Kotleti are the Russian answer to hamburger patties. Made from beef, pork, chicken and even fish, the minced meat is seasoned, formed into small cutlets (kotleti) and pan fried to perfection.

It’s believed that kotleti were inspired by American hamburgers, but because of food shortages the bun got left behind. In mass production, they were made with a heavy amount of breading which, when fried, resulted in a crunchy crust. Home-made kotleti were always juicier because they often included milk soaked bread bits.

Every child who grew up in Russia or has a Russian-speaking babushka knows great kotleti. The entire USSR lived on kotleti because they were a cheap and delicious way to feed a family. Kotleti recipes varied greatly by region. For example there were Odessa-style kotleti made with lots of garlic, and mayo instead of egg to bind the meat. Not to be confused with kotleti Kiev, also known as “Chicken Kiev” which are made with whole chicken breast.

Typically served as a main dish, you’ll find kotleti paired with braised cabbage, or any type of potato dish. Buckwheat is the classic accompaniment, along with a simple salad made of tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion, dressed with fresh sour cream.

Enjoy this traditional kotleti recipe, made with ground turkey meat.


  • 1 lbs ground turkey (beef or chicken)
  • 2 slices of white bread
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • dill or parsley (optional)


  1. Drench white bread slices in milk and let stand until milk is absorbed.
  2. Place ground meat into a bowl. Add egg, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and mix well.
  3. Incorporate soaked bread into the meat and mix once again.
  4. Wet hands with a bit of warm water and form meat mixture into small meat patties. You can flatten them when placing into the frying pan.
  5. Heat olive oil (or vegetable oil) in a medium size frying pan and place kotleti about half an inch apart. Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side.

Serve with buckwheat, braised cabbage, or potatoes as sides.