Swedish Cocktail Meatballs ~ tender ‘Mad Men’ era meatballs smothered in rich gravy ~ the ultimate holiday appetizer that you can whip up in under an hour!
*This post is in partnership with Swanson® ~ thank you for supporting me and the brands I work with, I promise to bring you only the very best!
Put out all the fancy cheese platters and crudites you like during the holidays, but you and I both know that it’s the meaty tidbits that draw the biggest crowds. So why fight it, give your friends and family what they really want…meatballs! These Swedish cocktail meatballs are the more sophisticated, toothpick-able versions of the ones you get at Ikea ~ they’re delicate and tender, with that classic lightly spiced gravy that drives everybody mad.
There will be words spoken, civil, or not, over that last meatball, guaranteed!
A unique blend of white pepper, allspice, and nutmeg makes up the authentic trio of spices in Swedish meatballs.
If you’re not familiar with Swedish meatballs, you’re in for a treat. They’re the paler, Northern European cousins of your everyday Italian meatball, made from a combination of ground pork and ground beef. The pork gives them great flavor, and the extra fat makes them positively pillowy. And then there’s the gravy…it’s lusciously creamy and golden, made with Swanson Organic Beef Stock, sour cream, and a combination of spices that takes these meatballs to a whole new level of delicious.
When you’re dealing with a short time frame (these Swedish meatballs will be ready in an hour) and a short list of ingredients, every detail counts.
Swanson Organic Beef Stock forms the backbone of this simple gravy. I’ve used Swanson exclusively for as long as I can remember, and I’m super excited that they’ve come out with a new organic line of stocks (free-range too, for the chicken.)
Just check out the all-natural ingredient list ~ the beef stock is flavored with real food like onions, carrots, celery…even a touch of molasses!
The easiest and best way to make meatballs may surprise you…it’s in your stand mixer! Hear me out ~ the stand mixer does a better job of gently but thoroughly mixing all the ingredients than you can do with your hands ~ without the mess.
You need a gentle touch when it comes to mixing ground meats, over-working them will compact the meat and make it tough. But it’s also essential to get all of the ingredients evenly combined. The stand mixer does a great job of both.
I like to use a small 1 inch scoop to make uniformly sized meatballs. These can be formed ahead of time, and even frozen, to be used later. Just freeze the uncooked meatballs in a single layer on a tray until solid, and then put them in a sturdy zip lock freezer bag or container.
TIP: There are two ways to cook these meatballs. Browning meatballs in a skillet first before baking produces great flavor, but tends to create mis-shapen balls as the meat settles during the browning process. If you want perfectly ROUND meatballs ~ skip the skillet and place them directly on a baking sheet, brush lightly with olive oil, and bake in a hot oven. Brush once again with oil during cooking.
After trying it both ways, I come down on the side of skillet browning…the flavor is superior.
The most important step in any recipe is the tasting! Taste often, especially towards the end of the cooking process, to see how you can adjust any of the ingredients to make the dish even better.
This recipe makes extra gravy so that you can turn these Swedish Cocktail Meatballs into a main course if you like…serve them on their own, or over noodles or mashed potatoes. Don’t expect leftovers…
Swedish Cocktail Meatballs
- 1/4 medium white onion finely minced (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 tablespoon butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup mashed potato
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1 egg beaten
- 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- olive oil for browning
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 cups Swanson® Organic Beef Stock
- 1/2 cup sour cream you can substitute half and half
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/3 cup parsley finely minced
- more minced parsley
- Put all the meatball ingredients (everything except the olive oil) in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl if doing by hand.) I like to break apart the meat as I add it to the bowl. Blend the mixture until all the ingredients are completely incorporated.
- Form small 1 inch balls, I like to use a 1 inch scoop to portion out the meat evenly. Gently roll them round with the palms of your hand.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Coat the bottom of a heavy skillet with olive oil and heat on medium high until hot. Brown the meatballs on all sides, working in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Do this gently, the meatballs are delicate. Set the meatballs on a baking sheet.
- Bake the meatballs for 12-15 minutes, until done through (the inner temperature should be 165F.)
- While the meatballs are baking, make the gravy. Melt the butter in a clean skillet. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Do not allow it to brown.
- Add the Swanson Organic Beef Stock while whisking or stirring constantly, and bring the mixture up to a simmer.
- Turn down the heat and add the sour cream, soy sauce, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and parsley. Taste to adjust any of the seasonings.
- Add the meatballs into the sauce, and then serve hot, garnished with parsley.
- Instant mashed potatoes work just great in this recipe.
- Serve these Swedish Cocktail Meatballs with toothpicks or tiny hors d’oeuvres forks.
- Once cooked, you could place these meatballs and gravy in a crock pot on the warm setting and serve right from there.