leaving sweden + gun’s köttbullar (swedish meatballs)


It’s a bittersweet day today. As I write, I’m aboard an aircraft due to arrive in Berlin, Germany, in approximately half an hour. Pretty darn exciting. But in spite of our pending German adventures, I’m carrying a weight on my chest that refuses to dissipate. I’m sad to be leaving Sweden behind.

The last two weeks have passed in a blur of nasal congestion and activity. Fourteen days of precious family time, the highlight of which was my cousin’s wedding last Saturday night. Aaron and I felt incredibly honoured, humbled and blessed just to be on the guest list, never mind being part of the family. My cousin and her groom are two of those rare gems that you hope to meet in a lifetime: warm, generous, fun and completely genuine. It was a privilege to see them commit the rest of their lives to one another, surrounded by those who love them the most.

It’s been fifteen days since I wrote the two paragraphs above. Over the past two weeks, Aaron and I have traveled from Malmö (Sweden) to Copenhagen (Denmark) to Berlin and Munich (Germany). This morning, we boarded a train to Venice (Italy) where we will spend the next three days before traveling to Florence, Siena and Rome.

Tiring? Yeah, a little. But after seven years without an overseas adventure, I’m savouring every moment.


sunsetAnyway, in my last post I promised to share my Aunt’s Swedish meatball recipe with you. However fragmented internet access has delayed my intentions. Below, you will find the notes that I took whilst cooking with my Aunt several weeks ago. As you can see, measurements are approximate (largely as my Aunt adds seasoning by sight rather than precise quantity). The recipe is rather forgiving, however I’ll add any adjustments as required when I have the opportunity to recreate this recipe at home.

But for now, please enjoy this second visit to my Aunt and Uncle’s Swedish kitchen. Thanks again Uncle Harlen, Aunty Gun, Nattis, Rach, Dani (and the little ones) for your immense generosity, warmth and love. Until we meet again.


Gun’s Köttbullar (Swedish Meatballs)

Makes approximately 70 meatballs

  • 800g pork mince (not too lean, you need a little fat for moisture)
  • 800g good quality beef mince
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 egg, to bind
  • lots of seasoning, probably about 3 tsp total (my Aunt uses Aromat seasoned salt, citron pepper (lemon pepper) and mixed ground pepper; if you’re game, season and mix before dabbing a tiny bit of mince on your tongue. It should be rather salty, as the seasoning will lessen after frying)
  • 1 tsp white caster sugar
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
  • plain flour, for rolling
  • butter* for frying
  • To serve: boiled potatoes (season with salt), steamed green peas or beans, lingön sylt (lingonberry sauce; available at most IKEA stores) and brunsås (brown gravy).

In a small dish, combine breadcrumbs and milk. Stir well. Leave to soak for five minutes (or until the breadcrumbs have expanded to absorb all of the liquid).

Add to a large bowl with the pork and beef mince, egg, onion, garlic (if using), sugar and seasonings. Mix well (you may need to use your hands).

mincemixing mixing

When combined, dab a tiny bit of mince onto your tongue to check for saltiness. If you can’t taste salt, add more (my Aunt advises that it is better for it to be a ‘tiny bit too salty’ as the seasoning will be less intense after frying).

When you are happy with the flavour of your mince, place it in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to chill (this might not be necessary on a cold day). Prepare a shallow bowl of flour for rolling and dab about 1 tbsp of butter into a heavy-based frying pan in preparation for frying.

When your mixture is firm and sufficiently chilled, roll 1 tbsp of mixture into a firm ball. Gently toss the meatball into the flour mixture, ensuring an even coating. Tap off any excess flour and place the meatball onto a clean plate in preparation for frying. Repeat with the remaining meat mixture and flour.


To fry: heat the butter over medium heat until frothy. Add the meatballs in an even layer (you may need to cook three batches to avoid overcrowding the pan) and turn the heat up to medium-high. Fry on each side for 2-3 minutes or until browned and cooked through. frying

Drain on paper towels before serving 6-10 meatballs per person. For a traditional Swedish meal, accompany the meatballs with brunsås, lingön sylt, plenty of boiled potatoes and green beans.

meatballs plate2

*Do not substitute oil for butter in the frying stage or the meatballs will not taste the same. If you’re concerned about the butter burning, add a splash of neutral flavoured oil to the pan alongside the butter.


65 responses

  1. I am so impressed you are able to get a post out at all while you are away. That is dedication to your craft. Have a fabulous time in Italy xxxx PS love your Aunty’s nails!

  2. So nice to see a post from you Laura! You are still traveling…how nice! Can’t believe you took some time to create such a beautiful post. Looking forward to hearing about your trip (and seeing photographs) from your trip to Italy!

    • Yes I always feel the same, it’s very sad but wonderful at the same time. Ah, til next time, it’s hard being part of the diaspora! :( I appreciate the kind words lovely xx

  3. Blogging while you are travelling is great – once your trip is over and you re-read the posts, it will bring all those wonderful memories back. It is quite different to posting the story when you are home – more satisfying as you can remember where you were when you wrote the post. Enjoy the rest of your trip

    • Oh thanks Francesca! I hope that you enjoy them if you make them – please let me know if any adjustments need to be made, it was a very approximate post as my aunt doesn’t measure. I need to refine it when I get home :) Hope that you are both well (and her majesty too!) xxx

  4. I lost you! How did I loose you??? Oh Miss Mess I’ve missed you! You seem to be gadding all about the place (jealous) and you’re blogging too, and cooking, and photographing … agog aghast agape! Meanwhile, I lost track of you even just sitting in in my homely comfort – so how do you do it? OK, so there are only two possibilities:

    1. You are a superwoman, with freakish powers, something to do with time-stopping abilities or multi-tasking capacities beyond the wildest imaginations of even the most competent member of the WI.
    2. You have at LEAST one duplicate. That way one Laura can travel, another can blog, another can cook and la-dee-da it all gets done by a Laura of the Mess.

    Ha! Got it. You’re rumbled. And don’t even THINK about trying to explain it away some other way.

    PS – I’m gonna try those meatballs. xx

    • I missed you too Trixie! Ah! I did manage to catch up a little on your posts but it’s been do hard whilst away (my duplicate isn’t doing enough work, I need to dock her pay!). You are the sweetest, thanks so much! Xxx

  5. I have loved, loved, loved following you on your great adventure. How exciting it must be. Glad that you are throwing in a few recipes for us, too. Hope that the rest of your trip goes well. xx

    • Oh Julie, I am glad! It’s been so much fun trying to document it too, I’ve been a bit hit and miss but all has been time well spent! Sending you hugs again, thanks for being one of my most loyal commenters, it means a lot xxx

  6. Loving following your and Aaron’s adventures Laura, and very impressed you’ve taken the time to create this cyber diary. Oh to eat Swedish meatballs in Sweden! I can’t imagine. The closest I’ve come is eating them in the Ikea cafeteria…
    Enjoy Berlin! xx

  7. oh yum! This makes me miss my mom’s Swedish meatballs. She always adds a little instant coffee or espresso powder to the gravy. It contributes this incredible earthy depth of flavor the dish wouldn’t be the same without.

    • Oh I definitely need to try that Chelsea, thanks for the tip! I’m going to remake these and refine quantities when I get home, I will try the coffee for comparison. Hope that you are going well! X

  8. Oh, such wonderful adventurers you are having!! The meatballs look amazing, and I have a jar of lingonberry sauce in the cupboard just waiting! Have fun in Venezia – have some wonderful cicchetti for me!

    • Venice was amazing David, I am yet to do an Italy post but… Wow. I was blown away by the beauty of the place. And I did eat some cicchetti with dessert wine, so wonderful! X

  9. Oh, how I wish I was in your suitcase… it’s been such a treat following your adventures throughout Europe. You lucky girl!
    Meatball recipes are always intriguing to me because everyone has their specific ways of making them. I particularly like the comment about frying in butter and not oil- I totally get it. Thank you for sharing a true, authentic recipe!
    Can’t wait to hear all about Italy and the food! xx

    • Thanks Em, I appreciate it! And yes, I like reading different versions of the same recipe too, it’s an eye opener to see how individual people create depth of flavour. I am a big fan of butter :p xx

  10. Marvelous meatballs!! but mostly I want to say I’m so so glad you’re having these incredible travels– and am secretly hoping you give us post after post on it all when you get home (loved your beautiful Paris post!!) Happy travels!!

  11. I can understand that heartache completely, and yet there is the underlying thirst to explore the next new adventure. Sweden looks amazing and I really hope I get to visit one day. Chris is going to love this meatball recipe – perhaps this is my gateway to convince him we need our own European adventure – Stat! I can’t wait to hear all about the next stage of your adventure and I hope you have a wonderful time in Italy, it was certainly one of my favourite places to explore.
    Have fun Laura!!

    • I do hope that you and Chris can similarly explore the world sometime soon, it’s an adventure and an investment in itself. I’ve loved every minute, no regrets! Thanks so much ox

  12. What an amazing, whirlwind holiday! Gorgeous pics! I always love recipes that come from someone’s travel adventures, or from a cherished family kitchen. These meatballs are really both – so perfect! They look delicious, and I know my daughter would especially love them! Safe travels … will look forward to the next update! :D ~Shelley

    • Thanks Kloe, yes I do realise that they’re usually eaten at Christmas or other special occasions, my family makes them when a worthy cause arises. Not always with dessert though

  13. It truly sounds like a dream trip even though you were feeling well for part of it. Thank you for sharing your aunt’s recipe…the meal looks delicious.

    • I have so, so, so many photographs that I need to work through! Italy was incredible. I do hope that you get to go on a holiday soon though Susan… nothing beats getting away and relaxing for a while! xx

  14. This post somehow slipped past me, and I just happened upon it at the bottoms of my inbox. As hard as it was to leave Sweden, you seem to have been thoroughly enjoying the new destinations! :) Your aunt’s meatball recipe looks to die for. Think it’d be any good with deer or elk instead of pork…? I love the disclaimer about her measuring method (or lack thereof), haha. I don’t typically measure spices and such when cooking… Well, I actually don’t measure much when cooking, ha, just eyeball it. Do you always measure? Rob helped make dinner the other night, and it was amusing watching him try to precisely figure out all the measurements and which spoon was the teaspoon. ;)
    Can’t wait to try these Swedish meatballs! They’ll be exceptionally delightful once the cold really sets in. :)

    Love you loads! xx

    • Oh thank you beautiful! Hm, I will ask my aunt about the elk or deer… as I have no idea myself! I think the lean meat would need something fatty to give it ‘moisture’ though (the Swedes don’t compromise on their butter or fat!). You might have to add a small amount of pork mince or something else fatty! And nope, I don’t measure either – I’m a totally improvisational cook… which makes it SO hard to write recipes down! Argh! I guess it’s all part of the fun though. Haha, I can imagine Rob’s face as he was cooking… Aaron is pretty much the same. He asks me questions throughout and often gets me to taste stuff. I love seeing him learn though! Sending you heaps of love! xxx

  15. Pingback: beet salad with eggs, green peas and dill mayonnaise « Laura's Mess

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Cashew Kitchen

vibrant food. quiet soul. wild at heart.

Brooklyn Homemaker

modern classic recipes, story telling, and a little bit of history. Oh yeah, and schnauzers.

better than a bought one

as homemade should be

My Sweet Precision

Where flour, butter, and sugar collide

The Veggy Side Of Me

Deliciousy Green...

%d bloggers like this: