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Swedish Meatballs

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This traditional Swedish meatballs recipe is bursting with rich, savory flavors and topped with a creamy gravy. Always so comforting served over mashed potatoes or noodles!

Who’s ready for a big bowl of Swedish meatballs served over buttery mashed potatoes with a generous ladle of creamy gravy on top? ♡

I don’t know about you, but this classic is always one of my favorite comfort foods this time of year. I actually had the good fortune of being able to visit Stockholm a few times while we were living in Europe, and always loved sampling the various takes on traditional meatballs and gravy around town (in between eating a million kanelbular). My favorite meatballs were always those that were more generously-seasoned with spices such as nutmeg and ginger and allspice, those that were browned until caramelized and slightly crispy on the outsides, and of course, those served up with creamy potatoes and gravy and a spoonful of lingonberry sauce on the side. The Swedes definitely have this classic combo dialed in — those savory, creamy, sweet flavors are just impossible to beat!

Now that we’re back in the States, I’ve been working on fine-tuning my own favorite Swedish meatball recipe to make here at home. I’ve aimed for it to be as traditional as possible (although from what I’ve read, there are a number of different ways that this classic is actually prepared in Sweden, so please take my interpretation with a grain of salt). The meatball recipe is a riff on my tried-and-true classic meatball recipe, but browned on the stovetop with some different seasonings mixed in and then topped with a classic creamy gravy. I highly recommend whipping up a batch of my favorite mashed potatoes to serve here, or you can opt for wide egg noodles instead. And if lingonberry sauce isn’t available where you are (we admittedly pick up ours from IKEA or Amazon), a dollop of cranberry sauce on each plate is always a delicious substitute too.

Let’s make some Swedish meatballs!

Swedish Meatball Ingredients

Here are a few notes about each of the Swedish meatball ingredients you will need to make this recipe:

  • Ground beef and pork: I like to use a 50/50 mix of the two to make meatballs, but you can also make all-beef or all-pork meatballs if you prefer. (Or you can sub in ground turkey or chicken.)
  • Panko breadcrumbs: We’ll briefly soak Panko in milk to create a panade, which will help to keep these meatballs moist and tender and bind all of the ingredients together.
  • Milk: Feel free to use your favorite dairy or non-dairy plain milk to soak the breadcrumbs.
  • Garlic and onion: Grated yellow onion and minced garlic will serve as our base aromatics for the meatballs. I highly recommend grating the onion so that it more or less disappears into the meatballs and you don’t bite into large chunks.
  • Eggs: Eggs serve as our primary binding agent here to help hold all of these ingredients together.
  • Parsley: We will mix some chopped parsley into the meatballs themselves for a hint of color and freshness, then I also love saving a bit to sprinkle on top of the final dish as a garnish.
  • Seasonings: There are a number of different ways to season Swedish meatballs, but I love going with a traditional blend of ground allspice, ground ginger and ground nutmeg. Plus don’t forget a generous sprinkling of fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper.
  • Butter and flour: We will combine butter with all-purpose flour to create a roux to thicken the gravy.
  • Beef broth: I recommend a good-quality beef broth in the gravy since its flavor will really shine through here.
  • Heavy cream: You’re welcome to add either heavy cream or sour cream to the gravy to make it extra smooth and creamy. I find that heavy cream is much more forgiving here, since sour cream can “break” the sauce if overheated, but either option is delicious.
  • Dijon mustard: Finally, I recommend adding a few teaspoons of Dijon mustard to season the Swedish gravy.

How To Make Swedish Meatballs

Detailed instructions for how to make Swedish meatballs are included in the recipe box below, but here are 5 extra tips to keep in mind too:

  • Don’t skip the panade. It’s no secret that I’m a big believer using a panade when making all kinds of meatballs! This simple technique of soaking breadcrumbs in milk before adding the mixture to meatballs helps to lock extra moisture into the meat and ensures that they stay nice and tender.
  • Season generously. Don’t hesitate to season these meatballs generously. If you have the extra time, you’re always welcome to cook a test meatball just to make sure that the seasoning is right where you want it (especially if you’re experimenting with different seasonings).
  • Mix gently. As always when making meatballs, you want to avoid overworking the mixture so that the meatballs are not overly tough. Mix all of the components just until combined, form the balls gently, and you’ll be good to go.
  • Use a scoop. I find that using an ice cream scoop makes the portioning part go much more quickly and tends to yield much more uniformly sized meatballs. Feel free to also weigh the meatballs on a kitchen scale if you would like to ensure that they all cook evenly.
  • Take time to brown. Don’t rush the step of browning the meatballs in oil! It adds so much delicious, caramelized, savory flavor to each meatball and really complements the flavor of the gravy as well. When browning meatballs, it’s important not to overcrowd the pan, which is why I recommend browning them in two separate batches so that they can fit in an even layer. And avoid the urge to flip your meatballs too often — they usually need to sit in place for at least a few minutes in order to brown on the bottom before flipping.

How To Serve Swedish Meatballs

Looking for different ways to serve Swedish meatballs? Here are a few of our traditional and non-traditional favorites:

  • Traditional: Serve the meatballs and gravy over mashed potatoes with a side of lingonberry sauce. (Or if you can’t find lingonberries, cranberry sauce works well too!)
  • Over noodles: Serve the meatballs and gravy over wide egg noodles.
  • Skewers: Serve the meatballs on skewers as an appetizer to dip in gravy (or another sauce of your choice).
  • Subs: Serve the meatballs and gravy in a sub roll and top with melted cheese to make a meatball sub.
  • Grain bowls: Serve the meatballs and gravy over quinoa or farro with a side of roasted vegetables for a well-balanced meal.

Recipe Variations

Here are a few (non-traditional) variations that you’re welcome to try with this Swedish meatballs recipe:

  • Add different herbs: Add different herbs (such as dill or rosemary) to the meatballs and/or gravy.
  • Add lemon: Add lemon juice and zest to the meatballs and/or gravy.
  • Add mushrooms: Add sautéed sliced mushrooms to the gravy.
  • Make it gluten-free: Use gluten-free Panko in the meatballs and a cornstarch slurry (instead of flour) to thicken the gravy.

More Meatball Recipes

Looking for more easy meatball recipes to try? Here are a few of our favorites:

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Swedish Meatballs

  • Author: Ali
  • Prep Time: 25 mins
  • Cook Time: 35 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x

Description

This traditional Swedish meatballs recipe is bursting with rich, savory flavors and topped with a creamy gravy. Always so comforting served over mashed potatoes or noodles!


Ingredients

Scale

Meatball Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons finely-chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/4 cup grated yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: black pepper, ground allspice, ground ginger, ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Gravy Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (optional)
  • fine sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Make the panade. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the panko and milk until combined. Set mixture aside to soak for 5 to 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients. Add the ground beef, ground pork, garlic, eggs, parsley, and onion to the (same) mixing bowl. Sprinkle the sea salt, black pepper, allspices, ginger and nutmeg evenly on top. Use your hands to mix the ingredients until evenly combined, being careful not to over-mix the ingredients.
  3. Form the meatballs. Using a medium cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop and roll the mixture into 2-tablespoon balls (about 40g each) and place them on the prepared baking sheet. (I recommend greasing your hands with a bit of olive oil to prevent the mixture from sticking.)
  4. Brown the meatballs. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs in an even layer and cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Transfer the meatballs to a clean plate. Repeat this process with the remaining olive oil and meatballs, transferring the browned meatballs to the same clean plate. Discard any remaining pan drippings.
  5. Make the gravy. Add the butter to the same sauté pan and cook until melted. Whisk in the flour until combined and cook, whisking occasionally, for 1 minute. Gradually add the beef stock to the pan, whisking constantly to combine. Continue cooking until the mixture has thickened, then stir in the heavy cream and Dijon until combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. (Depending on the brand of beef stock used, you may need a generous amount of salt here, so don’t be shy!)
  6. Finish cooking the meatballs. Add the meatballs into the pan with the gravy in an even layer. Continue cooking for 5 to 10 minutes, flipping occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through and no longer pink inside.
  7. Serve. Serve warm over mashed potatoes or egg noodles, garnished with extra parsley and a few twists of freshly-ground black pepper.

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8 comments on “Swedish Meatballs”

  1. Any suggestions on how to make the meatballs egg free?

    • You might try a vegan egg substitute called aquafaba. It’s the bean water from any canned or home-cooked beans, typically garbanzo beans, aka chicken peas. Though it’s not known for its nutritional benefits, it’s reputed to be a great egg and dairy substitute.

    • “I made involuntary yummy noises.”
      -My Husband

      I made your white wine mushrooms and added them to the gravy. I also made the meatballs in the oven, and they came out perfect!

  2. These Swedish meatballs were delicious. I made them last night for dinner and my husband loved them. I froze most of the meatballs for a later meal. Next time I will make less gravy since there are only two of us. Otherwise, the gravy was terrific too. All of Ali’s tips come in handy especially not overworking the meatball mixture. Mine were soft and tender to bite. I also like that she gives out weight measurements which makes getting the same sized meatballs.

  3. These were fantastic with the substitution of dry caraway rye bread crumbs. Great recipe!

  4. Great recipe! The meatballs were fantastic with the substitution of dry caraway rye breadcrumbs for most of the Panko breadcrumbs.

  5. Yep !!! This my go to for meatballs. Thank you.

    Although I love a good Tex Mex meatball too though.
    *Hint for a recipe hunt for us ;)

  6. I made this tonight for dinner on this unusually cold Night. It was delicious and got great compliments from my husband and 19 yo son. Thank you for a great dish!