Cooking With Lager: Get Freaky with Frikadellen

This take on pan-fried meatballs gets a splash of pilsner—and tastes great with it, too.

Christopher Cina Aug 7, 2022 - 3 min read

Cooking With Lager: Get Freaky with Frikadellen Primary Image

Photo: Christopher Cina


These pan-fried meatballs or patties are popular in several European countries, especially in Germany, Poland, and Scandinavia—particularly in Denmark, where they are considered one of the national dishes.

Makes: 15–18 patties

  • 4 slices white bread, 1–2 days old
  • 8 fl oz (237 ml) German-style pilsner
  • 1½ cup (355 ml) onion, small dice
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 lb (454 g) ground pork
  • 1 lb (454 g) ground beef
  • 2 Tbs German mustard (senf)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 cup (237 ml) vegetable oil

In a small bowl, combine the bread and the beer. Allow the beer to soak into the bread for about 20 minutes.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, gently cook the onions in butter until they become translucent, then remove from the heat.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine the pork, beef, mustard, egg, salt, pepper, paprika, and marjoram. Add the onions to the meat mixture. Squeeze the beer from the bread, discard the beer, tear the bread into small pieces, and add to the bowl with the meat mixture. Mix well. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Form 2½ oz (71 g) patties from the mix and set aside. Heat a 9–10" (23–25 cm) skillet over medium heat with ½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, gently fry each patty until done, about 3 minutes per side (in a 10"/25 cm pan, you should be able to do 3–4 at a time). When the pan begins to get dark and dirty, discard the oil, wipe out the pan, and finish with the other half cup (118 ml) of fresh oil. Drain the frikadellen on paper towels and serve warm with red cabbage and mustard.

Beer Tasting Notes: Whether served with mustard and potatoes at dinner or as a late-night snack, the frequent companion of frikadellen is a cool bottle of pilsner. Of course, pilsner—in the broadest sense, the world’s most popular type of beer—is a frequent companion for all kinds of foods. But if we zoom in on the German approach to it—lean malt, sharp bitterness, and herbal hop character—we have an ideal palate-scrubbing foil for a savory, seasoned meat patty, crusted from being pan-seared in fat.
Beer Suggestions: Bierstadt Slow Pour Pils (Denver); Jever Pilsener (Jever, Germany); Live Oak Gold (Austin); Urban Chestnut Stammtisch (St. Louis).