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side view shot of a metal fry basket full of bitterballen with a side of mustard
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4.53 from 115 votes

Dutch Meatballs (Bitterballen)

Dutch Meatballs (Bitterballen) are a classic Dutch bar snack. Bitterballen, one of Holland's favorite snacks, are bite-size beef and gravy croquettes usually served along with beer.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Dutch
Keyword: dutch meatballs, meatball recipe
Servings: 60
Calories: 50kcal


For Bitterballen

  • 8 tablespoon butter unsalted (1 stick)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

For Breading

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil for frying


  • In a large skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted completely, add the 1 cup of flour, a bit at a time, whisking it, it will turn into a thick paste. 
  • Slowly stir or whisk in the beef broth. Make sure you stir thoroughly, the broth should all be incorporated in the roux. The gravy should be smooth but still quite thick. 
  • Simmer the gravy for a couple minutes then add the parsley, onion, and ground beef, stir well. Season with the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  • Transfer the meat mixture to a Tupperware container and refrigerate for several hours until the gravy has solidified. I refrigerated mine overnight, but 3 or 4 hours should suffice.
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. In 1 plate add the flour, in another plate add the eggs and the last plate the bread crumbs.
  • Shape the meat mixture into 1 inch balls. Use a small ice cream scoop, it's easier to get the same quantity of meat each time. Place these meatballs 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 completed, place the baking sheet with the meatballs in the fridge until ready to fry.
  • In a large Dutch oven, skillet or deep fryer, add enough oil, I usually add about 2 inches of oil. Heat the oil up to 375 F degrees.
  • Fry the meatballs about 6 at a time until golden brown, should take about 4 or 5 minutes. If you have enough oil in your fryer the meatballs will float to the top when done.  Continue until done with all the meatballs. In between batches you might have to clean the oil with a slotted spoon of all the leftover fried bits from the meatballs.
  • Serve hot with a grainy or spicy mustard.


  1. Total time does NOT include time required to refrigerate meat mixture until solidified.
  2. This recipe should yield roughly around 60 balls about 1 inch in diameter.
  3. I used Panko bread crumbs here because I prefer them especially when trying to get something really crispy, but I put them in a food processor first and pulsed a few times to make them finer.
  4. For a vegetarian option, used finely chopped mushrooms.


Serving: 1ball | Calories: 50kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 17mg | Sodium: 63mg | Potassium: 61mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 70IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 1mg