Aquavit's Swedish Meatballs

"This is Marcus Samuelsson's rendition of the perennial favorite. The sauce is wonderful, unctuous. They should be served with garlicky mashed potatoes, quick pickled cucumbers and extra lingonberry preserves. The pickled cucumbers (and their juice) are really easy to make and the recipe is posted. If you can't find lingonberry preserves (a pity) you can substitute whole cranberry relish."
photo by kiwidutch photo by kiwidutch
photo by kiwidutch
photo by BarbryT photo by BarbryT
Ready In:
24 meatballs


  • Meatballs

  • 12 cup fine breadcrumbs
  • 14 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 12 lb ground sirloin
  • 12 lb ground veal
  • 12 lb ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
  • The Sauce

  • 1 cup chicken stock, prefereably homemade and salt-free
  • 12 cup heavy cream
  • 14 cup lingonberry preserves
  • 2 tablespoons juice, from quick pickled cucumbers


  • Prepare the Meatballs.
  • Combine the bread crumbs and 1/4 cup cream in a small bowl, stirring until all the crumbs are moistened.
  • Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and saute for for about five minutes, until softened.
  • Remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, veal and pork, onion, honey and egg, and mix well with your hands (remember Julia--your impeccably clean hands).
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the bread crumb/cream mixture and mix well.
  • With wet hands (to keep mixture from sticking) shape the mixture into meatballs the size of golfballs, placing them on a plate slightly moistened with water.
  • You should have about 24 meatballs.
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning frequently, for about seven minutes, until the meatballs are browned on all sides and cooked through.
  • Transfer the meatballs to a plate and keep warm.
  • Discard all but one tablespoon of fat from the skillet.
  • Prepare the Sauce.
  • Return the skillet to the heat.
  • Whisk in the stock, 1/2 cup of cream, preserves and pickle juice, and bring to a simmer.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about five minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly and the meatballs are heated through.
  • Serve hot with garlic mashed potatoes, lingonberry preserves and pickled cucumbers.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Katy R.
    Delicious Meatballs. I made these meatballs and put them over homemade noodles. I did skip the honey. I added 1 tsp thyme and 1 tsp chevron to the meatballs. I wanted to make this a crock pot recipe so I changed the sauce to 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup and 1 can of onion soup and 1 cup of beef bone broth. I browned the meatballs and put them into the sauce and cooked in the crock pot for 3 hours. My husband loved the dinner!
  2. MandiesRecipes
    I really love the way that this recipe is written so meticulously, repeating the ingredient measurements in the instructions. I wish everyone did that! I already had Swedish meatballs in my freezer from IKEA, so please understand that this is mainly a review of the sauce. I cooked the noodles ahead, and transferred them to a bowl with a spider. I let them sit in the butter and parsley, reserving some pasta water for their revival just prior to serving. I then measured out 3.5 cups of the remaining pasta water to mix up my concentrated beef broth with all the spices before starting the roux in the pan (butter/flour mixture). This worked fabulously. I added canned mushrooms after the sauce was completely combined. I was a little concerned when I tasted the finished sauce. It's too salty before you combine it with the noodles, but when it's all put together, it's perfect. We did have quite a bit of leftover sauce. I may add more meatballs next time (we used 1 lb of the pre-made meatballs) so we'll have them in the leftovers later.
  3. beth c.
    I've been making this for since Chef Kate posted it. It has become my traditional Christmas Day menu. However, it's really simple and you could make this for on a weekday night dinner. I don't soak the breadcrumbs, just add them to everything in the bowl, mix with clean hands, and make the meatballs. I also sub turkey for the veal. It's all delish!
  4. Raumltsel Feinschme
    While it seems like a lot of steps, it really isn't, and the recipe is completely worth it. I used 1 lb pork, 1 lb chicken for the meatballs since veal wasn't readily available. I will be trying this again with 1 lb. ground venison and 1lb. ground boar/wild hog during hunting season. Like some other reviewers, I added in some all-spice to the meat blend to add that familiar aroma and taste in the meatballs. I would also recommend a small amount of cornstarch added to the sauce, mixed well, before you place the meatballs back into it to help thicken. I served this with some egg noodles, and mushrooms sauteed in butter and sauce/meat drippings. True comfort food.
  5. MalaysianChef
    LOveeed it!!! the honey way a real nice touch!


  1. xtine
    These are delicious! The only change I made is that I baked the meatballs for 25 min at 400 degrees instead of frying them, and I added all the pan drippings from baking the meatballs to the sauce. I'd like to try making them with lower calorie ingredients (i.e. milk instead of heavy cream, and perhaps ground turkey for the meat), so I can eat them more often!
  2. chia2160
    this is very easy to prepare and made a quick weeknight meal. leftovers tasted even better the next day. i subbed vinegar for the pickle juice otherwise followed the recipe. i also added some freshly grated nutmeg before serving. picky dd4 enjoyed.
  3. sgwang
    A little sweet and unctuous for my taste, but still quite good. Caveat: I did substitute raspberry preserves instead of the lingonberry, which would have given it a more tart flavor.
  4. Trilby
    I tried this recipe last night and tho' I had to improvise a few of the ingredients, it was one of the most delicious dishes I have ever made. Mine was made with all ground beef, some apple cider vinegar instead of the pickled cucumber juice, and some plum jam instead of lingonberry preserves. The meatballs and the gravy were spectacular!


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