Swedish meatballs are a wonderful mix of flavors with a creamy sauce that will literally have you licking your plate clean! Popular around the holidays, they’re easy – and delicious – enough to make them for a weeknight meal.
What are Swedish Meatballs?
Many consider Swedish Meatballs (köttbullar) to be a national dish of Sweden but they are actually Turkish in origin. In the early 18th century King Charles XII brought this recipe home after returning from exile in Turkey. While Turkish meatballs, known as “kofte,” are made from ground beef, lamb or a combination, Swedish meatballs are made with beef and sometimes contain pork.
Swedish meatballs are also unique in that they’re flavored with a bit of allspice and nutmeg, making them vastly different than the more common Turkish and Italian meatball flavors. They’re browned in a hot skillet, then removed to make a creamy sauce that’s then used to simmer the meatballs until they’re cooked through.
It’s often served over noodles, but rice or mashed potatoes are just as delicious! You can also serve these cocktail party classics as appetizers on a platter with toothpicks.
Swedish Meatball Ingredient Notes
- Ground beef: This recipe calls for two pounds of ground beef, but pork or a mixture of the two can also be used.
- Onions and garlic: No self-respecting meatball would ever be caught without these two ingredients, and that holds true here.
- Spices: Allspice and nutmeg, in meatballs? Yep, and it’s absolutely delicious. Wait until you taste it with the creamy, rich sauce…heavenly!
- Fresh parsley: This goes into the meatballs themselves and adds a nice color in addition to a bit of flavor. Chop a little extra to garnish the pan just before serving!
- Panko breadcrumbs: These act as a binder to hold the meatballs together, so don’t skip this important ingredient.
- Eggs: The same goes for the eggs. No one wants their meatballs to fall apart! Here are a few egg substitute suggestions.
- Beef broth, heavy cream, butter, and flour make up the majority of the creamy sauce. A little more of the allspice and nutmeg is added here as well.
- Lemon juice: You might be surprised how a squeeze of lemon brightens the flavors!
(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and recipe instructions.)
How to Make Swedish Meatballs
- Make the mix: Place the beef in a large mixing bowl, then add the minced onion, garlic, spices, fresh parsley, breadcrumbs, eggs, salt, and pepper.
- Roll: Roll the meatballs into 1-inch meatballs.
- Fry until golden brown: Fry the meatballs, in batches if necessary, until they’re golden brown on all sides.
How to Make Swedish Meatballs Sauce
- Make the sauce: Add the butter and, once it’s melted, sprinkle with the flour, whisk, then slowly add the beef broth. Whisk in the allspice, nutmeg, salt ,pepper, and lemon juice, then whisk in the cream
- Simmer: Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer.
- The meatballs should be close to the same size, and not too large or they’ll fall apart much easier. Aim for about 1-inch meatballs, which are about two-bite sized.
- Don’t be in such a hurry that you skip browning them in batches. If your skillet is large enough, then go for it! Most of us won’t have one that large, however, so plan on browning half the batch at a time.
- Use the same pan to make your gravy that you used to fry the meatballs. The browned bits on the bottom of the pan really help to flavor the dish.
- You can use all pork or 50/50 ground beef and pork for this recipe. Ground turkey and chicken can be substituted and while the meatballs will be less fat, they won’t be as rich and flavorful. The ever so popular Ikea Swedish meatballs are made with 1 part ground beef to 1/2 part pork.
Make Ahead of Time
These meatballs can be made in advance and either refrigerated or frozen but don’t freeze the sauce!
The meatballs can be mixed in advanced then fried the next day. If you’re planning to freeze them, it’s best to brown them in advance, then proceed with the rest of the recipe once they’ve been thawed overnight in the refrigerator.
How to Reheat Meatballs
Leftover Swedish meatballs can be reheated in a microwave or oven.
- If using a microwave, place them in a microwave safe dish or bowl, cover, and heat in 30 second intervals, until heated through.
- If using a conventional oven, bake at 350°f for 20-25 minutes, until heated through.
FOR THE MEATBALLS
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
FOR THE SAUCE
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups beef stock or broth
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (about a teaspoon, optional)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Place all of the meatball ingredients (EXCEPT THE OIL) into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, gently mix it together just until it's combined. Try not to mix it too much or the meatballs might not turn out as tender.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and, when it's shimmering, add the meatballs, taking care to ensure there's a small space around each one. Cook until they're golden brown on all sides. (Don't crowd the pan or they might steam instead of getting nicely browned; do this in batches if necessary). Set the meatballs aside.
- Drain off most of the fat from the pan, minus about a tablespoon. Add the butter and, once it's melted, sprinkle with the flour. Whisk it for about a minute to remove the raw flour taste, then slowly add the beef broth, whisking constantly so it's nice and smooth.
- Whisk in the allspice, nutmeg, salt ,pepper, and lemon juice. Whisk in the cream, then taste and add more seasoning if necessary.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce, then simmer it for another 10 minutes until they're cooked through.
Serve the Swedish meatballs over whatever you like: hot pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes. We've even served them over toast in a pinch and it's delicious!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 655Total Fat: 46gSaturated Fat: 22gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 212mgSodium: 880mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 39g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.
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