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Swedish Meatballs

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These Easy Swedish Meatballs are delicious, simple to make, and — dare I say it — BETTER than Ikea’s. I could eat these every night of the week! 

 

Main image for recipe of Swedish meatballs

 

With how simple this Swedish Meatball recipe is to make and how much our family loves them, I like to make a double batch: one for tonight and one for freezing.

It makes the next time we eat them even more of a treat because I don’t have to prep the meatballs! 

Whether you’re looking for something to fill your Ikea meatball void or just want a delicious and simple dinner, these Sweedish Meatballs are the ones for you.

With a delectable, creamy sauce and super tasty homemade meatballs, you really can’t go wrong! 

 

melted butter and onions in a skillet

 

What are Swedish meatballs?

Whether you’ve never been to Ikea or are just unfamiliar with what, exactly, a Swedish meatball is, that’s okay! I can fill you in. 

Swedish meatballs are perhaps Sweden’s most popular and well-known dish. They are served during holidays and in everyday cooking.

Swedish meatballs are similar to a recipe that was actually brought back by King Charles XII in the 18th century from a visit to Turkey.

Traditionally, Swedish meatballs are a meatball served with mashed potatoes, brown gravy, and lingonberry jam. In Sweden, they are also served with a pickle. 

 

onion and butter cooked in skillet with garlic, oregano and Worcestershire sauce added to onions.

 

What makes Swedish meatballs Swedish?

While technically the origins of Swedish meatballs can be traced to Turkey, the Swedish Meatball has been a part of Swedish Cuisine since the 18th century.

Perhaps the thing that most makes Swedish meatballs Swedish are the things they are served with — Swedish meatball gravy, lingonberry jam, and a pickle. 

Meatballs are a common food in Sweden, and every family seems to have their own unique twist on the recipe.

The basics remain the same between varieties: meatballs with a brown gravy served with mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam, and often pickles. 

 

Cooked onions ready to be added to meatballs

 

How to make Swedish meatballs?

To make these meatballs and Swedish meatball sauce, you’ll need the following ingredients: 

  • Panko bread crumbs – panko bread crumbs are more like flakes and absorb less, giving you a different texture than traditional breadcrumbs would. While I prefer Panko bread crumbs, traditional crumbs can be used as well. 
  • Milk – helps keep your meatballs moist and helps bind the ingredients together. 
  • Butter – use butter to sauté your onions and garlic before adding them to the meatball mixture. 
  • Olive oil – olive oil is also added to the pan when you sauté your seasoning vegetables. 
  • Yellow onion – a great seasoning vegetable that adds a lot of flavor and extra nutrients to any dish!
  • Garlic – powerful and small, this seasoning vegetable is common in many savory recipes. 
  • Oregano – sautéing the oregano for a couple minutes in the butter and oil with the garlic and onion will enhance the flavor of the dried herb. 
  • Ground beef – I find it easiest to use my hands when mixing the ground beef with the other meatball ingredients. 
  • Worcestershire Sauce – Worcestershire sauce adds great umami flavor to your meatballs and complements the other ingredients nicely. 
  • Kosher salt – the original flavor enhancer. 
  • Pepper – adds a little kick and flavor to your meatballs. 
  • Egg – another binding agent that will help keep your meatballs together and in “ball” form. 
  • Butter – you’ll be making a roux for your gravy base, and butter (or another fat source) is going to bind with the flour and thicken the sauce. 
  • Flour – the flour’s starch is what does the thickening as it binds with the fats in the butter (which keep it from clumping).
  • Beef broth – you’ll want to add beef broth to your butter and flour mixture slowly to prevent clumps. 
  • Heavy cream – this is how the gravy gets its creamy, delightful texture and taste!
  • Worcestershire sauce – once again, this sauce adds a lot of flavor, especially umami! 
  • Dijon mustard – tart and acidic, with great mustard flavor, this simple condiment adds a lot of flavor to any dish! 

 

meatballs rounded into balls

 

How to make Swedish meatball sauce?

One of the things that makes this the BEST Swedish meatball recipe is the incredible flavor of the homemade meatballs. While you can use pre-prepared meatballs if you want, I highly recommend giving this meatball recipe a try! 

  1. Combine meatball ingredients
  2. Form meat mixture into 1 inch balls
  3. Cook prepared meatballs in a skillet, gently turning them over
  4. Remove cooked meatballs and set aside
  5. Melt butter
  6. Whisk in flour until paste forms
  7. Gradually add beef broth
  8. Add heavy cream and other gravy ingredients
  9. Put meatballs in gravy until thoroughly cooked and thickened. 
  10. Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles! 

 

Meatballs placed in a hot skillet.

 

What to serve with Swedish meatballs?

For traditional Swedish meatballs, serve over mashed potatoes with lingonberry jam on the side. I also really enjoy this recipe over egg noodles (or your favorite pasta variety). 

 

browned meatballs in skillet

 

Can I make Swedish meatballs ahead of time?

Absolutely! I mentioned earlier that I love to make a double batch of these meatballs and freeze half of them for later. 

 

Cream sauce being made in skillet

 

How long do Swedish meatballs last?

Once prepared, Swedish meatballs last 3-5 days if properly stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

 

Meatballs added to cream sauce in skillet

 

Can I freeze Swedish meatballs in cream sauce?  

Yes, you can. Place cooled meatballs and sauce in an airtight container or zipper bag and freeze for up to 2 months. 

To reheat, run the container or bag under warm water until the meatballs and sauce are loosened from the sides and can be put into a pan on the stovetop or a pot-in-pot container for the Instant Pot. 

On stovetop, heat covered over medium heat, stirring occasionally. 

For Instant Pot pot-in-pot reheating, heat covered using the “steam” function for about 8 minutes, stir, then 5 minutes more using a natural pressure release. 

 

meatballs in a cream sauce and ready to serve.

 

Are Swedish meatballs gluten free?

The panko breadcrumbs in this recipe can be substituted with gluten free breadcrumbs for a gluten free dinner! Be sure to check the labels of the other ingredients to make sure they are also gluten free. 

 

meatballs over egg noodles.

 

Can dogs eat Swedish meatballs?

There are onions and garlic in these meatballs, which can be toxic for dogs, therefore I do not recommend feeding your furry friend these meatballs. 

 

side view of meatballs over egg noodles.

 

More Ground Beef Recipes You’ll Love…

Whether you’re looking to satisfy an Ikea food court craving or just love meatballs and want to try your hand at making them from scratch, this recipe is perfect for you! Enjoy over mashed potatoes for a traditional Swedish dinner or serve over noodles for a fun twist on a traditional dish! 

 

Yield: 6 Servings

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs - Meatballs in sauce over egg noodles.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • Meat Balls:
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano 
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg
  • SAUCE:
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cans beef broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. MEATBALLS:
  2. In a small bowl combine bread crumbs and milk. Set aside.
  3. In a skillet over medium heat, add butter and oil.
  4. Once butter is melted, add onions and cook until soft and translucent.
  5. Once onions are cooked through, add garlic, Worcestershire sauce and oregano. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  6. Put mixture into a large bowl. Add ground beef, salt and pepper. Mix well {you may need your hands for this!}
  7. Add egg and bread crumbs and mix well.
  8. Using a small cookie scoop, or a Tablespoon, scoop ground beef into 1 inch balls.
  9. Add additional butter and oil as needed to the same skillet you cooked onion mixture in.
  10. Once skillet is hot, add meatballs and GENTLY cook, stirring as needed until cooked through. Do not over crowd your skillet! You need room to move the meatballs around.
  11. Once cooked, remove from skillet and set aside.
  12. SAUCE:
  13. In same skillet, over medium low heat, add butter.
  14. Once butter is melted, add flour, a little at a time, until well mixed and resembles a thick paste.
  15. Using a whisk, add beef broth to flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time until add added. DO NOT ADD ALL AT ONCE!
  16. You are making a roux. If you add broth in all at once, it will be thick and clumpy. While adding broth in a little at a time, mixture will thicken then will slowly thin out and be clump free.
  17. Add heavy cream, Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard. Bring mixture to a slow simmer. Allow to cook until slightly thickened.
  18. Add meatballs. Cook for an additional 10 minutes. Meatballs should be cooked through and mixture should be slightly thickened.
  19. Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Notes

A reader left a comment that these took longer than an hour as suggested for cooking. Please make note we do not guarantee cook times but offer than as a suggestion. These do take me an hour to make, however they make take you longer.

If you are going to make a double batch and freeze your meatballs then here's how....
Make your meatballs as directed and cook.
Once cooked, lay meatballs on a cookie sheet and freeze them for 1 hour. Once frozen, transfer them to an air tight container or freezer bag. These can be frozen for up to 2 months (if you can wait that long).
When ready to eat again, place meatballs in fridge for 24 hours prior to cooking to allow them to thaw. Once thaw, fry up again as directions state bringing them to a warm temperature and follow remaining directions.

Some claim that adding oregano makes these un-swedish. If the Oregano isn't to your liking, simply leave it out and add a hint of nutmeg (which is found in many recipes).

Originally Posted: June 22, 2015

Photos & Text Updated: August 19, 2021

 

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Terri Stephens

Sunday 26th of June 2022

Just made these for Sunday dinner and they were delicious! I doubled the recipe using 1 lb. ground beef and one lb. ground pork; kept the rest of the ingredients as you shared. I have never made such tender and flavorful before! My old recipe was dense and tough, it's now replaced with yours. My Mom's meatballs always had onion (not sautéed) and diced green pepper (I added some to a dozen of the meatballs; liked the green pepper but definitely prefer your sautéed onions (my husband hates onions, but enjoyed these meatballs) . The flavor was great and the cream sauce is a perfect compliment to the meat, and it works on baked potatoes as well as mashed. I will definitely be making these again! Thank you for sharing!!!

Janelle

Friday 1st of July 2022

Wow Terri! What a kind and thoughtful comment! I am so glad you tried this recipe and enjoy it. I love the idea of adding in the ground pork! I'll have to try that next time. Thank you!

Mary

Saturday 9th of January 2021

I just made this and my husband loved it so it will definitely be a keeper. I didn't have heavy cream so I just used 2% milk (that's all I had) and I used about a half cup of flour so that it would be thicker more like a gravy.

Marilyn Corza-Anderson.

Monday 7th of May 2018

Very tasty. Everyone loved them. I Wondered what my Swedish grandmas would say? I’m sure they would enjoy as well. As true Swedes, they wouldn’t complain about a thing😃🇸🇪🇸🇪🇸🇪

Janelle

Tuesday 5th of March 2019

Marilyn, I am glad to hear that your family enjoyed these meatballs! Coming from a Swede it brings a smile to my face that these were acceptable in your book:) I appreciate your comment thank you!

Madison Miller

Saturday 7th of January 2017

I've made these two times so far and they are the most delicious meatballs my family have ever had! I'm not exaggerating, they are amazing. They honestly don't even need noodles or sauce.

Janelle

Saturday 4th of February 2017

Madison you are the best!! I love making a double batch and freezing them so we can have them whenever we want! I'm so glad to hear you love them!

Vicky

Sunday 13th of November 2016

Hi! I doubled your receipe, added green peppers & celery. Barley browned them, made a nice thick gravey, just put enough gravey over the meat balls to keep them moist & tossed them in the oven for 40 min @ 350......there were none left, they soaked up the gravey with Italian seasoned rolls & become semi-cranky since there wasn't anything left....perhaps I should triple next time!

Janelle

Tuesday 22nd of November 2016

Vicky, Oh man, I've never baked these so this is news to me. Good to know that baking them will cause the meatballs to absorb all the gravy. If you bake them again in the future, make sure to cover the dish with foil so the meatballs don't dry out and stay juicy.

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