Danish Meatballs (Frikadeller)

I know what you’re thinking. It’s something like this – “Seriously, Russ? You already have an awesome Swedish Meatball recipe in your cookbook. Way to put a new coat of paint on your old favorites.”

First of all, thanks for the compliment. Second, these meatballs are a little different. For example, Danish Frikadeller are often smashed and look more like little patties than those little round balls you might be expecting. Think of them as Denmark’s LEGOs (probably their coolest invention) vs. Sweden’s crescent wrench (also a cool invention); both are useful, but serve slightly different purposes.

The recipe itself differs from Swedish meatballs in that I found that adding a bit of tapioca starch makes the balls stick together really well, and they’re pretty delightfully spongy, too. I also played around with the spices until I found something that delivered a distinctive Old-World taste while using common pantry items.

Danish Meatballs (Frikadeller) - Paleo, Primal, Gluten-Free

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

2 tbsp ghee
1/2 onion, blended
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 dash ground cloves
1 dash ground ginger
1 dash ground mustard

for the gravy:
2 tbsp butter (ghee okay)
2 tbsp rice flour (coconut flour okay)
2 cups beef broth
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp of the ghee over med/low heat until melted. Blend the onion and add it to the skillet, stirring into the butter. Sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes, then set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Once cool, combine with the remaining meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well-mixed. Form into 1.5″ balls then smash into patties. You should be able to make about 12 to 15 patties.

2. Preheat the oven to 200F. Return the skillet to the stovetop, and heat the remaining 1 tbsp of ghee over medium heat. Add some of the patties to the skillet without overcrowding; I fit five patties in my 12″ skillet. Pan-fry until cooked through, about 8 minutes total, flipping halfway through. Place the cooked patties on a plate lined with paper towels and keep warm in the 200F oven while you cook the other batches. Add more ghee as needed.

3. Once the patties are done, let’s prepare the gravy. Add the butter (or more ghee) to the pan, which should have all sorts of brown crispy bits stuck on it (which is good). Add the rice flour and stir with the melted butter; sauté until toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in half of the broth, scraping up those brown crispy bits; simmer until thickened, adding more broth to thin the gravy to your desired consistency. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed, then remove from the heat; return the patties to the skillet and coat with the gravy, then serve.

** Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes, pickles, and maybe some red cabbage.

Velbekomme! (that means Bon Appetit in Danish)

30 thoughts on “Danish Meatballs (Frikadeller)

  1. If we don’t eat pork, would just having beef be OK or add beef and turkey? I want to make this, but don’t want it to be too bland without the pork. What do you recommend?


  2. these look really great. thanks for explaining why you are offering two different recipes. Can’t wait to try. I may do half lamb, half beef.


    1. Shaun, because the meatballs are cooked at a fairly high temperature (hot enough to burn the butter, at least), I would recommend mixing some butter and something with a higher smoking point (olive oil, coconut oil, bacon grease, or lard) to keep the butter from burning.


  3. Hi thank you for all your great recipes. On the meatballs would it work to substitute ground liver for the pork. Only way I can get liver into my family’s eating plan.


    1. Tammy, liver can totally be used, but I would only use about 8oz and use another 8oz of beef or pork to keep a balanced taste. Liver also doesn’t hold shape as well as ground meat so any more than 8oz of liver might make them fall apart! Hope that helps!


  4. Hi Russ,
    …me again! :)

    Awesome representation of Scandinavia on TDM lately!

    As usually I have something to share when it’s about food from around here:

    There is a Swedish dish called “Frikadeller” too, but it differs from the Danish one.
    In Sweden frikadeller is meatballs that have been boiled in soup or stock/broth instead of being fried.
    A classic dish is frikadeller in cabbage soup…everyone who went to school here during the 80’s and 90’s have been force fed that dish, haha!
    Let me be honest, it looks nasty! (grayish meatballs floating around in a clear cabbage soup), but it actually isn’t that bad.
    The word “frikadeller” likely comes from the French “fricadelle”, which is from the Latin “frigo”, which means to fry or sear.
    In the 18th and 19th century frikadeller was more common than meatballs.

    That’s all I had this time, thanks for yet another great post!


    1. Peter, as always, thanks for the awesome info! I actually didn’t get a chance to do some proper historical research on this dish (we’ve been traveling), so I appreciate the insight!


  5. Thank you for sharing these! We had a Danish exchange student living with us for a year, and your pictures brought back many good memories of the three of us with our heads together, trying to do metric conversions. ;) I sometimes think frikadeller is a cousin to chili here in the U.S., in that *everybody* has a favorite family recipe and *everybody* thinks the way they make it is the “right” way. So you can never have too many variations.


  6. i actually made a related dish recently called perkedel, which is indonesian, but adapted from dutch colonists. it’s this basic formula, but includes boiled, mashed potatoes in the mix.


  7. Made these for dinner last night. Amazing!! So, so good. I have to confess I didn’t want to get my blender dirty, so I finely minced the onion. Thanks for the great recipe!!


  8. These are great! I’ve made them three times now (and a double batch this last time so I can try freezing some). I used beef and pork and minced the onion. Also in order to make them egg free I added extra tapioca which I also use to make the gravy. Add in some mushrooms and or kale!


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