My Safta’s “Cheeseballs” (Hungarian Cottage Cheese Dumplings)

I’m SO HAPPY about this. I’ve been trying to get this recipe right for years, and I think I FINALLY got it.


This one comes from my Safta, my Jewish grandmother by way of Romania, with some hints of Hungary and Israel sprinkled in. She called these little dumplings “cheeseballs”, and my brother and I were obsessed with them. We’ll assume that name was created for our benefit, because the real name is something I certainly cannot pronounce: Turogomboc.

These are pillowy, fluffy yet chewy, mildly sweet dumplings with a fragrant touch of lemon zest and a satisfying crunch from the toasted breadcrumbs. They’re honestly a little hard to describe, but I LOVE them. Eating these made me feel like a kid again, and I honestly felt my Safta’s presence as I made them (especially since I’ve made them a bunch of times and this was the only time I was actually successful). This is how I like to remember us:

The main thing you need to know here is that my Safta usually made these with Farmer’s cheese, but that can be a little hard to come by, so I used cottage cheese and strained it a bit to make it drier. But if you can find Farmer’s Cheese, use that instead! It will make the mixture a lot easier I’d imagine, since this version can be a little wet.

We serve these with sour cream and perhaps a little extra sprinkle of sugar on top! PS, it makes a great brunch dish too.


  • 1 package cottage cheese (16 oz)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, yolks separated from whites (you will use both so don’t throw away!)
  • 3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest of a medium lemon
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • sour cream for serving


  1. Place cottage cheese in a sieve or mesh strainer over a large bowl and stir around to release excess moisture. You can also strain through a cheesecloth. Put the strained cottage cheese in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large pan, add the butter and melt over medium heat. Add panko breadcrumbs and toast until golden brown. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tbsp sugar. Set aside.
  3. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolks with 3 tbsp sugar and vanilla extract.
  4. Add egg yolk mixture, egg whites, and lemon zest to the cottage cheese and fold together gently. Add flour and fold together gently until well combined. 
  5. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. When the water is boiling, wet your hands and shape the dumplings into balls. Mine are usually bigger than a golf ball, but smaller than a tennis ball, if that helps. Make sure your hands are wet, or the mixture will be too sticky. Drop directly into the pot of boiling water (being careful not to burn yourself!) and stir gently so they don’t stick to the bottom. Let boil for 5-7 mins, until they float to the top. Once they float to the top, they should be ready to go! 
  6. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and roll in the toasted breadcrumb and sugar mixture. Serve immediately with sour cream on top or on the side!

As always, thanks to FreshDirect for the ingredients. #fdambassador

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