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A cube built out of bitterballen on a bright yellow background.

Homemade rendang bitterballen

Dorothy Porker
If these rendang bitterballen are the only thing I've contributed to life on earth that's fine by me.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 8 hrs 30 mins
Course Party snack, Snack
Cuisine Dutch, Fusion, Indonesian
Servings 20 - 25 bitterballen


  • Slowcooker
  • Sieve
  • Saucepan
  • Wooden spoon
  • Whisk
  • Plates x 3
  • Deep fat fryer
  • Oven tray
  • Foil for covering the tray


For the rendang broth

  • 18 oz - 500 gr blade or pot roast beef cut into bite sized chunks
  • 2 large onions roughly chopped
  • 2 stems lemon grass bruised and tied into a knot
  • 4 makrut lime leaves crushed and bruised - you can find this in Asian super markets, usually in the freezer
  • 2 Indonesian bay leaves fresh or dried from an Asian supermarket
  • 1" - 1.5 cm galengal
  • 2 T - 30 gr sambal ulek or 2 finely chopped red chilies
  • 3/4 c - 200 ml coconut milk
  • 3/4 c - 200 ml water

For the bitterballen

  • 1.7 oz - 50 gr butter
  • 1.7 oz - 50 gr plain flour
  • 3 sheets gelatin soaked in water
  • 2 large eggs whisked for at least 2 minutes
  • 1.7 oz - 50 gr plain flour
  • 2.6 oz - 75 gr breadcrumbs
  • oil for deep fat frying


Step 1: Make rendang broth

  • Basically chuck everything all the ingredients for the rendang broth in your slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. I am sure shorter and on high would work equally well, but I never do anything fast in my slow cooker. It seems to defeat the purpose.
  • Remove the meat from the broth, reserving the liquids and cut the meat into smaller pieces.
  • Strain the liquid through a sieve so all the onion, herbs and spices are removed. You should be left with exactly 1 3/4 c - 400 ml of the broth, if you have less you should be fine diluting it with water until you land this amount no problem.

Step 2: Make the ragout

  • Get a heavy based saucepan and melt 1.7 oz - 50 gr of butter on a medium low heat before stirring in 1.7 oz/ 50 gr of flour to start your roux.
  • Once the roux starts letting go of the bottom of the pan, after 2-3 minutes or so, add half of the broth. Stir continuously until the sauce starts to thicken. Now add the remainder of the broth and keep stirring to get rid of any lumps.
  • Bring to the boil briefly before adding squeezing out 3 gelatine sheets and adding them in. Stir again until well-combined.
  • Finally add the meat and stir again until the mixture is well-combined and has come to the boil. I like to use a whisk for this so the meat tears and is scattered in threads and lumps throughout the ragout.
  • Move the ragout to an oven tray and leave to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature before covering and moving it to your fridge to cool completely for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Step 3: Make the balls

  • Divide and roll the ragout into roughly 20-25 medium sized balls. If you want to be precise about it: they should be about 1.2" / 3 cm's in diameter and roughly 0.7 oz/ 20 grams in weight. Use cold water to prevent them from sticking to your hand too much and to create a smoother outer surface.
  • Now set up your bread crumbing station. Coat your balls in the following order: Flour-> Egg-> Breadcrumbs-> Egg-> Breadcrumbs.
  • Once you've rolled and breadcrumbed all your balls, move them back to your fridge for at least 2 hours to firm up. If you're not going to eat them all you can freeze some for later. If you do freeze them make sure they don't touch so they don't get stuck together, this will prevent a lot of heartbreak later.
  • You're ready to fry!
  • Heat your deep fat fryer to 360° F/ 180° C and, depending on the size of your fryer and your balls, fry your bitterbals in groups of 3 to 5 until they are golden and crisp, 3-5 minutes or so. Serve hot with mayo or sambal manis.


I don't have an air fryer myself, so I don't know if you can make these in an air fryer. From what I've read, anything self-battered or bread crumbed doesn't fare well in air fryers so I have to recommend against trying this. But you do you, live dangerously and try, and let me know how that worked out, if it did.
Once breaded you can freeze any rendang bitterballen you don't plan eating straight away for up to 3 months. Fry them for 5-7 minutes to avoid a nasty frozen core. 
Keyword bitterballen, dutch recipe, Indonesian food, Indonesian recipe, rendang