Dutch Meatballs (Bitterballen)

This classic pub food was one of the first Dutch dishes I recall eating at a restaurant and it is usually the first item my Dutch friends ask me to make. Its creamy beef filling and crispy exterior make it hard to eat just one so luckily this recipe will make more than enough to satisfy your group. We typically use a spicy Dijon mustard to cut through the richness of the filling but you can serve it with any mustard you like (or none at all!).
Yield 4 Servings Prep. Time 20 min Cooking Time 90 min Total Time 110 min


Here are the following ingredients:

  • 1 lb (500 g) Beef Stew Cubes, 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
  • Half onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) unflavoured gelatin powder
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) cold water
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) unsalted butter
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2½ cups (625 mL) all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup (250 mL) milk
  • 4 tsp (20 mL) Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup (125 mL) chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 cups (1 L) canola or sunflower oil (approx)
  • 3 cups (750 mL) dry bread crumbs
  • 4 eggs
  • Spicy Dijon mustard or additional Dijon mustard

Shopping List

Here are the following shopping items to buy:


Follow these cooking methods/directions:

  1. Place beef in a medium saucepan and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add onion, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour or until beef is fork-tender.
  2. Strain beef through a large sieve or colander, reserving liquid and beef. Discard onion, thyme stems, bay leaves and peppercorns. Let beef cool. Measure 1 cup (250 mL) cooking liquid and set aside, reserving any remaining for another use. Finely dice cooled beef and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, sprinkle gelatin over cold water in a small bowl. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes or until softened.
  4. Melt butter over medium heat in clean saucepan. Add shallot and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until soft. Sprinkle in ½ cup (125 mL) of the flour, whisking constantly; cook, whisking, for 1 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk and reserved 1 cup (250 mL) beef liquid. Stir in diced beef, softened gelatin, 4 tsp (20 mL) mustard and parsley. Remove from heat.
  5. Transfer beef mixture to an airtight container and refrigerate overnight to set.
  6. Place remaining flour in a bowl, place bread crumbs in another bowl and whisk eggs until blended in a third bowl. Set aside.
  7. Heat about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) oil (enough to cover meatballs when added to the pot) in a deep fryer or heavy saucepan over medium heat to 350°F (180°C).
  8. Meanwhile, scoop about 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the meat mixture and roll into balls. Place on a plate.
  9. Dip each ball first in flour, then egg, then in bread crumbs, rolling to coat. Dip again in egg then bread crumbs. (Do not skip the double breading or your filling may leak when frying.) Return to plate. Discard any excess flour, egg and bread crumbs.
  10. Deep-fry the meatballs, in batches of 4 to 6 at a time, for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil. Adjust heat as necessary between batches to maintain oil temperature. Serve meatballs hot with mustard.