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Swedish Meatballs with Cranberry Relish

Scott Phillips

Servings: 10 to 12 as an appetizer; 6 as a main course

This version of the iconic Swedish dish incorporates milk-soaked bread to make the meatballs super tender. The traditional accompaniment, lingonberry jam, is tough to find in the U.S., so a quick cranberry relish stands in. Serve with buttered potatoes or egg noodles for a main course.


  • 4-1/2 oz. whole-wheat bread (about 3 slices), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 12 oz. ground beef (preferably 85% lean)
  • 12 oz. ground pork (preferably shoulder)
  • 1/2 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 220
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 130
  • Fat (g): 14
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6
  • Cholesterol (mg): 65
  • Sodium (mg): 260
  • Carbohydrates (g): 9
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 13


  • In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, soak the bread in the milk until softened, about 5 minutes. Mix on low speed until uniform, about 30 seconds. Add the beef, pork, onion, and egg and mix on low speed until incorporated. Sprinkle in the allspice, nutmeg, 1-/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2  tsp. pepper, increase the speed to medium, and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
  • Set a small bowl of cold water nearby and, occasionally moistening your hands, gently roll 1-1/2-oz. portions of the meat into balls; you should get about 25.
  • Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbs. each of the butter and oil. When the butter is melted, add half of the meatballs. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, and repeat with the remaining meatballs.
  • Pour off the fat, return the skillet to medium heat, and add the remaining 1 Tbs. each butter and oil. Add the flour, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture turns light brown, about 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken broth and heavy cream, and bring to a boil. Return the meatballs to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, shaking the pan occasionally, until the meatballs cook through (160°F) and the sauce thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse the cranberries, sugar, lemon zest and juice, ginger, and 1/4 tsp. salt until finely chopped. Add more sugar and salt to taste.
  • Transfer the meatballs to a serving bowl. Stir the herbs into the sauce, and pour over the meatballs. Serve with the cranberry relish on the side.


Rate or Review

Reviews (7 reviews)

  • portcharlotte | 04/27/2020

    Great recipe. Baked them in the oven and made double the amount of sauce. Served over egg noodles with lingonberry sauce from Ikea on the side. Delicious.

  • FSPH | 03/15/2020

    Sounds interesting and tasty. However, I am a bit overwhelmed. Is there a video that shows the different steps?

  • LArcher | 04/19/2019

    Really good recipe! Only used dill since that was all I had for fresh herbs. Did not make the cranberry sauce, just made the meatballs and served them over rice. Will definitely make again!

  • User avater
    FredCo | 02/23/2017

    I really liked the flavours of this dish. The allspice and nutmeg gave the meatballs a subtle interesting taste - not your everyday meatball! The sauce was simple, and did not overpower the flavour of the meatballs. And the cranberry relish on the side was fantastic - went really well. I really encourage you to try it. I fried the meatballs on the stove in batches, but finished them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes just to be sure they were all cooked through. I suppose I could have finished them in the sauce as the recipe suggests, but I wanted to be sure.

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