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Bitterballen - Dutch Meatballs

Deep-fried meatballs with a crispy golden-brown crust and a creamy potato and beef patty. Serve these Dutch-influenced Indonesian snacks with mayo and chili sauce.
Bitterballen - Dutch Meatballs

Bitterballen - Dutch Meatballs

Indonesia was under Dutch colonial rule for a long time, and many Dutch recipes are now common in everyday Indonesian life. Among the many Dutch-influenced foods, bitterballen is easily at the top of my favorites.

Bitterballen has a crunchy golden brown skin encasing a soft and flavorful potato and beef mixture. You can serve them as a side dish, an appetizer, or as a snack to go with your afternoon tea or coffee. They are always served piping hot with a side of mayonnaise and chili sauce. ♥

Ingredients for bitterballen (Dutch meatballs): ground beef, potatoes, mushrooms, celery, onion, eggs, milk, butter (not shown), cheddar, panko breadcrumbs, nutmeg, sugar, salt, and pepper.

Ingredients for bitterballen (Dutch meatballs): ground beef, potatoes, mushrooms, celery, onion, eggs, milk, butter (not shown), cheddar, panko breadcrumbs, nutmeg, sugar, salt, and pepper.

Bitterballen ingredients

For the bitterballen itself, we will need butter, onion, white button mushroom, ground beef, all-purpose flour, milk, mashed potato, nutmeg, salt, ground white pepper, sugar, cheddar cheese, and Chinese celery.

You can also use regular celery instead of Chinese celery, but choose the thinner one with plenty of leaves.

For the coating, we will need bread crumbs (preferably panko) and eggs.

We usually serve bitterballen with a simple sauce by mixing mayonnaise and bottled chili sauce. You can use Sriracha, though I prefer Indonesian bottled chili sauce.

(1) Melt butter and sauté onion until translucent. (2) Add diced mushrooms and cook until wilted. (3) Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. (4) Sautéed onion, mushrooms, and ground beef.

(1) Melt butter and sauté onion until translucent. (2) Add diced mushrooms and cook until wilted. (3) Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink. (4) Sautéed onion, mushrooms, and ground beef.

Part 1: Prepare bitterballen dough (ragout)

1. Sauté onion in butter

Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent.

2. Add mushrooms and ground beef

Add mushroom and cook until wilts. Then add ground beef and cook until no longer pink.

3. Add all-purpose flour and milk

Add all-purpose flour, and stir until the mixture clumps together. Slowly pour the milk, and keep stirring until the sauce is thick and smooth.

4. Add celery, cheddar, seasonings, and mashed potatoes

Add mashed potato, nutmeg, salt, ground pepper, sugar, cheddar, and celery leaves. Mix well, and cook until the sauce is dry with no standing liquid. Turn off the heat and set aside.

(5) Add all-purpose flour and stir until clumping. (6) Slowly pour in milk and mix until the sauce is thick and smooth. (7) Add celery, cheddar, nutmeg, sugar, salt, and pepper. (8) Add mashed potatoes, then keep on stirring until the sauce is dry with no standing liquid.

(5) Add all-purpose flour and stir until clumping. (6) Slowly pour in milk and mix until the sauce is thick and smooth. (7) Add celery, cheddar, nutmeg, sugar, salt, and pepper. (8) Add mashed potatoes, then keep on stirring until the sauce is dry with no standing liquid.

Part 2: Shape the meatballs

1. Shape into balls

Once the dough is cool enough to handle, shape it into round balls.

For appetizer/snack size meatballs, use a #60 cookie scoop (~ 1 tablespoon) to get about 40 meatballs from one recipe. I find that these are easier to serve as finger/party food.

Alternatively, you can use a medium-size cookie scoop (#40 cookie scoop / ~ 1 12 tablespoon) to get about 28 meatballs from one recipe.

2. Coat with panko and eggs

Coat each meatball with bread crumbs, followed with lightly beaten egg, and finally, another coat of bread crumbs.

I love using panko breadcrumbs for its crispy finish, but you can use regular bread crumbs too.

If you don’t have enough breadcrumbs, you can use all-purpose flour for the first coating, but please use bread crumbs for the final coat.

Top: potato mixture that is ready for shaping into meatballs. Bottom: Potato and ground beef meatballs, coated with panko, egg, and panko.

Top: potato mixture that is ready for shaping into meatballs. Bottom: Potato and ground beef meatballs, coated with panko, egg, and panko.

Part 3: Fry the meatballs

Fill a pot with at least 2 inches of oil. Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 170 Celsius (340 Fahrenheit).

Once the oil is hot, gently fry coated meatballs until golden brown and crispy. Please don’t crowd the pot to maintain the oil temperature. You will most likely need to fry the meatballs in batches.

Remove fried meatballs with a slotted spoon and drain over a wire rack/stainless steel strainer to remove excess oil.

Serve bitterballen immediately with mayo and chili sauce.

Bitterballen are best served piping hot immediately after they are fried.

Bitterballen are best served piping hot immediately after they are fried.

Storing and reheating bitterballen

Store any leftover bitterballen in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

For longer storage, arrange fried meatballs on a lined baking sheet and freeze until solid, then transfer into a freezer-safe ziplock bag. You can store frozen bitterballen for up to 3 months.

To reheat, bake bitterballen in a 180 Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) preheated oven or a toaster oven to return them to a just-fried state of crispy goodness. It should take about 5-8 minutes for non-frozen meatballs, and about 10-13 minutes for frozen meatballs.

Please do not reheat bitterballen in a microwave since they will lose all the crispiness.

Bitterballen, served with a mixture of mayo and chili sauce.

Bitterballen, served with a mixture of mayo and chili sauce.

Originally published on May 12, 2014. Updated on Oct 26, 2020 with new photos.

Bitterballen - Dutch Meatballs

5.0 from 11 reviews

Author: Anita Jacobson

Categories:

Cuisine:

Ingredients:

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins

Serves: 40 meat balls

Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon butter (Indonesian: mentega)
  • 100 gram onion (Indonesian: bawang bombay), minced
  • 100 gram white button mushroom (Indonesian: jamur kancing putih), minced
  • 200 gram ground beef (Indonesian: daging sapi cincang)
  • 40 gram all-purpose flour (Indonesian: tepung terigu)
  • 250 ml milk (Indonesian: susu)
  • 400 gram potato (Indonesian: kentang), peeled, boiled, and mashed
  • 2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (Indonesian: bubuk pala)
  • 2 teaspoon salt (Indonesian: garam)
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper (Indonesian: bubuk merica)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (Indonesian: gula)
  • 40 gram cheddar (Indonesian: keju cheddar), grated
  • 4 stalks of Chinese celery (Indonesian: daun seledri), thinly sliced (Note 1)
  • enough oil for deep frying
  • Coating
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs (Indonesian: tepung panir)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Sauce (mix together the following)
  • 2 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoon bottled chili sauce of your choice

Instructions

  1. Prepare bitterballen dough: Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent. Add mushroom and cook until wilts. Then add ground beef and cook until no longer pink.
  2. Add all-purpose flour, and stir until the mixture clumps together. Slowly pour the milk, and keep stirring until the sauce is thick and smooth.
  3. Add mashed potato, nutmeg, salt, ground pepper, sugar, cheddar, and celery leaves. Mix well, and cook until the sauce is dry with no standing liquid. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  4. Shape bitterballen: Take a tablespoonful of the potato and beef mixture, and shape it into a round ball. Coat it with loaf crumbs, then egg, and finally coat with bread crumbs again. You should be able to make roughly 40 meatballs. (Note 2)
  5. Fry bitterballen: Heat a pot of oil for deep-frying. Fry meatballs in hot oil until golden brown and crispy. Drain meatballs on a wire rack.
  6. Serve bitterballen immediately with mayo and chili sauce.

Notes

  • (1) You can also use regular celery instead of Chinese celery, but choose the thinner one with plenty of leaves.
  • (2) A tablespoon cookie scoop (#60) yields 40 meatballs, a medium-size cookie scoop (#40) yields 28 meatballs.
Indonesian Pantry
Indonesian Kitchen

Comments

  • Tisha Tisha says:

    These are some meatballs I definitely need to try! Love they are breaded.

  • Emily Liao Emily Liao says:

    These meatballs are so crispy on the outside, and delicious on the inside. One of my favorite recipes to make on the weekday.

  • Alison Alison says:

    This is the first time I've heard of Bitterballen. The crunchy outer coating really makes these meatballs special!

  • Heidy L. McCallum Heidy L. McCallum says:

    I made this recipe and it was fab! Everyone enjoyed the new cuisine on our table that night. I will be making this recipe again soon.

  • Olivia Olivia says:

    These sound so much like Puerto Rican Papas Rellenas. I am definitely going to try my hand at these!

  • Milky Milky says:

    I'm not well-versed in Dutch cuisine, so this was quite a unique recipe. It's not like an Italian meatball or croquette- but like a firm gravy? As I stirred, I was a bit concerned that it was too soft to form a ball- but I scooped it with two spoons and once it was covered in bread crumb, it was stiff enough to handle and shape.

    I even slightly doubted that I'd get 40 pieces out of it, but sure enough it was! Even though it yielded a lot, I think the effort warrants making a big batch. It made me wonder- this must be a popular holiday food? Or is it typical to make/buy frozen?

    I followed the recipe close as possible, except I didn't have Chinese celery- I finely minced 1 stalk of plain celery just to get the extra greens in. My main worry was adding in too much moisture, but I think parsley would have tasted too different? Is there a better substitute?

    The result was very tasty and decadent- I just hope I made it properly enough since I've never tried the real thing!

  • Shelley Shelley says:

    The crunchy exterior on these meatballs is so unique ... and so incredibly alluring! What a wonderful textural counterpoint! And thanks for the ideas on the dipping sauce to serve alongside - although I think I'd go with your personal preference of the Indonesian chili sauce, I bet my guys would love your other idea of Sriracha (I just might have to make 2 versions lol)!

  • rika rika says:

    Bitterballen is one of my favorite snacks. I love panko. It is best type of breadcrumbs!

  • Nathan Nathan says:

    I've never had a breaded meatball before, and these look so tasty so I'll definitely have to give them a try!

  • Emmeline Emmeline says:

    I have to try this! I've never had anything quite like it but it has all the makings of a genious dish!

  • Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness says:

    These meatballs look amazing! I am always looking for good variations, and this one looks like a winner! Bookmarked for later, thanks for the recipe :)

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