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  • Netherlands_Bitterballen - Dutch meatball recipe


  • Netherlands_Bitterballen - Dutch meatball recipe

I've been to the Netherlands many times, but have never tried or even heard of bitterballen  How then, according to the interweb, are they near to or at poll position of every top ten, top five, top 50, top 24 lists of Dutch dishes which simply should not, must not, cannot be missed.

A little bit of head scratching (no I don't have lice) and I have figured the great Dutch meatball mystery out.  Bitterballen are beige.  The majority of tables are also beige.  They were simply hidden in plain sight the whole time.

Indeed I had difficulties seeing the bitterballen I made myself, and the whole sorry situation was exacerbated because I'm currently operating in blind bat mode after dropping my glasses behind my bed a couple fo weeks back ...I know where they are and yet can't be arsed to retrieve them, what kind of slob does that make me?

Contrary to appearances, bitterballen are not just breaded and deep fried meatballs.  Bog standard minced meat with a bit of onion and parsley fare?  Oh, no no no.  The meat is braised for hours and then shredded, a thick sauce is made from the braising liquid and the lot is set overnight with gelatine before being rolled into balls and coated in breadcrumbs.  it takes a bit of time from start to finish, but it's well worth it for the taste and besides hardly any of that time is hands on cooking, it's mostly waiting.

I have finally given in and bought a deep fat fryer with which I cooked our bitterballen (and the chips we served them with).  We have a small kitchen and I'm trying to only buy kitchen equipment that will be used regularly ...lamb cake mould aside :-) I had never deep fried anything until starting this blog, and up until now have been doing it in a large pan on the hob which was only made marginally safer on accounts of us cookin with electric and not gas.  Of course you don't need to use a fryer yourself when making these, just be very very careful if cooking on the hob.

Makes Dulcie's List   Makes Cosmin's List


braised beef & stock
  •  1 carrot peeled and diced
  •  1 onion peeled and finely chopped
  •  1 stalk celery finely chopped
  •  2 tbsp butter
  •  Pinch nutmeg
  •  575g oxtail
  •  450g beef braising steak
  •  Small bunch parsley
  •  4 sprigs thyme
  •  1 litre water
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
bitterballen filling
  •  2 gelatine leaves (about 6.5g)
  •  1 shallot peeled and finely diced
  •  60g butter
  •  60g plain flour
  •  Pinch nutmeg
  •  Salt and pepper to taste
Coating and frying
  •  Appx 150g plain flour
  •  2 eggs beaten
  •  Appx 150g breadcrumbs
  •  Vegetable oil for deep frying
to serve
  •  Mustard
  •  Chips


  • Calories | 105
  • Fat | 7.4g

Makes | 36-40

Prep Time | 30 minutes plus overnight chilling

Cooking Time | Appx 4 hours 20 minutes


braised beef & stock
  1. In a large heavy based pan, sauté the carrot, onion and celery in the butter until translucent.  Stir in the nutmeg and salf and pepper to taste.
  2. Add the meat and cook for a further 2-3 mintues until lightly golden.
  3. Stir in the water and add the parsley and thyme.  Cover, bring to the boil and then simmer over low/medium for about four hours until the meat is very tender.
  4. Strain the stock, you should have about 500ml give or take.
  5. Retrieve the meat, shred with two forks and set aside.  The rest can be discarded or used in another recipe.
bitterballen filling
  1. Soak the gelatine leaves in ice cold water for ten minutes.
  2. In a large pan sauté the shallot in the butter until lightly golden.
  3. Remove temporarily from the heat and stir in the flour.  Slowly stir in the stock, mixing all the while until fully incorporated and smooth.
  4. Return to a medium heat and simmer for five miutes until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from the heat anda stir in the shredded meat.
  6. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  7. Squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine and stir the leaves into the bitterballen mix.  Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool at room temperature before covering with clingfilm/saran wrap and refrigerating for five hours, or ideally overnight.
coating and frying
  1. Roll the bitterballen mix into balls of about 3cm in diametre and fully coat them first in the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess between each dip.
  2. Transfer to  plate and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  3. Deep fry in the sunflower oil at 180°c for three minutes until golden and cooked through.
  4. Soak off the excess oil with kitchen roll and serve with mustard and chips.

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