QUENELLES DE LYON: the easy recipe

The  dumplings are soft, elongated dumplings made from flour, semolina or bread crumbs or choux pastry. They are generally prepared with white meats (pike, marrow, veal, poultry and liver in Alsace).

Before being eaten, they are prepared in a sauce with tomato, crayfish or béchamel. Cooked with a sauce of crayfish, carrots, celery and cognac, they are called “quenelles with Nantua sauce”. They are often au gratin.

Specialty of Lyonnaise or Alsatian cuisine, the word "quenelle" comes from German knödel ("Dumpling", from Latin nodus, “Node”), a popular dish in Germany and Austria; or Alsatian Knepfle which means a little ball of dough.

The pike quenelle was first of all a way of preparing fish from the ponds of Dombes, and in particular pike, which could not be transported. The pike, stripped of its bones, was pounded in a mortar and mixed with a mixture of flour, milk or water, ground beef fat and eggs. This "pound" was then detailed into small balls of elongated shape, then poached in hot water. The family of innkeepers Moyne at the Port of Quirieu (Isère), fishermen and also smugglers on the Rhône, invented in the XNUMXth century a quenelle made of crumbled pike meat, mixed with eggs, flour, molded with a spoon, and cooked in broth, served with a sauce.

Subsequently, pastry chefs were the only ones to make quenelles. On Sunday morning, the Lyonnais went to the pastry shop to buy dumplings and tomato sauce for cooking. 

It was Joseph Moyne, son of a butcher and grandson of the innkeepers of Bouvesse-Quirieu, who developed in Lyon in the 1920s, a more elaborate, fine and digestible recipe for quenelles. He also had the idea of ​​cutting the dumplings with two special spoons giving them a pointed shape at both ends. The butchers thus seized the monopoly of the quenelle held by the pastry chefs.

Level of difficulty: easy
Preparation time : 30 min
Rest time : -
Cooking time : 10 min
Total time : 40 min
Ingredients: 6 people
250 ml of water
50 g butter
2 pinches of salt
175 g flour 55 type
3 eggs
300 g of poultry or white fish (pike, whiting, etc.)

Preparation of the dough (panade):

  • Put the water, salt and butter in a saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Off the heat, pour in the flour all at once.
  • Mix vigorously.
  • Cook 5 min over low heat, stirring to dry the dough.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the 3 eggs one by one, mixing vigorously between each egg.
  • Laisser refroidir.
  • Add the fish or poultry meat to the panade.

Preparation of the quenelle:

  • Place the dough on a floured work surface.
  • Take some dough with a large floured spoon and shape the dumplings one by one.


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Poach the quenelles one by one until they rise to the surface.
  • Drain them.
  • Serve and enjoy, possibly accompanied by a sauce (bechamel, tomato,…)!

Quote about cooking:

“You know, since I cook classic, there are no difficult products. It's all about the gestures and for me, one of the most beautiful is the seasoning. With your fingertips. It is the capital gesture. The signature of the dish. Touch is fundamental. "

Paul Bocuse

Leave a comment