Tefteli in a Cream Sauce
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I’ll soon have a “Lena’s Amazing Recipes” category. If you loved the Chebureki and the Creamy cauliflower soup; your mouth is probably watering for these. Russian Tefteli are basically amazing meatballs in a cream sauce which can be served for lunch, dinner or as an appetizer with toothpicks.
Lena recommends doubling the sauce recipe so it’s real gravy-like. I’ll be trying that next time. I’m a gravy kind of gal. Thank you Lena for sharing this scrumptious tefteli recipe with me. Amazing. Fabulous. Nothing short of YUMM!
Ingredients for Tefteli:
1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground chicken
2 cups cooked white rice (1 cup raw = 2 cups cooked rice)
1 large egg
2 large garlic cloves
1/2 onion, grated or finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 slices of soft white bread (mine was wheat-ish, but that’s besides the point)
3/4 cup milk
2 cups Progresso Italian Style Breadcrumbs
Ingredients for the Tefteli Sauce:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp sour cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup chicken broth or chicken stock
1/2 to 1 tsp paprika (more if you like a little spice in your life)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Canola oil or grape seed oil
How to Make Russian Tefteli:
1. Cook your rice and cool to room temp or so it’s just warm, not hot. Break up your bread and soak it in as separate bowl with milk.
2. Add your ground pork and chicken to a large bowl. I ground my own meat; using chicken tenders and pork loin. Add the following to the meat bowl: 2 cups cooked white rice, 2 large garlic cloves pressed, 1/2 onion finely chopped or grated, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper.
3. Drain the excess milk from the bread (it should still be very juicy). Add the bread to the meat mix. Mix everything well. This is where the KitchenAid stand mixer (paddle attachment) comes in handy. Your hands won’t freeze from the meat mix.
4. Pour your Progresso bread crumbs into a medium bowl. Shape your meat into 1″ balls and roll them in the bread crumbs. You might have to wash your hands a few times if the meatballs start sticking to your hands. These meatballs tend to be a bit moist. It’s best to have all your meatballs breaded before starting to saute them.
5. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup oil and let it heat up. Saute about 3-4 minutes on each side until browned. I used two skillets to make the process go faster.
Once the meatballs are done, start making your gravy (unless you are a super-multi-tasker).
How to Make Tefteli Gravy:
1. Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 chopped onion and 1 large carrot grated. Saute until carrots and onion are soft.
2. Sprinkle in 2 Tbsp flour and whisk quickly to blend.
3. Add 1 Tbsp sour cream and stir.
4. Add 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup chicken broth and 1/2 to 1 tsp paprika and bring to a simmer.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring everything to a light boil and pour it over the meatballs. Stir and enjoy.
Tefteli in a Cream Sauce
Ingredients for Tefteli:
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 2 cups cooked white rice, 1 cup raw = 2 cups cooked rice
- 1 large egg
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/2 onion, grated or finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 slices of soft white bread, mine was wheat-ish, but that's besides the point
- 3/4 cup milk
- 2 cups Italian bread crumbs
Cook your rice and cool to room temp or so it's just warm, not hot.
Break up your bread and soak it in as separate bowl with milk.
Add your ground pork and chicken to a large bowl.
Add the following to the meat bowl: 2 cups cooked white rice, 2 large garlic cloves pressed, 1/2 onion finely chopped or grated, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper.
Drain the excess milk from the bread (it should still be very juicy). Add the bread to the meat mix. Mix everything well.
Pour your Progresso bread crumbs into a medium bowl.
Shape your meat into 1" balls and roll them in the bread crumbs. It's best to have all your meatballs breaded before starting to saute them.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup oil and let it heat up. Saute about 3-4 minutes on each side until browned.
Once the meatballs are done, start making your gravy.
How to Make Tefteli Gravy:
Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat, add 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 chopped onion and 1 large carrot grated. Saute until carrots and onion are soft.
Sprinkle in 2 Tbsp flour and whisk quickly to blend. Add 1 Tbsp sour cream and stir.
Add 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup chicken broth and 1/2 to 1 tsp paprika and bring to a simmer.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring everything to a light boil and pour it over the meatballs. Stir and enjoy.
Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review
Why do you add rice? I never did and neither did my mother. I’m Ukrainian.
Hi Mika, that is our preference and how we always made it. I hope you try and enjoy our take on this.
Hi can the sauce also be frozen along with the tefteli?
Hi Natalie, I don’t recall experimenting with freezing the sauce for this recipe so I’m not sure if it would separate or not after thawing. If you experiment, let me know how it goes 🙂
Hi! Can I use buttermilk instead of heavy whipping cream for the sauce? Thanks!
HI Christine, I haven’t tried that substitution but I don’t think buttermilk would work to get the desired flavor or texture in this sauce.
What about milk? Can I use milk instead?
Hi Galina, I don’t think it would be a creamy sauce without the heavy cream. I haven’t tested it with milk, but it might work if you were using a thickener like flour to create a roux and thicken it up that way.
I used venison for this recipe because My son got 3 deer this season and we need to use the meat before I have room in my freezer to purchase more 😉
I have to say that everyone in my family, young and old alike, LOVED this recipe. My son (18 yr old who provided the venison) told me to permanently add this to my meal rotation! Thanks so much for yet one more terrific recipe!!!
You’re welcome Elisa! I’m glad your family enjoys the recipe as much as mine does. Thanks for sharing your great review!
Very delicious tefteli! I would suggest using 1 cup less crumbs because I had to throw away 1 cup after coating the meatballs. Also, 1 cup of raw rice made about 4 cups of cooked rice for me, maybe you use different rice because I used Basmati rice.
Thanks for sharing your suggestions with other readers Yuliya!
Thank you for super tasty recipe, my kiddos loved them , little guy had two of them , even though he’s not a good eater , plus I think it’s a great idea for kids school lunch. Thank you again, Merry Christmas to your family.
Nadia, you are very welcome and thank you for such a great review! That is the best when kids love what we moms make. That’s so great!
This design is wicked! You obviously know how to keep
a reader entertained. Between your wit and your videos,
I was almost moved to start my own blog (well,
almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really
loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
Thank you very much! That’s such a great compliment 🙂 Merry Christmas!!
Your recipies make my mouth water! In a good way. Keep up the super yummy job! Happy Thanksgiving to your wonderfull family!
Liza, thank you for such a nice comment 😊. Blessings to you and your family as well!
Wow! I was impressed by the flavor I got while using such simple ingredients. My kids ate A LOT of them! Saving this recipe for future reference. I only had ground turkey, can’t wait to try it with chicken and pork , it will taste even better!
Inna, that is the best when kids love what we Mom’s make. That’s so great!
Hi Natasha if I substitute pork with ground turkey will it be good? Thanks for another amazing recipe. Looks delicious!!!!
I think turkey would work. I hope you love it!
Super yummy recipe. Thank you for an awesome dinner. I read reviews of others and due to everyones rave of the sauce I made double right away. One hint about you mentioning that while rolling the tefteli you’ll need a few hand washes. I have used a trick that helps with this while making kotleti and tefteli. Take a tiny drop of oil, any kind, and rub it on your palms. I use whatever oil I’m frying with this way it doesn’t ruin the food taste in anyway. Oil keeps the meat from sticking to your hands and gets you through the whole batch without needing to wash your hands off.
That is a great tip about oiling your hands. I love it! Thanks Galina 🙂
How many servings for this TefTeli?
It serves about 8-10.
Great recipe! I was nervous about substituting bread crumbs and flour to gluten free kind (forced diet by my body, not choice..) but the recipe still turned out perfect! I think I made my Tefteli a little chubby but that means only extra goodness. Oh and made twice the sauce (next time trippling 😀)
Yes extra goodness is always a good thing! 🙂 I’m so glad you liked it! What substitutes did you use in case someone else is looking to make it gluten free? 🙂 Thank you Yuliya!
I made these for dinner today. Both, the meatballs and the sauce were soooo good! Tefteli were fluffy and juicy, I guess, thanks to rice. My family enjoy the meal a lot.
I used ground lamb instead, as that’s what i had already defrosted. But regardless, it tasted wonderful.
Thank you, Natasha, for another great recipe.
You are welcome Luda and thank you for such a awesome review 😀 .
I’m going to Cook this recipe tonight before my hubby’s arrive! i tried already some other recipes you posted here and absolutely taste fantastic! My hubby and my friends really loves all the food tht I Cook since I switched to your site from other site. they say, your recipe, taste like heaven hehe and seems all the recipes was cooked in a CLASS-A restaurant!
Thank’s Nathasia for posting these , my bigest problem every dinner has been solved since I found this site.
only one negative thing tht i can say about all your recipe and that is ” I THINK I CAN’T CONTINUE MY DIET TO HAVE FLAT BELLY COS ALL YOUR RECIPES ARE INCREDIBLE MOUTHWATERING” 😀
I really enjoyed reading your comment! Thank you so much for your very kind words. I’m so happy you are enjoying the site and the recipes. 🙂
Natasha, this is a one great recipe! I doubled the sauce because I knew we would love it. My husband came late home from work, and he tries not to eat meat late, but he couldn’t resist. It’s deffintly a recipe I will repeat and repeat! Thinking of making it for an upcoming party we will have. It’s delicious, the tefteli and the sauce! Thanks!!!
I don’t blame you for doubling the sauce! I’m so happy you enjoyed it. Thank you Inna for sharing that with me 🙂
I’ve made this recipe several times now, and every time it is FANTASTIC! Thank you so much for sharing this yummy recipe!
Thank you so much for the great review Celi 🙂
As my mom was making these tefteli she said, write to Natasha thank you for all her delicious recipes and to have a Happy Thanksgiving and we are thankful for all the food she has shared. So Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for your amazing recipes!! 🙂
Awww that is so very sweet :). Give your Mama a hug for me. Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving! 🙂
sorry for so many questions , but do you think it would work out if i just baked those meatballs covered in a creamy sauce? what are your thoughts on that? thanks in advance!!!!!! 🙂
I haven’t tried that but I think you’d have to make more sauce and maybe thin it out slightly or it might get dry.
so i though regular “tefteli” you have to cook them on the stove for a long time! and they are covered in tomatoe sauce? do you have anything like that????
These are the only tefteli I’m familiar with. Are the other ones in a marinara-type sauce?
Do you think i can dredge them in flour instead of breadcrumbs, cuz i wanted to make these, and i have everything except breadcrumbs!!
The texture might be different with the flour and the sauce would turn a little thicker if you’re dredging in flour. I’d still recommend the breadcrumbs for best results 🙂 (you can also process some bland crackers to make breadcrumbs)
So far I’ve used it over cooked vegetables and fish. It’s such a yummy sauce! It even beats hollandaise, which used to be my favorite. Thank you so much for sharing it!
Oooh both sound amazing. I should do a line of recipes with tefteli sauce 🙂 mmm. Sounds good!
These meatballs are ridiculously yummy! Everyone in my family loved them. The sauce I don’t even know how to describe. I’m trying to think of ways to use it in all my dishes! It is that amazing!!!! Thank you so much or posting this!
I was just thinking about that today; what else can I do with that sauce? Let me know what you come up with! 🙂
These are so delicious! I made them today with double the gravy and they turned out perfecto! Thanks for this recipe!
You’re welcome and I’m so glad you enjoyed them 🙂
Oh my goodness, I have to make this – it looks so good! I like the step-by-step pictures!
I would love to hear the results :).
simply the bomb.com I made these yest added mushrooms in the sauce
Great job Sveta :).
OMG, just finished making these. They are AWESOME!!! AND, the kids (teenagers) liked them too. Two thumbs up!!
Woohoo! I’m glad you all enjoyed the recipe. 🙂
Hi natasha, can i use milk instead heavy cream?
I don’t think it would be a very creamy sauce without the heavy cream. I haven’t tested it with milk; maybe if you were using a thickener like flour to turn it into a gravy consistency.
I knew I could count on you, Natasha. After making your recipe for Chebureki for New Years for my Russian husband (who loved them by the way), I was hoping you’d have a tefteli recipe. It pleases everybody including little picky eaters too. The only thing is, my MIL cooks them in a pot with the sauce with the lid on, to sort of steam them. Any thoughts on how I might be able to recreate this with your recipe?
I couldn’t really tell you without testing it myself. I don’t think you could just add the sauce and cook it together, but again, I haven’t tested it that way. If I do, I’ll let you know 😉
WOW!!!!!!! in love with this recipe:) so yummy! thanx for sharing!!!
I love your email; “the next paula deen”; I’m sure I could learn something from you! 🙂
I made these for my daughters birthday and they were incredible! I froze about 1/3 of the meatballs prior to cooking due to the large quantity the recipe produces. I brought the frozen one’s to my sister and made a fresh batch of the sauce and still delicious. Even her fussy boyfriend loved them.
Great to know that they freeze well! Thank you!
I am starting a romantic catering business for couples and have been LIVING on the internet for the past 2 weeks searching for impressive gourmet dishes. I typed in “gourmet shrimp pasta” and the search engine pulled up your site. I instantly fell in love with your spaghetti with shrimp and creamy tomatoe sauce recipe. This was just 2 nights ago and I have been hooked on this site. I cant wait to try these meatballs out for my 1st clients! I love the “gourmet” presentation of them and they would be great as an appetizer for a romantic speed dating event! Thanks Natasha!
Welcome to the site Lovelle. I love that pasta as well, or anything with shrimp in it 🙂
This looks sooooo tasty!
Yes it does Luba, looks like you are tempted 🙂
Loved these ! My kids and husband loved them too:) thanks for sharing
You are very welcome Inna, I’m glad that your family loved them 🙂
Natasha, the recipe does not say that you need an egg yet your instructions and picture say to add an egg.
Thank you for pointing that out Tanya, I just fixed that. Recipe should have 1 egg 🙂
Natasha, for this recipe, is it ok to sub turkey for chicken and beef for pork?
Yes, it’s okay, dish turns out really good either way 🙂
THANK YOU FOR THE POST!!! they turned out greaaatttt hubby liked them too. very happy they didnt turn out dry i was very worried about that happening.
I’m glad that your family liked them. Enjoy 🙂
Natasha!! These are just yummy. Cant stop eating them, thank u so much for sharing
Music to my ears. 🙂
I’m having a party and wanted to make these the day before and then reheat. Would it be better to mix the sauce with the meatballs the day I make them or keep them separate and mix together right before reheating?
You can do it either way. My cousin said it reheats well with the sauce on it. I would double the sauce if you are planning to reheat it for the next day. The sauce will solidify somewhat in the fridge but will be nice once it’s heated up.
Made this with all chicken a few days ago, so so good!! Thank you for posting such yummy recepies!
You are the second person to have great results with chicken. I will try just. Chicken next time 😉
Hi there… Sorry its taken so long for me to reply. I did check into the ‘MSG status’ of the Classic Gourmet Chicken Base that I use. The one I was using earlier, (Chicken Base “Select”) does have MSG, but I have good news! This same brand does sell another type (Chicken Base “Reserve”), and it states “No MSG added”, so for all of those who are interested in trying out this brand, but were worried about the MSG, it does have a chicken base without MSG. Happy Cooking!
Wonderful – thank you Hope! 🙂
I love your blog, cooking is my, well among other things, my passion, I love to create. I won’t be going to Moscow for a few months, Delta changed the airplanes so I will have to depend on you for my Russian treats. These meat balls are my next effort, maybe tonight. I’m off to Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Netherlands, India, and probably some other places including Long Island. Until then I guess I’ll make some meatballs and who knows what. Thank you for my inspirations. Keep it up. Beau
I’m glad this site serves as your Russian food fix. 🙂 Thanks Beau!
we made this and everyone loved it in my family! thank you!
Score!! That’s wonderful 🙂
Those look really tasty! You take such beautiful photos. Makes me want to go home and make them right now! 🙂
Rachel thank you so much 🙂 If it looks tasty, I consider it a good picture.
I made this today and everyone loved them. Thank you so much for all your recipes. Do you have a recipe for caramel dipped apples?
So glad you enjoyed the recipe! I do have a caramel apple recipe but wasn’t planning to post it till fall when apples are in season.
Just made this with all chicken… YUMMM!!!
Can’t go wrong with chicken 🙂
Lol I think I win by now bahahaha :)))
Can I substitute the meat for chicken?
Oh yes this is my #1 site to go to if I need to cook something new or yummy. Lol I probably made half of these recipes now lol 🙂 its like I wake up & im thinkin ok what should I make today, so then im like let mecheck for some ideas on natashaskitchen.com lol I got my sister-in-law into ur website from massachusetts, she loves the Easter bylki and everything. Oh I berly buy any bread now, always make the Artisian bread, hubby eats more then half right a way with cold milk lol he is obsessed with it lol
anyways, ur doing a great job & helping out a lot of us. Thank u
Thank you! You are so sweet 🙂 I’m just thrilled that you like the recipes that much. I wonder who has baked that bread more times; you or I? lol
Just finished making these, gonna have some for dinner over steamed rice :)) thank u for ur recipes, they are amazing! I have been making so many things off of here! Love how u show everything step by step! Thank u again, keep up the wonderful work. God bless
Thank you Liliya! Wow you are quick! I just posted this last night 🙂
Natasha, they look very moist, creamy and delicious!!! Yum!!!
These look great! My friends mom makes these, and I”ve always wondered about them. I’ll have to try them for myself soon. Thanks for the recipe (;
A tip about the chicken base/boullion… I find that the “Classic Gourmet” brand from Cash&Carry has a more authentic/natural flavor than the Better than Boullion. No offense to anyone 🙂 Just my personal preference. You should give it a try and see for yourself. I buy the Classic Gourmet Select Chicken Base, but there is a great selection of various different bases to choose from to suit your tastes. Enjoy!
Hope, do you know if that one has MSG? I haven’t tried that brand. I switched to the BBB one since it has no MSG and I think it tastes better than the cubes I was using before.