Mee Bakso (Indonesian Meatball and Noodle Soup) Recipe

Mee Bakso (Indonesian Meatball and Noodle Soup)

The Spruce / Christine Ma

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 45 mins
Total: 3 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
728 Calories
41g Fat
58g Carbs
38g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 728
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 41g 52%
Saturated Fat 13g 63%
Cholesterol 103mg 34%
Sodium 1542mg 67%
Total Carbohydrate 58g 21%
Dietary Fiber 11g 41%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 38g
Vitamin C 21mg 107%
Calcium 423mg 33%
Iron 11mg 63%
Potassium 1832mg 39%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Named by CNN as among the 40 best Indonesian dishes, bakso is essentially a street food and American President Obama loves it. 

What is bakso? Bakso is Indonesian meatball. When served with noodles and broth, the dish is mee bakso. But meatballs are ubiquitous in Asian noodle soups—what makes the Indonesian bakso different? Bakso, whether meat, seafood or chicken-based, are denser and richer because of the paste used to make them. The paste is called surimi.

Like laksa, there is no definitive recipe for making mee bakso. The soup can be made from meat, seafood or chicken, or a combination of all of them. The meatballs can have beef, pork, chicken, fish or other seafood.

In Asia, a wide array of meat and fish balls are available in groceries. That's not always the case outside Asia. While bakso can be bought in Asian stores if you're lucky, if you're wary about not knowing what exactly is in them, it is easy enough to make bakso at home. Grind ground meat or seafood with seasonings and spices until the mixture acquires the texture of a tacky paste. A food processor is convenient but not essential. Form the paste into balls and cook in boiling broth.

Once you have your meatballs, it is easy to assemble a bowl of mee bakso. What takes time is making the broth which you really want to be good and rich and tasty. And that takes long and slow cooking.

"A delicious take on the traditional broth used in Mee Bakso, the Indonesian meatball and noodle soup. The rich beef broth is seasoned with whole cloves, cardamom pods and peppercorns, which add a lighter note to what is traditionally a simple beef broth. Add egg noodles and your favorite Asian meatballs to complete the dish." —Joan Velush

How to Make Mee Bakso (Indonesian Meatball and Noodle Soup)/tester image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 5 pounds beef bones, such as marrow bones and beef hind shank

  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled

  • 8 cloves garlic, lightly crushed

  • 2 (2-inch) cinnamon sticks

  • 6 pods green cardamom, lightly crushed

  • 6 whole cloves

  • 12 whole peppercorns

  • 1 small carrot, very thinly sliced crosswise

  • 4 cups lightly packed baby spinach, or bok choy

  • 18 store-bought or homemade Asian-style meatballs

  • 3 cups cooked Asian-style egg noodles

  • 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade crisp-fried shallots

  • 4 large hard boiled eggs, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Mee Bakso (Indonesian Meatball and Noodle Soup) ingredients

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  2. Place the bones in a large pot. Cover with water, about 4 quarts. Bring to the boil over high heat. Skim off any scum and impurities that rise to the top.

    Place the beef bones in a pot with water

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  3. Reduce the heat to low. Add the ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns. Simmer, stirring occasionally, at least two hours.

    Add the ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns to the bones in the pot

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  4. Strain the broth. Return the broth to the the pot. Discard the bones and aromatics. Heat the broth over medium heat until it comes to a lively simmer.

    broth in a pot

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  5. Using a ​kitchen spider, blanch the sliced carrot and spinach separately in the hot broth. Remove from the broth and place carrots and spinach in separate bowls.

  6. Drop in the meatballs into the broth. Cook until the meatballs are warmed through, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, if the meatballs are raw, cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 160 F, about 10 minutes.

  7. Divide the noodles among 4 bowls. Divide the carrot slices and spinach between the bowls next to the noodles. Ladle the hot soup and meatballs directly into the bowls.

    Divide the noodles among three bowls

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

  8. Top each bowl with crisp-fried shallots and split hard-boiled eggs, if using. Serve immediately.

    Mee Bakso (Indonesian Meatball and Noodle Soup)

    The Spruce / Christine Ma

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