Hungarian Meatballs

By • September 28, 2009 36 Comments

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Food52 Review: This recipe is a weekend project, best attempted with a friend. But believe us, after doing all the chopping and measuring, you will not be let down. Bogre's meatballs defy gravity, and the spicy sauce pulses with paprika, rosemary and mushrooms. A few tips: mix the pork and beef before adding the rest of the seasonings. Roll the meatballs as gently as possible. And make sure you temper the sour cream before blending it into the sauce. You do this by stirring a few spoonfuls of the hot sauce into the sour cream before adding this back to the remaining sauce. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 20-30 meatballs, depending on size

For the meatballs

  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 3/4 pound ground beef (80/20 or 85/15)
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, small dice
  • 1/2 cup parmesean, grated
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon (each) red pepper flakes, ground coriander, ground cumin, caraway seeds (crushed), kosher salt, and ground pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the sauce

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 large banana pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika (1 heaping tbsp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot or half-sharp paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon porcini mushroom powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (each) dried rosemary, thyme, crushed fennel seeds, and marjoram
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 15 oz stewed tomatoes, chopped, with juices
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly mix all ingredients for the meatballs except the olive oil together and form into balls 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter. (Depending on size, you should get between 20 and 30.) Allow time to refrigerate them so they firm up a bit.
  2. In an oven-safe pan, brown the meatballs in olive oil on all sides. Remove to a plate, cover with foil, and set aside.
  3. Add the chopped onion to the pan dripping and saute until starting to brown. Add mushroom and saute a few minutes more, until they start to brown as well. Add garlic and peppers and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the paprikas, the porcini powder, and the rest of the herbs and spices. Cook, stirring, about a minute. Deglaze with wine. Cook until wine is mostly evaporated, then stir in tomatoes and their juices and the broth. Bring to a boil and return the meatballs to the pan.
  4. Transfer the pan the oven and braise for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and luxuriating in the awesome aromas that should be enveloping your kitchen at this point.
  5. When the braising time is up, remove the pan from the oven. Put the sour cream into a small bowl, then temper it by stirring in a few spoonfuls of the braising liquid. Stir the sour cream mixture back into the pan, coating the meatballs and heating through. Serve as an appetizer or with spaetzle or egg noodles for an entree.

More Great Recipes: Ground Beef|Meatballs|Bananas|Fennel|Entrees

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Comments (36) Questions (1)


8 months ago Michelle

These are awesome; I'm making them again today! BTW don't be intimidated by the "weekend project" comment. They really don't take very long to make.


11 months ago C

I am hungarian but I've never seen, heard or ate meatballs such this one. I have to try :)


12 months ago Julie

Delicious! Meatballs were delicious and so light. Loved the texture.


about 1 year ago ghainskom

I had ground meat and mushrooms in my fridge yesterday and decided to make this dish but without going to the grocery, although missing several ingredients that I had to substitute. The end results was so good nonetheless, that I imagine the recipe would've been grandiose if followed to the tee. Really, I had my 7yo basically circle around the stove and asking: "mom, it smells good. Are we eating soon?" in a rather untypical manner for her.


over 1 year ago KirstenS

BF and I did this yesterday as a weekend project, and it was delicious! Because we started late, we only braised for an hour, and it was still tasty -- though I'd be interest in trying it again with the last 30 minutes uncovered.


over 1 year ago LynneSteen

Thank you for letting me know how it turned out. I ended up making the raw meatballs then freezing & defrosting them on a cookie sheet. They defrosted quickly and it was easy to finish the recipe when I was ready.


over 1 year ago Marc R. Johnson

I made the whole dish, then froze half of it and ate it over a month later. It was still amazing.


over 1 year ago LynneSteen

Has anyone frozen the meatballs and then cooked them? I'd like to make these at Christmas but will be short on time.


almost 2 years ago LynneSteen

An exceptional recipe. I couldn't find the traditional banana peppers so I used an Anaheim chili. I also substituted bacon for the pancetta and finely chopped porcini mushrooms for the powder. I didn't cover them and ended up with almost no sauce so next time I will follow Lemongrass&Lime's suggestion to cover for 45 min. and uncover for 45 min.


over 1 year ago Bogre

I'm glad you enjoyed them. Definitely cover the dish while it's in the oven, as it's meant to braise--that's how the meatballs stay so light and airy. I've also tried the half-on/half-off method as Lemongrass&Lime suggested, and that works nicely, too, especially if you prefer a thicker sauce.


over 2 years ago Lemongrass&Lime

These were fantastic! We substituted sweet smoked Spanish paprika for the Hungarian paprika and it worked beautifully. Delicious layering of flavors and one we'll make again. We chose to cook covered for the first 45min and uncovered for the last 45min and were very happy with the creamy consistency of the sauce.


over 2 years ago Glen LaFortune

Making them now for a New Years Eve party. Smell great!

One question... do you braise them covered or uncovered in the oven?


almost 3 years ago thomas.marks

These are incredible. Substituted Venison for the pork and beef, and it worked flawlessly.


almost 3 years ago aixpat

Really delicious. Next time I might omit the pancetta and one cup of the chicken broth, but I'll definitely be making it again!


almost 3 years ago aixpat

Really delicious. Next time I might omit the pancetta and one cup of the chicken broth, but I'll definitely be making it again!


over 3 years ago G Earle Lowe

This was absolutely the best meal I have cooked in 3-4 weeks (I cook frequently). Thnak you for sharing it . It will become part of my stable of go to meals! Great Job!


over 3 years ago woodchuck29

Sunday afternoon and my house smells fabulous! My Italian grandmother might be frowning down on me, but I can't wait for dinner....


over 4 years ago maureencd

I made this on Superbowl Sunday (just for the family - no party). They were very tasty. I eliminated the hot paprika because we'd been eating spicy food all weekend. The braising technique was a revelation to me. I've never cooked meatballs so long. Tasty!


over 4 years ago artfulgourmet

these sound absolutely divine. my family always used to serve Swedish meatballs on holidays and family occasions but I like these because there's a spicy kick to them with the paprika and pepper flakes. Can't wait to make these and report back!


almost 5 years ago TerriCooks

My mother-in-law is Hungarian and I made this for my in-laws' anniversary dinner. They were simply amazing and were a very big hit with everyone. They are well worth the time it takes to prepare them.


almost 5 years ago healthierkitchen

I've had this saved since last year and finally had the time to make this. It was definitely worth the effort. We loved the flavors of the meatballs and sauce. Really delicious!


about 5 years ago lastnightsdinner

Having tasted these meatballs, I can vouch for the fact that they are fantastic!


about 5 years ago Sagegreen

Thanks! I am going to Hungary next week and can't wait to get paprika there to bring home. Your recipe looks great.


about 5 years ago Sagegreen

Since I have been back from Hungary I made these, and they are really incredible!


about 5 years ago Lizthechef

Your recipe popped up on the right side of my screen, and looks delicious. Half Hungarian, I posted a recipe for goulash some months back. Will most likely wait until weather cools before making this, but have already printed it out - thanks!


over 5 years ago HIllbilly

This recipe first attracted me to this site. Picture is beautiful! However, this was a lot of work to prepare and the meatballs/sauce were too spicy for my family and me. Will try again by using less, or eliminating, some of the spices.


almost 6 years ago veronique

OK, this is a recipe wiki, so I feel completely at ease about splitting hairs in this very interesting recipe. Have made it for three groups so far (and tweaked recipe differently on second and third batch). Tomorrow evening, I make fourth version for very old French-American friend, that will include previous dinner-table feedback and my own edits. One hint: fresh, rather than dried rosemary, makes a big difference.


almost 6 years ago Bogre

I agree, and I use fresh herbs when I have them. The thing is, I live by myself, and I'm usually cooking for just me, so it's somewhat impractical for me to buy fresh herbs that I'm not going to use that often. I have nothing against rosemary, of course, but I use it a lot less than I use other herbs. But again, you're right, if you have fresh, by all means use them!


almost 6 years ago mariaraynal

A&M are right - these meatballs are well worth taking time out of a precious weekend. Deeply flavorful and savory. Perfect for parties or Sunday dinner with family and friends. And yes, a great addition to the repertoire, Veronique.


almost 6 years ago testkitchenette

Sounds light and heavy at the same time! What a perfect mix for a cool fall day!


almost 6 years ago Bogre

Veronique--The powder can be made by buzzing dried porcini mushrooms in a food processor, blender, or spice grinder.


almost 6 years ago Bogre

Veronique--The powder can be made by buzzing dried porcini mushrooms in a food processor, blender, or spice grinder.


almost 6 years ago veronique

Where on earth can I find porcini mushroom *powder* in Boston? Is it really that essential an ingredient?


almost 6 years ago veronique

Am trying out this weekend in a repertoire-building exercise (just finished reading "Cooking for Mr. Latte" in which having a good repertoire merits an essay). Meatballs look worthy of the not inconsiderable effort required and AH essays are delightful. Highly recommended.


almost 6 years ago snackie

possibly one of the best things that I have ever eaten.


almost 6 years ago erinmcdowell

This was delicious. I could have tripled the recipe and there still wouldn't have been enough, people loved it so much!