Swedish Meatballs with Quick Pickled Cucumbers & Hasselback Potatoes

appetizer dinner entree holiday Jan 20, 2021

Magnus Nilsson’s Grandmother’s Meatballs - serves 4

Swedish Meatballs are traditionally cooked in a pan on the stove and served with gravy, boiled new potatoes, pickled cucumbers, and lingonberry sauce or jam. A good substitute for lingonberry sauce is cranberry sauce. You can also try my Fermented Cranberries which take about a week to ferment. Baking meatballs in the oven is easier but using the pan drippings for the gravy is tasty; you choose. Gluten free breadcrumbs or almond flour can be used in place of breadcrumbs.

This recipe by chef Magnus Nilsson’s grandmother uses a grated bolded potato. It’s easiest to boil the potato a night before or early in the day to allow it to cool. I’ve also baked the potato when the oven is on a night or two before and then saved the potato for meatball making.


100 ml (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) milk 

100 ml (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) cream 

1 egg

¼ tsp. ground allspice

1 large waxy potato, boiled, cooled, peeled and riced or grated

300 g/12 oz minced (ground) pastured pork 

300 g/12 oz minced (ground) grass-fed beef

30g (3/4 cup plus 2 Tbls) breadcrumbs

1 onion, grated or finely chopped

salt and white pepper, to taste


  1. Pour the milk and cream into a bowl, add the egg, allspice and some salt and pepper. 

  2. Whisk the breadcrumbs into the cream mixture and make sure no lumps remain. Add the riced potato and leave the mixture to swell for 5 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients. 

  3. Add the remaining ingredients and blend well. Using your hands is easiest; I use disposable gloves. 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. Shape the mixture into large, loose balls with the help of a spoon and your clean, wet hand. 

  6. Melt a knob of butter in a large frying pan or skillet over a medium heat. Fry the meatballs until nicely colored and cooked through or bake for 15 minutes and then check the internal temperature. Meatballs should be 165˚F when served.

Gravy - Makes 2 cups


2 Tbls butter or fat from the pan

2 Tbls 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

1/12 tsp Dijon mustard


  1. You need about 2 Tbls of fat in the pan to begin. If you’re starting from scratch, use butter. Melt the fat and add the four stirring well to create a “roux”. Allow the flour to brown slightly in the fat while stirring and watching carefully. If the the roux looks “greasy”, add a bit more flour so that it looks “pasty”.

  2. Add the broth or broth and cream. Stirring or whisking, bring the mixture to a boil, stirring all the while. 

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

Recipe adapted from Magnus Nilsson

Hasselbackspotatis - Hasselbacken Potatoes - Recipe by Magnus Nilsson - Serves 4


4 medium floury potato per person, peeled and left whole

2 Tbls. butter

2 Tbls. fine breadcrumbs

seas salt


  1. Heat oven to 425˚F.

  2. Place one potato in a wooden spoon, the bowl of which is roughly the size of the potato itself.

  3. With a sharp knife, slice straight down through the potato at 1/4-inch intervals. Let the knife hit the sides on the spoon and stop. Do not slice into the bowl of the spoon and all the way through the potato. You want to create a “fanned” potato that will hold together with the bottom still attached. 

  4. Transfer each potato to a cast iron skillet or oven proof sauté pan that just fits the potatoes. 

  5. Over medium heat, add the butter and brush it over the potatoes basting generously and season potatoes with salt.

  6. The melted butter will begin to brown in the pan. Baste the potatoes with the brown butter every 10-15 minutes.

  7. Bake until golden brown and soft inside when poked with the tip of a knife.

  8. Once done, baste one more time and sprinkle with bread crumbs baking for 5-10 more minutes or until crumbs are crisp-golden.

Quick Pickled Cucumbers


1 English (hothouse) cucumber

1 Tbls. kosher salt

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1 cup sugar

1 bay leaf

2 allspice berries


  1. Slice the cucumber as thin as possible (use a mandoline or other vegetable slicer if you have one). Put the slices in a colander, toss them with the salt, and let stand for about 30 minutes. 

  2. Meanwhile, combine the water, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, and allspice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool. 

  3. Rinse the salt off the cucumbers, and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Put the cucumbers in a medium bowl and add the pickling solution; they should be completely covered by the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours before serving. 

  4. The pickled cucumbers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

Freezing Meatballs

  • 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. 

Use meatballs in place of Sausage in Sausage & Sauerkraut Soup

Dinner Idea: use Meatballs in place of sausage in my Sausage & Sauerkraut Soup

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