.

Turn the dough out and knead until smooth.  If needed, add a bit more flour if the dough is sticky or more water if dry.  Wrap in plastic wrap and set side to rest for 1 hour.

Cut the dough in half.  Roll out until thin using. rolling pin or to the second to thinnest setting on a pasta roller. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut the dough into 2-inch squares.  Add about 1 teaspoon of cheese mixture into the center of each square.  Wet a finger with water and run along the edges, then fold over and seal into squares or triangles.  Repeat until dough and cheese mixture are used. Slice up any excess dough and cook with the cheese buttons.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the cheese buttons and cook for 6 minutes. 

While the buttons cook, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and and cook for 2-3 minutes. Once the cheese buttons are done, scoop them with a slotted spoon from the cooking water to the pan with the onions and lightly fry.

Once the onions and cheese buttons are lightly fried, add the cream and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot topped with toasted breadcrumbs.


  1. Much the same as Polish pierogi. They sound delicious. I enjoyed the book, Amy, and have just ordered up the 4th book of the series.

  2. I've never heard of Cheese Buttons before. Thanks for sharing them


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