Kotleti (Котлеты) or Beef Cutlets are a staple in the Russian kitchen. An easy weeknight dinner recipe that's ready in 45 minutes. Comfort food that's tender and juicy, sure to be a hit with your family.
Every Russian and Ukrainian family eats Kotleti Meat Patties (Котлеты), which are everyone's childhood favorite. I remember coming home after school when mom was preparing dinner, and I always snuck in a few as a snack.
What are Kotleti?
Kotleti are pan fried meat patties that are usually made from ground beef. Really this recipe can be made with any ground meat, and not only beef. Chicken and pork are quite common, ground turkey or even mixtures of your favorite ground meats.
They are part of the croquettes and cutlets style of food. If you think about it, Cutlets is the plural form of the word Cutlet. It's where Kotleti get their name from. Kotlet is the singular form of the word Kotleti. It's just like saying 'cutlet' with a Russian accent. 🤣 So we are eating Russian Cutlets. Kotleti are like a cross between meatballs, hamburgers and rissoles. Some people call them Russian hamburgers, they just aren't eaten the same way.
Potatoes in Kotleti
Potato isn't always added to Kotleti, but it's one of the ways my mom would make them. It's nice to have variation in your recipes. I find grated potato makes Kotleti juicier, which is the secret ingredient. Without potatoes, sometimes beef cutlets can be like hockey pucks. Well that might be a bit dramatic, but the potato definitely adds juiciness and makes them less dense. Adding potatoes are optional.
After grating the potato, squeeze excess juices from the potato before mixing to the meat. You can also finely chop the grated potato, so it isn't as visible in your patties. I think it's has harder to evenly cook bigger pieces of potato, so stick to the grating. Most important, remember to squeeze the grated potatoes before adding them into your meat mixture.
Breadcrumbs or Flour?
Traditionally a few pieces of stale, dry bread pieces, called suhari, are soaked in milk and mixed into the ground beef. Suhari is a fancy name for old dry bread. Drying bread like suhari extends the shelf life, and you use it in recipes like this one. However, it's easier to buy bread crumbs.
My mom and babushka usually lightly coated the cutlets in flour before frying. If you prefer you can coat them in bread crumbs as well. Breadcrumbs might look a bit nicer on your plate if serving, and flour is a bit more a rustic style patty. Both ways are delicious.
How to Make Kotleti
- Mix together ground beef, onion, garlic, grated potato, bread crumbs, egg, parsley and seasonings
- Form the meat into oval or round patties and flatten with your hands
- Lightly coat in flour (shake off excess flour)
- Fry in oil until golden brown and cooked on both sides
Can You Bake Cutlets?
For a healthier version of these meat patties cutlets, some people prefer to bake them in the oven. If baking, I would skip dusting them in flour, but lightly spray with cooking oil so they crisp up. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat oven to 375°F/190°C and bake them for about 30 minutes. Remember to flip them halfway through the cooking process.
How to Serve Kotleti
Kotleti are commonly served potatoes and side salad, as part of an easy comfort food meal. It's also can be served with a podlivka (which is a Russian gravy) alongside a starch, like mashed potatoes or a pasta. My mum always made these Kotleti with a Podlivka Gravy over Pasta Spirals, which is like a comfort food to me now.
- Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Cream
- Russian Meatballs with Gravy (Kotleti with Podliva)
- Russian Fried Potatoes
So many ways to enjoy these Russian Meatball Patties! They're are great as a snack, an entree, with gravy, or even in a slider burger. Bon Appetit! Приятного аппетита!
- 2 pounds /1kg ground beef
- 2 medium onions grated or finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium potato peeled, grated and squeezed
- 1 cup of breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 4 tablespoons parsley chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup flour for coating kotleti
- ½ cup oil sunflower or vegetable oil
- Using your hands, mix together ground beef, grated onion, garlic, grated potato, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, salt and pepper. After you grate the potato, squeeze out the excess potato juice before mixing to the meat mixture.
- Form the meat patties using your hands. Make them into a tight ball (like a snowball), and slightly flatten with your hands into a patty, keeping the edges rounded and width uniform throughout. Put on a plate or tray, ready for frying.
- Lightly coat the kotleti in flour before frying. Don't allow thick clumps of flour on the patties, or it will burn and fall into the oil. Gently shake excess flour off the kotleti.
- Heat oil into a frying pan until hot on medium-high. Fry kotleti golden brown and cooked on both sides. (approx 4 minutes per side).
- Serve alongside mashed potatoes and gravy.