Romanian Meatballs, known as “Chiftele” are one of the most popular Romanian dishes. Learn to make the mother of all meatballs, nothing beats these meatballs.
I’m so happy to share this recipe with you today because this literally is one of the most common made dishes by my mother as we were growing up, and still is in her household and mine. So needless to say, I learned to make these meatballs a very long time ago. We call these “Chiftele” which is the Romanian word for meatballs.
I still remember that every single time my mom would make these, besides the fact that I was always in the kitchen with her, I was always in charge of rolling them. My mom actually preferred to make these more like patties, so we’d flatten them a bit, but now that I’m married to a Romanian, he prefers them round and small like his mom used to make them.
I, personally, don’t care one way or the other. For me, the taste is more important.
And the taste, oh the taste! These meatballs are packed full of fresh herbs and some grated potato. I love dill, so I’ll put a lot in these meatballs, and you can actually taste the distinct flavor of the dill as you bite into the meatballs and it’s just yummy.
Potato? In Meatballs?
Forget all other meatball recipes, this recipe is to die for! We actually shred some potatoes and add it to the meat mixture. I’m not exactly sure why, but from what I heard from my mom is that back in the day, meat was more expensive, so to make more you’d add potatoes. Now of course, I do it because I find that the potato makes the meatballs juicier and I just love the texture of it.
Detailed measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page.
- Meat – We’re using ground pork today for juicy meatballs with lots of depth of flavor.
- Breadcrumbs – I used panko but you can substitute it for any breadcrumbs you have on hand.
- Egg – The binder in our meatballs. If you’re egg free you can use 1/4 cup of ricotta per egg.
- Potatoes – 2 entire potatoes, grated.
- Onion – Either 2 small onions or 1 large one. Chopped up finely.
- Herbs – Fresh dill and fresh parsley. If dried is all you have on hand just keep in mind that 1 tablespoon fresh equals 1 teaspoon dried.
- Oil – A nice neutral tasting oil to fry up our little meatballs in.
- Seasoning – Salt and pepper.
The Secret To Super Moist Meatballs
All you need is a cheese grater – yup that’s right! Use the grater to shred up your onion nice and fine before incorporating them into your meatballs. It will ensure they stay nice and moist and have super consistent flavor.
How To Make Romanian Meatballs
- Saute the aromatics: Heat the tbsp of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.Add the onions, garlic and saute until tender. Add the grated potato and cook for a few minutes until it becomes tender. Let this cool.
- Combine the meatballs: In a large bowl, add the onion/potato mixture, ground pork, eggs and breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, add the chopped parsley, chopped dill and mix well.
- Cook the meatballs: You can form these into balls, or traditionally they are formed into small patties. Add oil to a large skillet and fry the meatballs on all sides.
- Serve over spaghetti, or mashed potatoes.
Prefer To Bake Your Meatballs?
These meatballs can also be baked. Bake at 400 F degrees for about 30 to 45 minutes or until cooked through.
What Other Kinds of Meat Can I Use
I love using pork in my meatballs because they always turn out so juicy from the higher fat content. You can use any type of ground meat that you like! Keep in mind that meat with a lower fat content like turkey, chicken, or lean ground beef will yield dryer meatballs.
You can mix a lean type of meat with something fattier like lamb, regular ground beef, or pork.
How To Serve
You can use these meatballs for your spaghetti, with mashed potatoes, you can make a tomato sauce with them, or you can just plainly eat them by themselves with bread and mustard. You can fry these, or if you’re watching your weight, you can even bake them. I simply just love these. I chose to fry them this time, but many times I have baked them and they are just as wonderful.
This meatball recipe will last 3 – 4 days in the fridge if stored in an airtight container.
To freeze just place the cooked meatballs on a baking sheet and freeze separately to begin with. Transfer them to a freezer bag or otherwise airtight container and place back in the cold and they’ll keep for up to 3 months.
Craving More Meatballs? Try These
- Chimichurri Meatballs
- Sweet and Spicy Korean Meatballs
- Dutch Meatballs
- Stout Meatballs with BBQ Sauce
- Indonesian Meatballs
- Porcupine Meatballs
- Meatball Parmesan
- Chicken Meatball Noodle Soup
- Firecracker Chicken Meatballs
Looking for more recipes? Follow on…
Romanian meatballs (Chiftele)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 small onions or 1 large one, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 lb ground pork
- 2 medium potatoes grated
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup breadcrumbs I used Panko
- ½ tsp salt or to taste
- ½ tsp pepper or to taste
- ¼ cup parsley finely chopped
- ¼ cup dill fresh, finely chopped
- oil for frying
- Heat the tbsp of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic and saute until tender. Add the grated potato and cook for a few minutes until it becomes tender. Let this cool.
- In a large bowl, add the onion/potato mixture, ground pork, eggs and breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, add the chopped parsley, chopped dill and mix well.
- You can form these into balls, or traditionally they are formed into small patties.
- Add oil to a large skillet and fry the meatballs on all sides.
- Serve over spaghetti, or mashed potatoes.
- These meatballs can also be baked. Bake at 400 F degrees for about 30 to 45 minutes or until cooked through.
- Recipe will yield about 40, give or take a few, depending on the size of your meatballs.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.