Learn how to make German Frikadellen – a flavorful meat patty that is a cross between a meatball and a burger. This family favorite is so good and super versatile! Delicious served hot or cold which makes them great for dinner, picnics, Oktoberfest celebrations and more!
What Are Frikadellen
Frikadellen are pan-fried ground meat patties that are popular throughout Germany. They are a cross between a meatball and a burger that can be served both warm as a main course or cold for lunchboxes and picnics.
A mixture of seasoned ground meat with sautéed onions and a softened bun (for the authentic tender texture) is shaped into large flattened meatballs and pan-fried until browned on the outside and soft and juicy on the inside. Yum! As a friend of mine says, they are “frika-delicious”!
There are many different variations depending on region or family recipe. Other German names include buletten and fleischpflanzln. They are also similar to the Danish frikadeller recipe.
There are a variety of versions depending on region and family recipe. However, they all seem to have the same basic ingredients in common: ground meat (typically a mix of ground beef and pork), onions, bread, egg and seasonings. The version that I grew up with incorporates sautéed onions, a variety of spices and a soaked bun into the mixture to keep the texture tender and delicious.
Many might call them the original hamburger! The frikadellen of north Germany (specifically Hamburg) were the inspiration for what is now known as hamburgers. Nobody seems to know the true origin story (lots of conflicting stories out there). However, the basic idea is that German immigrants took their frikadellen with them to the US and someone decided to throw it into a bun!
Here’s Why You’ll Love Them
- Easy to make, can be prepped in advance and freeze well.
- Delicious hot or cold – super versatile!
- Makes a great family meal since kids love them too!
- Perfect for dinner, lunchboxes, picnics or Oktoberfest parties.
- We are basically talking about a flavorful, large flattened meatball…what’s not to love!
Ingredients You’ll Need
Let’s get started! To make this frikadellen recipe, you will need…
- Ground meat: Use a mix of half ground beef and half ground pork. This is traditional but you could also just use ground beef if you prefer.
- White bun or bread roll: It’s best when it is 1-2 days old. Choose a smaller bun like a dinner roll or small kaiser. It will be softened in water to create the authentic soft texture and structure in the frikadellen that you wouldn’t get if you used breadcrumbs. If you require a substitute, 2 slices of white bread would also work.
- Onion: 1 medium-sized onion is finely chopped and sautéed before being added to the mixture.
- Parsley: Finely chopped parsley is sautéed along with the onion for flavor.
- Egg: Helps to bind together the ground meat mixture.
- Mustard: Preferably a German mustard. I like this one or this one. You could also use Dijon mustard.
- Spices + Seasoning: Ground paprika, salt and freshly ground pepper
- Olive oil + butter: I like to use a mix of oil and butter when pan-frying these for flavor and browning. However, you could also just use oil or clarified butter (ghee) instead.
Detailed ingredient list and directions located in the recipe card below.
How To Make Frikadellen
Ready to see how they are made? They are easy – I promise!
STEP 1: Soak the bread roll/bun. Place the bread roll/bun in a small bowl of cold water and let it soak for 10-15 minutes to soften while you prepare the other ingredients.
STEP 2: Sauté onions and parsley. While the bread roll is soaking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and parsley. Sauté for a few minutes while stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and translucent. Set aside to cool down.
STEP 3: Gather the ground meat and seasonings. Place the ground beef, ground pork, egg, German mustard, paprika, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl. Add the sautéed onions and parsley.
STEP 4: Squeeze out bread roll. Remove the bread roll/bun from the water and squeeze out all the water. Crumble apart and add to the mixing bowl with the ground meat.
STEP 5: Mix and shape. Mix everything together with your hands until well combined. With wet hands, portion the meat mixture into 6 parts, shape into balls and flatten them slightly. The shape should not be too round and not too flat. They basically will look like large slightly flattened meatballs.
Tip: Wetting your hands with a little water before forming the patties will prevent the meat mixture from sticking to your hands.
STEP 6: Pan fry. Heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the frikadellen and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through (about 5-7 minutes per side). You can check to see if they are cooked through by cutting into one or take the guesswork out by using a digital meat thermometer (should read 160F when inserted into the center of a frikadelle). Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to rest for a few minutes before serving.
Tip: Make sure the heat is not too high or they will burn on the outside before being fully cooked through.
- Mini Frikadellen: You can also make smaller bite-sized frikadellen. Great for snacks and parties!
- Dip in breadcrumbs: For a crispy exterior, you can dip the frikadellen into breadcrumbs before frying.
- Switch up the seasoning: You can adjust or vary the seasonings to suit your own tastes. Marjoram, garlic and nutmeg are also commonly used in some variations.
Seasoning Tip: To ensure seasoning is on point, make a small test frikadelle and fry it up. Taste to see if you need to adjust seasoning.
What To Serve With Frikadellen
Frikadellen are such a versatile dish. They can be eaten hot or cold and served in a number of ways. Sometimes they are served as part of a simple casual meal with a side of potato salad or bread and mustard. Other times they are served as part of a more elaborate hot meal with a gravy or sauce and variety of sides.
Here are a few ideas of what to eat with them:
- Potatoes: Roasted, pan-fried, boiled or mashed potatoes are all common side dishes
- Salads: German potato salad or pasta salad, cucumber salad (aka gurkensalat), chopped salad, simple mixed salad
- Vegetables: Steamed or roasted veggies, sautéed green beans, red cabbage, sliced radishes, pickled veggies
- Bread: With buttered German Bauernbrot (German farmer-style rye bread), sourdough or a crusty roll
- Condiments: Commonly served with a side of mustard (especially when served with a crusty roll or slice of rye bread). However, they can also be served covered with a delicious gravy or a mushroom sauce when paired with potatoes and veggies. This creamy herb sauce is also delicious with them.
- German Beer: Needless to say, these pair great with a glass of German beer. Prost!
Can they be made in advance? Yes! You can form the patties up to a day in advance and keep them covered in the fridge until ready to pan fry. You can also store them fully cooked and reheat when ready to serve or eat cold.
Leftovers + Storage
- Leftovers: My family loves leftover frikadellen. I will often double the recipe just so that we have leftovers. They reheat well but are also delicious cold which makes them perfect for picnics or to pack into lunch boxes.
- Storage: Cooked frikadellen keep for up to 4 days in the fridge.
- Can you freeze frikadellen? Yes, they freeze really well! Store in reusable freezer bags or in an airtight container for up to 3 months in the freezer. Defrost and enjoy them cold or warm them up in a pan or the oven.
Learn how to make German frikadellen – a flavorful meat patty that is a cross between a meatball and a burger. Delicious served hot or cold which makes them perfect for dinner, lunchboxes, picnics, Oktoberfest parties and more!
- 1 white bread roll/bun, preferably 1-2 days old (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lb ground meat, half ground beef, half ground pork (500 g)
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons German mustard (or Dijon mustard)
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt (I use Himalayan or sea salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + 1 tablespoon butter, for pan frying (or use 3 tablespoons olive oil, avocado oil or clarified butter/ghee instead)
- Soak the bread roll/bun: Place the bread roll/bun in a small bowl of cold water and let it soak for 10-15 minutes to soften while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Sauté onions and parsley: While the bread roll is soaking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan over medium heat and sauté the chopped onions and parsley until the onions are soft and translucent. Set aside to cool down.
- Gather ground meat and seasonings: Place the ground beef, ground pork, egg, German mustard, paprika, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl. Add the sautéed onions and parsley to the bowl as well.
- Squeeze out bread roll/bun: Remove the bread roll/bun from the water and squeeze out the excess water really well. Crumble apart and add to the mixing bowl with the ground meat.
- Mix and shape: Mix everything together with your hands until well combined. With wet hands (to prevent sticking), portion the meat mixture into 6 parts. Shape each part into a ball and flatten it slightly.
- Pan fry: Heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the frikadellen and cook until browned on both sides and cooked through (about 5-7 minutes per side or until meat thermometer reads 160F when inserted into the center). Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel to rest for a few minutes before serving.
- Bread roll/bun: Choose a smaller bun like a dinner roll or small kaiser. It will be soaked in water to give the frikadellen their authentic softness and structure that you just won’t get with breadcrumbs. You can also use 2 slices of white bread as a substitute.
- German mustard: You can find it in most grocery stores or European specialty stores. This is the brand of German mustard that I use most often. I also like this one.
- Make sure heat is not too high! If the heat is too high, they will burn on the outside before being fully cooked through.
- Mini Frikadellen: You can also make smaller bite-sized frikadellen.
- What to serve with them? There are so many options! Check out the section called “What To Serve With Frikadellen” for lots of ideas.
- Storage: Cooked frikadellen keep for up to 4 days in the fridge. They also freeze really well! Store for up to 3 months in the freezer. Defrost and enjoy cold or warm them up in a pan or the oven.
Keywords: frikadellen, german hamburgers, german meat patties
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