The unofficial national dish of Sweden, the flagship edible of IKEA and a hearty supper for a cold winters night…. Swedish style meatballs are a product with a great deal of culinary legacy. While firmly associated with Scandinavia, the dish actually holds Middle Eastern origins, King Charles XII of Sweden bringing home the recipe on his return from a five year exile to the Ottoman Empire at the turn of the 18th century.

It is the sensory details which make this such a memorable foodstuff – the rich cream based gravy, the sweet lingonberries, the pillowy clouds of mash, the briney crunch of the pickles. Traditionally these are made with pork, or a pork and beef combination, owing to the comparative size of the Swedish pork industry.

As big fans of the humble meatball – we made the first fresh meatball for the retail sector back in 2000 – the iconic Swedish interpretation has always intrigued us and a couple of years ago we introduced a pre-packed version of the classic, using beef meatballs, as part of our Easy to Cook range.

We put a festive spin on this classic, using some of our venison meatballs as the base, and switching out the traditional lingonberry for some wholeberry cranberry sauce. You could use reindeer meat for the full effect, but it tends to be hard to source – we think our venison will do the trick nicely!

Rich, warming and easy to make, we recommend serving with the traditional mashed potato and pickles – or even making this a day or two ahead and including as part of the Christmas dinner!

RECIPE (serves 4)

-1 package Waitrose venison meatballs

-2tbsp flour

-2tbsp butter

-300ml Double cream

-300ml beef stock

-Sea salt and black pepper

-2 tbsp cranberry sauce (storebought will do, but ideally make your own – recipe below!)



-8oz cranberries

-100g sugar

-Zest and juice of 1 orange

-25ml ruby port


  • Make the cranberry sauce ahead of time – simply put the cranberries in a pan on low heat, add the sugar orange zest and port, and cook for around 10 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Cook meatballs, a few at a time, in a frying pan for about 6-7 minutes until they are browned all over, then put aside.
  • Make a roux from the flour and butter, then turn the heat down to low and add double cream until the mixture is thick. Add beef stock – for a richer gravy use more stock. Season to taste, and when evenly mixed and a nice light chestnut colour, add the meatballs and mix well. Add cranberry sauce before serving.
  • Serve with skin-on mashed potato, sliced pickle and additional cranberry sauce on the side!

Tomahawk Serving Suggestions
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