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Scandinavian venison meatballs recipe: a delicious way to use up spare venison

Cai ap Bryn doesn’t care whether meatballs originated in Turkey, Italy or Sweden, they will always be a favourite way to use up spare venison. Serves three to four.

Scandinavian venison meatballs recipe

Scandinavian venison meatballs recipe


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 5 tbsp milk
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp white pepper
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • 500g venison mince
  • 200g fatty pork mince


  • 40g butter
  • 40g plain flour
  • 150ml beef stock
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 150ml double cream
  • 2tsp soy sauce
  • 1tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tsp Dijon mustard


  1. Combine the onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, egg, milk, salt, pepper, allspice, venison and pork in a bowl. Mix together thoroughly and form into 20 evenly sized balls.
  2. Coat a pan with a little vegetable oil and fry the meatballs on all sides to brown.
  3. Once browned, set aside. Use the same pan to start the sauce. The essence in the pan from the meatballs adds to the rich flavour. Add the butter on medium heat and melt, then add the flour to make a roux. Stir for a minute to cook out the flour.
  4. Add the beef stock gradually to get a smooth consistency and continue with the vegetable stock. This will make a nice, gravy-like sauce. Then slowly add all of the cream and keep stirring.
  5. Add the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard to finish. Once everything is in the pan and combined, add the meatballs and place a lid over the pan for 10 minutes on a medium to low heat.
  6. Serve the meatballs with mash and vegetables, or chips and peas. I recommend serving with a side of cranberry or lingonberry jelly.

More on Swedish meatballs

It’s no secret. If you have ever been shopping for flat-pack furniture, there is only one place that springs to mind. Not only for the furniture though, of course – many of us are really there, in spite of what we tell our other halves, for the meatballs.

I have been fortunate enough to travel around Scandinavia and have tried many different versions. I love the lingonberry or cranberry jelly you often get with them, too. The little bit of sweetness goes well, especially when matched with venison.

The Swedish meatball has been around since the 18th century. Some believe it came from Turkey, others say France or Italy. Whatever its origin, the meatball is an extremely versatile dish that has many variations and creates a tasty meal using cheaper cuts of meat. Traditionally, those cheaper cuts were ground down and mixed with breadcrumbs and spices to feed families with little money — another example of a working person’s meal that is celebrated all over the world.

When it comes to meatballs, we often think of the Italians as the masters – and rightly so. Rich tomato sauces, Parmesan toppings, fresh pasta — what’s not to like? (You might like to look at this recipe for Italian Polpette – meatballs Italian style.)

This recipe is indulgent and rich. The creamy sauce is real comfort food and will certainly put any spare venison to good use. I had great fun with this recipe, as did my family, eating every last morsel. Traditional recipes include beef, pork or veal and, in some instances, reindeer and moose, so venison is most fitting. The venison I used is from local fallow deer.

At this time of year, we harvest a lot of deer ready for our events in the summer. We are fortunate to have some excellent deer-rich countryside in East Sussex and we work hard to maintain a healthy and balanced population.

Swedish meatballs are often served with potatoes or mash. However, in more recent years, they have been enjoyed with French fries — perfect for dipping into that deliciously creamy sauce. Enjoy this recipe for Scandinavian venison meatballs, of course, with a cold beer.