STREAMING NOW: Simply Nigella

Bento Balls (Aka French Hamburgers)

sparkle sparkle

Want more from Genius Kitchen?

Watch on your Apple TV, Roku, or Fire TV and your iOS, Fire, or Android device.

Learn More
“My kids and I spend Wednesdays out in the woods either hiking, biking, or letterboxing. We have to take a huge lunch with us and usually it's a Japanese-style bento with onigiri, some protein item, and lots of vegies and pickles. More often than not, my kids will pick this for the's basically a french hamburger recipe that has been adapted for our bento lunches. Cooking time will vary with how large your patties are. The sauce is a true basting sauce and these will not be in a soupy sort of base. The point of bentos is to make the food as fuss-free to eat as possible. The meat mixture is soft and a bit tricky to work with, but the result is a moist patty that doesn't need condiments and isn't a rubbery hard superball.”
1hr 10mins

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 1 cup fine dry breadcrumb
  • 1 cup havarti with dill (grated)
  • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 3 tablespoons dried onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or salt-spice mix of your choice, we prefer a Creole seasoning)
  • 12 cup cottage cheese (or 1/4 cup dairy of some sort)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 12 lbs ground turkey
  • 12 cup butter (melted)
  • 12 cup ketchup
  • 1 -2 tablespoon soy sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment or foil.
  2. Lightly coat the parchment or foil with cooking spray.
  3. Mix the bread crumbs, havarti, horseradish, dried onion, salt (or spice-salt mix), cottage cheese, and egg together in a large bowl. (Please note that the horseradish should be prepared, i.e., the creamy kind that is mixed with mayonnaise. We use the Beaver brand.).
  4. Allow to stand for 5 minutes to soften the bread crumbs.
  5. Mix in the ground turkey.
  6. The meat mixture will be very soft.
  7. Form the meat into balls that will fit into your bento box(or on your plate).
  8. Flatten slightly so that the meat is formed into shapes resembling patties.
  9. Place in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, make the basting sauce by combining the melted butter, ketchup, and soy sauce.
  11. Carefully turn the patties over and put them back in the oven until 20 minutes before the meat is cooked through.
  12. **********.
  13. The time to finish cooking will depend on how large you made your patties.
  14. I use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.
  15. **********.
  16. Approximately 20 minutes before the meat cooks through, baste one side of the meat with the sauce, returning to the oven for 10 minutes.
  17. Turn and baste the other side and return to the oven for the remaining 10 minutes.
  18. Let cool, add to your bento box, and have a great day hiking.

Watch more

Join the Conversation

  • all
  • reviews
  • tweaks
  • q & a