For other uses, see Meatball (disambiguation).
Hochzeitssuppe, German traditional wedding soup with meatballs

A meatball is ground or minced meat rolled into a small ball, sometimes along with other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, minced onion, eggs, butter and seasoning.[1]

Meatballs are cooked by frying, baking, steaming, or braising in sauce.

There are many types of meatballs using different types of meats and spices. The term is sometimes extended to meatless versions based on vegetables or fish.


The Chinese recipe of "Four Joy Meatballs" (四喜丸子—Si Xi Wanzi) is derived from Lu Cuisine, also called Shandong cuisine. It originated from the native cooking styles of East China's Shandong province. Its history can date back to Qin Dynasty (221 BC to 207 BC).[2]

Early recipes included in some of the earliest known Arabic cookbooks, generally concern seasoned lamb rolled into orange-sized balls, and glazed with egg yolk and sometimes saffron. This method was taken to the West and is referred to as gilding, or endoring. Many regional variations exist, notable among them the unusually large Azerbaijani (Iran) Kufteh Tabrizi, having an average diameter of 20 cm, (8 in).[3]

The ancient Roman cookbook Apicius included many meatball-type recipes.[4]

Meatballs across various cultures

Various recipes of meatballs can be found worldwide across Europe to Asia. From the Balkans to India, there is a large variety of meatballs in the kofta family.[5]


Bulgarian big meatball, tatarsko kufte
A freshly made batch of Danish meatballs (frikadeller)
Meatballs served in Swedish and Finnish style with mashed potatoes, brown sauce, lingonberry jam and pickled cucumber
Klopsy with potato purée from Poland
İnegöl meatballs from Turkey.


Mexican albóndigas al chipotle

Most meatball recipes found in Americas are derived from European cuisine influences, notably Italian, Iberian (Portuguese-Spanish), and Nordic (Swedish-Finnish) cuisines.

Middle East and South Asia

Main article: Kofta
Kofta (Kufteh Tabrizi)

Kofta is a type of meatball or dumpling that is widely distributed in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and to some extent, Mediterranean and Balkan (Central and Eastern Europe) cuisines. The word kofta is derived from Persian kūfta: In Persian, کوفتن (kuftan) means "to beat" or "to grind" or meatball.[11] In the simplest form, koftas consist of balls or fingers of minced or ground meat – usually beef or lamb – mixed with spices and/or onions and other ingredients. The vegetarian variety are popular in India. They can be grilled, fried, steamed, poached, baked or marinated, and may be served with a rich spicy sauce.

East and Southeast Asia

A variety of Chinese meatballs and fishballs
Indonesian bakso noodle soup
Seseri (left) and Tsukune (つくね) (right)

See also


  1. 1 2 Esposito, Shaylyn (6 June 2013). "Is Spaghetti and Meatballs Italian?". Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  2. "Lu Cuisine". A bite of China. Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  3. Oxford Companion to Food, s.v. kofta
  4. Sally Grainger, Cooking Apicius: Roman Recipes for Today, Prospect Books, 2006, ISBN 1-903018-44-7, p. 17-18
  5. Alan Davidson, ed., The Oxford Companion to Food, s.v. kofta
  6. Wikipedia in French
  7. "Κεφτέδες". (in Greek). Cyprus Food Virtual Museum. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  8. 1 2 Widenfelt, Sam Swedish Food, Gothenburg, Sweden Esselte 1956.
  9. "Köttbullar". February 24, 2011.
  10. Herbst, Sharon Tyler Food Lover's Companion Hauppauge, New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc. 1990.
  11. Alan S. Kaye, "Persian loanwords in English", English Today 20:20-24 (2004), doi:10.1017/S0266078404004043.
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