Swedish Meatballs

$5.83 recipe / $1.46 serving
by Marion - Budget Bytes
4.88 from 16 votes
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I don’t know about you, but I can’t go to Ikea without getting some of their iconic Swedish meatballs. But I can’t go to Ikea every time that craving hits, so we decided to make a budget-friendly homemade version that is easy enough for a cozy weeknight dinner, yet indulgent enough for an impressive, dinner-party main. Both hearty and comforting, these Swedish meatballs are like a hug in a dish!

Overhead view of a bowl of mashed potatoes topped with Swedish meatballs.

What are Swedish Meatballs?

Köttbullar, known in English as “Swedish meatballs” is a traditional Scandinavian dish of meatballs and gravy. Unlike Italian meatballs, the meat mixture for Swedish meatballs is flavored with allspice (and sometimes nutmeg), and after searing, they are nestled into a creamy gravy fortified with beef broth rather than a spicy, garlicky tomato sauce. 

What to serve with Swedish meatballs

Swedish meatballs are typically served with mashed potatoes. (We like ours with a little minced parsley and fresh cracked pepper on top, too!) But they’re also great served over egg noodles, or anything that will serve as a vehicle for that delicious gravy! 

Traditional interpretations of this dish frequently include a slightly-sweetened Lingonberry jam (a wild, lowbush berry native to Sweden), which has a similar flavor to cranberries or red currants. If you have leftover cranberry sauce from the holidays, that makes a great addition to this meal.

Can you Make Them Ahead?

Yes, you can make the meatballs a day ahead. If making a larger quantity, sear in batches, taking care that each meatball is cooked thoroughly to an internal temperature of at least 145℉. Allow them to cool completely before refrigerating. To reheat, spread them out on a parchment-lined sheet pan at 375℉ while you make the gravy, and then continue with the recipe as written. Once they have simmered in the sauce, each meatball should reach an internal temperature of 165℉ before serving.

Close up side view of Swedish Meatballs in the skillet.
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Swedish Meatballs

4.88 from 16 votes
Swedish meatballs are a delicious and cozy meal that is easy enough to prepare for a weeknight dinner but fancy enough for a special occasion.
Overhead view of a bowl full of mashed potatoes and Swedish Meatballs.
Servings 4 4 meatballs
Prep 15 mins
Cook 25 mins
Total 40 mins

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs ($0.20)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg ($0.03)
  • 1/4 tsp allspice ($0.03)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork ($0.99)
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef ($2.65)
  • 1 large egg, lightly whisked ($0.32)

Gravy

  • 4 Tbsp butter, divided ($0.60)
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour ($0.03)
  • 2 cups beef broth* ($0.24)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce ($0.02)
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg ($0.01)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream ($0.55)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper ($0.02)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional garnish) ($0.10)

Instructions 

  • In a medium bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, nutmeg, allspice, garlic powder, and salt. (Note: Mixing the dry ingredients first will ensure the seasoning is evenly distributed throughout the meatballs and prevent you from overworking the meat mixture.)
  • Meanwhile, add the pork and beef to a large bowl. Lightly whisk the egg, then add it to the bowl with the meat. Lastly, add the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Use your hands to mix the meat and seasonings together until evenly combined, but avoid overmixing.
  • Divide and shape the meat mixture into 16 meatballs, about 1.5 Tbsp each.
  • Add 1 Tbsp of the butter to a large skillet and heat over medium. When the butter is melted and foaming, add the meatballs. Cook for a minute or two on each side, or until well browned. The meatballs do not need to be cooked through at this point.
  • Remove the browned meatballs from the skillet. Add the remaining 3 Tbsp butter and the flour. Whisk the butter and flour together as the butter melts. Cook the butter and flour mixture for about two minutes.
  • Slowly whisk in the beef broth, making sure to release all of the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Allow the broth to come up to a simmer, at which point it will thicken.
  • Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, pepper, nutmeg, and heavy cream. Taste the gravy and adjust the salt or seasonings to your liking.
  • Return the meatballs to the skillet and stir to coat in the sauce. Heat the meatballs over low, stirring occasionally, until heated through (about 5 minutes).
  • Serve the meatballs over mashed potatoes or egg noodles with a little chopped fresh parsley and cracked pepper for garnish.

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Notes

*We use Better Than Bouillon to make our broth. If using a low-sodium broth you may need to add more salt to the gravy for taste.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 545kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 25gFat: 44gSodium: 844mgFiber: 1g
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Overhead view of Swedish Meatballs in the skillet.

How to Make Swedish Meatballs – Step by Step Photos

Breadcrumbs and spices in a bowl.

Add ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs to a bowl along with ¼ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp allspice, ¼ tsp garlic powder, and ¼ tsp salt and stir until evenly combined.

Meatballs ingredients in a bowl.

Add ½ lb. ground pork, ½ lb. ground beef, the breadcrumb mixture, and one lightly whisked large egg to a bowl. Use your hands to mix the ingredients together until evenly combined. Avoid over-mixing because that will make the meatballs tough.

Shaped meatballs on a red cutting board.

Divide the mixture into 16 meatballs, about 1.5 Tbsp each, and shape them into balls.

Browned meatballs in the skillet.

Add 1 Tbsp butter to a large skillet and heat over medium. When the butter is melted and foaming, add the meatballs. Cook the meatballs, turning occasionally until they are well browned. The meatballs do not need to be cooked through at this point.

Butter and flour added to the skillet, meatballs removed.

Remove the browned meatballs from the skillet and add 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour and the remaining 3 Tbsp butter to the skillet.

Roux being whisked in the skillet.

Continue to cook the butter and flour over medium heat for about 2 minutes, whisking constantly.

Beef broth being poured into the skillet.

Slowly pour in 2 cups beef broth while whisking, making sure to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet. Cook and stir the mixture over medium heat until it comes up to a simmer, at which point it will thicken into a gravy.

Cream and spices added to the gravy in the skillet.

Add 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, ⅛ tsp nutmeg, ¼ tsp pepper, and ⅓ cup heavy cream to the gravy, and stir to combine. Taste the gravy and adjust the salt or other seasonings to your liking.

Meatballs being added back to the skillet.

Add the meatballs back to the skillet and stir to coat in the gravy.

Finished Swedish meatballs in the skillet with gravy.

Let the meatballs simmer in the sauce until cooked through (about 5 minutes).

Overhead view of a bowl full of mashed potatoes and Swedish Meatballs.

Serve the meatballs and gravy over a bed of mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Top with chopped parsley and more pepper if desired.

Super close up image of Swedish meatballs in gravy.

Ooooh, look at that gravy! So lush!

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Comments

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  1. This was outstanding! We felt so hygge while eating this by our fireplace! Such a comforting meal!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! And thank you for teaching me a new word today! ~Marion :)

  2. Unbelievably good. My husband prefers not to eat red meat for his health, so I used turkey instead, and it was still 10/10 good. Maybe 12/10. Anyway, the first taste made me gasp and I ate way too much of it, but it was a cold January night and hit the spot 100%. Will make again, and again, and again.

  3. I just found your website and this is the first recipe we tried – absolutely delicious! This is the best swedish meatball recipe that we have ever made and has earned its place in the cook book permanently. Thanks for sharing!

  4. These were tasty! I served them with egg noodles and green beans. I think next time I’d add a little grated onion to the meat mixture, just for a little extra flavor. The gravy came together beautifully!

    1. Hi, Christopher! Since we haven’t tested the recipe with ground turkey, I can’t promise you will achieve equally successful results. But you should try it out and let us know how it goes! I will say, turkey meat has significantly less fat than both pork and beef mince, which could make rolling the mixture together into balls that totally stick together a little tougher. If that’s the case, consider adding a splash of heavy cream to help bind the meat mixture together. — Marion :)

  5. Just made this for dinner tonight with mashed potatoes. Delicious and comforting! Everyone loved it.