Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Feb 16, 2008 04:45 PM

Traditional Swedish meatballs

How sweet should they be, & what's the sweetening agent—nutmeg only? I know some recipes have ketchup, but that's got to be an American bastardization, right?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'd be happy to post the recipe I use tomorrow - no ketchup, no nutmeg - allspice is the "secret" ingredient. These taste just the way I remember them tasting as a child in Southern Sweden (Malmo). Beef, pork, light cream, bread crumbs, grated onions, and the all spice. Let me know if you'd like the recipe.

    6 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      Sure, thanks! So as a native Swede you never saw ketchup in it, right? Tomatoes weren't exactly traditionally a staple?

      1. re: tatamagouche

        Not native - but lived there from 6-9 years old. The ketchup just sounds v. odd to me.

        1. re: tatamagouche

          Here's the recipe, paraphrased from "Swedish Cooking" - a book my mother bought in Sweden:

          1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
          1/2 cup light cream
          1/2 cup water
          7 oz ground beef
          7 oz ground lean pork
          1.5 tsp salt
          1/2 tsp ground allspice (this is what the recipe calls for - I usually do at least 2 T though)
          2 T grated yellow onion
          1 egg beaten
          3 T butter

          Mix crumbs, cream and water and let sit for 5 minues. Mix together meats, salt, allspice and onion, then egg. Blend and fry up a sample to taste it, adjust as needed.

          Shape into balls - you can make them little for "cocktail" ones, or larger. I've actually gotten lazy and make little patties out of them, b/c the mixture is very soft and it's easier to do the patties. It would help to refrigerate the mixture a bit before forming the shapes but I'm usually in a rush. I like to roll them in a little flour, which I think helps them brown nicely and keep their shape. Heat the butter in a skillet over moderate heat and when the foam subsides, add the meatballs and cook "until beautifully brown" and cooked through. I like to serve with lingonberry sauce, mashed potatoes and a cucumber/vinegar salad.

          1. re: MMRuth

            According to this article, you are eating 'high class meatballs'.
            "The most common accompaniment to low class meatballs is macaroni and ketchup. (High class meatballs get lingonberries and potatoes.) Make the macaroni, serve the meatballs on the side, and slather the whole thing in crazy amounts of ketchup."

            Is this traditional? Probably not. But then Flying Jacob is considered traditional, even though it can be traced to a 1970s magazine recipe.

            1. re: paulj

              Born in Sweden so I can confirm that this is traditional, but ketchup on macaroni only.


              1. re: Ferrari328

                Yes, the blog I cited was a bit unclear about where the ketchup went. What I quote implied it went on everything. But a later "I draw a firm boundary between my meatballs and the pasta OVER WHICH NO KETCHUP MAY CROSS"

      2. Here's a recipe I've used for a long time that's gotten raves. It's not my original recipe, and I'm not sure where I got it from, so apologies if it's floating around here already.

        Swedish Meatballs with Dill Sauce

        1 pound ground beef (less than 15% fat if possible)
        1/2 pound ground pork
        1/2 pound ground veal
        1/2 cup finely chopped onion
        2 eggs
        1 tblspoon salt
        1/4 teaspoon pepper
        1/2 teaspoon allspice
        1/2 cup heavy cream
        2 -3 cups Panko bread crumbs

        Dill Sauce
        1 cup butter
        1/4 cup flour
        2 cups chicken broth
        2 cups sour cream
        1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or 2 Tablespoons dry dillweed

        In mixer, combine beef thru heavy cream together. Beat until well combined and very smooth. Shape mixture (with wet hands) into 1" balls. Roll balls in panko & place side by side in a shallow baking pan; cover & chill for at least 2 hours. You should have about 75 meatballs. Melt one stick of butter. Drizzle butter over the meatballs. Bake at 375 for 30-35 min., or until brown - turn the meatballs after 15 min.

        Melt 1/2 cup of the butter in a large pan; stir in flour; grad. stir in broth. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, till sauce bubbles & thickens.
        Stir in sour cream & dill. Taste; add addt'l salt & pepper, if needed. Cool & Chill.

        Place meatballs in chafing dish; pour sauce over, stir gently. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped fresh dill.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jeanmarieok

          I was wondering when the veal would appear! My Swedish wife prefers 1/3 each beef, veal, and pork.

          1. re: Joebob

            The last time I made mine, I accidentally bought veal instead of the beef, and they were just as tasty - couldn't really tell a difference.

        2. I am resurrecting this post because I was so surprised at the way Swedish chef Tina Nordstrom made them on New Scandinavian Cooking. She used a mix of beef and pork, bread soaked in milk and egg, and some minced leeks. There must have been salt and pepper, but definitely no other spice or herb. She formed them into 2+" diameter balls and fried them in butter and oil.
          No gravy or sauce of any kind. She did serve lingonberry preserves on the side. The meatballs were accompanied by boiled carrots and potatoes that were mixed with a cream sauce made of butter, flour, milk, salt, and pepper. The rest of the meal was a starter of seared scallops with a blueberry vinaigrette over greens, and zabaglione over mixed berries for dessert. This is far from the most horrifying of the meals in this series but did seem pretty strange, though clearly it's straight from the horse's mouth.

          1 Reply
          1. re: greygarious

            Those are called Tina Nordstrom's Swedish meatballs. Everyone has their own version. Chacun (sp?) a son gout.

          2. Since this post is alive again, my two cents. For me it's either Alton Brown's recipe......

            .....or a trip to IKEA. ;-)

            1. Alton Brown's recipe is my favorite, too. My son and I love it.