Mititei (Spicy, Garlicky Grilled Sausages)

June  4, 2011
5 Ratings
  • Prep time 9 hours
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Makes 12 to 16
Author Notes

Legend has it that mititei were invented one evening at an inn called “La Lordache” in Bucharest, well-known for its sausages, when the kitchen ran out of casings.

My mom’s family lived in Bucharest for 18 years, and Romanian recipes were always one of the favorites and most present in our everyday meals and for holidays.

This particular dish isn’t a holiday special; it is usually part of a small, family-owned diners' menus, which mostly offer dishes prepared on the grill.


Test Kitchen Notes

Happily surprised when I tasted this recipe. The name is a misnomer in the sense they are spiced, but not spicy. I did not have a grinder and mixed the meat and garlic by hand, then added the salt and spices. Grilled up and served as directed with accompaniments, they were much more that the sum of their parts. Delicious! These could be a great, unexpected addition to a picnic. —Katherine

What You'll Need
  • 3 1/2 pounds meat (a combination of equal parts ground pork, lamb, and beef, or only half beef and half pork)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 6 to 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sparkling water
  1. Double-grind the meat and garlic. Include a few fattier pieces in the mixture: it keeps the meat rolls moist and tender.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together well. Dissolve baking soda in the sparkling water and beat into the mixture.
  3. Keep a bowl of water nearby to wet your hands. Form the meat mixture into about sausage shapes about 4 inches long.
  4. Transfer the sausages to the fridge to set for a couple of hours, or ideally overnight. This is an important step that helps the meat come out juicy and tender.
  5. Grill on a hot grill, turning once (about 4 minutes on each side). Serve inside an oval-shaped bread rolls (scoop out some soft part of the roll) with mustard that doesn’t have a lot of vinegar (like brown mustard), topped with pickled and drained (or grilled) red onions mixed with strips of roasted bell peppers and herbs. Add a cold beer on a lazy summer evening and you are in heaven.
  6. You can also first brown the mititei in a medium-hot skillet and finish cooking in a 375° F oven for about 15 more minutes—or deep-fry them. It doesn’t which method you use: mititei are tender, juicy and delicious.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Rick Geo
    Rick Geo
  • William Greene
    William Greene
  • Marika Coinoglou
    Marika Coinoglou
  • AntoniaJames
  • Andre Preoteasa
    Andre Preoteasa

25 Reviews

SCL September 17, 2022
After searching the internet and reading dozens of recipes for mititei to make for my husband, who was born in Romania but left when he was 10, I settled on this one. The only tweaks I made were increasing the baking soda to 1 1/2 tsps and the water (didn't bother with sparkling) to 3/8 cup. I also used only beef and started with it already ground. On the suggestion of other recipes, I mixed the beef and garlic (note it should be minced, not mentioned in the recipe) in my stand mixer with the paddle attachment, then added the water and continued blending. (Actually, 3 1/2 pounds was a bit much for my machine; I did it in two batches.). The mititei were about 2 ounces each when I rolled them to about 4" long and maybe 1" in diameter, so I ended up with a little over 8/lb, yielding about 26, not the 12 - 16 mentioned in the recipe. My husband said the seasoning was spot on from what he remembered from his childhood, although we agreed it was a little heavy on the pepper. All in all, however, a big success.
Rick G. November 11, 2020
I would like to add that thyme is not exactly the spice used in Romanian mititei, it's "cimbru" a variety of Summer savory, however, thyme which is in the same family should do. Though I got better results with Greek oregano. Also, to note, the finished mixture it's better to rest overnight in the refrigerator for the flavors to meld.
William G. January 12, 2020
My best friend who is Romanian took me to visit Romania a few years ago. He introduced me to this delicacy one evening and I was hooked. Since then i have used your recipe for a few years now on all our camping trips and family bbq events. I have substuted allspice for the cummin just because i am not a big fan of cummin. I am wondering what type of side dishes would this traditionally be served with?
lasso'craic April 26, 2020
Typically served with fries (home fried if you can) or a spring salad (tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, salt, pepper, olive oil). It's a menu item that you'd find being grilled by the locals and their personal grill, so perhaps think of grilled menu item sides, like potato salad, etc.
Marika C. February 9, 2019
Just awesome although used half the salt. Best cooked on BBQ
Mihai October 25, 2016
Thanks for the recipe.

A few comments, if I may...
Instead of cumin, use caraway. Cumin is a similar, although different spice.
If pork meat is used, then you'll be closer to Ćevapi, instead of Romanian "mici".
Finally, the mititei are best when cooked on a hot grill.
GrannyK March 26, 2018
That only works if you like caraway. I'll stick to the cumin.
Rick G. November 11, 2020
Of course, you can use caraway but don't call them "Mititei". Caraway called "chimen" in Romanian is never used for mititei, maybe if you make Hungarian goulash.
Mihai September 17, 2022
Another recipe, from someone who knows a little about cooking.

12 ounces ground pork or beef
12 ounces ground lamb shoulder
1 small onion, minced as fine as possible
2 cloves garlic, minced as fine as possible
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon hot or sweet paprika, preferably imported
½ teaspoon dried marjoram
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
Tiny pinch of ground cloves”

Excerpt From: Steven Raichlen. “The Barbecue! Bible.”
Rick G. September 17, 2022
Do yourself a favor: Do NOT use caraway (chimen), it's strong and it's not (ever) use in mititei! Cumin has a totally different profile. In Romanian, it's called CHIMION vs Caraway=CHIMEN.
So, Caraway=Chimen, Cumin=Chimion
A bit confusing, I know.
AntoniaJames July 9, 2015
Can't wait to try these! Such a wonderful combination of herbs and spices - just perfect for sausage. Thank you for sharing another special family recipe. I will think of your family, and of Bucharest, when I make these. ;o)
Kukla July 9, 2015
Thank you so, so much AJ for as always beautiful comment!!!
This recipe already was chosen as an Editors Pick in the Street Food contest back in 2011 and now got a CP. I'll be very glad if you try the recipe!
[email protected] September 22, 2013
Thanks for the recipe Kukla! I made these and did them on my wood pellet smoker, delicious! Don
Kukla September 22, 2013
You are very welcome Don! I am glad you liked my recipe and thanks for the nice comment!
Andre P. June 24, 2013
I was born in Bucharest during the communist days and grew up in America. My entire family is Romanian (for better or worse!!) and growing up eating mititei was rare, but so enjoyable. And here I am now in the land of freedom and capitalism eating mititei like a champion all thanks to Kulka's recipe. Unfathomable to believe I have absolutely nothing to complain about; now that's something for a Romanian!!!
Kukla June 24, 2013
Mul?umesc frumos Andre for your wonderful comment! I am very happy you like my Mititei recipe!
Your baby, I assume daughter, looks adoreble in the photo and you are a very handsem man, just like my Mam used to discribe Romanian men. Thanks again and Pofta Buna!
My husband taught me the baking soda trick once to tenderize meat, but adding it to the sparkling water sounds like it steps it up a notch! Thank you so much for a great recipe to try out. I'm saving this one!
Kukla May 1, 2013
You are very welcome! And thanks for the comment!
CarlaCooks January 22, 2012
I made these today and they were delicious! I made the sausages this morning, let them sit in the refrigerator, and grilled them on my rimmed grill pan on the stove top, then finished the cooking in the oven. So delicious! I was amazed at the texture... they really resembled store-bought sausages in their texture. We enjoyed them with some whole-grain mustard and sauteed onions and bell peppers. Thanks for a great recipe! I know I'll make this many, many times.
Kukla January 22, 2012
CarlaCooks, Thank you so much for your nice comment! I am thrilled that you liked the Mititei. A comment like yours, gives us home-cooks, the courage to enjoy even more sharing our favorite recipes. Thanks’ again and best regards from Los Angeles!
carmen_ge February 13, 2022
btw, it'd have been "La Iordache" :D otherwise, great find!
Sagegreen June 16, 2011
Looking forward to making these this weekend!
Kukla June 17, 2011
Thank you Sagegreen!
I am hope you will love them, as much as we do; and please let me know if you did or even not.
Sagegreen June 18, 2011
Well I have made a batch that will rest overnight for grilling tomorrow. They were really fun to make. At first I thought you had meant coriander leaves, but then I figured you meant the dry spice. I used some grassfed ground beef from the farmers's market with sausage, no lamb. Can't wait to try!
Kukla June 20, 2011
Dear Sagegreen!
Thank you for the email!
I apologize for not answering right away.
Yesterday we celebrated Fathers Day at my Daughters house and came home late.
I am so glad that you enjoyed the Mititeis; that proves how many times the expression “Not you’re Mamas’…..” Is wrong.
For me all I learned from my Mom, my aunt and mothers of my close friends are Fool Proof recipes, which work time and again.