Authentic Frikadellen (German Meatball Patties)

Authentic frikadellen are a quintessential part of German cuisine, often enjoyed as a comfort food across the country. They are also known in various regions as fleischküchle, buletten, or fleischpflanzerl. These flattened savory meatball patties are made from a mixture of ground meat, typically a combination of beef and pork, combined with breadcrumbs, onions, eggs, and a blend of herbs and spices. The addition of mustard and parsley enhances their flavor profile, giving them a distinctive taste that sets them apart from other meatballs.

A pile of German frikadellen meatball patties on a bed of lettuce.

The term frikadelle might be German, but this dish is also associated with Nordic and Polish cuisines. Similar recipes exist across Central Europe, like Czech karbanátky, which is called fašírka in Slovakia. This is one of the most popular recipes in Poland, where it is known as kotlety mielone.

It’s all the same recipe, to be honest, with some personal and regional variations as is normal.

Frikadellen are traditionally pan-fried and served as a main dish, often accompanied by sides such as potato salad, braised sauerkraut, creamed cabbage, or other salads.

I love serving frikadellen with a refreshing German cucumber salad for a summer picnic or potluck. They are excellent hot, lukewarm, or cold.

If you love traditional Central European and German recipes like this, try my German meatball soup, and German meatloaf

Frikadellen Ingredients (Any Notes, Variations, & Substitutions)

All of the ingredients needed to make this German frikadellen meatball recipe.
  • Top Tips: See my top tips right above the recipe card below for any extra ingredients and tecniques you might want to try to really make this recipe stand out.
  • Ground Meat: a 50/50 ground beef and ground pork mixture is traditional and what I use. You can try these with all one or the other if you prefer. You can also try adding ground veal, chicken, turkey, venison etc.
  • Garlic & Nutmeg: Both of these are optional ingredients that I prefer.
  • Milk: Feel free to use non-dairy milk, water, or bone broth instead.

Step-by-Step Instructions (Key Recipe Process Photos Included)

Golden brown minced onions.

Step 1: Finely dice or chop your onion and mince the garlic. In a skillet, sauté the onion with a bit of lard or butter until soft and translucent. Add the garlic for the last 60 seconds of cooking time. Allow to cool slightly. Soak the breadcrumbs in milk until fully absorbed.

All of the ingredients except fort he meat in a bowl.

Step 2: In a large bowl, combine the cooled onion and garlic, soaked breadcrumbs, egg, mustard, parsley, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well, preferably with your hands, to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Once mixed, add the ground beef and pork and mix until thoroughly combined. Do not overmix at this stage.

Formed frikadellen patties, slightly flattened.

Step 3: With wet hands to prevent sticking, shape the mixture into patties. This amounts in this recipe should yield about 6 to 8 patties, depending on their size.

(You can easily double or triple this recipe, by the way.)

Frikadellen patties cooked to golden brown crusty perfection in a cast iron pan.

Step 4: Heat lard or cooking oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the patties in batches, without crowding the pan, for about 5-6 minutes per side until browned and cooked through.

For safety, ensure an internal temperature of at least 71°C (160°F).

A pile of German frikadellen meatball patties on a bed of lettuce.

My Top Tips

To elevate the Frikadellen recipe and make it the best possible in terms of flavor and texture, consider incorporating a few gourmet touches and techniques that can add depth and complexity to the dish. Here are some suggestions to enhance the recipe further:

  • Smoked Paprika: Add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika to the meat mixture for a subtle smokiness and depth of flavor.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Include 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce for a rich, umami kick that complements the meats beautifully.
  • Soaked Bread: Instead of using breadcrumbs, try soaking a slice of high-quality sourdough bread (crusts removed) in milk until fully absorbed, then mashing it into a paste. This can add a lighter texture to the patties.
  • Caramelized Onions: Instead of just sautéing the onions until translucent, take the time to caramelize them slowly. This adds a sweetness and complexity that raw onions can’t match.
  • Resting the Meat Mixture: After mixing all the ingredients, let the meat mixture rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. This allows the flavors to meld and the mixture to firm up, making the patties easier to form and enhancing the overall taste.
  • Anchovy Paste: Add a small amount (about ½ teaspoon) of anchovy paste or fish sauce to the meat mixture for an unexpected depth of flavor. It won’t taste fishy but will amplify the umami and savory qualities of the Frikadellen.
  • Serve With a Simple Mustard Sauce: Combine ½ cup of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve alongside the Frikadellen for dipping.
  • Fresh Herbs: Enhance the parsley with additional herbs like thyme or marjoram, finely chopped, to introduce more aromatic notes.

Culinary History Lesson

The connection between frikadellen and the hamburger is likely rooted in the waves of German immigrants to the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These immigrants brought their culinary traditions with them, which influenced American cuisine and contributed to the development of the hamburger. While Frikadellen and hamburgers share a common ancestry, they have evolved into distinct dishes, each with its unique place in culinary history.

My Top Tips

Smoked Paprika: Add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika to the meat mixture for a subtle smokiness and depth of flavor.

Worcestershire Sauce: Include 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce for a rich, umami kick that complements the meats beautifully.

Soaked Bread: Instead of using breadcrumbs, try soaking a slice of high-quality sourdough bread (crusts removed) in milk until fully absorbed, then mashing it into a paste. This can add a lighter texture to the patties.

Caramelized Onions: Instead of just sautéing the onions until translucent, take the time to caramelize them slowly. This adds a sweetness and complexity that raw onions can’t match.

Resting the Meat Mixture: After mixing all the ingredients, let the meat mixture rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. This allows the flavors to meld and the mixture to firm up, making the patties easier to form and enhancing the overall taste.

Anchovy Paste: Add a small amount (about ½ teaspoon) of anchovy paste or fish sauce to the meat mixture for an unexpected depth of flavor. It won’t taste fishy but will amplify the umami and savory qualities of the Frikadellen.

Fresh Herbs: Enhance the parsley with additional herbs like thyme or marjoram, finely chopped, to introduce more aromatic notes.

Serve With a Simple Mustard Sauce: Combine ½ cup of sour cream, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve alongside the Frikadellen for dipping.

A pile of German frikadellen meatball patties on a bed of lettuce.

Authentic Frikadellen (German Meatball Patties)

Authentic Frikadellen are savory German meatball patties made from a mix of ground beef and pork, seasoned with spices, onions, and breadcrumbs, then pan-fried to golden perfection. These versatile patties can be enjoyed hot or cold, served with sides like mashed potatoes or sauerkraut, or in a fresh bread roll.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: German
Servings: 4
Calories: 373kcal
Author: Jana Dziak

Ingredients

  • ½ lbs ground beef
  • ½ lbs ground pork
  • 1 large onion very finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic optional, finely minced
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons milk you may need slightly more or less
  • 2 teaspoons mustard preferably German or Dijon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg optional

Instructions

  • Prepare Breadcrumbs: Soak the breadcrumbs in milk until fully absorbed to ensure the Frikadellen stay moist.
  • Sauté Onion and Garlic: In a skillet, sauté the onion with a bit of lard or butter until soft and translucent. Add the garlic for the last 60 seconds of cooking time. Allow to cool slightly.
  • Mix Ingredients: In a large bowl, combine the cooled onion and garlic, soaked breadcrumbs, egg, mustard, parsley, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Mix well, preferably with your hands, to evenly distribute the ingredients. Once mixed, add the ground beef and pork and mix until thoroughly combined. Do not overmix at this stage after the meat has been added.
  • Form Patties: With wet hands to prevent sticking, shape the mixture into flattened meatball patties as in the photos. This amount should yield about 6 to 8 patties, depending on their size.
  • Cook Frikadellen: Heat butter or oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the patties in batches, without crowding the pan, for about 5-6 minutes per side until browned and cooked through. Ensure an internal temperature of at least 71°C (160°F) for safety.

Notes

Storage: Frikadellen will store very well up to 4 days refrigerated in an airtight container. You can freeze them up to 4 months too.

Nutrition

Calories: 373kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 785mg | Potassium: 436mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 195IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 3mg
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