Are you ready for Goetta?


History of Goetta

Goetta is a German stick-to-your ribs kind of dish. But guess what? According to my German inlaws and folks who grew up eating goetta, it originated in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, not in Germany.  Yes, Goetta has Germanic origins, but most people who live in Germany have never heard of it. Inge, my German daughter-in-law who grew up in Germany, said she didn’t have a clue until she moved to Cincinnati. Yes, it’s definitely a Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky “thing”.  A possibility about the name is that it comes from the German word “gote” or “gotte” which means peeled grain. The word became Americanized to mean “goetta”, since the ingredient you cannot do without for authentic goetta is pinhead oats (also called steel cut oats). Dorsel’s and Bob’s Red Mill are common brands.

One of my readers, Anita Butler, begs to differ, and here’s what she says: ” I read your article on goetta . I was surprised to read your comment about its Cincinnati, rather than German, origin. I grew up in NW Ohio in Napoleon. There were many Germans that settled there as well. Mostly from the area around Hanover, Germany. There was a dish similar to goetta called Prettles. Of course, I prefer Prettles over Goetta any day, so I bring back a supply every time I go home. The biggest difference that I can see is that Prettles does not have onion, and it has fewer spices. I found a web-blog by Dann Woeller the food etymologist. He writes about Cincinnati Goetta, Napoleon Prettles, and Kansas Pruttles.  The similarity of the three recipes, and the common ancestry in Germany makes me think that the dish did indeed start in Germany.  Personally, I get my Prettles from Brookview Farms. Years ago, one of their butchers, having grown up in nearby Napoleon, started making Prettles. Now the owners have taken over making it. The package ingredients list includes Beef, Pork, Oats (they use pin oats), Beef Hearts, Beef Tongue, Cook-out Juice, Salt, Pepper. And they sell it for $4.99/pound I have tried making a streamlined version of Prettles using ground beef, pin oats, beef broth, salt, pepper and a little allspice. It tasted good, but I had a hard time getting the consistency correct. It is easier to buy it in Archbold and bring it back here.”

OK, so regardless of its origin, you still need a recipe. Here’s mine along with some other readers.

Rita’s Goetta (as of January 2023)

Yesterday we woke up to a snowy winter wonderland. Making my way to the chicken pen was an adventure. Huge snow flakes were falling so thickly I felt like I was in a gigantic snow globe.

A perfect day to make my family’s goetta.  

The common denominator for classic goetta is pinhead oats. You may know them as steel cut, Irish, or coarse cut oats. Whole oats are processed into small pieces using steel blades, thus the name “pin head.” They take a long time to cook. 

So here’s my goetta recipe, tweaked just a bit from before. 

Do you make goetta? If you like, share the recipe and story — there’s always a story…

Rita’s goetta

The only changes I made from my family’s original recipe were adding beef broth for some of the water, garlic and marjoram. I also use a dual cooking method: stovetop and slow cooker.


3 pounds fresh pork shoulder/butt, bone in or not (mine had bone in)

3 generous cups each chopped onion, not sweet onion, and celery 

4 bay leaves

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1-1/2  teaspoons dried marjoram 

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 quart beef broth

Water enough to barely cover meat in pan – I used 8 cups

24 oz. regular pinhead/steel cut oats, not instant  – can use up to 32 oz


Put everything but oats in large stockpot.  

Bring to boil, lower to simmer and cook, partially covered, until meat is fall-apart tender, 2-3 hours or so. Liquid will evaporate somewhat. 

Dump everything in colander, straining broth. Measure out 8 cups broth. If you don’t have 8 cups, add water. If you have more than 8, save in case you need to add liquid as oats cook.

Set meat and veggies aside. Remove bay leaves.

Spray  large slow cooker and pour in hot broth. 

Pour in oats and stir. Cover and cook on high or low, stirring occasionally, until oats are thoroughly cooked. You may need to add liquid if oats look dry before they’re cooked. Mine took 3 hours on high so count on about 6 for low. Stir occasionally.

Cooked oats will be tender, liquid will be absorbed, and mixture will be so thick a big spoon inserted in center will stand up without falling over. The thicker the consistency, the nicer your goetta sets up.

Shred or chop meat mixture finely. I used my food processor using the pulse button. 

Mix meat mixture in with oats and continue to cook, on low,  about 45 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. 

Or cook in big pot on stove until hot throughout, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasonings.

Line loaf or other pans. Pack goetta in tight.

Refrigerate uncovered for 12-24 hours. This creates slight crust and allows goetta to set up firmly.
Store, covered, in refrigerator 2 weeks or freezer 6 months.

Yield: I got 3 loaf pans and 3 mini loaf pans of goetta. 

To serve:

Cook until crisp with bacon or bacon drippings. It’s heresy in our family to cook any other way! 

My German in-laws’ recipes don’t include beef broth, poultry seasoning or savory. Those are my additions to boost flavor.

Cook meat and veggies on top of the stove and finish goetta by cooking oats and the cooked meat in the slow cooker. I do use the poultry seasoning and savory.


  • 3# fresh pork shoulder/butt, cut in half to fit pan
  • 3-4 cups each: chopped onions and celery (include celery leaves)
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons salt and 1 tablespoon black pepper or more to taste
  • 1 nice teaspoon poultry seasoning (opt)
  • 2 teaspoons savory (opt)
  • 8-10 cups water or more if needed, or half beef broth and half water
  • 2 # pinhead/steel cut oats


  1. Put meat, onions, celery, bay and seasonings in large pot.
  2. Cover meat with liquid by about an inch or so. Bring to a boil, cover, lower to a simmer and cook until meat is so tender that it can be shredded or chopped up fine, several hours. Add water if necessary to keep meat just under liquid.
  3. Strain meat and vegetables through colander. Save liquid. Shred meat. Push some of vegetables through colander. I add both to the oats.
  4. Spray a 6-7 quart slow cooker and turn on high. Put liquid in and add oats, stirring to blend. Put lid on and cook on high 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until oats are thoroughly cooked, tender, and mixture is very thick. If necessary, add more water as oats cook, but be careful. The mixture, when cooked, should be pasty, and thick enough for a spoon to stand up in without falling over. Oats should be difficult to stir.
  5. Add meat and veggies and continue to cook, covered, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add seasoning if needed. Remove bay leaves.
  6. Line bread pans with sprayed foil. Put goetta in, smoothing tops. Cover and refrigerate for 12 hours or so to set up. Store in refrigerator a week or several months in freezer.
  7. To serve:We fry it with bacon until both goetta and bacon are crisp on both sides. Or in bacon grease.

Tips from Rita’s kitchen:

  • Goetta is not hard to make, but the technique can’t be rushed.
  • Fresh pork shoulder/butt is the traditional cut of pork to use.
  • Pinhead oats are sometimes called steel cut oats and require a very long cooking time. Do not substitute regular oats.
  • Savory has a peppery flavor.

Jim Reinhart’s crockpot goetta:

Jim is an Indiana reader who makes his in the crockpot. A time tested reader favorite.


  • 3 cups pinhead oatmeal
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 pound each: ground pork and ground beef
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, black pepper, crushed red pepper, sage
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 4 beef bouillon cubes
  • 2 additional cups water


Combine 3 cups of oatmeal with 5 cups water in sprayed crock pot and cook on high for two hours, stirring occasionally. An hour and a half after putting oatmeal in crock pot, combine bay leaves, garlic powder, sage, allspice, red pepper, black pepper and bouillon with 2 cups water in saucepan. Bring to boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes or until reduced to 1 cup. Strain and add liquid to crock pot. While spices are cooking, brown beef and pork with onions. Drain grease and add mixiture to crock pot, either before or after spice mixture goes in. When all ingredients are in crock pot, turn to low and mix well, stirring often for another two hours. Don’t be tempted to add water, even though goetta gets very thick.  If it becomes too thick to stir, add water sparingly but remember, the thicker it is when done, the better it will fry up. Spoon into casseroles, seal tightly and after it cools, put one in the refrigerator and the other in the freezer if desired. To serve, saute in a non-stick or cast iron skillet until both sides are browned.  (Add enough salt or it will be bland.  The bouillon cubes will help with this.)

 Bill Sander’s heirloom goetta

Bill always made this for his Westside Cincinnati family.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 pounds cubed pork loin
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2-1/2 cups pinhead oats
  • 2 huge onions, diced
  • 4-8 bay leaves


Put water, salt and pepper in a big pot. Bring to a boil and add oats. Lower heat to a gentle boil and cook for 1-1/2 hours, covered. Stir every 15 minutes. Add meats, onion and bay leaves. Mix well, cover and cook on low for 3 more hours. Uncover and if not thick enough, cook longer, stirring often. Remove bay leaves. Pour into loaf pans. Cool and refrigerate. Cut into thick slices, fry in hot bacon fat until golden on both sides. Freezes well.

Bernie Butscha’s Goetta

Bernie said: “This is my Goetta recipe that my Mom gave me. She got it from Grandma Butscha. I’m probable predjudiced, but my family thinks it’s the best. I hope you get a chance to try it. Bernie, by the way is known as Herr Pickle!

Goetta, (Stove Top)


  • 7c water
  • 3c pinhead oatmeal
  • 2tsp salt
  • 1/4tsp pepper
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1# gr. chuck and 1# pork loin, ground together
  • 1 beef bouillon cube, dissolved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves


  1. Cover oats with water and soak overnight
  2. Mix with meat and onion in a pot
  3. Add  6 cups water and spices
  4. Cook 2.25 hours
  5. Stir often
  6. Pour into 9×13 pan (Tupperware) to cool
  7. Can keep in ice box for couple weeks
  8. Cut into slices and freeze.

Jan Bowling’s Goetta 

Jan’s version was taken from the Dorsal’s pinhead oats package a long time ago.  As Jan told me: she has made up her own directions.


1 lb sausage (I use Bob Evans or Webbers)
1 lb lean ground beef (I use Laura’s Lean)
6 cups of cold water
1/3 cup instant minced onion
4-6 Bay leaves
2 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups pinhead oats (steel cut)


In 5 1/2 quart slow cooker place the 6 cups of cold water, sausage and beef. Break up meats with a fork until no large pieces are visible. Set crock pot on high and mix in onion, salt and pepper. Cook until meat is no longer pink, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Stir often. Add oats and Bay leaves. Lower temperature to low setting. Cook for about 4 additional hours until oats are done and mixture is thick. An additional cup of water may be needed. Stir frequently during cooking time. Remove Bay leaves. Pour into three bread pans (depending on how thick you want the slices) that have been rinsed in cold water. This helps the loaves to slide out of the pans easier after cooling for about an hour.
Cool completely and refrigerate or freeze.  Keeps about 3 weeks in the fridge.
To serve; slice and fry in a small amount of oil or bacon grease till brown and crispy. I usually serve this with eggs and toast since it already contains cereal and meat.

Mary Lott’s Goetta  (easy crockpot goetta with little fuss and easy clean up) 

Mary said:  “My mom made this recipe all the time. You can personalize to your tastes by adding things like garlic, jalapenos, sage, or sausage. Personally, I like the basic recipe the best.”


  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 ½ cups pinhead oatmeal (also called steel cut oatmeal)
  • 2 tablespoons of salt (It calls for 3 tablespoons but you can always add salt at the table.)
  • 1 pinch of pepper
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 whole large onion finely chopped. (I use ½ to 3/4 a large onion.)
  • 1 pound ground pork (I buy pork tenderloin because there is less fat. I have it ground. Or, Kroger carries ground pork.)
  • 1 pound ground beef (I buy an eye of the round for less fat and have it ground. Or,90 % lean can be used.)
  • 3 bay leafs, optional
  • (Optional items—some people put 3 bay leaves added after stirring beef, pork, and onion in the mix. The bay leaves are discarded after the five hour cooking time.)


Put water, oatmeal, salt, pepper, and bouillon cube into a crock pot. Mix well and cook covered for 1 ½ hours on HIGH. Then add ground beef, ground pork, and finely chopped onion. Stir well until thoroughly mixed. Cover and cook 5 hours on LOW. Uncover, stir 4 or 5 times and continue cooking ½ hour without covering.

For easy cleanup—line 2 loaf pans with aluminum foil and divide cooked goetta among the two pans. Cool in the refrigerator overnight. Pull out the foil and slice to desired thickness.

Do you make goetta? Share your goetta recipe/stories!


4 thoughts on “Are you ready for Goetta?

  1. Rita,

    My wife and I have eaten and enjoyed goetta for years. We would buy our’s from Humbert Meats in the Western Hills. I tried to get their recipe, but never could. Even though I knew Barb Humbert from when we were teens, skating at Price Hill Roller Rink. Plus, we were next door neighbors of Barb and Jim Humbert. We’d still love to get their recipe! I read in one of your columns that you always fry your goetta in bacon grease which, once again proves that “EVERYTHING’S BETTER WITH BACON”!! But, then, “EVERYTHING’S BETTER WITH BUTTER,” too!!

    Thanks for the bacon grease tip. We’ll try it that way next time we fry some up.

    Jack & Mary Ellen Thinnes


    1. As I. mentioned in an earlier email, I tried to get their recipe, too! Now check out my recipe for goetta that I’m posting in the next week or so. Plus other readers’ recipes. Pretty good!


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