Icelandic Meatballs from Sausage Meat

So, we all know meatballs are made with minced beef. However, there’s another version in Iceland that Icelanders swear by meatballs made with sausage meat. The sausage meat is basically the same as in the famous Icelandic hot dogs.

Photo: Garri

And then you eat it either with boiled cabbage (for the traditional dish) or with brown sauce, potatoes, pickled red cabbage, and green peas for a fancier version.

Some people don’t look at sausage meat as something they want to buy. It has generally been considered the poor man’s minced beef, especially when you buy it from the store – it is very processed. But not to worry, you can make it at home as well.

So, we will give you recipes to make it any way you want.

Ingredients for meatballs (with sausage meat from the store) with brown sauce:

One pack of sausage meat (about 630g)
Butter or margarine

Brown Sauce:

500 ml water
1-2 cubes of bouillon
Maizena meal

On the side:

Pickled red cabbage
Green peas

Photo: Matargat


Take plenty of butter or margarine and put it in a pan. Form meatballs with a spoon. Rince the spoon between each ball, so the meat won’t stick to the spoon. Put the meatballs into the pan as you make them. When they’re brown on one side, turn them. They will be fried through in about 20 minutes.
When the meatballs are ready, take them off the pan but do not rinse it, as you will use the leftover butter as the base for the brown sauce.

Add the water to the pan with the bouillon and stir. When the water has started to boil, you can thicken it with some maize meal. Add salt, pepper, and more bouillon if needed.

When the sauce is ready, add the meatballs and let it all simmer together for a few minutes. Serve with boiled potatoes, pickled red cabbage, and green peas on the side (source).

Ingredients for homemade meatballs:

250 g minced beef
250 g minced pork
½ onion
85 g flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper
1 tsp dry thyme
150 ml cold water


Add the meat and onion to a food processor and mix well. Then, add the flour, baking powder, and egg. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil if there is little fat in the meat. Add the spices and blend. Then while the processor is going, slowly add 150 ml cold water (or as much as is needed for the meat to be of the right thickness and consistency (not runny but not dry, and a bit sticky)).

You can add all kinds of spices to the mix if you want, for example, paprika, coriander seeds, cumin, oregano, herbes de Provence, fresh basil, or parsley (source).

Ingredients for traditional meatballs and cabbage:

Photo: Nanna Rögnvalds

One pack of sausage meat (from the store or homemade)
One head white cabbage


Take a cabbage leaf, and add a sausage meatball (made with a spoon). Wrap the cabbage around the meatball and tie it with a food-safe string. Add the bundles to boiling water and boil for about 10 minutes.

Boil potatoes and melt butter to eat with the cabbage meatballs.

If you are in Iceland and want to try the sausage meatballs but do not have access to a kitchen, you can always buy the ready-made version from 1944!

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