German Meatballs

Fleischpflanzerl, Michael style

Meatballs are a popular food in Germany. Recipes vary regionally, and so do the names! Wikipedia lists 7 different names. I grew up calling them Fleischpflanzerl, the way they're called in Bavaria.

Here's the recipe for Michael style (low-ish carb) Fleischpflanzerl, inspired by how my mom made them (she added the traditional 2 day old breakfast rolls soaked in milk, as well as breadcrumbs).

Preparation, 2 hours ahead of serving

    • Put “wet” ingredients in large mixing bowl:

      • 1 pound ground beef

      • 1 pound ground pork

      • 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, washed, dried, de-stemmed, finely chopped

      • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped

      • 3-10 cloves of fresh garlic, smashed or pressed

      • 3 tbsp concentrated tomato paste

      • 2 tbsp dijon or German spicy mustard

      • Optional ingredients to increase the umami flavor: Parmesan, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce. I sometimes use all three when the fancy strikes me.

      • 2 eggs (I like to whisk them with fork until yolk and egg whites are combined, then add to mixing bowl)

    • Put “dry” ingredients in a small bowl:

      • 3 tbsp granulated garlic/garlic powder

      • 1 tsp chili powder

      • 1 tsp paprika

      • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

      • 1 tbsp ground black pepper

      • 2 tbsp salt

      • 1-3 tbsp dried herbs, best are oregano, marjoram, parsley

      • Stir dry ingredients thoroughly, then pour evenly over wet ingredients in the mixing bowl

    • Using gloved hands, thoroughly combine all ingredients. This can take a long time, and the better it’s combined, the better the result

    • Let ingredients in mixing bowl sit, covered, in fridge for at least half an hour, up to an hour. This step is important, something happens when all the flavors meet and greet while sitting in the bowl together.

Cooking, about 1/2 hour before serving

    • Using gloved hands, mix ingredients again. Then shape into meat balls using handful of dough, should make about 16.

    • In large non-stick skillet, on medium heat, let 3 tbsp of ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil or palm oil dissolve. Skillet should be covered at least by 2mm of fat (effectively a shallow fry), so you might need more fat.

    • Heat management: fat should be bubbly but not be too smokey. It's important to not let get it too hot! However, before adding new balls to the pan or turning the uncooked side of the meatballs over, temporarily increase heat to medium-high to avoid temperature loss, then go back to medium after a minute. If pan is not even, turn pan orientation over flame often and swish oil around frequently to allow even frying.

    • Careful place meat balls into skillet, avoid splashing, don’t overcrowd (so cook in batches, making sure to remove stuck-on/blackened bits between batches and ensure fat coverage)

    • Let meat balls fry for about 10 minutes without moving them. Once meat balls are thorough browned on first side, carefully turn them. While cooking other side, baste tops with fat from pan. Should take another 10 minutes.

    • Once both sides are browned, keep cooking until biggest meatball has internal temperature of at least 160℉ (however that might already by achieved by the time they’re brown).

Frying the meatballs. You can tell I didn't chop the onions very finely, and I actually prefer it that way.


In Germany, meatballs are served with boiled potatoes, and maybe a side of veggies.

They're especially delicous the next day, on a sandwich. Slice the meatball in half along the equator and put on a thick slice of rustic bread. Slather some spicy mustard on top. So good!