Looking for the best Bitterballen recipe?
Our traditional Bitterballen recipe is easy to make at home, ready to serve in under 2 hours.
These homemade Dutch Meatball Croquettes are prepared with a minced beef and roux mixture that is rolled in flour, eggs and bread crumbs. The tiny beef balls are then deep fried in vegetable oil until crispy and served piping hot with mustard for dipping.
Our authentic Dutch Bitterballen recipe features flavours like fried beef, parsley, onion and nutmeg.
We love serving this meat-lovers Bitterballen recipe as a finger food at parties. They’re a fun appetizer as you can dunk each meatball into a selection of sweet and spicy mustards.
It’s a great recipe idea for kids birthdays, cottage dinners or Superbowl parties.
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What Is Bitterballen?
Bitterballen derives its name from a generic word for certain types of herb-flavoured alcoholic beverages, called a bitter in Dutch, and are popularly served as part of a bittergarnituur, a selection of savoury snacks to go with drinks, at pubs or celebrations in the Netherlands.
In Holland, alcohol is traditionally served with something savoury on the side, and thus bittergarnituur was invented. The colourful platter will usually contain bite-sized cubes of Gouda cheese, mini egg rolls, meatballs, charcuterie and piping hot bitterballen.
They’re one of Holland’s favourite snacks. In the early and mid-1900s, they were the housewifes perfect method to transform yesterday’s meat into today’s appetizer.
They’re prepared by making a very thick stew thickened with roux and beef stock and generously loaded with meat, refrigerating the stew until it gets firm, and then rolling the mixture into balls, which then get breaded and fried.
Bitterballen are very different from the typical meatball, when you bite into one you enjoy a crispy exterior and soft and smooth interior.
Seasonings in Bitterballen stew usually include onions, salt and pepper, parsley and nutmeg. Most recipes include nutmeg but there are also variations using curry powder or that add in finely chopped vegetables such as carrot.
The popular Dutch snack is typically served with a ramekin or small bowl of mustard for dipping. They are eaten in Suriname, the Netherlands Antilles, Holland and Indonesia.
Travel to Holland by Cooking Our Bitterballen Recipe at Home
I love traveling to Europe.
As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in Europe, from traditional markets to award winning restaurants.
For over ten years, I’ve been on the hunt for the best Bitterballen recipe. I’ve embarked on culinary adventures at Dutch restaurants throughout Western Europe in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland and Austria.
If you’re on a honeymoon in Bali you’ll quickly discover the best Balinese dishes, many of which are influenced by Holland’s rule over Indonesia from 1815 to 1949. Today tourists visiting Indonesia can experience Dutch culinary traditions by noshing on Bitterballen at a hotel bar or tucking into a traditional Rijsttafel feast.
You can of course also find yummy Bitterballen recipes prepared throughout Holland, especially at beer bars in Amsterdam.
After you’ve enjoyed your first taste, you’ll realize why Bitterballen are a must-try when visiting Holland or a former Dutch colony.
Where To Eat Authentic Bitterballen Recipe
Haven’t traveled to Holland before? It may be helpful to first sample a homemade Bitterballen recipe at a local restaurant to better understand how the snack is served. You’ll get an idea of how large to roll your Dutch meatballs and how much mustard to serve on the plate.
My Family Loves Bitterballen
After traveling to Holland and Indonesia several times I decided to treat my parents to a traditional Dutch feast featuring this crispy Bitterballen recipe with mustard.
I knew my parents would love the popular Dutch snack and appetizer because they both love deep fried foods, creamy beef dishes and sweet mustard.
I like to serve this easy Bitterballen recipe during the colder months of the year in the fall and winter. There’s honestly nothing more comforting after shoveling snow during a blizzard then dunking a hot Dutch meatball in sweet mustard while sipping a fresh craft beer. They also taste great on a hot summer day with a cold pint of craft beer.
Bitterballen Recipe Health Benefits
Our Bitterballen recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of leeks can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Eggs contain two vital nutrients that are not present in many foods: iodine and vitamin D. Eggs are also rich in tissue-building protein and vitamin B12, which helps your body manufacture blood cells.
Beef is a great source of protein and minerals like iron as well as an excellent source of the amino acid L-carnitine. Beef also features antioxidant glutathione known for its anti-aging benefits.
Nutmeg is said to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, strengthen cognitive function, detoxify the body, boost skin health, reduce insomnia, increase immune system function and improve blood circulation.
An excellent source of vitamin K, as well as vitamin C, folate, and iron, parsley helps keep your bones and blood healthy, and protects your skin from damage by free radicals.
Whole wheat flour is rich in vitamins B-1, B-3, and B-5, along with riboflavin and folate. It also has more iron, calcium, protein, and other nutrients than white flour.
Bitterballen Recipe Tips
These homemade deep fried Dutch meatballs are quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips:
- Use a large cast iron dutch oven or wok with a high rim to avoid splattering when deep frying.
- This easy Bitterballen recipe uses minced meat to save time in the kitchen. Many Dutch home cooks and chefs also use stewing beef, which once cooked gets shredded and added to the roux.
- There are many regional variations. Once you’ve perfected our Bitterballen cooking method, feel free to get creative by substituting nutmeg for curry powder.
- We’ve used homemade breadcrumbs in this recipe but you could also use Panko.
- If you’re hosting a party we suggest serving this Bitterballen recipe on a large platter with several ramekins filled with different mustards. It’s fun to offer a selection of mustards so guests can enjoy a variety of flavourings like spicy hot mustard, honey mustard, German mustard and grainy mustard.
What To Serve with Bitterballen
For a quick & easy lunch or dinner idea, serve 4-5 crispy bitterballen on a plate with a fresh salad. The fatty bitterballen contrast nicely with crunchy lettuce and acidic vinaigrette.
Some of our favourite salad recipes include Goi Ga Vietnamese Salad, Roasted Vegetable Couscous, Sweet Potato Rice, The Best Canadian Salad Recipe, Garlic Lemon Chickpea Avocado Salad, Vegan Chinese Cucumber Salad, Cajun Spicy Chorizo Corn Salad, Cherry Pecan Kale Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette, Carrot and Tahini Salad with Crispy Cumin Chickpeas and Pistachios, Fennel, Apple, Celery and Roasted Hazelnut Salad, Nam Tok Authentic Thai “Waterfall Beef” Salad, Laos Papaya Salad Tum Mak Hoong and Roasted Beetroot Salad with Grapefruit, Pistachio and Herbed Cream.
After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe, Cinnamon Babka For Chocolate Lovers or Black Forest Pancakes.
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If you have leftover Bitterballen you can store them in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. To reheat, simply heat them in the oven until they are crispy. We do not suggest reheating in the microwave as they’ll lose their crunchy texture and get undesirably soggy.
Dutch Meatballs also freeze well, so I like to often double the recipe, cook them, freeze them separated on cookie sheets, and then transfer them to ziplock freezer bags. When you want to eat them later, all you have to do is thaw and reheat them in the oven or toaster.
Best Bitterballen Recipe Video
Dutch Fried Meatballs Bitterballen Recipe
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- French knife
- Wok or Deep Fryer
- Slotted Metal Spoon
- 1/2 cup Butter
- 1 cup All purpose flour
- 3 cups Beef broth
- 3 tbsp Parsley chopped
- 1 Medium Onion minced
- 1 lb Lean ground beef
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp Black pepper
- 1/2 tsp Ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup All Purpose flour
- 3 Eggs beaten
- 1 cup Bread crumbs
- Vegetable oil for frying
- In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add flour, a little at a time, whisking it until it transforms into a thick roux.
- Slowly whisk in the beef broth. The roux should be smooth and velvety. Simmer the gravy for a few minutes then add parsley, onion, and ground beef. Stir then season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Transfer the beef mixture to a container and refrigerate for several hours until the gravy has solidified. You can refrigerate overnight, but 3 or 4 hours will do.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In a shallow bowl add the flour, in another bowl add the beaten eggs. Add bread crumbs to a small plate.
- Shape the meat mixture into 1 inch meatballs. Place the balls on one of the prepared baking sheets.
- Roll the balls first through flour, then eggs, then finally bread crumbs. Place these meatballs on the other prepared baking sheet. Once finished, place the baking sheet with the meatballs in the fridge until ready to deep fry.
- In a large Dutch oven, wok or deep fryer, add vegetable oil. 2 inches of oil should suffice. Heat the oil to 375 F degrees.
- Fry the bitterballen 6 at a time until golden brown, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. If you have enough oil in your fryer the meatballs will float to the top when fully cooked. Continue the process until all of the meatballs have been fried.
- Serve hot with your favourite mustard for dipping.
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