These Juicy Swedish Meatballs Have a Treasured Family Secret Up Their Sleeves

It keeps them super tender.

January 16, 2019
Photo by Ty Mecham

Our last contest, The Recipe You're Asked to Bring to Every Gathering, brought a big batch of delightfully tender Swedish meatballs right to the top of out next party menu.

They came rolling into our contest courtesy of Food52er swedishturkey, who adapted the recipe from her husband's great-grandmother's version. Recently, we had a chance to catch up with swedishturkey to get the low-down on this recipe. Read on for more details—then, get meatball-ing!

Could you tell us more about how you and your husband developed the recipe from his great-grandmother's version? Was there any ingredient that you added? Anything you removed?

The main tweak to the original recipe is that we omitted the onions. When my husband was a child, however, his great-grandmother would make a separate batch of meatballs without the onions for him. We also added the step of warming the milk prior to mixing in the breadcrumbs. We noticed this aids in making the meatballs smooth and stay together better during the cooking process. The cream sauce was created entirely by me and my husband, over time tweaking the ingredients that are often found in the sauce.

We absolutely loved the addition of potato—it makes the meatballs so, so tender and juicy. Was that in your husband's great-grandmother's original recipe?

The potato was the family secret to making deliciously tender meatballs. If we had to guess, she added them because potatoes are used in abundance in Swedish cuisine—they are cheap, and a good binding agent.

How often do you make and eat this recipe? How often do you make it for a gathering?

We make these every couple of months for dinner at home. My husband wanted to bring a recipe from Sweden to our Christmas table one year, and my German grandmother absolutely loved them, saying they reminded her of ones she had as a little girl. We've made enough to share with the entire extended family for every Thanksgiving and Christmas since then.

What are some of your other favorite recipes on Food52? If you had to pick one to go with these meatballs, which would it be and why?

Some of my favorite Food52 recipes are Shrimp Burgers with Roasted Garlic-Orange Aioli, Chocolate Bundt Cake, and Chubby Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. I would pick the chocolate bundt cake as the dessert since this is my absolute favorite chocolate cake, and doesn't chocolate cake go well with any meal?

Yes, yes it does. Hey, what's your most splattered, stained, dog-eared cookbook?

My laptop and a variety of bookmarked baking blogs.

And your can’t-cook-without kitchen tool?

A gravy whisk. We are huge gravy/sauce people, and it is an ergonomic lifesaver.

Are you a savory or sweet breakfast person? (Or, gasp, not a breakfast person at all?)

Definitely a sweet breakfast person.

You’re on a desert island and you can have one dessert. What is it?

Pretty boring response but chocolate chip cookies with pecans. Don't forget the milk!

We sure won't—so long as you share those cookies!

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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.