New York-style meatballs, baby

 I love meatballs so I thought I’d see what all the fuss is about with New York-style meatballs.

  • SERVES: 4
  • PREP TIME:  10 mins
  • COOK TIME: 1.5 hrs
  • DIFFICULTY: easy
  • IDEAL FOR: family midweek meal, weekend meal

New York-style meatballs

Well, let’s just start with New York.

My love of NYC and to be specific, Manhattan and to be really specific, the West Village… is a long love affair.

Had I not landed in London in 1999 with £300 left in my pocket but instead landed in NYC.

I think I could safely say that I would have lived there for many years.

And considered myself a Kiwi-New Yorker and not a Kiwi-Londoner.

Ab Fab and Sex in the City

I grew up with Ab Fab and Sex and the City.

One programme that pokes fun at fashion and excess… but still makes it look really good fun with your best mate in toe!

And another that takes female friendships, fashion, career building, dating and living in a city a bit more seriously but with hilarious, awkward moments along the way.

You couldn’t get to more opposite-looking programmes or characters.

But both (in my opinion) celebrated the great cities they were filmed in.

And friendships.

There wasn’t a great deal about the food of the cities but both did have signature drinks.

There was the Bolli-dahling and the Cosmo.

And yes, we did drink these (maybe not actual Bolli).

5 twenty-something women hit NYC

When I was travelling for work, I would always attach 3 days to the end of my American trips to visit Manhattan.

I probably visited NYC 12 times a year for a number of years, when I was doing a lot of work travel in the States.

To the point that I started getting my haircut there and would buy my Calvin Kleins (the exchange was working for me quite well so another good reason).

On one trip, my best pal came to join me with 3 other friend-colleagues and their pals.

There were 5 of us.

We crammed into a nice hotel room on Lexington Ave.

And we stepped out as if we were Carrie, Charlotte, Samantha and Miranda.

But not quite as glamorous and lacking a bit of cash.

But… that didn’t matter.

The West Village

We even ended up heading to a restaurant in the West Village (Carrie’s manor).

And on the way there we literally walked into ‘Carrie’ filming an episode of Sex in the City.

It couldn’t have been a better night for us!

So, how does all of this relate to New York meatballs?

It doesn’t really.

I just love reminiscing about NYC.

 And I did get a shot at living in the West Village about 10 years later.

It was an incredible experience… but even then, I still didn’t have NY meatballs.

So, time to try them.

NY meatballs vs Swedish meatballs

The ingredients

So, the polpette (Italian meatball) which is the basis for the NY-style meatball is a different mix to the Swedish kottbullar.

Of course, like most recipes, there are loads of variations and those who say this is the original or that is the original.

But here we go…

Apparently minced beef, pork, and veal are the main players in both styles.

But I’ve personally never seen a recipe that has veal in it.

The Italian versions, especially those you find in the States, usually have all three types of meat.

But the Swedish version is most commonly made with a 50-50-ish pork and beef combo.

Meatball size

I’m pretty sure you can guess what’s coming here.

Swedish meatballs are shaped much smaller in size—think, golfball-sized.

Italian meatballs are larger in size (except, perhaps, if they’re being served as a component in a soup).

And Italian-American meatballs, are even larger.


Both types of meatballs include ingredients such as grated onion and panade (milk-soaked bread) or bread crumbs, salt and pepper.

Swedish meatballs traditionally use spices like allspice, nutmeg, white pepper, and sometimes ground ginger.

Italian-American meatballs classically call for grated parmesan or Pecorino, garlic and parsley (and sometimes fennel seed and dried oregano).


This is the biggest difference between a meatball dish from Stateside vs Swedish side.

If you’ve ever been to IKEA or like me, just made the IKEA meatball recipe (which is epic, btw).

Then you’ll know, the meatballs are cooked in a rich, creamy sauce made with beef stock and double cream.

It’s rich and really, really good.

The Italian-American meatballs are served in a lovely, tangy, chunky tomato sauce (marinara).


What I love about meatballs is you can serve them how you want.

They can be a cheeky little snack, no fuss.

Or served with pasta, in a casserole, a soup, inside a sandwich… the list goes on.

So delicious! New York meatballs


Recipe inspired by Gizzi Erskine


New York meatballs

Course Main Course
Keyword meatballs, meatballs and pasta, New York meatballs, New York style meatballs, pork and beef meatballs
Servings 4
Cost £



  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 500 g minced pork
  • 500 g minced beef
  • few sprigs of thyme
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • sea salt and ground pepper for seasoning

Tomato sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 onions, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 x 400` g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 kg fresh plum or cherry tomatoes, chopped (if in a rush, you just add another 400g tinned tomatoes)
  • 1- 2 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 bunch of basil



  • In a frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil, then add the garlic and onion and sweat for 4–5 minutes, or until soft. Let cool.
  • In a large bowl, mix the minced pork and beef with the onion and garlic plus the thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper. You can take a little bit of mixture and fry it to check for seasoning.
  • Divide the mixture into 12 – 16 large round balls and pop them in the fridge until needed.

Tomato sauce

  • In a deep frying pan, heat some oil and cook the onions until soft (approx 10 minutes), adding the garlic at the end.
  • Stir in the tomato purée and cook for a few minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes and the plum or cherry tomatoes, vinegar and sugar. (*if you don't have an hour, use another tinned tomato and cook for 10 minutes)
    Cook the sauce slowly for about 1 hour, or until reduced but still a pouring consistency.
  • If you want true New York-style meatballs, you blitz the sauce to make it smooth, otherwise, you can keep them as is but either way, add the basil and season in the pan and cook on a low simmer.
  • In a frying pan, cook the meatballs in oil until browned and cooked through. Then add them to the sauce and cook for approx. 10 minutes.
  • Serve the meatballs with pasta and grated Parmesan cheese


Recipe inspired by: Gizzi Erskine