Want to try a classic savory Dutch snack? Try Bitterballen! These fried meatballs are made from a thick, meaty gravy that is rolled in breadcrumbs for a crispy bite. A perfect snack to enjoy and easy to make!

Dutch meatballs

Bitterballen are often referred to as Dutch meatballs. It’s not a classic meatball made from a mixture of meat. No, bitterballen are made of beef broth with shredded beef and a handful of other ingredients. A delicious meaty filling with a crispy crust.

These fried Dutch meatballs are traditionally made with beef, but you can also try other flavors. How about chicken or veal? And if you’re looking for a vegetarian bitterballen, there are bitterballen made with mushrooms.

Dutch bitterballen 4

Ingredients

When I developed my recipe for Dutch meatballs, I wanted to make sure it was really easy. So I bought a jar of beef broth that already had shredded beef in it. If you can’t find that ingredient, you can buy (or make) your own beef broth and add the beef separately. Sometimes I use the broth with the meat and add extra meat for a really tasty filling.

In addition to the broth and the beef, you need some ingredients to make a nice roux. And to make it thick enough, you add some gelatin leaves. Here are all the ingredients for the stuffing:

  • Beef broth. You can make your own or buy a jar of beef broth at the grocery store. Either will be fine.
  • Shredded beef (brisket). Only if you have broth without pieces of meat, or if you want to add extra meat.
  • Gelatin sheets. To make sure the filling is thick enough to cut into squares and roll into balls for breading.
  • Unsalted butter. For making the roux. I prefer unsalted to have more control over the amount of salt.
  • Flour. For making the roux. All-purpose flour is fine.
  • Parsley. I used fresh parsley and chopped it finely for the stuffing.
  • Mustard. Bitterballen are dipped in mustard when you eat them, but it’s also a perfect flavoring for the filling.
  • Whipping cream. To make the filling nice and creamy.
  • Eggs. For breading the bitterballen. You first roll the filling in an egg mixture.
  • Bread crumbs. For breading the bitterballen. Roll the balls trough the bread crumbs after the egg mixture.

You’ll also need

There are some tools that come in handy when frying the meatballs. This is what I use:

  • Deep fryer, large skillet or Dutch oven. I prefer my Dutch oven for fried snacks. I have a pan that I only use for frying.
  • Sunflower oil. I like to use sunflower oil for frying, but you can also use other types of vegetable oil. You’ll fry the bitterballen for a couple of minutes in a few inches of oil.
  • Skimmer. To scoop the bitterballen out of the oil.
  • Paper towel. After frying the bitterballen, I put them on some paper towels to absorb some of the oil.
Dutch bitterballen 1

How to serve bitterballen

After spending some time in the kitchen making this Dutch recipe, you’ll have a serving of nice golden-brown bitterballen ready to enjoy.

In the Netherlands, fried meatballs are a popular snack that you can order at a cafe. Or serve them at home for a party, game day or birthday. They are usually eaten as a snack and not for dinner. But if you do eat them for dinner, they will probably be served with fries.

You can drink whatever you want with a bitterball, but this Dutch food is often served as a tasty snack with some alcoholic beverages. Most Dutch people love the combination of a nice cold beer with a piping hot bitterbal.

For dipping

Bitterballen are dipped in a sauce, usually mustard. I prefer to dip them in mayonnaise.

And be careful when you take a bite: Bitterballen are best when they come straight out of the fryer and are piping hot. I have burned my mouth countless times.

Dutch bitterballen 2

How to store bitterballen?

The best way to eat bitterballen is right after frying them. If you have leftovers, I would not save them (although I have never tried, there are never leftovers).

​Freezing bitterballen

After breading, you have two options: fry and eat. Or: freeze them. You can freeze them in an airtight container or freezer bag and keep them for up to 3 months. This way, you’ll always have a deep-fried snack (almost) ready to enjoy.

This way it’s possible to make a big batch and only fry the amount of bitterballen you need. You can fry them directly from the freezer, but they will need 30 seconds to 1 minute more to fry.

More Dutch recipes you’ll like

Looking for Dutch recipes? I got you! As a Dutchie I share a lot of authentic Dutch recipes on my blog. Here are some of my favorites. Sweet and savory.

Bitterballen

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4.44 from 16 votes

Dutch Bitterballen recipe

Want to try a classic savory Dutch snack? Try Bitterballen! These fried meatballs are made from a thick, meaty gravy that is rolled in breadcrumbs for a crispy bite. A perfect snack to enjoy and easy to make!
Servings: 18 servings

Ingredients 

Filling

  • 350 ml beef broth with at least 20% meat
  • 2 gelatin sheets
  • 80 grams unsalted butter
  • 80 grams of all purpose flour
  • handful of finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp mustard
  • 75 ml whipping cream

For breading

  • olive oil to grease your hands with
  • breadcrumbs
  • 2-3 beaten eggs M

Instructions

  • Strain the finished broth and collect the meat. If necessary, cut it into smaller pieces. Soak the gelatin in water.
  • Melt the butter, add the flour and cook this mixture, the roux, while stirring. When the flour begins to color, the roux is ready.
  • Add the broth in 2-3 parts to the roux. Bring to the boil and simmer, stirring constantly, until you have a smooth and thick paste. Stir the rest of the ingredients in the meat mixture: chopped parsley, mustard and whipping cream. Remove pan from heat.
  • Finally, squeeze the gelatin leaves and stir them into the filling. Pour it into a oven dish or shallow container and cover with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Leave to cool and chill in the refrigerator for several hours. I made the ragout in the evening and put it in the refrigerator overnight.
  • When the filling has set, cut it into 18 equal pieces. Put some (olive) oil on your hands and roll the ragout pieces into small balls.
  • Prepare a deep plate or bowl with the bread crumbs and another with the beaten eggs. Meanwhile, heat the pan with the oil to an oil temperature of 180°C/350°F.
  • Roll a ball through the breadcrumbs, egg, breadcrumbs, egg, and finish with the breadcrumbs. Repeat for each ball. Each bitterbal will have three layers of breadcrumbs.
  • Fry the bitterballen in small batches for 3.5 – 4 minutes until crispy and golden brown. Scoop them out of the oil and put them on a wire rack or baking sheet with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  • Serve immediately.
Tips

I have tested all the breadcrumb combinations out there and found that three layers of breadcrumbs gives the best crust and prevents the bitterbal from breaking in the fryer.

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