Russian Tefteli are basically amazing meatballs in a cream sauce which can be served for lunch, dinner or as an appetizer with toothpicks. Amazing.

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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.

Three photos of bread being cut and mixed in a 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.

Two photos of a mixture being made for tefteli

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.

Mixture for tefteli in a mixer

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.

Two photos of tefteli being covered in breadcrumbs

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.

Two photos of tefteli on a skillet

Terteli in a white container

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.

Carrots and onions being sautéed in a pot

2. Sprinkle in 2 Tbsp flour and whisk quickly to blend.

Flour added to carrots and onions being sautéed

3. Add 1 Tbsp sour cream and stir.

Sour cream added into pot with sautéed carrots and onions

4. Add 1 cup heavy cream, 1 cup chicken broth and 1/2 to 1 tsp paprika and bring to a simmer.

Two photos of cream sauce in a pot

5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring everything to a light boil and pour it over the meatballs. Stir and enjoy.

Two photos of tefteli with cream sauce

Four tefteli in a cream sauce on a long plate

Tefteli in a Cream Sauce

4.94 from 16 votes
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 60 + tefteli

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

Ingredients for the 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 stock
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Canola oil or grape seed oil

Instructions

  • 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.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Russian, Ukrainian
Keyword: Tefteli in a Cream Sauce
Skill Level: Medium
Cost to Make: $$
Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

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Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the creator behind Natasha's Kitchen (established in 2009), and I share family-friendly, authentic recipes. I am a New York Times Best-Selling cookbook author and a trusted video personality in the culinary world. My husband, Vadim, and I run this blog together, ensuring every recipe we share is thoroughly tested and approved. Our mission is to provide you with delicious, reliable recipes you can count on. Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy you are here.

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Comments

  • Shaz
    March 15, 2024

    Hello Natasha and Friends! My question is: What sides do you serve when using Tefteli as a dinner entree? All suggestions welcome! TYIA! My granddaughter and I are excited to make Tefteli together. My heritage is a mixed European bag and her dad cooks Swedish and Filipeno recipes that he learned from his mom and dad. We love to try new recipes from other countries.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 16, 2024

      Hi Shaz! These are great eaten on their own but works well with a variety of sides such as mashed potatoes, bread, salads, steamed/roasted veggies.

      Reply

  • Olga Stefancova
    August 16, 2023

    Vynikajúce, milujem tento recept, chutí celej mojej rodine.
    Amazing, we love this recipe.
    Thank you Natasha!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 16, 2023

      I’m so happy you loved that, Olga! Thank you for your lovely review!

      Reply

  • Mika Vondra
    June 15, 2020

    Why do you add rice? I never did and neither did my mother. I’m Ukrainian.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      June 15, 2020

      Hi Mika, that is our preference and how we always made it. I hope you try and enjoy our take on this.

      Reply

  • Natalie
    April 16, 2018

    Hi can the sauce also be frozen along with the tefteli?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 18, 2018

      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 🙂

      Reply

  • Christine
    February 9, 2018

    Hi! Can I use buttermilk instead of heavy whipping cream for the sauce? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      February 10, 2018

      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.

      Reply

      • Galina
        May 9, 2018

        What about milk? Can I use milk instead?

        Reply

        • Natasha
          natashaskitchen
          May 9, 2018

          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.

          Reply

  • Elisa
    January 17, 2018

    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!!!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      January 18, 2018

      You’re welcome Elisa! I’m glad your family enjoys the recipe as much as mine does. Thanks for sharing your great review!

      Reply

  • Yuliya Vakulchik
    December 3, 2017

    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.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 4, 2017

      Thanks for sharing your suggestions with other readers Yuliya!

      Reply

  • Nadia
    December 23, 2016

    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.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 23, 2016

      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!

      Reply

  • liveparanormal.com
    December 21, 2016

    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.
    Too cool!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      December 21, 2016

      Thank you very much! That’s such a great compliment 🙂 Merry Christmas!!

      Reply

  • Liza
    November 23, 2016

    Your recipies make my mouth water! In a good way. Keep up the super yummy job! Happy Thanksgiving to your wonderfull family!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      November 24, 2016

      Liza, thank you for such a nice comment 😊. Blessings to you and your family as well!

      Reply

  • Inna V
    September 4, 2016

    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!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      September 4, 2016

      Inna, that is the best when kids love what we Mom’s make. That’s so great!

      Reply

  • Mariam
    March 19, 2016

    Hi Natasha if I substitute pork with ground turkey will it be good? Thanks for another amazing recipe. Looks delicious!!!!

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 19, 2016

      I think turkey would work. I hope you love it!

      Reply

  • Galina
    March 14, 2016

    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.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      March 14, 2016

      That is a great tip about oiling your hands. I love it! Thanks Galina 🙂

      Reply

  • Erin
    February 6, 2016

    How many servings for this TefTeli?

    Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      February 6, 2016

      It serves about 8-10.

      Reply

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