Score a Super Bowl Touchdown with Swedish Meatballs

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Let me just come right out and say it.  These Swedish meatballs are the bomb!  Seriously.  They. Are. Awesome.  IKEA had better watch out. I’m just sayin’.


Swedish meatballs are a perennial favorite among the smörgåsbord set, which is why I had to include them in my Meatball Week series.   These plump and moist little nuggets of meat are delicately seasoned with fragrant spices like cardamom, allspice and nutmeg before being bathed in a rich and velvety cream sauce.  As with most traditional ethnic dishes, you’ll find as many different recipes for Swedish meatballs as there are cooks who make them.  I’ve tried many different versions, and I think this one is the best I’ve tasted.

The basic recipe for my meatballs came from Marcus Samuelsson, who got it from his Swedish grandma.  When a recipe comes from a famous chef’s grandma, you just know it has to be good.   With ingredients like honey and pickle juice, it’s unlike any I’ve seen before.    I did deviate quite a bit from the original, but that’s just how I roll.  That’s the great thing about recipes like this.  There’s lots of room to improvise.

The meatballs themselves are made with a mixture of beef, pork and veal.  I’ve always been a fan of using veal in meatballs.  I think it gives them a lighter texture and better flavor.

Let’s get started! 


To make the meatballs, you first sauté some finely diced onions in olive oil.  Set them aside to cool while you gather up the rest of the meatball ingredients.


Toss the sautéed onions in with the other ingredients and mix them all up together in a big bowl.   Form as many golf ball sized meatballs as you can get.  I got a ton.  Then, brown them in a skillet.  But, don’t cook them all the way through.

Yes, that is butter that those meatballs are frying in – big, fat, voluptuous butter.  But, it’s okay.  I don’t do this every day.  And, I don’t have an endorsement deal with any big drug companies.


Next, whip up that fabulous Swedish meatball sauce.   You start by making a roux, which is used as a thickening base for all kinds of sauces, gravies, soups and stews.  A roux a mixture of butter and flour that is cooked together until it reaches varying shades of brown, depending on what it’s being used for. Cooking the flour allows it to thicken the sauce without giving it a “raw”, starchy taste.  The roux for this dish should be on the lighter side – sort of like a café au lait color.  Marcus’s grandma’s recipe doesn’t call for a roux.  But, I wanted a sauce with more body, so I made one.

When the roux is ready, add some stock, a little at a time so that it doesn’t sputter up and splash you in the face. Trust me, that is not pleasant!


Then, add some heavy cream, lingonberry preserves and pickle juice.   No, that’s not a typo.  I thought the pickle juice was weird too.  Just do it, though.  You’ll thank me later.

When the sauce starts to bubble,  gently plop the meatballs in.   Then, simmer them in that glorious sauce until they’re cooked through.  Honestly, it took almost all of my self-control not to just slurp that sauce up with a big, fat, giant spoon!


Serve them with more lingonberry preserves and some pickled cucumber slices –  and watch your guests drool.





If you missed the first two Meatball Week installments, you can find them here:

9 responses to Score a Super Bowl Touchdown with Swedish Meatballs

  1. On February 02, 2012 at 10:12am, Rosa said...

    Those look great! A speciality I adore. I really have to test Markus Samelsson’s recipe.



  2. On February 02, 2012 at 2:06pm, The Food Hunter said...

    I’ve actually never had Swedish meatballs…I’ve got to try them

  3. On February 02, 2012 at 3:58pm, LizA said...

    OK, questions!
    What kind of pickle juice — sweet, dill or something else?
    No mashed potatoes?
    No boiled egg noodles?

    I’m the lazy IKEA kind of meatball maker, but this and your Soy Ginger Glazed Scallion Meatballs have me rethinking my plans for Sunday!

    • On February 04, 2012 at 12:12pm, Susan said...

      I used regular dill pickle juice – not sweet. And, you can certainly serve with mashed potatoes or noodles. I’ve done both. I didn’t include it here because these were supposed to “finger food”.

      Hope you loved them as much as I do! :)

  4. On February 03, 2012 at 10:12am, Ashley Josefsson said...

    I am always so happy to see Swedish recipes on the blogs I follow! I am an American who lives in Sweden (oh, what we do for love!) And have found that Sweden has really wonderful food that is not commonly eaten in the US, so much stuff people are missing out on! These meatballs look really delicious! I’ll try them out and see what my Swede says! :) Thanks for the recipe!

    • On February 04, 2012 at 12:14pm, Susan said...

      Please do try them, and let me know what your Swede thinks! This recipe is quite a bit different than others I’ve tried, but I thought they were divine. :)

  5. On February 04, 2012 at 11:18pm, Eliana said...

    While these look just perfect to enjoy while watching the big game I have a feeling I would enjoy these just about any day of the year.

  6. On February 06, 2012 at 12:56pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    Looks tasty and LOL on the drug company endorsements!

  7. On March 04, 2012 at 7:07am, scruffy1 said...

    Sorry to be pendantic-dill pickle juice based on salt or on vinegar?

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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