Swedish Meatball Sandwich


The Polish women on my mother’s side have kept this swedish meatball recipe a closely guarded secret for generations. I ate these bite-sized morsels by the dozen as a child, served hot with a piece of dunking bread and a sloppy kiss from Grandma Ni. This recipe can be easily adjusted for more or less people and can be broken down into two separate delicious elements: the sauce and the meatballs.

Prep Time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 30-45 minutes
Total Time: 90-105 minutes

Servings: Makes around 5 servings

½ a jar (5 oz.) of grape jelly
½ a bottle (6 oz.) of chili sauce
½ a fresh lemon
1 lb. of ground beef
1 egg
1 large onion
3 to 5 tablespoons of butter


1.Place a saucepan on top of the stove on medium heat. The saucepan needs to be hot enough to melt the jelly down, but not hot enough to smoke or bubble.

2. Place the lemon on the countertop and roll the lemon back and forth with your palm while leaning forward to put some pressure on the fruit.

3. Next throw the ½ a jar of grape jelly, the ½ a jar of chili sauce, and the juice of half of your lemon into the saucepan. If there are any likeminded sauce lovers out there like me, toss in both full bottles and juice both lemon halves.

4. Stir the mixture slowly. The chunks of jelly will eventually begin to dissolve and the mixture will start to blend together (If you’re doing this right, be prepared to smell something unreal).

6. Once the jelly has been reduced, decrease the heat of the stove. The stove should not be transforming the sauce anymore, just simply keeping it warm while you make the meatballs.

Photo by Ryan Raichelson

7. Slightly beat ½ of the egg in a bowl with a utensil. Combine the egg with 1 pound of ground beef, grated onion, salt and pepper.

8. The recipe does not specify the amount of onion to put into your meatballs; it really is up to you as long as the chunks are not too big.

9. Get mean and mash that mixture together. If you see any big chunks of onion, take them out before it’s too late.

10. Now that you’ve mixed everything up, its time to start balling up the meat. The mini meatballs should be approximately 1 inch in diameter.

Photo by Ryan Raichelson

11. Place 3 (or 6 depending on your preference) tablespoons of butter in a pan and let it get hot. The pan should be hot enough to get the butter sizzling, but not burnt.

12. Roll the meatballs around in the butter until they are completely coated. Cook the meatballs until they are brown through and through. The cook time will vary slightly depending on how many you decided to make at one time, but it should not exceed 20 minutes.

13. Once they have been browned sufficiently, roll the meatballs onto some paper to dab off the extra butter. Take the dried meatballs and drop them into the sauce. Stir the mixture slowly.

14. Bonus: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Take a long French roll (hoagie sized) and take out the breading of the top half. I know males everywhere have long resisted following this dieting trend, and it still may seem like a travesty, but trust me on this. Lay the bread, face open, in the oven and wait until crispy.

15. When the bread has crisped up, place a heaping spoonful of saucy meatballs into the divot you have created. The extra room allows you to cram much more meatballs into the sandwich and who doesn’t like that?

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