Danish Meatballs (Frikadeller)

Danish Meatballs, otherwise known as Frikadeller is one of the classic types of meatballs that is considered as a national dish in Denmark. The literal meaning of Frikadeller is related to fried meat and the word is a danification of the Italian word Fritatella. The dish is generally served as part of the main course but is also considered a popular snack. What makes danish meatballs so popular is because they can be made from lunch and dinner leftovers. Aside from the classic pork for its meat, the dish can also be made with veal or beef and even have a mix of two types of meat.

danish meatballs frikadeller

History of Frikadeller – the Danish Meatballs

It is said that this dish dates back as far back as 1648 and while the recipe had many names, it gained popularity after the 18th century. The origins of the meatball dish are not entirely clear but it the term of the dish is determined to be German and is associated with Danish, Scandinavian, and Polish cuisines as well as German cuisine. At this time, the cooking of the dish is considered a 250-year-old tradition, and having it prepared from leftovers keeps to the Danish way of thinking on not wasting any food.

What Makes The Dish Different

You can typically find regular meatballs on pasta dishes and are larger in size. Danish meatballs on the other hand would be considered more under the patty type category when considering its cooking method. In addition to this, there are different kinds of sauces that can go with the dish and is it typically enjoyed with some vegetable sides or even as a meal for the next day. Frikadeller generally lasts long and it is only one of the benefits that come with the dish. There are different ways that this dish can be enjoyed outside of being a classic meatball dish served with different sides.

How to Enjoy Frikadeller

With how versatile meatballs can be, there are different ways that you can enjoy Frikadeller. When it comes to serving the classic dish in Denmark, it is required to have the dish served with certain side dishes. These side dishes include Rødkål, Agurksalat, Brunede Kartofler, Melede Kartofler and Brun Sovs. In translation, the meatball dish is usually served with Danish Red Cabbage, Danish Cucumber Salad, Sugar Brown Potatoes, White Potatoes, and Brown Gravy respectively. If there are any leftovers with the meal, it is generally converted into sandwiches the next day. One of the benefits of Frikadeller is that they can be enjoyed either hot or cold.

Nutritional Facts About Danish Meatballs

When you consider what this dish is usually served with, Frikadeller can be a generally healthy dish for the fact it is a protein generally served with vegetable dishes. Depending on the number of servings, the calories can range from 200-350. If you are into these kinds of details, you’ll be interested to know that the dish is also low in fat and has healthier options in its recipe to meet any dietary needs.

How to cook Danish Meatballs

Servings: 4
Cooking time: 40 minutes


  • 500 grams of Pork, approx. 10% fat, minced
  • 1 Whole Egg, Medium or Large
  • 2 tbsp. Wheat flour
  • 1.5 Chopped Onion
  • 0.5 dl. Milk
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • Pepper


  • 1.5 tbsp. Wheat flour
  • 1 Broth cube, pork
  • 4 dl. Boil water
  • 1 dl. Whipping cream
  • Salt
  • Pepper


For the Meatballs

  1. Add salt and pepper to the minced meat in a bowl and stir well until it is fully mixed. Then add the egg and mix well before adding in the chopped onions. Once all the ingredients are mixed, add in the milk and mix the meat until it is firm enough to mold.
  2. Dip a tablespoon into warm water and use it to form the meatballs. Add some butter to the pan and heat in a medium heat until lightly brown before adding the meatballs. Let the meatballs cook for 4 minutes on each side and you should have a crispy crust before they’re ready to be taken out.

For the Sauce

Sprinkle flour on the leftover butter in the pan or add butter if none is left. Stir then add the boiled water into the mix and let it boil. Slowly add whipping cream to thicken the sauce and season it with salt and pepper before serving it with the meatballs.

Variations to the Recipe

While there may be a classic recipe for Frikadelle, the recipe can be rather flexible in terms of ingredients. Whether the meatballs are pan-fried or deep-fried, there are different variations to suit different tastes. A classic type of meat for this recipe is pork, but there is also alternative or additional options of veal and beef. If red meat is not an option, fish is also good or even minced vegetables if you are vegetarian. Some of the ingredients that make the dish what it is, however, include chopped onions, eggs, milk or water, breadcrumbs, oatmeal or flour, and salt and pepper.

If there are certain restrictions for you with the ingredients, there are alternative options you can go for that can still make the dish delicious. For example, you can use low-fat milk instead. There are even options to experiment with the cooking process as well. Some things you can try include freezing the meat mixture first before cooking it or even whipping the egg whites to make the dish fluffier. Don’t be afraid to add your own touches to the dish to fit your tastes.

You can even take inspiration from other countries where they have created their own version of the dish. In Indonesia, the dish is called perkedel and is mainly made with mashed potatoes. Though, it can also be mixed with ground meat or corned beef. This variation of the dish also includes shrimp, peeled corn, or mashed tofu fritters. As for its cooking process, it is typically shaped into flat round patties before being egg dipped and fried.

Danish meatballs are a considerably easy and versatile dish to work with. The next time you have a picnic or potluck, consider bringing in this dish.

Have fun with the recipe!

danish frikadeller recipe

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