14 Authentic Meatball Recipes from Around the World
From Danish frikadeller and Greek keftedes to Japanese tsukune, these traditional meatball recipes from around the world show that every culture has its own version.
Italian meatballs with a heaping plate of spaghetti are a staple here in the U.S. But did you know that’s not common in Italy? Meatballs and spaghetti are actually served separately—spaghetti is considered a “primo piatto” (first plate) and meatballs are usually a “secondo piatto” (second plate). Italians typically serve meatballs, like this version from An Italian in My Kitchen, by themselves or in soup.
For another meatball option, try our Test Kitchen’s take on traditional Italian meatballs.
The Chinese pork meatballs known as Lion’s Head are typically prepared one of two ways: cooked in broth or braised in soy sauce in a process sometimes known as “red-cooked.” This Lion’s Head meatball recipe from Omnivore’s Cookbook is a steamed version for a less greasy final result. You might find these flavorful meatballs served with braised veggies like Napa cabbage or bok choy.
Recreate Cajun flavors at home with these meatballs—and yes, there is a difference between Cajun and Creole food! Cajun boudin meatballs are a Louisiana specialty, consisting of pork, rice and seasonings. Most Cajun meatballs do contain boudin sausage (hence the name), but if you aren’t able to find any, this fried take on Cajun boudin meatballs from Cooks with Soul is perfect.
Pork Vietnamese-style meatballs are often found in a dish known as bun cha. Consisting of rice noodles and pork meatballs (the “cha” in bun cha), this main dish is popular in Hanoi and other northern cities of Vietnam. If you love Vicky Pham’s bun cha recipe, be sure to check out our Vietnamese-inspired meatball soup, too!
Find even more authentic Vietnamese recipes!
Aromatics like caramelized onions, lemon and mint give this Greek meatball recipe—known as keftedes—its authentic flavor. This family recipe from Marilena’s Kitchen is oven-baked, but you can try grilling the meatballs during the warmer months. Consider pairing your keftedes with pastitsio (Greek lasagna) or any of these other traditional Greek recipes.
Frikadeller, or Danish meatballs, are made of ground pork, onions, milk, eggs, flour and a little bit of salt and pepper. Nordic Food Living believes that frikadeller’s key ingredient is the onions, since they go so well with the pork. Serve the meatballs on rye bread to make a Danish meatball sandwich, or top them with pan gravy, like in our version of a Danish meatballs recipe.
Seasoned with a thick, teriyaki-like sauce, tsukune, or Japanese chicken meatballs, are mouthwateringly good. They’re traditionally skewered and grilled over charcoal. To keep the meat from sliding off, tsukune are often made with a panko or egg mixture to bind the meatball together. Or, you can knead the meatball mixture to prevent that, like in Just One Cookbook‘s recipe. (Have leftover panko? Use it up in these recipes that use leftover bread crumbs.)
The two main ingredients of a classic German meatball are, surprisingly, anchovies and capers—but don’t let that keep you away! There’s a reason that königsberger klopse, like this recipe from All That’s Jas, is a popular old-world German recipe (it’s been around since Prussia existed, in fact). For an authentic meal, pour meatballs and sauce over boiled potatoes and sprinkle parsley on top.
Beef kofta curry is a traditional meatball dish served in Pakistan. Over half of the ingredients needed for Tea for Turmeric‘s take on Pakistani kofta curry are whole or ground spices, so you know this meatball dish will be anything but bland. Top with a hard-boiled egg for traditional flavor.