Bitterballen Recipe

Addictive beef and gravy croquettes to pair with beer-guzzling.
Bitterballen Recipe
Photo by Heami Lee

Makes 70
Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: 4 hours


for the bitterballen:
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 pounds|907 grams top round or other stewing beef, cubed into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
4 cups|946 ml beef stock
2 small onions, 1 quartered, 1 finely diced
8 tablespoons|1 stick unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
¼ cup minced parsley, plus whole leaves for garnish
5 large eggs
2 cups plain breadcrumbs
canola oil, for deep-frying

for the dipping sauce:
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup whole grain mustard


  1. Make the bitterballen: Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high. Season the beef with one tablespoon of salt and one teaspoon of pepper. Add to the pot and cook, turning as needed, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the stock and the quartered onion and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the beef is soft . Let it come up to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook 1 ½ to 2 hours until beef is soft and falling apart.
  2. When beef is cooked strain into a colander, reserving the liquid. Discard quartered onion. Shred beef very finely and reserve.
  3. Add the butter to the saucepan over medium heat. Add the finely diced onion, remaining tablespoon of salt, and the remaining teaspoon of black pepper. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until the onion turns translucent. Add 1 cup of flour a little bit at a time, whisking constantly, to create a thick roux. Slowly whisk in the reserved cooking liquid until all of the roux is absorbed. If the sauce is too thick (more of a paste than a gravy), add a few tablespoons of water a little at a time until a thick gravy forms. Add the shredded meat and parsley and stir to combine.
  4. Pour the mixture into a shallow container, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight, until the sauce has solidified.
  5. Once the sauce has set, make a dredging station by setting up three shallow dishes. Fill one with the remaining cup of flour, one with 5 beaten eggs, and one with 2 cups plain breadcrumbs. Season each dish with salt.
  6. Take a heaping tablespoon of solidified sauce and roll it into a ball. Roll each ball lightly through the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. The balls will start to lose their shape as they come to room temperature, so dredge in batches and refrigerate until ready to use.
  7. Make the dipping sauce: Combine the sour cream and mustards in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve with the bitterballen. Sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 5 days.
  8. Heat 2-inches canola oil in a large saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer reads 375°F. Working in batches, fry the bitterballen until golden-brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. Reserve on a sheet tray and serve immediately with creamy mustard dipping sauce.

To make party prep easier, deep fry bitterballen and reserve in the fridge until ready to use. Reheat in a 400°F oven.

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