Serves a Crowd

Hungarian Meatballs

September 28, 2009
4 Ratings
  • Serves 20-30 meatballs, depending on size
Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • JJ Avinger-Jacques
    JJ Avinger-Jacques
  • Jaq Andre
    Jaq Andre
  • Regine
  • LynneSteen
  • Cookie

45 Reviews

JJ A. December 6, 2017
Made this a couple of days ago....YUM! Well, I only made 1/2 of the recipe, but still yum.
I only needed to make a few changes/substitutions....couldn't find any porcini (dried) to whizz into powder so just left it out, and also could not find banana peppers, so subbed Anaheim peppers and one yellow Mexican pepper...(don't know the name, not well marked in the grocery store!), but it was pretty spicy and fruity and added a nice punch to the recipe.
I have a comment on the much touted "mix the meat lightly!!!!" mantra. A while ago ATK did some testing on this and found that it was the ground beef that tended to get overly hard when worked too hard. They said that one can mix the heck out of pork without any bad side effects, and I have found this to be true through my own cooking experiments.
What made this recipe so much easier was putting all the spices, pancetta and pork, as well as the panade ingredients (I used bread and cream) into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times til mixed THEN add the beef in smallish chunks and then mix lightly with a spoon or spatula...THEN chill in the fridge before shaping into meatballs, with a scoop.
It was fast and easy and no meaty hands!!
Everyone LOVED this recipe. I served with buttered and parsley-ed egg noodles. YUMMY
Raney B. November 14, 2016
Well, I must say, this was to die for!! My "changes" were only slight because I was making enough for 50-60 people. I was using 1 1/2 kg. each of pork and beef and almost a kilogram of pancetta. I couldn't get the kind of pepper indicated but since I wanted to add more vegetables to the dish I added a total of 4 peppers, 2 green, 1 red & 1 yellow. Everything else was the same except that, instead of braising it in the oven, after I had cooked the meatballs and made the sauce I mixed everything together and cooked it all just till it was all hot. Then it was all transferred to 2 slow-cookers and set on keep warm for about 4 hours before we actually ate it (we were in church). I tortured everyone with the wonderful smell of everything all through the service and this was essentially equivalent to the braising time in the oven. They ate every meatball and devoured the sauce down to the last drop. I absolutely love cooking with all the different paprikas and this was certainly worth the effort. Thanks for a really great recipe!!
Deborah October 23, 2016
This recipe is so delicious; the mixture of spices gives different levels of appreciation. All I had on hand was Sweet Hungarian paprika and used a heaping TB of it. It was perfect. Glad i found this website too.
Jaq A. November 30, 2015
I just use pimenton de la vera & call it a day.
Regine November 30, 2015
Thanks LynneSteen. I do have and use constantly sweet smoked paprika. This and turmeric are my most favorite spices. I also have regular paprika. But what throws me off is references in the ingredient list to Sweet Hungarian Paprika (first paprika item in list) and smoky paprika (third paprika item in list). I thought Sweeet Hungarian Paprika was same as Sweet Smoky Paprika but your explanation makes sense. I guess i was wrong. I also know there is Sweet Smoky Paprika and Hot Smoky Paprika. I will use google to get a better undersanding.
Chris H. December 1, 2015
Hi, Regine--

I wrote this recipe a long time ago, and I don't seem to be able to edit it, but I wanted to clarify that it's fine to just use one type of paprika. Just using the heaping tbsp of Hungarian sweet would suffice. I use the different varieties to achieve layers of flavor and heat, but I don't think it would substantially affect the outcome if you just went with one variety as opposed to all three. You might be sacrificing a certain depth of flavor or sharpness, but overall it would still be a very good dish. As Jaq says above (and someone opined downthread as well), using just pimenton de la vera produces great results, albeit with a smokier profile.
LynneSteen November 30, 2015
Well, I'm part Hungarian but not an expert on paprika so here goes. There is definitely a difference between regular paprika (sweet) and hot. The hot is much spicier and hotter. The smoked paprika has a smoky tone to it. I just opened my jar and it smells sort of like a bbq - smoky. If you don't want to buy all 3 types, you might be able to add a little cayenne pepper to the regular (sweet) paprika to get a hot paprika but it would be difficult to replicate the smoky paprika. Good luck!
Regine November 30, 2015
I meant 1 tbsp for the Sweet Hungarian Paprika.
Regine November 30, 2015
What is difference between Sweet Hungarian Paprika and Sweet Smoked Paprika? I thought they were the same. I need 3 different ones? Recipe lists 3 separately: Sweet Hungarian Paprika (1 tsp), hot or half sharp paprika (1/2 tsp), and smoked paprika (1/4 tsp). I have regular paprika; and sweet smoked paprika.
1tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika (1 heaping tbsp)
1/2teaspoon hot or half-sharp paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Michelle January 17, 2015
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.
Cookie October 13, 2014
I am hungarian but I've never seen, heard or ate meatballs such this one. I have to try :)
Julie September 11, 2014
Delicious! Meatballs were delicious and so light. Loved the texture.
ghainskom August 5, 2014
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.
KirstenS March 16, 2014
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.
LynneSteen February 7, 2014
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.
Marc R. February 3, 2014
I made the whole dish, then froze half of it and ate it over a month later. It was still amazing.
LynneSteen December 15, 2013
Has anyone frozen the meatballs and then cooked them? I'd like to make these at Christmas but will be short on time.
LynneSteen November 21, 2013
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.
Chris H. December 4, 2013
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.
Lemongrass&Lime April 12, 2013
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.
Glen L. December 31, 2012
Making them now for a New Years Eve party. Smell great!

One question... do you braise them covered or uncovered in the oven?
thomas.marks November 19, 2012
These are incredible. Substituted Venison for the pork and beef, and it worked flawlessly.