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russian hamburgers


I’m sharing a recipe today – but first I have to share the back story. I have this friend Oksana. She’s pretty much amazing in a million ways. One of the things I admire about Oksana (particularly because this is one of my weaker areas in life) is her ability to pull off a great homemade meal pretty much every single night for their family of 5. I aspire to be more like that.

Oksana is originally from Tokmak, Kyrgyzstan. Don’t worry – I had to look that one up on the map, too. This is Oksana, and this is Kyrgyzstan.

map with oksana

There is a very popular dish in that area called Kotleti and basically it’s a Russian version of American hamburgers. From what I understand, there was a guy named Anastas Mikoyan (I guess he was Stalin’s food supply commissar during his time) who traveled to America in 1936 and was inspired by the American hamburger. He wanted to copy the idea but somehow the bun got lost in the shuffle and the country got hooked on mass-produced kotleti instead. (Source: From Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking, by Anya von Bremzen)

Well … regardless of the history, we think these are yummy. And we learned about them when Oksana made them for our family one time several years ago – so in our family we lovingly call these “Oksana Patties.” This is how it’s done in my Arizona-based kitchen (even though I’m sure learning from someone in their Russian-based kitchen would be far more interesting).


Step by Step

Put 1/2 lb. of ground beef + 1/2 lb. ground pork in a large bowl.



Chop a small onion and add that to the bowl. I use my Pampered Chef Food Chopper, which I’ve had for who-knows-how-many-years. I think I’ve nearly beat it to death with so much use, so I may be getting a new one soon. I would buy the same one again unless someone convinces me that I’m missing out on some other chopper. And now I’m totally on a tangent.



Add an egg to the bowl.



Add 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise + 1 Tbsp. flour to the bowl.



Add paprika to taste + salt and pepper to taste. We like the Himalayan Pink Salt by Olde Thompson + the Tellicherry Black Pepper by Kirkland Signature – both purchased at Costco in their own grinder container thing.



Mix all the ingredients together in the bowl. Meanwhile, heat up a frying pan and add just a little bit of olive oil. It’s time to make patties and place each into the pan. You guys – if you know a little something of my love for gloves in the kitchen, you know that I was positively freaking out about touching the meat with my bare hands. I have issues – I know. But the disposable rubber gloves aren’t the best idea for blog photos, right? So I totally had to take deep breaths through this moment. And there’s my behind-the-scenes story for the day.



Medium-low is where I have my stove setting.



Flip the patties occasionally and fry them until they’re browned and cooked through.



That’s how I prepare Kotleti (which I’ve also seen spelled Katlety), but I’ve heard of other variations that may be of interest to you. For example:

  • grating the onion instead of chopping the onion
  • add crushed garlic to the mixture
  • add finely chopped dill or chopped fresh parsley to the mixture
  • coating the patties in fine dried bread crumbs
  • I tend to flatten my patties but for juicier results, don’t flatten or the juices will seep out

A simple vegetable side dish.

I want to suggest a particular side dish that I think complements the Kotleti nicely. Quick back story: I have this other amazing friend – Lydia, who also inspires me in many ways, including her domestic skills. This vegetable side dish is one that she taught me when we were all newlyweds and it remains one of my favorites. Easy.


Get a small bag of baby carrots and drop them in boiling water for roughly 5 minutes or so to soften them up. Meanwhile, heat a frying pan and add a little drizzle of olive oil.



Cut up a couple zucchinis. I typically cut off the ends first, then length-wise – right down the middle.



With the zucchini now sliced down the middle, I then slice them about 1/4″ thick or so. That way the pieces are small enough for the kiddos.



Combine the sliced zucchini and the carrots (which are now softer from boiling) in the frying pan. Add salt + pepper to taste. Add dill weed to taste.



And the best part – add some shredded parmesan cheese to taste. Mmmmm.





For your convenience, we have put together recipe cards – Project Life style, of course. Can’t wait to share those with you really soon – in a separate post. In the meantime, here’s the list in case someone wanted to give this a try immediately.

Kotleti (Russian Hamburgers)

1/2 lb. ground pork

1/2 lb. ground beef

1 sm. onion, chopped

1 egg

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. flour

salt & pepper to taste

paprika to taste

olive oil


Mix all ingredients together. Make patties and then fry them in a pan with some olive oil (not too much). Fry at medium-low until browned, flipping sides. Keep the lid on the frying pan. Serves 4-6.


At Home with Becky

This post is part of a weekly blog series called At Home with Becky. Each Wednesday, I share a little something from home – routines, organization, traditions, decor, etc. Coming up … an idea for Valentine’s Day, one of my New Year’s resolutions, and a favorite family tradition.


25 Responses

  1. Kari says:

    This meal looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it! Thanks for sharing!

  2. christine says:

    Looks good! Will definitely try these this week! Loved the photography!

  3. brenda says:

    Thanks for sharing. Another great flavouring for carrots and zucchini is ginger. When I’m just cooking carrots I sprinkle them with basil and stir with a bit of butter.

  4. Jenny B. says:

    Looks good! My husband has been on a few mission trips to Russia, and he said when they eat sandwiches, they make them open-faced with only one piece of bread. I assumed this was due to a lack of bread in the area or money to buy bread. Maybe the same is true for the hamburger buns? I’m excited about the recipe cards! My oldest son (9) is planning a mini-album with recipes of his favorite dinners, and PL recipe cards would be great! I was planning to just use 4×6 lined notecards. :)

    • Zara says:

      Hi jenny! No, it’s not because of lack of bread :). We have enough bread and food here. It’s because burgers are big and it’s not comfortable to eat it, you have to open mouth wide and it’s not polite sometimes. Kotleti we eat with fork and knife, it’s more comfortable.

  5. Kristin says:

    Love love love your “new” blog!!

  6. Kerry Ledbetter says:

    Thanks, Becky! Can’t wait to try this! Looks positively de-lish (and easy)!

  7. Aimee says:

    This looks and sounds great! Best part I have all the ingredients on hand. We,ll be having this tomorrow night. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Jill Jazz says:

    Thanks! I’m loving all the personal posts you provide. I will make these!
    Also, I enjoyed your make-up routine the other day!

  9. Kristie M says:

    Ooooo, this sounds delicious! I’m always looking for new recipes for the family. And you’re not alone with the glove thing. I HAVE to wear gloves when I’m touching raw meat, too.

  10. dawn says:

    These sound yummy and thanks for the added side dish too. So happy with these Sunday and Wednesday posts. Looking forward to the new ones coming up!! Thanks so much for making the time to share more of these fun themes.


  11. Angela says:

    I have several friends that make so much fun of me because I can’t stand to touch any kind of raw meat. They especially love when I wear the disposable food service gloves (purchased in bulk from Dollar Tree) to pull apart roasted chickens. Thank you for sharing your freak out behind the scenes; I’m adding this little bit of “aside” sharing to the reasons that I love reading your posts.

    • Stacey Hunter says:

      I am not a fan of touching raw meat, either. However, if you have to do it, rubbing a drop of cooking oil on your hands keeps those gross little chunks from clinging to your skin. Bon appetit!

  12. kat-in-texas says:

    They look yummy!!! If you like them, I’m sure we will too!! Good job on handling the raw meat–it grosses me out as well. Love your Vera Bradley apron!!! :)

  13. The Kotleti looks great! I am am a vegetarian but would be happy to make these Russian burgers for my husband. :) The vegetables look wonderful , I will be trying them. Thanks so much for sharing the recipes Becky.

    Mary from NH

  14. Renee says:

    Ahhh, this brings me back! My mama (from Poland) made Kotlety for us. They are really yummy! I liked mine with potatoes and corn, also on a hamburger bun (of course). :) Your plate looks delish!

  15. Pam Donoghue says:

    Thanks!!! I’ll be trying this and what a bonus re on PL cards. Lovely.

  16. Ann says:

    Looks very similar to Frickadeller (Danish meat balls/patties). My dad used to make these minus the mayo & paprika.

  17. Heidi C says:

    Love that you’re doing recipes again! Happy day. Looks so yummy!

  18. Jenny says:

    You might want to check out the new tupperware choppers. I do not sell them, but have one and I really like it. Onions are my nemesis.

  19. Jane says:

    Love the recipe. P.S. The Pampered Chef Manual Food Processor is awesome too!!! Blends AND chops, great for salsas, guac, fruit smoothies, AND chopping onions :) Dishwasher safe too which is even better.

  20. Carrie says:

    Loving the new blend of content on your blog and being so inspired by many ideas for enriching this one life. Thanks!

  21. AnnaM says:

    I’m Russian.
    I also make katleti except after frying them on the stove, I put in the oven for 30 min. It makes them soft and juicy!

  22. Sue white says:

    This looks awesome!! Can’t wait to make it!! Thanks for sharing.

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