Bakso | Indonesian Food

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indonesian bakso

I’ve been on an Asian kick lately, especially with the weekly challenges consisting of Indian cuisine last week, and Indonesian this week. Plus, I’ve been having fun with some Avatar: The Last Airbender themed recipes lately too, which takes a ton of influence from ethnic cuisines – so be on the lookout for those popping up on the blog in the very near future!

bakso meatballs

Bakso is a common street food across Asia, but apparently is especially popular throughout Indonesia and its capital, Jakarta. While there are many varieties of bakso, and different ways to prepare it, every bakso recipe includes meatballs, broth, and noodles.

indonesian bakso recipe

One day I hope to travel across Asia to get an authentic taste of these flavors for myself so I’ll truly be able to recreate them back at home. But for now, extensive research on the culture and country helps when I want to get as close as I can to the real deal.

Bakso can come in many combinations of beef and other meats such as shrimp or chicken. I decided to mix mine with some veal because I was running out of beef and just happened to have some on hand.

Here’s What You’ll Need to Make Bakso

ingredients for bakso
  • Beef broth: Forms the flavorful base of the soup.
  • Rice noodles: Serve as the noodle component of the dish, providing a chewy texture.
  • Fish sauce: Adds depth of umami flavor to the broth.
  • Garlic: Enhances the overall savory taste of the soup.
  • Ghee: Used for sautéing the onion, ginger, celery, and cardamom pods, adding richness and flavor.
  • Red onion or shallot: Provides a sweet and tangy flavor to the soup.
  • Ginger: Adds a warm and aromatic note to the broth.
  • Celery: Adds freshness and a slight crunch to the soup.
  • Egg whites: Added to the soup to create delicate strands of cooked egg.
  • Cardamom pods: Infuse the broth with a fragrant and slightly citrusy flavor.
  • Salt and pepper: Season the soup to taste.

For Meatballs:

  • Ground beef and ground veal: Provide the base for the meatballs, adding flavor and texture.
  • Cornmeal: Helps bind the meatball mixture and adds a subtle corn flavor.
  • Baking powder: Helps the meatballs to become tender and light when cooked.

For Soup:

Toppings (Optional):

  • Fried onions: Offer a crispy texture and added flavor.
  • Green onions: Provide a fresh and mild onion flavor.
  • Poached or scrambled eggs: Serve as a protein-rich topping for the dish.
  • Sambal oelek: Adds a spicy kick and depth of flavor.
  • Cilantro: Offers a fresh and herbaceous element to the dish.

Let’s Get Started

To make the meatballs, I mixed the meat together with eggs and cornmeal until I was able to form one-inch balls that held their shape.

mixed filling

While preparing the meat, I brought four cups of beef broth to a simmer on the stove and tossed in some cardamom pods to infuse the broth with a subtle aromatic flavor.

simmering cardamom pods

Once the meatballs were shaped, I dropped them into the simmering broth in batches of 8-10. Initially, the meatballs sank to the bottom of the broth, but after a while, they started bobbing around on the surface, indicating that they were cooked through.

broth for bakso
broth for meatballs

It’s important to ensure that the meatballs are relatively firm and don’t crumble when gently pressed upon. If your meatballs are crumbly, let them cook a few minutes longer. Once they are ready, I removed them from the broth and placed them on plates to cool.

sauting vegetables

While the meatballs were cooking, I prepared the aromatic base for the broth. In a separate skillet, I sautéed onions, celery, ginger, and garlic until fragrant and the onions had softened. During this time, I also quickly poached a couple of eggs in the beef broth, then transferred the eggs to an ice bath to halt the cooking process.

rice noodles in broth

To complete the dish, I cooked rice noodles in the flavorful broth, added the sautéed onion mixture, and brought it all to a boil until the noodles were cooked through.

homemade indonesian food

When it came time to plate the bakso, I used a ladle to scoop up extra broth and poured it over the meatballs and poached eggs to reheat them. Then, I simply sprinkled on some fried onions and green onions for added flavor and freshness.

Helpful Tips to Making Bakso

  • Meatball Texture: When forming the meatballs, ensure the mixture is well combined and moist enough to hold its shape. If the meatballs turn out dry, you can add a small amount of broth or water to the mixture to moisten it.
  • Cooking Meatballs: While cooking the meatballs in the broth, make sure the broth is gently simmering, not boiling vigorously. This will help the meatballs cook evenly and maintain their shape without falling apart.
  • Adjusting Seasonings: Taste the broth before adding the rice noodles and adjust the seasoning if needed. If you prefer a stronger umami flavor, you can add a touch more fish sauce. Adjust the salt and pepper to suit your taste preferences.
  • Noodle Doneness: Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions, but be mindful not to overcook them. They should be tender yet still slightly firm (al dente) when added to the soup. Overcooked noodles can become mushy and lose their texture.
  • Toppings and Customization: Feel free to get creative with toppings and customize the soup according to your preferences. You can add other garnishes like bean sprouts, lime wedges, or chili flakes. Experiment with different textures and flavors to make the dish your own.
  • Storage and Reheating: If you have leftovers, store the meatballs, noodles, and broth separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator. This will help maintain the integrity of the components. When reheating, you can warm the broth and noodles separately before assembling the soup to preserve their individual textures.
homemade indonesian bakso

Let me tell you, this is hands down one of the most delicious dishes I have ever made. It’s full of crazy awesome flavors and is so simple, I could easily make this after a long day at the office or on a cold winter night (not that it isn’t just as amazing on a summer evening!).

Selamat malam!

UPDATE 2022: In a wild turn of events, I was finally able to visit Indonesia for myself in August of 2022! It was a wild and life changing experience – read more here!

bakso recipe ingredients

Indonesian Bakso

The Starving Chef
A flavorful Indonesian street food soup featuring meatballs, rice noodles, and aromatic spices, served with customizable toppings.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Meatball Cooking Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dinner, International, Soup
Cuisine Asian, International
Servings 2






  • Combine the ingredients for the meatballs (ground beef, ground veal, cornmeal, and baking powder) in a mixing bowl until completely incorporated. Roll the mixture into one-inch wide balls.
  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, melt the ghee and sauté the chopped onion, minced ginger, celery, and cardamom pods until the cardamom pods start to pop. Discard any pod shells. Add the meatballs to the broth and boil until the meatballs are cooked through – about 15-20 minutes. Remove the meatballs and set aside.
  • Add the beef broth and fish sauce to the pot. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil, then add the rice noodles. Cook for 2 minutes.
  • Slowly pour in the egg whites in a steady stream while stirring the pot. Continue cooking until the noodles are al dente, which takes another 2-3 minutes. Stir in the meatballs.
  • Serve the soup garnished with a poached egg, sambal oelek, chopped green onions, and cilantro. Enjoy!
Keyword eggs, meatballs, noodles
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