Recipe For Bitterballen


When translated from Dutch into English, the word bitterballen means bitter balls. I have someone in mind who I would like to give bitterballen to! Recently we were in Paris for a weekend and spent a lovely evening out with a couple who are in their 80’s. The lady who we were with is dignified and ‘proper’ and you will never see her without being suitably attired, even when she is in her pyjamas. She has her hair done once a weak, wears make up and her lipstick and nail polish always match! She is the epitome of what a lady is in my mind, and reminds me of my maternal grandmother. She was telling us that while they were on a trip with a friend, the friend’s wife, and two of the friend’s employees, and their wives she was assaulted. The one employee, hit her across her head. He is in his 50’s I would guess, and in no ways a gentleman. He hit her so hard that her hearing aid fell out and that in itself must have been quite frightening. She asked him why he had hit her and his response was “do you want another klap (smack)?”. I think a man like that deserves his balls hit very hard! And an assault case laid against him. The sad thing is that she will not tell her friend, the persons boss, and she has asked that we do not tell him either. I cannot believe that someone can do something so wrong and the worst thing is, he will get away with this behaviour as she is scared. While I send wishes of bitterballen to him, I must share that bitterballen are not bitter at all. They are meant to be served with a pint of bitters, a type of beer.

"A Bite Out Of A Bitterballen"
A Bite Out Of A Bitterballen
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Adapted from About Food


For the meat

  • 10 mls olive oil
  • 500 g stewing beef cut into large strips
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
  • 1 small onion peeled and quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 whole cloves
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 500 mls water

For the salpicon

  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g flour
  • 500 mls beef stock made from cooking the meat
  • 60 g spring onions sliced
  • 4 x 1.65g sheets gelatine
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 45 mls finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 15 mls Dijon mustard

For the Bitterballen (this will do 6)

  • Oil for deep frying
  • 10 g seasoned flour
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 65 g fresh breadcrumbs


  • Heat the oil in a large sauté pan that has a lid
  • Brown the beef, and season well
  • Add the onion, bay leaf. cloves, thyme and water
  • Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cover
  • Leave to simmer for 2 hours
  • Remove the meat and set aside to cool
  • Once cool, cut into small cubes
  • Strain the beef stock and set aside to use for the salpicon

For the salpicon

  • Using the same sauté pan, melt the butter over a medium heat
  • Add the flour and mix in thoroughly
  • Leave to cook for one minute
  • Add the reserved beef stock slowly, whisking the entire time to ensure you do not get lumps
  • Add the spring onions and leave to simmer for 30 minutes
  • Place the gelatine into a bowl of cold water and leave for 5 minutes
  • Wring out, and add to the simmering salpicon
  • Mix in thoroughly and then season to taste
  • Add the nutmeg, parsley, mustard and the beef and mix in
  • Adjust the seasoning and then place the mixture into a bowl
  • Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge until set - this took me overnight

For the Bitterballen

  • Place the oil into a suitable sauce pan and heat to 180° Celsius
  • Scoop out 60mls of the beef and roll into rounds shapes
  • Dip each ball into the flour and then into the egg and breadcrumbs
  • Repeat the egg and breadcrumb stage
  • Deep fry the balls for 50 seconds until golden brown
  • Remove from the oil and place onto paper towel to drain
  • Serve hot, with a cold beer


I am not a fan of deep frying, but baking is not an option with this mixture. I decided to only make 6 bitterballen to make sure the recipe worked. With the rest of the salpicon I made pies.

Click on the links for conversions and notes.

Blog-checking lines: The October Daring Cooks’ Challenge was brought to us by Andrea from 4pure. She introduced us to one of her family favorites which is soon to become one of yours, too. Welcome to the world of Dutch Bitterballen!

"Bitterballen Pie"
Bitterballen Pie

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24 thoughts on “Recipe For Bitterballen

  1. Hi Tandy! Welcome home from France. I just love how you introduce me to new foods that I’ve never heard of and probably wouldn’t have heard about unless I visited their country of origin. I love your bitterballen? I’m having trouble making these plural. Very unique. I can only imagine they’d be a huge hit if I served them up in Niagara Falls to guests!

  2. I have noticed that you started to introduce personal stories at the beginning of your posts – I love it, they render your posts so more personal and catching.

  3. I just learned about bitterballen this year and now I’m so tempted. These ones look awesome!! That’s so sad about your friend 🙁

  4. What a dreadful incident, Tandy. I’m sure I couldn’t keep something like that, to myself. The man definitely deserves to be shamed and punished. Although my dad was Dutch, I don’t think I ever tasted bitterballen. They sound really good. 🙂

  5. It’s awful what that old lady had to go through. Some people get away with murder!!
    The Bitterballen were good and yes I do agree the deep frying kind of puts you off.

  6. It’s really awful what the poor woman went through.
    These Bitterballen are good though like you I am not big on deep frying either.

  7. Hi Tandy
    First of all thank you for posting this recipe – I adore them, and always make sure I have sevreal dishes of them when visiting my friends in amsterdam. The one thing I would add is that I always have to have the mustard dipping sauce!
    And what a shocking story – the man sounds a bully, through and through!

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