Legendary Dishes | Gehacktesbällchen (beef meatballs)


The traditional meatball in Germany was always a liasion – a delicate preparation with chopped or minced beef, stale bread, egg and seasonings – served generally in a soup or with a sauce.

Occasionally a small onion or a shallot, a teaspoon or two of mustard and a garden herb would be added to give some depth of flavour to the meat.

Meatballs cooked in a broth to make meatball soup is a tradition shared by all the northern European countries.

Some cooks would add root vegetables.

In Germany meatballs were cooked in a meat broth with potatoes and sometimes the meatballs flavoured the potato water.

  • 500 g beef, minced
  • 50 g onion / shallots, chopped small (optional)
  • 50 g stale bread soaked in 175 ml full-fat milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp mustard (optional)
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 5 g salt
  • 3 sage leaves / 3 sprigs thyme (optional)
  • Oil, for frying

Press liquid out of bread and transfer to the shallots. Leave them to soften for about an hour, then add to the beef with the bread. Combine with the egg, mustard, egg, thyme and seasonings, knead into a loose dough.

Divide into 30 gram pieces, shape into small balls.

Brown in a frying pan for a few minutes.

Serve in soup, or in a sauce.