Sauerbraten Meatballs Recipe with Picture - (2024)

Sauerbraten Meatballs Recipe with Picture - (1)

Yield: About 40 1-inch meatballs

Cook Time: About 20 minutes

Tips: Raisins are optional. To easily crush gingersnaps, place cookies in a plastic bag and gently pound with a meat pounder into small crumbs. (Don't worry about crumb size too much, because cookie crumbs will dissolve in the sauce.) Any brand of gingersnaps may be used.

Suggestion: Serve as an appetizer or a main dish over rice or pasta.

If you're looking for unique co*cktail meatball recipes that will bring pizazz and conversation to your party or event, you'll want to consider these tasty and Sauerbraten Meatballs! (Note: Sauerbraten is a German term - "sauer" refers to "sour" or "pickled," while "braten" refers to "roast meat.") This German meatball recipe features tender meatballs with a delicious sauce that has a nice balance of sweet and sour along with some festive spices.

While the sauce for these meatballs may have an appearance somewhat like gravy, the flavor will surprise you! Believe it or not, one of the secret ingredients in this

meatball recipe is gingersnaps, which not only adds unique flavor to the sauce, it makes this meatball recipe a perfect candidate when holiday season comes around and you're tossing around Christmas party ideas! The easy sauce for these meatballs is created on the stovetop in just minutes, and is made with a combination of water, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and seasonings, while some crushed gingersnaps add uniquely delicious flavor as well as act as a thickening agent. Any brand of gingersnap cookies will work well with this recipe, so feel free to choose your favorite brand if you have one. If desired, for more flavor and texture, you can add 1/2 cup of raisins to the sauce as well.

As with most other meatball recipes, these meatballs are not only perfect served as co*ckail meatballs served with toothpicks (co*cktail meatballs are also often referred to as appetizer meatballs), they taste great served over pasta or rice as a main dish! The sauce thickens very nicely, though if it gets a little too thick for pouring, can be thinned out simply by stirring in a little water. To reheat leftovers, it's best to heat the meatballs and sauce over low-medium heat in a saucepan rather than using a microwave. Heating them slowly in a saucepan will thoroughly heat the meatballs through, while allowing you to see if the sauce needs any additional water as it heats up. These Sauerbraten Meatballs have a flavor that all ages will enjoy!


Print Recipe


  • Meatballs

  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • Sauce

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 gingersnaps (cookies), crushed (about 5-6 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)



In a medium mixing bowl, combine ground ground beef, egg, salt, pepper, bread crumbs and milk. Mix until fully blended. Shape mixture into 1 1/4-inch meatballs and place on a baking sheet near cooking area.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add meatballs in batches, leaving enough room for meatballs to move around while cooking. Brown meatballs in butter until done (about 7-10 minutes), shaking skillet occasionally to roll meatballs around so they brown evenly. (Tip: If meatballs stick to the skillet, simply use a flat spatula to loosen them.) Once the first batch of meatballs is cooked, transfer to a plate or baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Repeat process with remaining meatballs until all meatballs are cooked.


In a mixing bowl, whisk together water, vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, peppercorns, crumbled bay leaf, salt, crushed gingersnaps and raisins (if using). Pour sauce mixture into skillet and bring to a boil over medium heat, then Immediately reduce heat to low. Return meatballs to skillet, gently tossing to coat meatballs with sauce. Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring once or twice until sauce thickens yet is still pourable. (Tip: If sauce appears too thick, stir in a little water until desired consistency is reached. If sauce appears too runny, continue to cook a little longer until it thickens to desired consistency.)

When cooked, transfer meatballs with sauce to a warming dish to keep warm. Serve with toothpicks.

Other recipes you might like:

Meatballs with Cherry Sauce

Meatballs with Grape Jelly and Chili Sauce

Norwegian Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

Sauerbraten Meatballs Recipe with Picture - (2024)


What is the secret of a tender meatball? ›

Egg and breadcrumbs are common mix-ins to add moisture and tenderness. Another binder option that people swear by is a panade, which is fresh or dry breadcrumbs that have been soaked in milk. “The soaked breadcrumbs help keep the proteins in the meat from shrinking,” as food writer Tara Holland explained in the Kitchn.

Why do you put baking soda in meatballs? ›

This process allows the baking soda to neutralize acid on the surface of the meat, resulting in less toughness and a cooked meat that is juicy on the inside while remaining crispy on the outside. Note: Some cuts of meat may take longer to soak in the baking soda to fully tenderize.

How to make tight meatballs? ›

This will result in a softer-textured meatball, but it does work.
  1. Don't add much apart from meat.
  2. Roll your meatballs in flour.
  3. Give your meatballs space.
  4. Shake your meatballs.
  5. Brown your meatballs first.
Mar 3, 2022

What is the best binder for meatballs? ›

An egg is usually a good start, as that can help with the tenderness and texture, but the king of meatball binders is breadcrumbs soaked in milk (also known as a panade). Soaking the breadcrumbs first makes them pliable and soggy, which allows them to easily and evenly mix into the ground meat.

What makes meatballs stick together better? ›

Most meatball recipes call for a bit of starchy filler, such as dry breadcrumbs, oatmeal, or soaked bread, which is meant to keep the meatballs tender, hold everything together, and help add bulk.

What does adding milk to meatballs do? ›

When it comes to adding liquid to meatball mixtures, milk is often used for its versatility, depth of flavor, and richness. Without the use of milk, you may be faced with a plate of dry meatballs. Milk adds a certain level of moisture that helps produce perfectly tender meatballs.

Why do people put flour in meatballs? ›

Filler ingredients like breadcrumbs or flour are important too because they stop the meatballs becoming dry. The breadcrumbs absorb the juices from the meat as it cooks, trapping them within the meatball. Again quantity is important here; too much and your meatball will be more like stuffing or a dumpling.

Why do my meatballs fall apart when I cook them? ›

Whether it's breadcrumbs or egg (or both), or simply salt, binding the mince is a crucial step in maintaining the softness of your meatballs while preventing them from falling apart. Try soaking your breadcrumbs in milk for extra moisture and fluffiness.

What helps hold meatballs together? ›

What soaking the bread does is add moisture to the meatball as well as bread for a binder. In today's recipe, I used a mixture of fresh bread crumbs and soaked bread. The combination of both turned out to be a winner. Another general rule when forming meatballs is to work quickly and handle them as little as possible.

Do meatballs get more tender the longer they cook? ›

Tenderizing the Meat:

As the collagen in the meat dissolves over time, it transforms into gelatin, which not only adds a silky texture to the sauce but also contributes to the overall richness and depth of flavor. The longer the simmer, the more tender and succulent the meatballs become.

Is it better to use milk or water in meatballs? ›

The Key to Tender Meatballs

Here, we're soaking fresh or dried breadcrumbs in a little milk until the bread becomes soggy, then mixing that right into the meat. This binder (aka panade) helps add moisture to the meatballs and also prevents the meat proteins from shrinking and becoming tough.

How do you make meatballs firmer? ›

To make your meatballs softer, add a little liquid such as milk or applesauce or tomato sauce. To make your meatballs firmer, add more breadcrumbs. Run another taste test after each adjustment. Once the meatballs are how you want them, you're ready to start shaping.

What happens if you overmix meatballs? ›

Cooking up juicy meatballs depends heavily on not overmixing. Overworking ground meat makes it tough and will never lend itself to a tender and light meatball.

Why are my meatballs not tender? ›

More Reasons Your Meatballs are Hard

Too much time spent forming the balls can also make them tough, and you're more likely to overwork them if you can't get them off your hands. To avoid this sticky situation, keep a dish of cold water next to you as you work, and dip your fingers in as you make the balls.

Why did my meatballs come out tough? ›

Lean meats, like ground turkey or very lean ground beef, can result in drier meatballs. Consider using a mix of lean and fattier meats, like a blend of ground beef with some ground pork or veal, for juicier meatballs. 2. **Overmixing**: Overmixing the meat mixture can lead to tough meatballs.

What causes rubbery meatballs? ›

If the meatballs are packed together too tightly, they will cook up rubbery, chewy, and tough. If the meatballs are different sizes, they will cook unevenly. The smaller meatballs may end up dry and overcooked, while the larger ones may end up undercooked.


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