Swedish Meatballs with a secret ingredient

dinner Dec 30, 2021

Swedish Beef Meatballs with my Secret Ingredient - Chicken Liver

Organ meats are the most nutrient-dense part of the animal - from 10 to 100 times richer in vitamins and minerals than muscle meat. For those that aren’t thrilled with consuming organ meats as a main course, meatballs are a great way to “hide” them and get a nutrient packed meal. I puree them to create a dark, rich meatball using grass-fed beef. They are delicious, but you can’t quite figure out why. It’s the secret ingredient!

Note: Meatballs freeze really well. See freezing directions below.

I like to serve Swedish style meatballs with my Fermented Cranberries. You can also mix the fermented cranberries with cranberry sauce or lingonberry jam 50/50.

Flavor options:

  • Swedish version: Make the mushroom gravy below and serve with lingonberry or cranberry sauce

  • Change the spice to dried oregano and add to tomato sauce and serve over pasta

  • Add smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Serve with sautéed peppers and onions over rice


  • 1/2 white onion grated using a box grater or minced fine

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced with a pinch of salt to create a paste

  • 1 ¼ Lbs 85-90% lean ground beef

  • ½ Lbs mild Italian sausage

  • ¼  to ½ Lbs chicken livers drained on a paper towel (or increase beef to 2 Lbs)

  • ½ cup to ¾ cup unseasoned breadcrumbs, gluten-free breadcrumbs, or almond meal 

  • 2 medium or large eggs

  • 2-4 Tbls minced flat-leaf Italian parsley

  • 1/4 tsp or more sea salt 

  • Fresh ground pepper

  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg, or dried oregano, or smoked paprika


  1. Preheat the oven to 400˚F degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

  2. With an immersion blender or in a blender, pureé the chicken livers, eggs, and garlic**. Add this mixture to a bowl large enough to fit the remaining ingredients. Add ½ cup of bread crumbs and stir.

  3. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well. Using your hands is easiest; I use disposable gloves. If the mixture is sloppy and not firm, add the remaining breadcrumbs. Overworking the meat melts the fat and makes a tougher meatball.

  4. To check the seasoning, melt some butter in a frying pan, add a little piece of the meat mixture and fry. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. 

  5. If you can, chill the mixture for 30 minutes. 

  6. Use an ice cream scoop to portion out the meatballs all at once onto the baking sheet and then roll each into a ball. Leave room in between the meatballs. 

  7. Bake for 15 minutes and then check the internal temperature. Meatballs should be 165˚F when served. If you’re going to add them to a sauce and continue cooking, cook the meatballs to about 140˚F then add them to your sauce and check the temperature again when ready to serve.

**Note: You can also mince the livers with a knife into tiny pieces. In the bowl, whisk the eggs with a fork. Add the liver and garlic and continue with step 3.

Freezing instructions

  • Place the parchment-lined sheet pan of uncooked meatballs in the freezer. After 1-2 hours, and once frozen, transfer the meatballs into freezer bags. Label and date. 

  • You can bake the meatballs when frozen. Add 10 minutes and then check the internal temperature.

  • These meatballs are great with tomato sauce, in soups, sandwiches, and over pasta.

  • Switch the Italian sausage for spicy  Italian sausage, or chorizo. 

  • If serving with tomato sauce, use the sausage. If you’re going for a Scandinavian feel, replace the sausage with more beef or a combination of beef and veal. 

Gravy - Makes 2 cups

  • 2 Tbls butter or fat from the pan

  • 1/2 cup diced mushrooms (optional)

  • 2 Tbls AP or GF flour

  • 2 cups broth (beef is ideal but I use whatever I have including chicken or vegetable broth, or a mixture. For a traditional Swedish cream gravy, use 1 ½ cups broth and ½ cup cream

  • 2 tsp soy sauce or Tamari

  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

  1. You need about 2 Tbls of fat in the pan to begin. If you’re starting from scratch, use butter.

  2. Melt the fat over medium-low to medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté just until cooked.

  3. Add the flour stirring well to create a “roux” which is a butter-flour paste. Cook the roux while stirring to cook the flour and allow the roux to turn a golden color. Watch carefully. If the the roux looks “greasy”, add a bit more flour so that it looks “pasty”.

  4. Add the broth or broth and cream. Stirring or whisking, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring all the while. Simmer for several minutes.

  5. Add the soy sauce, mustard and season to taste with salt and freshly cracked pepper.

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