Kotleti are flat and pan-fried meatballs of ground meat, breadcrumbs, onion, garlic, and seasoning. Turn this Ukrainian meatball recipe into party meatballs, meatball sandwiches, or a saucy meatball recipe using gravy or jarred marinara! It’s the beef meatball recipe mom makes that is so flavorful and super versatile!  

Kotleti-Croquettes Recipe (Котлеты)

Love Meatballs? We have delicious Chicken Tefteli (Russian Porcupine Patties), and Pork Kotleti to try!

Kotleti (Meat Patties)

This is the way my Ukrainian mom makes Kotleti. Her secret to fluffy Katleti is using crushed crackers and then baking them in the oven after she’s fried all the meat patties.

Kotleti are like the signature meatballs of Ukraine and Russia! This family recipe has an American twist which, calls for easily available ingredients. It’s the comfort food favored with creamy mashed potatoes and pickled vegetables! The pickiest of eaters love Kotleti and our children can gobble them up like chicken nuggets–thanks to their small size!

If you’re exploring the Slavic Cuisine, a Kotleti Recipe is on the list of classic Russian foods. Ukrainians call them Katleti and either title makes similarly the same meat patties. Kotleti can be made with just about any type of ground meat–ground chicken, turkey, beef, or pork. This national food is a classic for a reason!


What is Kotleti?

Kotleti is a Russian meat patty, typically flattened and round in shape. My mom shapes them into disks, whereas my husband’s mom makes them oval. They go by different titles depending on what region you are from, for example, Ukrainian meat patties would be Katleti, Russian’s would call them Kotleta (Kotleti would be plural), and Polish would spell them Kotlety,(or Kotlet), similarly, all three meatballs are related.

Nearly every cuisine has its version of a cutlet and Kotleti are known as the ground meat patties similar to an American burger but seasoned with a Slavic twist and smaller in size like a chicken nugget.

How To Make Kotleti (Meat Patties)?

Kotleti is similar to a burger recipe where you would season the ground meat and bind it with eggs or bread crumbs so they hold their shape better. Ironically, there are no eggs in this recipe and yet they turn out well structured and fluffy! Invest in a mixing bowl and skillet to make a Kotleta recipe.

My mom will go through the extra step of baking them in the oven and do they get fluffy once baked in a little water!

  1. Combine the meat mixture in a large mixing bowl. Ukrainians use their hands, and I do not recommend you whipping the meat. It can make for tougher meat patties.
  2. Pre-heat a frying pan over medium heat and fry the Kotleti in oil over medium heat. Try not to flip more than once on each side to create a nicely browned crust.
  3. Steam the Kotleti by adding 1/2 cup of boiling water to a 13×9 baking dish. Bake the Kotleti in the water for 30-45 minutes. This makes super fluffy kotleti!

What To Serve With Kotleti?

This meat dish is best served with a side of potatoes and pickled vegetables. Hearty rye bread is also a classic! Here is a list of Ukrainian staples to accompany Kotleti:

Can I Substitute Bread for Crackers?

Yes! Soak bread in milk and coat the meat patties in breadcrumbs afterward. If you have a gluten sensitivity omit all that and use old-fashioned oats for a gluten-free option.

You will need about 1/2 cup of milk and 3-4 slices of white bread to substitute for the Ritz Crackers.

How Long Do I Bake Kotleti?

If you have pan-fried the Kotleti well on each side you do need to bake the Kotleti. However, running them through the oven with a little water steams them and makes them super fluffy.

Not sure if the meat cooked thoroughly? To test for doneness, insert an instant-read meat thermometer through the middle of the Kotleta and makes sure it reads 160°F.

What Oil to Use?

Russians and Ukrainians both use Sunflower oil as it’s mildly safe to use in salads and frying. However, any mildly flavored oil will work including extra virgin olive oil.

How To Store Kotleti?

Leftover Kotleti are so good cold from the refrigerator! Keep tightly wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in the fridge.

To Reheat microwave or toast in a 350°F oven until hot.

Can You Freeze Kotleti?

Yes! This Kotleta recipe can be frozen for up 6 months or more if frozen in a deep freezer. This makes a great meal prep option for busy moms throughout weeknight dinners!

To Freeze: Cool Kotleti completely then flash freeze them on a lined tray. Transfer the meat patties into a freezer bag and keep frozen.

To Reheat frozen Kotleti: bake them in a pre-heated 350°F oven for 35-40 minutes or microwave for 2-3 minutes flipping once in between.

More Meat Patty Recipes:

Tips for the Fluffiest Kotleti:

  1. Bake the meat patties, with 1/2 cup of boiling water for super fluffy Kotleti!
  2. Soak 3-4 slices of bread with 1/2 cup of milk to substitute for the crackers.
  3. Make it gluten-free by using oatmeal as the binding ingredient instead of crackers and bread crumbs!
  4. Add eggs for even more structure.
  5. Fry Kotleti over a steady medium-high heat. You don’t want a poor crust.
  6. Mix and match the ground meats. I like to use ground pork and beef.


Kotleti recipe

How To Make Kotleti Recipe:

Kotleti Recipe (Russian Meat Patties)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 13 servings
Author: Alyona Demyanchuk
Kotleti are Russian Meat Patties made from ground meat, milk, onion, garlic, spices, crushed crackers, and bread crumbs. This Kotleti recipe has no eggs and makes super fluffy meat patties!   


  • 12-inch frying pan
  • mixing bowl
  • 13x9 baking dish


  • 3 lbs ground beef (or pork)
  • 1 1/2 sleeves Ritz crackers
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 onion (finely grated)
  • 10 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 3/4 tbsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 tbsp Vegetable oil (for frying)


  • Soak the crackers in milk. Mash and set aside.
  • Combine all the ingredients, except for the bread crumbs and the frying oil.
  • Form into 2 inch balls and flatten into disks. Then dip into the bread crumbs.
  • Fry in oil until golden brown on each side over medium-high heat.
  • Place 1/2 cup of water and patties into a baking dish and bake at 350°F for 30-45 minutes.

Nutrition per serving

Serving: 1servingCalories: 468kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 21gFat: 32gSaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 735mgPotassium: 376mgSugar: 3gVitamin A: 30IUVitamin C: 1.7mgCalcium: 92mgIron: 2.9mg


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    • Tania

    Looks so delicious!! I’m going to use this recipe. Great job

      • alyonamade

      Thank you Tania! Let me know how they came out I would love to know!

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