Swedish Meatballs Recipe

Swedish Meatballs Recipe: Quick and Flavorful Guide

Swedish meatballs are a classic dish that has gained international fame, in part due to their deliciousness and accessibility for home cooks. These delightful morsels typically consist of ground beef or a combination of beef and pork, seasoned with spices like nutmeg, allspice, and parsley. They are bound together with breadcrumbs and eggs, then seared until golden brown before being smothered with a rich, creamy gravy.

You may have first encountered Swedish meatballs at famous furniture stores or a local restaurant, but preparing this dish at home can be a fun and satisfying culinary experience. This article will provide guidance on creating an authentic Swedish meatball recipe using readily available ingredients and straightforward techniques. So, get ready to cook up a delicious meal that can be enjoyed over buttered noodles, rice, or along with some classic sides such as mashed potatoes and a Caesar salad.

Basic Ingredients

Swedish meatballs, known as k√∂ttbullar in Sweden, are small, round meatballs commonly served with a rich and creamy sauce. Here’s a list of basic ingredients you’ll need for making delicious Swedish meatballs and their accompanying sauce.


  • Ground meat: You can choose a combination of ground beef and pork, or use just one of them.
  • Breadcrumbs: A good choice would be Panko breadcrumbs, but any type you have on hand will work.
  • Milk: Helps to bind the ingredients and adds moisture to the meatballs.
  • Onion: A finely chopped onion not only enhances the flavor but also provides texture.
  • Egg: Helps bind all the ingredients together.
  • Parsley: Freshly chopped parsley adds a touch of herbaceous freshness.
  • Allspice and Nutmeg: These spices provide a warm, earthy flavor unique to Swedish meatballs.
  • Salt and Pepper: To taste, these two basic seasonings help bring out the flavors of all the other ingredients.
  • Oil: Use a choice of neutral oil or olive oil for browning the meatballs in a skillet before transferring them to the sauce.


  • Unsalted Butter: The base for your roux, which will thicken the sauce.
  • All-purpose Flour: Helps thicken the sauce when combined with melted butter.
  • Beef Broth: The primary liquid component, providing a savory, rich base for the sauce.
  • Sour Cream: Added for creaminess and a slightly tangy flavor.
  • Optional: Lingonberry jelly or cranberry sauce for a touch of sweetness that complements the meatballs.

Once you have gathered all your ingredients, mix the meatball components in a bowl, shape the mixture into round balls, and brown them in the skillet with some oil. While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the sauce in a separate pan by first making a roux with the butter and flour before gradually adding the beef broth. Let the sauce thicken, then stir in the sour cream. Finally, add your browned meatballs back into the pan, letting them simmer in the sauce until cooked through.

Swedish meatballs are versatile and can be served over pasta, rice, or even just on their own as an appetizer. Enjoy the delightful combination of flavors and textures that make this dish an international favorite!

Optional Enhancements

Swedish meatballs are a versatile recipe that can be easily customized according to your taste preferences. Here, we provide you with several optional enhancements that can add depth and variety to the classic dish.

Spices: Adding spices like allspice or nutmeg to the meatball mixture can elevate their flavor, providing a unique touch to the dish. Just a pinch or two can make a significant difference.

Meat Choices: Traditionally, Swedish meatballs are made with a combination of ground beef and ground pork. However, you can experiment with different ratios of these meats or even substitute ground turkey or chicken for a leaner version.

Side dishes: Swedish meatballs can be served with various side dishes to make a complete meal. Some popular options include egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or a simple green salad.

  • Egg noodles: Serving your Swedish meatballs over a bed of egg noodles can enhance the dish and make it feel like a comforting, hearty meal.
  • Mashed potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are a perfect base for the rich meatball sauce and provide a delicious contrast in texture.
  • Green salad: A light, fresh green salad can help balance the richness of the Swedish meatballs and sauce.

Garlic and Dijon mustard: Adding a touch of minced garlic and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard to the creamy sauce can lend an extra depth of flavor while staying true to the dish’s Scandinavian roots.

Sauce Variations: While the traditional creamy sauce is delicious as-is, you can also try experimenting with other sauce options, such as:

  • Dijon: Incorporate Dijon mustard into the creamy sauce for a slightly tangy twist.
  • Tomato sauce: Use tomato sauce as a base for a more robust and tangy option, which can help add an exciting contrast to the savory meatballs.

These optional enhancements allow you to make Swedish meatballs your own while maintaining the essence of the classic recipe. Feel free to mix and match these suggestions to create a dish that suits your tastes and preferences.

Cooking Instructions

Before starting, gather all necessary ingredients and have them at hand to make your Swedish meatballs recipe process smooth and efficient.

Step 1: Preparing the meatball mixture
Combine your ground meat (typically a mixture of beef and pork) with breadcrumbs, grated onion, egg, salt, pepper, and your preferred seasonings. A grater or box grater can be used to grate the onion. Mix everything together gently but thoroughly to ensure an even distribution of ingredients.

Step 2: Forming the meatballs
Shape the mixture into 1-1.5 inch meatballs, aiming for roughly 36 evenly-sized meatballs. To do this, use your hands or a spoon to scoop, roll, and form the desired size.

Step 3: Cooking the meatballs
Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the meatballs in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the skillet. Saute them for about 6-7 minutes, turning them occasionally to ensure even browning. When the meatballs are golden brown and cooked through, remove them from the skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate or tray to keep warm.

Step 4: Making the gravy sauce
In the same skillet (to retain the meatball flavors), melt some unsalted butter over medium heat. Gradually whisk in an equal amount of flour and cook until the mixture turns golden brown. Slowly add beef broth, continuously whisking to avoid lumps. Allow the sauce to simmer and thicken, then add heavy cream and any additional seasonings to taste.

Step 5: Combining everything
Finally, return the cooked meatballs to the skillet with the gravy sauce, gently mixing to ensure each meatball is coated. Simmer the mixture for a few more minutes to ensure all flavors meld together.

If you wish to bake your Swedish Meatballs instead of sautéing them, preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and place the meatballs on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through, before proceeding with the gravy sauce.

By following these steps, you’ll have a delicious Swedish meatballs dish to enjoy. Remember to serve them on top of egg noodles or with a side of mashed potatoes to complete the meal. Enjoy!

Serving Suggestions

Swedish meatballs are a delicious and comforting dish that is perfect for family dinners or holiday gatherings. The juicy meatballs paired with a creamy sauce make it a popular favorite worldwide, even being served in well-known establishments such as Ikea. When it comes to serving Swedish meatballs, there are several scrumptious options to complement their distinct flavor.

Egg noodles: One classic pairing for Swedish meatballs is egg noodles. The sturdy noodles hold up well under the weight of the meatballs and their creamy sauce, making them an ideal base for the dish. Cooking the noodles al dente will ensure they maintain their shape and texture.

Mashed potatoes: Another traditional serving suggestion for Swedish meatballs is creamy mashed potatoes, which provide a fantastic contrast to the bold flavors of the meatballs. Opt for Yukon Gold potatoes to achieve the perfect creaminess in your mashed potatoes.

Here are three more side dish ideas that will complement your Swedish meatballs and elevate your meal:

  1. Rice pilaf: Light and fluffy rice pilaf provides a delicious backdrop for the robust flavors of Swedish meatballs, allowing the meatballs to shine while still offering a complementary side dish.
  2. Gnocchi: Soft, pillowy gnocchi can be a delightful alternative to the more traditional mashed potatoes or egg noodles, holding the sauce beautifully.
  3. Vegetables: Steamed or roasted vegetables, such as green beans, carrots, or asparagus, add color and nutrients to your plate, balancing out the richness of Swedish meatballs.

Freezing Swedish meatballs: If you’ve prepared extra meatballs, or if you want to make this dish ahead of time, freezing your Swedish meatballs is an efficient option. Simply freeze them on a lined baking sheet, then transfer them to an airtight container. When you’re ready for a delicious meal, reheat them in the oven or on the stovetop.

While Swedish meatballs differ from their Italian and porcupine counterparts in flavor and sauce, they’re all versatile options suited to a variety of side dishes and occasions. Be it a cozy family dinner or a holiday celebration, Swedish meatballs paired with the right serving suggestions will undoubtedly be a hit.

Storing and Reheating

Swedish meatballs are a delicious and versatile dish, but sometimes you may have leftovers or want to prepare a large batch ahead of time. In this section, we’ll guide you on storing and reheating Swedish meatballs to maintain their quality and taste.

Freezing Swedish Meatballs:

To freeze Swedish meatballs, first ensure they’re fully cooked. Allow them to cool completely before proceeding. Once cooled, follow these steps:

  1. Spread the meatballs evenly on a parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheet.
  2. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 1-2 hours, or until meatballs are firm to touch.
  3. Transfer the frozen meatballs to a freezer-safe zip-top bag or airtight container.
  4. Label and date the container to keep track of their freshness.
  5. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Reheating Swedish Meatballs:

There are a few methods to reheat Swedish meatballs, each yielding slightly different results. Choose the method that best suits your preferences and needs.

Oven Method – Preferred for Even Heating

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Remove desired meatballs from their freezer container and place them evenly onto an oven-safe dish or baking sheet.
  3. If reheating with sauce, pour the sauce over the meatballs.
  4. Cover the dish or baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until heated through. Optionally, you may remove the foil during the last 5 minutes for a slightly crispier exterior.

Microwave Method – Quicker, But May Yield Uneven Heating

  1. Place desired meatballs in a microwave-safe dish.
  2. Cover the dish with a microwave-safe lid or a microwave-safe plastic wrap.
  3. Reheat meatballs at 50-70% power for 2-3 minutes, checking and stirring every 30 seconds to ensure even heating.
  4. Once heated through, remove from microwave, and let them rest for a minute before serving.

Now you can enjoy your Swedish meatballs at your convenience, without sacrificing taste or texture!

Nutritional Information

Swedish meatballs are a delicious and satisfying dish, packed with flavor and nutrients. This section will provide a brief overview of some of the main nutrients found in Swedish meatballs. The nutritional content may vary depending on the ingredients you choose and the specific recipe you follow.

Calories and Macros: A serving of Swedish meatballs, typically consists of about 5-6 meatballs. This serving size may contain roughly 300-350 calories, comprised of approximately 30g protein, 14g fat, and 8-10g carbs. This well-balanced macro combination can provide sustained energy and help fuel the body.

Fats: The majority of the fat in Swedish meatballs comes from the meat used, which is typically a combination of ground sirloin and ground pork. Be aware that these meats can contribute to your intake of saturated fats, which should be controlled for a healthy diet.

Cholesterol & Sodium: As with most meat-based dishes, Swedish meatballs contain cholesterol. Serving size typically has around 100mg of cholesterol. Sodium content can vary depending on ingredients such as salt and the sauce preparation. Choose wisely and consider using lower sodium alternatives for a healthier option.

Sugar, Fiber, and Potassium: Swedish meatballs have a relatively low sugar content, with most recipes having under 5g per serving. Although not a significant source of fiber, there are trace amounts of fiber from ingredients like breadcrumbs and onions. Potassium can vary based on ingredients but is usually found in moderate amounts in meatballs.

Vitamins and Minerals: Swedish meatballs provide essential nutrients like Vitamin A, which is important for eye health and immune support; Vitamin C, found in the garnishing parsley, which can enhance iron absorption; calcium, which is crucial for bone strength; and iron, which is essential for transporting oxygen in the bloodstream.

To achieve the best nutritional profile with your Swedish meatballs, always select high-quality ingredients and non-processed meats. Opt for whole grain breadcrumbs or Panko for added fiber and nutritional value. You can even minimize the use of kosher salt and replace egg yolks with egg whites. With attention to ingredients, you can enjoy this delicious dish while providing a nutrient-rich meal.

Fun Facts and History

Swedish meatballs, or “k√∂ttbullar” in their native language, have a rich history and are a beloved traditional dish in Sweden. Contrary to popular belief, Swedish meatballs were influenced by a recipe King Charles XII brought back from Turkey in the early 18th century.

Over time, the Swedish meatball recipe has evolved. The first recorded recipe, dating back to 1755, featured a mixture of ground beef, pork, breadcrumbs, and onions. It was not until the early 1800s when a chef at the Swedish court added cream and nutmeg that the dish began to resemble the version known today.

The traditional Swedish meatball recipe consists of lean ground beef, spices such as allspice, and a creamy gravy sauce made from beef gravy and thickened cream. Here’s a brief overview of the recipe:

  1. Soak breadcrumbs in milk for about 10 minutes.
  2. Dice onions and fry gently in butter or olive oil.
  3. Blend the ground meat mixture with onions, egg, milk-soaked breadcrumbs, and spices.
  4. Add salt, pepper, and mix for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Shape into balls and cook in the oven or fry in a pan.

Swedish meatballs are usually served with creamy gravy sauce, lingonberry jam and either potatoes or pasta. While IKEA has popularized Swedish meatballs worldwide, it’s important to remember that they did not invent the dish. The tradition of making Swedish meatballs dates back centuries, and each family may have their unique take on the classic recipe.

So next time you’re in the mood for a comforting, traditional Swedish dish, try your hand at making authentic Swedish meatballs with allspice, lean ground beef, and creamy gravy sauce. Enjoy the taste of Sweden in your home!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to make the sauce for Swedish meatballs?

To make the sauce for Swedish meatballs, start by melting butter in a pan and whisking in all-purpose flour to create a roux. Gradually add beef broth, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Once the mixture is smooth, stir in heavy cream, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook on low heat until the sauce is thick and creamy.

How do Swedish meatballs differ from Italian meatballs?

Swedish meatballs are typically made with a combination of ground beef and pork, and are smaller in size. The main difference lies in the flavors and spices used: Swedish meatballs often feature spices like nutmeg, allspice, and white pepper, while Italian meatballs rely on herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley. The sauces are also different: Swedish meatballs are served with a creamy gravy, while Italian meatballs are paired with a tomato-based sauce.

What are some tips to prevent meatballs from falling apart?

To prevent meatballs from falling apart, make sure you:

  1. Use a binding agent, such as breadcrumbs (or panko crumbs) mixed with milk, and an egg.
  2. Mix the ingredients gently and avoid overmixing, as it can make the meatballs tough.
  3. Form the meatballs with a gentle hand to avoid compressing them too much.
  4. Let the meatballs rest in the refrigerator before cooking to help them maintain their shape.

Are IKEA’s Swedish meatballs precooked?

Yes, IKEA’s Swedish meatballs are precooked and then frozen, making it easy for you to prepare and enjoy them at home by simply heating them up in your oven or frying pan.

Can I make Swedish meatballs without using cream?

Yes, you can make Swedish meatballs without using cream. If you prefer a light or dairy-free alternative, you can substitute the heavy cream with a milk of your choice (preferably full-fat) and add a thickening agent such as cornstarch or arrowroot powder to achieve the desired consistency of the sauce.

What is the key ingredient in Swedish meatball gravy?

The key ingredient in Swedish meatball gravy is the combination of beef broth and heavy cream. This mixture, along with seasonings like soy sauce and Dijon mustard, creates the rich and creamy flavor that makes Swedish meatball gravy so distinctive and delicious.

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