This kotlety or kotleti recipe is top-notch! Simply follow these steps to create scrumptious Ukrainian meatballs baked to perfection.
This kotlety (aka kotleti) recipe is proof that baked Ukrainian meatballs can be incredibly juicy. They’re cooked in a hot oven to lock in all the flavors. The result? You’ll enjoy perfectly browned and tender ground meat croquettes with a delightful crispy crust, beloved comfort food in many Eastern European households.
What is kotleti?
Kotleti, also known as kotlety or meat cutlets, are a popular type of meat croquettes or meatballs in Ukrainian cuisine. They are typically made from ground meat, such as beef, pork, chicken, or a combination of these meats, mixed with various seasonings and sometimes other ingredients like onions, garlic, and breadcrumbs.
The mixture is formed into round or oval-shaped patties or meatballs, typically fried or baked until they’re fully cooked and acquire a crispy outer layer.
They are often served as a main course alongside side dishes like mashed potatoes, vegetables, or salads.
Let me tell you, the mere thought of these juicy meat croquettes can send your heart racing. Your brain instantly awakens all 40 million olfactory receptor neurons, as if you’re inhaling the aroma of your favorite childhood dish at this very moment. Your mouth starts watering as if you’ve got Niagara Falls in there!
Yes, kotleti are incredibly addictive!
If you want a classic Ukrainian recipe and enjoy simple comfort food, you’re in the right place.
Variations to kotleti recipe
This recipe has many variations, so you can make them just the way you like:
- Use beef and pork: Traditional kotleti use a mix of ground beef and pork. You can choose to use more than one type of meat to suit your taste.
- Chicken kotlety: If you prefer something lighter, you can make Ukrainian meatballs using ground chicken. They’ll have a milder taste than beef or pork.
- Nut-Crusted meat croquettes: Before frying or baking, roll the meatballs in crushed nuts like almonds or walnuts to add a crunchy texture.
Alternatively, if you want to make baked meatballs extra crispy, just coat them in breadcrumbs.
Unlock the secrets to perfect kotleti with these handy tips:
- Choose the right meat: While you can make kotleti out of any ground meat, keep in mind one rule: the fattier the meat, the more tender and juicy your baked meatballs will be. The ideal combination is an equal proportion of pork and beef.
- Meat patties from minced chicken or turkey are also delicious but tend to be drier. For juicy oven-baked meatballs, opt for chicken thighs instead of chicken breast, as they have more moisture.
- This recipe has a secret ingredient: raw onion. It adds incredible flavor and moisture to the ground meat. Simply grate the onion finely using a grater, blender, or meat grinder, and incorporate it into the ground meat (no need to squeeze out the excess onion juices; add them to the meat mixture as well). I suggest avoiding finely chopping the onion, as it may cook unevenly and result in raw onion pieces in the finished kotleti.
- Some people like to include garlic in kotlety. It all comes down to personal preference. Personally, I skip the garlic in my ground meat because I’m not a fan of the aftertaste it imparts to this dish.
- Shape uniformly: When forming the meatballs, aim for uniform size and shape. This ensures even cooking.
- Use parchment paper to line the baking sheet. It will prevent the meatballs from sticking during baking.
- 1lb (500g) ground pork
- 1lb (500g) ground beef
- 1¾ cups (200g) breadcrumbs
- 1cup + 3Tbsp (280g) water at room temperature
- 1 medium onion
- 1tsp salt (adjust to your taste)
- ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 10Tbsp milk
Step by step kotlety recipe
1. In a large bowl, mix water with the breadcrumbs, and let it sit until the water is absorbed. Then, add ground meat, minced raw onion, salt, and black pepper.
2. Add eggs and milk to the meat and breadcrumb mixture. Mix everything thoroughly; you can mix by hand for about 10 minutes or use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment at a low speed.
3. Cover the baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease it with oil. Shape the meat mixture into round or oval patties using wet hands, and flatten them with your hands. Arrange them on the baking sheet. Classic Ukrainian kotleti aren’t too small; they’re about the size of small Italian meatballs or classic hamburger patties.
4. Bake for 25 minutes at 400°F (200°C), then flip the kotlety to the other side and bake for an additional 20 minutes until they are cooked through.
Baked Ukrainian Meatballs vs. Fried Ones
Should you bake kotlety or fry them? Well, the decision depends entirely on your personal preferences.
Classic Ukrainian meatballs are typically pan-fried, but I’m not a big fan of frying, to be honest. Frying involves cooking ground meat patties in batches, standing by the stove, and that can be quite time-consuming. Instead, I prefer the convenience of baking the meatballs in the oven – you’ll have an entire baking sheet of pork and beef kotlety cooked to perfection in no time!
Baking meat croquettes is a healthier choice because it uses less oil. It also cooks them evenly on all sides, so you don’t need to flip them, giving you a uniform texture.
Fried meatballs, on the other hand, have a crispy and golden crust that many people enjoy. Additionally, some prefer the flavor that frying imparts to the meatballs, as they may absorb some of the oil, resulting in a richer taste.
Feel free to use both methods for this kotlety recipe to find out which one you prefer.
How to serve kotlety
Kotleti pair wonderfully with various sides.
A classic choice is mashed potatoes. They’re creamy and complement kotleti perfectly. This combination has been cherished for generations. You can also serve them with a mix of potato and carrot mash for a tasty twist.
Here are some other traditional and popular options:
- Buckwheat kasha: With its nutritious and nutty flavor, is a common side dish enjoyed with kotleti in Ukraine. It adds a hearty element to the meal.
- Rice: It’s a versatile choice to enjoy with kotlety. Simply steam some white or brown rice and consider adding herbs and spices to make the flavors pop.
- Pickles: Tangy and crunchy pickled cucumbers are a popular accompaniment to Ukrainian meatballs, offering a delightful contrast to the meat.
- Gravy: Serve kotleti with a savory gravy made from pan drippings or a homemade sauce. Mushroom gravy is a particularly tasty choice.
- Vegetables and mushrooms: Think about pairing kotleti with a mix of peas, corn, and carrots, or sautéed mushrooms for a healthy and flavorful addition to your meal.
- Salad: A fresh salad, such as this arugula and olive salad can provide a refreshing and crunchy contrast to the kotlety.
- Bread: Kotleti can also be served in a sandwich or as part of a burger. Place them in a burger bun with your choice of toppings, like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and condiments.
My kids and husband love kotleti, so we hardly ever have any leftovers. But if you happen to make extra and have some patties left, you can store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Absolutely! You can freeze Ukrainian meatballs. They are perfect for freezing. Prepare them in advance and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Sure! Preheat your air fryer to 190°C (375°F) for a few minutes and lightly oil the basket. Arrange the meatballs in a single layer, making sure they’re not too close together, and cook for 12-15 minutes, flipping them halfway through. To check for doneness, cut one; it should have no pink inside.
I hope you enjoy this easy kotlety (or kotleti) recipe as much as we do. Enjoy these delicious Ukrainian meatballs!
Kotlety or kotleti (baked Ukrainian meatballs)
- 1 lb (500g) ground pork
- 1 lb (500g) ground beef
- 1 ¾ cups (200g) breadcrumbs
- 1 cup + 3Tbsp (280g) water at room temperature
- 1 medium onion
- 1 tsp salt adjust to your taste
- ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 10 Tbsp milk
- In a large bowl, mix water with the breadcrumbs, and let it sit until the water is absorbed. Then, add ground meat, minced raw onion, salt, and black pepper.
- Add eggs and milk to the meat and breadcrumb mixture. Mix everything thoroughly; you can mix by hand for about 10 minutes or use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment at a low speed.
- Cover the baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease it with oil. Shape the meat mixture into round or oval patties using wet hands, and flatten them with your hands. Arrange them on the baking sheet. Classic Ukrainian kotleti aren't too small; they're about the size of small Italian meatballs or classic hamburger patties.
- Bake for 25 minutes at 400°F (200°C), then flip the kotlety to the other side and bake for an additional 20 minutes until they are cooked through.