North Dakota Recipes Sides

Lazy Cheese Buttons

I have a confession to make… I have an addiction. An addiction with old cookbooks. Whenever I come across a used book store or book section in an antique store, cookbooks are the first thing I look for. I have found some awesome treasures throughout my searching. There’s honestly nothing better than a cookbook that begins with explaining my duties as a wife during the 1950’s. 😉 

It is no secret that we don’t cook like we used to. And in fact, much of our youth will never even learn to cook because cooking has become a dying art. Making things from scratch? Who needs to know how to do that? I was watching an online course about the history of Meat and the instructor through out the statistic that in the United States, nearly 50% of our meals are eaten away from the home. 50 percent! That statistic is shocking to me. I guess I forget that I have been blessed with the love and education to cook a meal from scratch. 


Many of the cookbooks in my collection are published books, but some are “church cookbooks”. For those of you who have lived in small towns, you will know what I am talking about.  Basically it’s a collection of recipes from the many families that make up the church or other organization in the community. It holds family recipes some of which have long been passed down through the generations. 


These books hold so much sentimental value to me. Some of them have been given to me by my mother-in-law as they were her mother’s, some of them I bought myself, some of them I was gifted during my bridal shower. But no matter how I acquire them, I cherish them. They are precious pieces of history, the recipes and meals that generations of families ate at the table together. They hold some of my favorite recipes and recipes I hope to make for and with my kids someday. Some of them even still contain hand written additions, corrections, or notes around the recipes from the original owner. 


One of my favorite cookbooks I have stumbled across isn’t that old, but it is full of recipes from the ages. It is our local community High School Class Reunion Cookbook. You may remember me talking last week about how our community is rich with Germans from Russia heritage. I’ve been enjoying learning and trying my hand at some of the classic recipes. 

One of those recipes is something called cheese buttons. Now if you aren’t from here, you probably have no idea what that is. Don’t feel bad, I didn’t know either! But let me tell you, they are little pieces of heaven. Traditional cheese buttons (also called Kase Knoepfla) are a dish of tender noodle dough stuffed with seasoned dry cottage cheese. They are traditional to the Dakota area and anyone who grew up here has fond memories of eating them growing up. 

Cheese buttons are a rather involved process as they require you to hand make the dough, let it rise, roll it out, stuff the buttons, and then further cook them. Once they are cooked, they are usually served with some sort of creamy gravy with meat. But in this Ashley Reunion cookbook, I found a gem. Lazy Cheese Buttons!

Lazy Cheese Buttons Updated-1

All the delicious pieces of heaven, but in a much easier form! There is many variations of this recipe and I am sure every family has their own lazy, short cut recipe for cheese buttons. For someone who has never had cheese buttons, it is hard to describe the party that erupts in your mouth when you try them for the first time. But just let me say, if you like dough, cream, and onions… you will LOVE cheese buttons! 

So in the spirit of traditional cooking done a bit easier, I give you Lazy Cheese Buttons! Now go make these for your family tonight! 

Lazy Cheese Buttons
Serves 4
an easy take on a traditional Dakota dish
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
  1. 1 large carton (24 oz.) cottage cheese (not dry curd, I usually use 2%)
  2. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  3. 2 cups flour
  4. 4 eggs
  5. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  1. Cream
  2. Sauteed onions
  1. Mix all the ingredients for the buttons together in a large bowl.
  2. Place rounded tablespoons full of the mixture on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
  3. While buttons are cooking, prepare sauteed onions. Place 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a pan, add onions and let saute until caramelized. About 10-15 minutes.
  4. Place baked cheese buttons in a casserole dish, top with cream and sauteed onions. (Don't be stingy with the cream, the buttons will wallow in all that creamy goodness.)
  5. Bake for another 20 minutes and enjoy!
Adapted from Ashley Reunion Cookbook - Schlepp Family
Adapted from Ashley Reunion Cookbook - Schlepp Family
Prairie Californian

Jenny Dewey Rohrich


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  • Robyn
    July 1, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Old cookbooks are a treasure. Some share a cultural heritage, others family recipes and all love and good eats. One of my bridal shower gifts was a cookbook put together by J’s Cousin’s wife containing family recipes. I use it often.

    I have to say J and I are outside the 50% of our meals eaten outside the home statistic. I will admit there are times we wish take out or delivery could be an option.

  • Lizbeth
    July 2, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Silly question. When you say cream what does that mean? Sour cream?
    These look delicious!

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      July 2, 2014 at 8:46 am

      Ha! I should have been more specific! Heavy whipping cream! It’s in the milk section usually! 🙂

      • Lizbeth
        July 2, 2014 at 9:10 pm

        Thank you for your response! That could have gone horribly wrong for me! LOL.

        • johnny c
          May 7, 2016 at 6:28 pm

          Either that or you just invented an OUTSTANDING variation.

  • Lauren | Bears By Lauren
    July 2, 2014 at 7:14 am

    My family grew up near Ashley! 🙂 And I have some of those Pine to Prairie cookbooks too! The best recipes come from those church and centennial/reunion cookbooks! I have made lazy cheese buttons myself, but never this way. Am definitely going to try it. Is it regular cottage cheese? One thing I lament living just east in MN now is that we can’t find dry curd cottage cheese here unless you go into the cities, and even then it’s not easy to find. 🙁 Thanks for this post!

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      July 2, 2014 at 8:47 am

      Small world for sure! Yes, I use regular cottage cheese. I wish I could find dry curd cottage cheese as well! I don’t think it is something easily found anymore!

      • Julie D
        July 2, 2014 at 1:01 pm

        Dry cottage cheese is at any grocery store in Bismarck and I also just saw it at the Walmart stores there too.

      • Feisty Eats
        July 2, 2014 at 1:38 pm

        Thanks for sharing this take on an easier method! I can usual find dry curd cottage cheese in the frozen section of a grocery store.
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      • Mike kessel
        August 16, 2014 at 5:05 pm

        Hi Jenny!
        My name is Mike Kessel and my family lived in Ashley for decades. My mother in law Olga Kost still lives in the community.
        I was interested in the Lazy Cheese Button recipe that Debbie Meidinger Jenner reposted, in fact, my wife Sandi is making it tomorrow evening for our weekly Sunday Night Dinner that includes my daughters and their families and my dad Marvin Kessel. Pls. Include me in any communication that you send out and also do you know where I can purchase copies of the 2000 Reunion Cookbook that you reference? Thanks!

        • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
          August 18, 2014 at 10:32 am

          Hi Mike,
          It’s a small world! I hope you enjoyed the cheese buttons! I will inquire about getting you a copy of the 2000 Reunion Cookbook. If you are interested in subscribing to my blog, there’s a small box on the right hand side of the page that you just need to enter your email address into! Otherwise, I can manually add you so whenever I blog, you will get an email! 🙂
          Nice to meet you and will be in touch!

      • Jonnye
        September 19, 2015 at 6:24 pm

        You can find dry curd cottage cheese at Whole Foods. I usually try remember to put it in the food processor for a titch because the curds are a little large but no matter, it works either way.

        • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
          September 23, 2015 at 11:23 am

          Sadly, there are no Whole Foods in North Dakota! 😉

  • Kurt Holzer
    July 3, 2014 at 2:56 am

    For dry curd cottage cheese substitute try this. Buy regular cottage cheese, line a colander with cheese cloth, put colander in a bowl, pour cottage cheese into collander, let it sit overnight in the fridge.

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      July 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      Awesome! Thanks for the tips!!

      • Leona McDonald
        November 26, 2015 at 9:53 pm

        Love the cheese cloth idea — is there a way to still buy the Ashley cook book?

        • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
          November 27, 2015 at 11:07 am

          Hi Leona,
          Unfortunately I don’t think there are any copies of this cookbook available for sale anymore. It may be possible to find one on Ebay or a For Sale site online!

  • Stacey
    July 3, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I just saw this recipe on Facebook…. I am from Kulm and now live in Jamestown. I LOVE cheesebuttons but have never taken the time to make them. I’m definitely going to try this though.. I love the community and church cookbooks. They have the best recipes. I also have learned to make a lot of the German and Swedish heritage foods from my grandmas and my mom, which is helpful because the recipes usually include instructions like “add enough flour until it feels right”. I’ve seen dry curd cottage cheese at Hugos… it’s definitely hard to find, but probably worth it so your cheesebuttons aren’t too wet.

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      July 3, 2014 at 4:28 pm

      It’s such a small world! 🙂 I hope you enjoy this recipe! It’s so easy and delicious!

  • Susan L
    July 3, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    When you say large container of cottage cheese, How many ounces?

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      July 10, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      24 ounces! Sorry for my delay in replying!

      • Stephanie
        September 8, 2014 at 4:59 pm

        Thanks for clarifying the amount…I was just reading through to see if there was more detail on how much cottage cheese!!

  • Michelle
    July 3, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    My Ukrainian family calls them three corners. We make the dough, roll it out, cut it in squares, and then stuff it with the cottage cheese. We also use mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. We then boil them in water for 5 min and pour the butter and onions over them. SO,so good! I am excited to try this…with the cream! The family is from Belfield, ND. We live in SD now.

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      July 10, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      Oh yum! That sounds amazing! These are fantastic and so easy!

  • Jennifer Lundeby
    July 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    I love this! I really do! I would not normally say anything, but in this case, the miss use of a word was confusing enough for me to have to read the sentence 3 times before I understood, and I truly believe you would like to fix it. “I was watching an online course about the history of Meat and the instructor through out the statistic that…” In this context, it should read “Threw out”, as opposed to “Through out.” Again, I thank you for a wonderful article! I am going to try these today. Have a Happy Fourth!

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      July 10, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      Yep, I saw that on my phone and I keep forgetting to fix it! Thanks!

  • Cheryl
    July 5, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Your post made me so hungry for these that I made them for dinner tonight. I am freezing 1/2 the buttons so I don’t eat them all! They were great with grilled pork tips and sautéed kale. See you in a few weeks!

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      July 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      YUM! Sounds fantastic! I look forward to seeing you!!

  • Emily
    August 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    I grew up in North Central South Dakota & LOVE German food! I’ve never attempted making anything on my own because it seemed too daunting. I’m going to try this though! How much onion & cream do you use?

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      August 11, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      I used 1-2 onions chopped up and poured enough cream over the buttons to almost cover them. I’d say 1/2 quart or so.

  • gayle
    August 12, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    hi is there a way you can make ahead and put into a crockpot, i want to take camping but dont want to do it in the camper.. thanks

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      August 15, 2014 at 10:42 am


      I am sure you could make them ahead and just keep them warm in a crock pot!

  • Geraldine Kramer Wanner
    September 13, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    I grew up in Wishek, graduated in 67. Loved when Mom made these. Have you seen the lazy mans Cottage Cheese Buttons recipe made with Lasagne noodles? It’s fantastic!

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      September 15, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Yes! My mother in law has another recipe using lasagna noodles! I will have to make that and share it on here too! Thanks so much for stopping by and glad to bring you a part of ND heritage! 🙂

  • John Wolf
    September 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I’m an old Ashley boy who first of all just loves to read stuff with the word North Dakota in it. It just takes me back. Kase knepfla is one of the first tastes I can remember as a small child. My Grandma lived in western ND and we only found the chance to visit maybe once a year. On one of our visits she and my aunt made it and a few other German-Russian dishes. In the 40 some years since I’ve probably had it 2 or 3 other times. It’s like a taste memory where other things during that time pop into my memory when that flavor hits my tongue. I saw this recipe posted on Facebook by my cousin and had to try it. I put the first piece in my mouth and literally got the chills. I like food but that’s never happened to me before. Wow that was good. Thanks for the memories. Now I need a nap. I think I ate a little too much.

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      September 29, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Awesome! So glad to be able to bring you back with this recipe! Thanks so much for the kind words and for reading! I hope you carry on this tradition now that you have the recipe!

  • Jon Flatland
    September 29, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Hi Jenny! Can’t wait to make this recipe! I owned the Ashley Tribune from 1989 to 1994 and have fond memories of Ashley and the surrounding area. I used to run down to Eureka, SD about once a week to a little place called George’s Bar where George’s wife made cheese buttons about once a week as a dinner special. Just when you’d be almost finished eating she would come out of the kitchen with a pan and a spatula and dump more cheese buttons on your plate … no extra charge! I also couldn’t wait for the days when Joey Dodd would make chicken and strudel at her café!

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      September 30, 2014 at 10:33 am

      Jon, it is certainly a small world!! Glad to have brought back some memories for you! My husband grew up near Eureka (in Zeeland actually) and he remembers George’s Bar and the cheese buttons! Thank you for stopping by, reading, and commenting!

  • Doris
    September 29, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Hello – I am a fellow German and grew up in Strasburg, ND. My maiden name is Rohrich and am wondering if we are related as it is not often I see name spelt the same way. I would help my grandma Rohrich make cheese buttons and they were sooooooo good. I am trying this recipe for first time. Look forward to hearing from you.

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      September 30, 2014 at 10:34 am

      Hi Doris,
      My husband’s family did spend time in Strausburg, ND so it is possible. My husband’s grandfather is Claude and he has several brothers and sisters. Hope the recipe turns out for you! These aren’t nearly as great as the real thing BUT they are easy and very delicious!

  • Lori
    October 26, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Hi, I did jut the opposite. I was born and raised in NoDak but now live in California. Of the two, I much prefer North Dakota. I too own some of those Pine To Prairie Cookbooks and still use them regularly. Thank you for this recipe. I can’t wait to try it!

  • Kristin
    October 27, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Making these tonight! However my cheese buttons are coming out like pancakes instead of dough – is that how they are supposed to be?

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      October 27, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      The mixture is like pancake mix? Or the already done buttons are like pancakes?

  • Kristin
    October 27, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    The already done ones after the first baking part before the cream……they are like little pancakes.

  • Kristin
    October 27, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Well, whether they are supposed to be or not, it was still excellent!!! Thank u for sharing the recipe with us!

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      October 27, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      Thank you!! I would say they are more pancake like than dough like. They are spongy (for lack of a better word) which works out great to soak up the cream!! 🙂

      • Cindy
        January 20, 2016 at 10:46 pm

        Jenny when you say large carton of cottage cheese, do you mean the 16 oz size or is there a larger one? I can’t wait to try this. I’m hoping to make some Texans fans of this one! Thanks

  • Paula Yates
    January 6, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    We also made Fleisch Knoephla by mixing meat into to Knoepkla dough. We boilded, not baked them then browned them in onion and often with kraut. Yes, dry cottage cheese can be hard to find. I will try these!

  • tanya mantle
    January 13, 2015 at 8:40 am

    I stumbled onto this recipe on Facebook. When I clicked into your blog I was pleasantly surprised! My family is from ND and have the Germans from Russia heritage. I loved going to Grandmas house every summer. She instilled the love of cooking from scratch in me. I have never had cheese buttons/Fleisch Knoephla before but Grandma used to cook a dish she called Ramnoodla. Pretty much the same thing, dry cottage cheese and seasoning in a dough. She kept the dough long in one piece and fried in a pan. My mom makes it occasionally. I am going to try this! A store near us carries the dry cottage cheese around the holidays.

  • Leona Moench Kinzler
    February 17, 2015 at 7:08 am

    QMy uncle Adolof Moench owned the Lutheran Insurance agency in Ashley I enjoyed your blog very much as I grew up on a farm south of Jud ND and was a rural schol teacher before getmarried

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  • Alisha
    May 21, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Yeah, these on the list of foods to try and make… you had me at cottage cheese!!
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  • Rosalyn
    December 15, 2015 at 2:43 am

    Another way to get the dry cottage cheese is to place cottage cheese in a colander and rinse carefully under cool running water, then allow to dry. I use it that way to make cottage cheese pie.

  • Joel Suderman
    December 15, 2015 at 9:36 pm

    Quite similar to our Low German “verenika” or “vereniky” or cottage cheese dumplngs. These are of Ukrainian origin. For the Mennonite Central Committee mid-Kansas relief sale each April in Hutchinson, Kansas volunteers make 18,000 to 20,000 verenikas. They always sell out shortly after noon on Saturday. (The auction sale begins Friday evening and continues throughout all day Saturday. For pictures, check out the following websites: (6th picture down); (April 14 post)

  • Candice Silva
    January 9, 2016 at 2:42 am

    Found your site and i’m in heaven – my mother was a German from Russia and grew up eating something very similar, dumplings made with noodle dough, filled with either cottage cheese/onions served with butter and cream or sour cherries served with sour cream. This recipe will give me the same flavor and be much easier. Many years ago I had a Germans from Russia cookbook, put together by a church group in Nebraska that I treasured but it was lost in a flood. You’ve made an old woman very happy, thank you.

  • ABailey
    March 24, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    I married my husband who is from North Dakota (I am from Montana but had never heard of them), and I’d like to try to make these. Quick question: Should they ALL need to be eaten immediately or do they reheat well at all?
    Next up I need to master Knoephla soup…which I had also never had, haha.

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      March 24, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Hi there!! Glad you’re going to try these! They reheat just fine! In fact they may even be better the day after they soak up all that yummy cream!! 🙂

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  • Tami Smith
    June 9, 2016 at 11:06 am

    Made my grandma’s version the other day. We stuff the dough with the dry curd. I cannot find it in AZ (and usually use large curd that’s been drained), but when my mom visits from Montana-she always brings about 6 bags for freezing. We like them boiled and then tossed with fried bread pieces and heavy cream. The next day we fry them up and they get crispy and then more fried bread and heavy cream. We don’t use onions, but I wonder if this would be good. My mom is visiting from Montana now, and having grown up in ND some-I wonder if she’s heard of it with onions. I’m printing the recipe to ask her. I’ve never done “lazy” cheese buttons, but don’t think the regular ones are that hard.

  • Traci
    July 20, 2016 at 11:24 am

    I am a Germans from Russia Dakota girl. Unfortunately I no longer live there. Most ofmy family still lives in ND and I miss them terribly. The first time, surprisingly, I had cheesy buttons, my brother in law made them. He used giant shell noodles. So good!!!

  • Jordon
    September 9, 2016 at 9:03 am

    I made these and it said to put 1 rounded tbsp of dough on greased pan but after I baked them they didn’t get flat they stayed rather round which I didn’t like! Am I missing a step?

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      September 13, 2016 at 9:37 am

      These buttons will be fluffier than say, a cookie. But they should definitely flatten out and not be balls. Are you cooking at a high altitude? This puts a wrench in all things dough! Two things I would try, try adjusting the temperature of your oven. And also try reducing the amount of leavener (the baking powder). Let me know how it goes!

  • Zac
    January 24, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    I didn’t read through all the comments, so apologies if this is redundant: my grandmother’s taught me to make this with cheese curds, aka squeaky cheese. Even sub-par curds (which most you can find are) are far superior to cottage cheese of any variety.

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      March 10, 2017 at 4:39 pm

      Traditional cheese buttons are actually made with dry curd cottage cheese (different than cheese curds). This is a lazy version so the cottage cheese is necessary in the recipe.

  • Mandy
    February 9, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Are the Ashley Cookbooks still available? I love Cookbooks like those!

    • Jenny Dewey Rohrich
      March 10, 2017 at 4:36 pm

      As far as I have been notified, they are no longer being printed. However, I always keep an eye out for them in used bookstores, thrift stores, etc.