Skip to main content

For the Best Swedish Meatballs, Pull Out Your Stand Mixer

The quick trick for springy, satisfying texture
Published Feb. 9, 2022

Meatball recipes often urge caution: Overmixing, or, heaven forbid, kneading the meat will make the meatballs firm and chewy. That's true when it comes to delicate Italian meatballs, but Swedish meatballs are supposed to have a springy bite to them.

To achieve that light spring in our recipe, we use a stand mixer to give the meat a thorough, high-speed mixing. Muscle meat contains a water-soluble structural protein called myosin that's naturally bound in a complex with other proteins. Extended manipulation of ground meat causes myosin to dissolve out of the protein complex, distribute throughout the grind, and form a gel that binds the whole thing together.

The more extensive the mixing, the more myosin links together, and the more gel is created. Cooking the meat then makes the gel tight and strong. When you bite into it, the protein holds together until it suddenly yields all at once in a snappy burst of juice. (In sausage-making, where snap and cohesion are essential, the meat is manipulated even more.)

We use a similar technique when making lion's-head meatballs, which are also prized for a firm rather than tender texture.

So the next time you want meatballs with spring, don't hold back on the mixing. Better yet, pull out your stand mixer.

Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter

The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.

0 Comments

Try All-Access Membership to Unlock the Comments
Don't miss the conversation. Our test cooks and editors jump in to answer your questions, and our members are curious, opinionated, and respectful.
Membership includes instant access to everything on our sites:
  • 10,000+ foolproof recipes and why they work
  • Taste Tests of supermarket ingredients
  • Equipment Reviews save you money and time
  • Videos including full episodes and clips
  • Live Q&A with Test Kitchen experts
Start Free Trial
JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.