Japanese Hambagu (ハンバーグ) Meatballs

Japanese Hambagu (ハンバーグ) Meatballs

Japanese style Hamburg steak aka Hambagu (ハンバーグ) is a popular dish in Japan. It is made from ground meat with finely chopped sautéed onions, eggs, and breadcrumbs flavored with various spices, and usually formed into a flat, circular shape. You usually find this served with a sweet, tangy sauce.

I decided to take this recipe and turn them into meatballs… cause why not.

Japanese Hambagu (ハンバーグ) Meatballs

Recipe by Felice TakamatsuCourse: DinnerCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • For the hambagu meatballs
  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 1 lb ground beef

  • 1/2 lb ground pork

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

  • 2 Tbsp milk

  • 1 large egg

  • For the sauce
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter

  • 3 Tbsp ketchup 

  • 3 Tbsp tonkatsu sauce

  • 3 Tbsp red wine 

  • 3 Tbsp water


  • Forming the meatballs
  • Finely dice onions.
  • Heat up cast iron pan to medium and add half a tablespoon of oil. Add onions and sauté onions until they are soft and translucent. Set aside and let cool in a large bowl.
  • Once the onions have cooled, add in the ground pork and beef.
  • Add salt, black pepper, garlic powder and nutmeg.
  • Next, add in the panko, milk and egg.
  • Combine all ingredients, using hands until the mixture is pale and sticky.
  • Form meatballs using a small scoop. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Cooking the meatballs
  • Set oven to 400° F.
  • Place meatballs into an oven proof pan (preferably cast iron, use the same one used to cook onions).
  • Cook for 20 minutes.
  • Making the sauce
  • Remove meatballs from pan once done cooking.
  • In the same pan (no need to clean it out), add the butter, ketchup and tonkatsu sauce.
  • Next, add in water and wine.
  • Mix well and bring the sauce to simmer on medium heat and let the alcohol evaporate.
  • When the sauce thickens, remove from the heat.
  • Drizzle the sauce over and coat the meatballs.

Recipe Video


  • Hambagu is typically served with steamed rice, miso soup, and some roasted vegetables such as potatoes or carrots.

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