Are you in the mood for a hearty and delicious meal that'll transport you straight to Germany? Look no further than Frikadellen, also known as Buletten in Berlin! These mouth-watering meatballs are the perfect combination of savory and satisfying.
And the best part is, they're so easy to make! Whether you're a pro in the kitchen or just starting out, you'll be able to whip up a batch of these babies in no time. Plus, they're super versatile too.
Serve them as a main dish or place them on a sandwich or salad for an extra boost of flavor. So, grab your apron and let's get cookin'! This German classic is sure to become a new favorite for your family and friends.
This recipe is similar to my Southern German meatballs aka German hamburger, which are a little more budget friendly as it replaces bread crumbs for meat which still tastes amazing but will save you some money if you need to feed a crowd.
Cultural Background & Pronunciation
Did you ever wonder where Frikadellen, those delicious German meatballs, came from? Well, the truth is, it's a bit of a mystery. But, the most popular theory is that the Huguenots brought them to Berlin in the 1700s and called them "Boulette" which means "little ball". In Berlin Frikadellen are still called Buletten, which sounds pretty similar in my opinion.
But some people say that Napoleon's troops might have brought it to Germany in the early 1800s. Today, no matter how they were brought to Germany, they are a staple of German classic cuisine.
Every region has slightly different recipe and different names for the delicious meat dish: "Bulette," "Fleischpflanzerl," "Fleischküchle," "Klops," and "Fleischklößchen."
What are Frikadellen?
Frikadellen are a traditional German dish of pan-fried flat meatballs,. They are typically made from ground beef and/or pork, mixed with various ingredients such as stale bread, onions, eggs, and seasonings.
How to pronounce "Frikadellen" in German?
Listen to this audio file to hear how to say "Frikadellen". Die Frikadelle (f/singular) and die Frikadellen (f/plural).
Ingredients & Substitutions
These are the ingredients that you need to make authentic German Frikadellen.
Meat - Traditionally, frikadellen are made from a mixture of ground beef and pork. If you can´t find ground pork or don´t like it, you can use 100% ground beef. I recommend 20/80 if you use only beef. If you use pork and beef, I recommend 93/7 ground beef. But you should try whatever you like best, these are just my personal preferences.
Bread -Frikadellen get their fluffiness from the addition of bread. Usually stale bread works best, as it will be soaked in water or milk. The added moisture from the bread makes the frikadellen softer and juicier than regular hamburger patties. The bread also helps to add flavor and improves texture.
Egg - The egg is a necessary binder that will also help to make the buletten smoother and softer.
Onion & garlic - The combination of onion and garlic adds a wonderful flavor to this dish. In many classic German dishes you will not find garlic, but I personally love it. I usually use my budget-friendly homemade garlic paste. This paste melts into the other ingredients and you will not bite into a piece of garlic.
If you are having problems to digest onions you might want to saute the onion cubes before adding them to the meat mixture.
Seasoning - The seasoning for this dish is quite simple. A combination of salt, pepper, paprika powder, parsley, marjoram and a small amount of yellow mustard (optional) do the trick. Be a little more generous with the salt than usual as this dish needs quite a bit of salt.
Maggi is a liquid seasoning that is very popular in German-speaking countries. For many Germans, a teaspoon of this seasoning is a must in their meatballs. I personally don´t use it, but if you can get it in your local supermarket, you could give it a try.
It is not unusual that a German housewife will give the raw meat mixture a taste test. But if you don´t want to do this, you can make a small taste-test frikadelle and fry it. This way, you can try the taste and adjust the seasoning before you shape the rest of the meatballs.
See recipe card for quantities.
Making authentic German Frikadellen is very easy. Just follow these step-by-step instructions and the recipe.
Step 1: Pull the roll apart or cut it into small pieces, then put it and some water in a small bowl.
Step 2: Peel the onion and cube it finely. Add it with the garlic paste, meat, the mustard and the optional Maggi to a large bowl.
Step 3: Add the remaining spices and the egg. Drain the water from the bread and squeeze out the excess liquid. Add it to the bowl as well, and knead it with the meat mixture until everything is well combined and smooth. Then shape into round meatballs and flatten them slightly.
Step 4: In a skillet, melt the clarified butter and sear the frikadellen for 2-3 minutes on each side at medium-high heat. Then fry them for an additional 3–5 minutes on medium-low heat, while turning them once in a while.
Kneading the meat mixture is very important. It might take up to 10 minutes until everything is well combined and the spices are fully incorporated into the meat. The kneading is what guarantees the perfect texture and softness of the frikadellen.
To make Frikadellen, you only need a minimal list of kitchen essentials.
- cutting board
- kitchen knife
- measuring spoons
- large bowl
- large pan
To store leftover Frikadellen, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to 3 days or freeze them for up to 3 months. To reheat, you can pan-fry them, bake them in the oven or air fryer, or simply heat them up in a microwave.
Leftover Frikadellen don't have to be limited to reheating; they can be enjoyed cold as well. Imagine biting into a juicy, savory meatball nestled between slices of fresh bread or a crusty Kaiser roll for a delicious lunch on the go or a satisfying snack.
How to Serve
Frikadellen can be served in a variety of ways. Some popular options include:
- as a main dish without gravy, with a side of fries, fried potatoes, Nudelsalat - German noodle salad, German salad platter, or with one of the famous German potato salads.
- as a side dish with homemade gravy and mashed potatoes, spaetzle or rice. My favorite gravies for this dish are jager sauce and rahm sauce.
- sliced and served warm or cold on a crispy kaiser roll or a slice of German rye bread.
- added to a salad bowl for a protein boost.
- served in a mini version as appetizer with dipping sauce.
- warm as a snack, served like a hamburger.
You can get creative and serve them with different side dishes and sauces, or even in a wrap or a sandwich.
Frikadellen - German Buletten
- 1 large stale roll or 3 slices of white bread
- 1 medium onion
- 1 ½ tsp. garlic paste or 2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
- 1 egg large
- 1 pound ground beef lean
- ½ pound ground pork
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ tsp. coarse black pepper
- 1 ½ tsp. Maggi Würze optional
- 1 ½ tsp. yellow mustard
- 1 ½ tsp. marjoram dried
- 1 ½ tsp. paprika powder
- 3 tsp. parsley dried
- 1 tbsp. clarified butter or lard
- Pull or cut the roll into small pieces and place it with water into a small bowl.
- Peel the onion and cube it finely.
- To a large bowl, add the ground meat, egg, onion cubes, garlic paste, salt, pepper, yellow mustard, Maggie (optional), marjoram, paprika, and parsley.
- Drain the water from the bread, squeeze out the excess liquid and add also to the bowl.
- Knead everything for about 5–10 minutes until everything is well combined and the mixture has a smooth texture.
- Shape your Frikadellen meat mixture into patties.
- Heat the clarified butter in a cast-iron or non-stick pan and sear the patties for about 1-2 minutes on each side on high heat. Then fry the Frikadellen until done on medium-low heat, while turning them once in a while.
Frequently Asked Questions
Frikadellen are traditionally made with 50% ground beef and 50% ground pork. However, there are now many other varieties made entirely of beef, veal, as well as ground turkey or chicken.