Authentic German Meatballs – Made By Our German!
Searching for a great German meatballs recipe? Try ours! We are big fans of meatballs – a blended ball of meat, egg, breadcrumbs, some simple spices, and flavorful onions.
This recipe for pan-fried German-style meatballs is best served with a side of potatoes – or with a slice of bread and mustard just like you’d get at the beer garden!
Different Versions of German Meatballs
There are many different names for German meatballs. In some areas, they are known as Frikadellen whereas in Bavaria they are often known as Fleischpflanzerl. Lisa knew them as Hackfleischklößchen growing up.
There are some small regional differences in the way these German meatballs are prepared. For example, some are fried while others are dropped in boiling water. However, the general concept of a ball of meat is pretty standard across the country.
For this post, we are focusing on the version of classic German meatballs that Lisa grew up eating. Our recipe calls for frying the meatball rather than boiling. This meatball recipe is actually similar to our recipe for German meatloaf – but that dish has hard-boiled eggs inside!
Internationally, one of the most popular German meatballs recipes is that for “Königsberger Klopse” – which are boiled meatballs in a white sauce/gravy with capers.
It’s super delicious – and just another example of a different German-style meatball recipe. So, don’t be surprised if another German gives you a different recipe!
Before you make these tasty meatballs, read up on our recipe tips to ensure you’ll achieve the best results:
- In Germany, people sometimes make these meatballs with a stale bun instead of breadcrumbs. If you want to try this, simply soak a stale bun in cold water until it is soft. Then squeeze out the excess water, rip the bun into small pieces, and add it to the bowl with the ground meat as you would add the breadcrumbs.
- These meatballs will end up quite flavorful. If you don’t like that, feel free to reduce the amount of salt, pepper, and paprika according to your preferences.
- If you’re worried about your meatballs falling apart, make sure that the egg and the breadcrumbs are mixing in well. They will act as the “glue”. If the mixture seems overly “wet” and you have trouble forming a meatball, add a few more breadcrumbs until it is easier.
- When forming the meatballs, make sure to press the meatballs together well so that there are no large gaps.
How to Make German Meatballs – Step by Step Instructions
To make these German Frikadellen, you can find the recipe card at the bottom of this post with exact measurements and instructions.
If you’re new to making meatballs and want to see the step-by-step instructions visually, have a look at the meatball process photos in this section.
This way, you have a visual guide to refer to if you have questions about how to make these meatballs!
First, peel and finely chop the onion.
Then add the ground meat, diced onion, cracked egg, breadcrumbs, mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper to a bowl.
Mix everything together for a few minutes with your clean hands until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and stay together when you form a rough ball in your hand.
The consistency is important to stop the meatballs from falling apart later. If the mixture feels too wet/sticky, add a few more breadcrumbs.
Form approximately 8 meatballs that are slightly smaller than the size of your palm.
Slightly flatten off the top and the bottom of the meatball so that they are not a fully round.
Make sure that the meatballs are roughly the same size so that they’ll be done frying at the same time.
Heat approximately 1-2 tablespoons of butter (depending on your pan size) in a large frying pan.
Once the butter is melted and hot, add (some) of the meatballs and fry them on medium-low heat for approx. 7-10 minutes until the bottom is browned.
Then flip the meatballs over and fry them from the other side. Remove them from the heat once the meatballs are fully cooked through.
You can enjoy these meatballs as a side or as a main course. The richness of the meat (in this fried version) goes well will boiled, fried, or mashed potatoes. If you prefer pasta over potatoes, you can serve them with pasta salad.
Alternatively, you can also pair the meatballs with a slice of bread and mustard – that’s a very traditional way of eating Frikadellen at a German beer garden.
Eric would be more inclined to eat them with a side of sauerkraut – another recipe we will put on this website eventually!
You can store any leftover meatballs in a sealed container or in tin foil and keep them in the fridge. Make sure to eat them within 1-2 days.
You can either munch on them cold (we do this sometimes), reheat them in the microwave or just pan fry them again on low until the meatball is fully heated through.
German meatballs go well with boiled, fried, or mashed potatoes. You can also enjoy with a slice of fresh bread and German mustard for some kick!
To help keep German meatballs intact when cooking, you need sufficient amounts of “glue” which are egg and breadcrumbs. These ingredients act as a binding agent and keep the meat from breaking apart (whether you pan-fry or boil them).
Looking for other classic German recipes? Try out these tasty creations:
- German Fried Potatoes – Tasty fried potatoes that make a great side dish
- German Potato Dumplings – Delicious potato dumplings with step-by-step instructions
- Schinkennudeln – German ham and noodles that make a simple meal!
German Meatballs (Frikadellen)
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
- 1 medium-sized egg
- 3 tablespoons bread crumbs, unseasoned
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- butter to fry
- Add the ground meat, diced onion, cracked egg, breadcrumbs, mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper to a bowl.
- Mix everything together for a few minutes with your clean hands until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and stay together when you form a rough ball in your hand. The consistency is important to stop the meatballs from falling apart later. If the mixture feels too wet/sticky, add a few more breadcrumbs.
- Form approximately 8 meatballs that are slightly smaller than the size of your palm. Slightly flatten off the top and the bottom of the meatball so that they are not a fully rounded ball. Make sure that the meatballs are roughly the same size so that they’ll be done frying at the same time.
- Heat approximately 1-2 tablespoons of butter (depending on your pan size) in a large frying pan. Once the butter is melted and hot, add (some) of the meatballs and fry them on medium-low heat for approximately 7-10 minutes until the bottom is browned.
- Then flip the meatballs over and fry them from the other side. Remove them from the heat once the meatballs are fully cooked through.
- These meatballs can be served with many different side dishes. Classic choices are potato and pasta salad, mashed potatoes with gravy, fried potatoes, or a simple slice of bread and mustard.
- These meatballs will be quite flavorful so feel free to reduce the amount of salt, pepper, and paprika to your liking.
- When frying, the heat shouldn’t be too high so that the meatballs don’t burn on the outside while still remaining raw on the inside. Lower-medium heat will help to evenly cook both sides and bring the middle to a cooked state all in good time.
This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.
6 thoughts on “Classic German Meatballs (Frikadellen)”
I was looking for a recipe for the German meatballs my grandmother made and this looks like it! I originally did an internet sea4ch for what she called them, but nothing came up. Her term was “Fleishglasel” – do you have any idea how that differs? (The spelling may not be correct)
I’m going to make your recipe now – it looks just like hers, save that she formed her meatballs with 3 sides. Her family was originally from the Black Forest area of Germany.
Hi Dee, I’m glad you found our recipe – I hope you like it and it tastes similar to what you remember! I know people in that part of Germany sometimes call them “Fleischküchle”, but I’ve never heard the term “Fleischglasel”. But that might have been a very regional term… I know my grandparents used a lot of them for certain dishes. The basic recipe for meatballs is usually pretty similar, but of course there can be variations from family to family and depending on the region… so my recommendation would be to try our recipe and see how it differs, then modify it to your liking! /Lisa
I made these last night for dinner and these were so good! Best meatballs I’ve ever had. Only thing I’d change was my batch tasted a bit too salty with the 1 tspn of salt (surprising since that’s not much salt), so I’d probably use a bit less salt next time. These were super flavorful. I served them with beef gravy, but the could be eaten alone too. They paired well with the potato pancakes we had on the side.
I’m so glad you enjoyed the meatballs, Megan! I know, salt can be tricky sometimes – next time you can use less now that you know. Your dinner sounds so tasty, thanks for sharing! /Lisa
What a surprise seeing this recipe. As kids we grew up knowing these as “Old Fashioned Hamburgers” and the only difference is you soak bread and squeeze the water out and never used paprika or the mustard. After browning we make a milk or white gravy and let them simmer and cook through and have with mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes and a vegetable. Leftovers make the Best sandwiches. Still a #1 hit in all our families.
Thanks for sharing Kathleen! Sounds very similar to the Königsburger Klopse gravy – I can see why your family loves it.