The BEST homemade Swedish meatballs (Svenska Köttbullar)! Miles tastier than the famous Ikea meatballs, plus healthier too – the perfect family meal. Check out my recipe video and step by step tutorial.
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You will also love my Greek Meatballs!
Published in October 2014 – updated March 2019
Swedish meatballs – (Svenska Köttbullar) – are probably Sweden’s most famous culinary export. For many people, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘Swedish meatballs’ is Ikea… but they are truly part of everyday Swedish eating.
Making Swedish meatballs at home is actually really easy and they are guaranteed to be a hit with everyone. I remember my kids happily eating these meatballs as toddlers, pretty much the ONLY thing they would eat without complaints.
I am glad to report that you can even eat your Swedish meatballs on the Slimming diet (guilt-free!) with a few variations to make the rich gravy SW compatible.
Swedish meatball recipe
There is no ONE authentic recipe – every home cook in Sweden will have a slightly different recipe. I myself have simplified this recipe over time, just so I get it on the table that little bit quicker.
The secret to tender meatballs is soaking the breadcrumbs in a little milk or cream first before adding the meat. It’s a tiny thing that makes all the difference.
Here’s what you will need
• Lean beef and pork mince: some people prefer to only use one or the other, I like combining the two.
• Some recipes add minced onions, sometimes cooked or raw. I have left them out this time but replaced them with onion powder which adds the flavour minus the faff.
• Swedish sweet mustard: if you can’t find it, Maille now do a honey mustard that works well.
• Bread crumbs: you can use fresh white or wholemeal bread.
• Milk or single cream
• Salt, ground allspice, white pepper, onion powder plus a little grated nutmeg if you are a fan!
• Chopped dill and parsley: I like adding herbs to my meatballs, feel free to use them or not.
Swedish meatball sauce
Köttbullar are smaller than Italian meatballs and they are nearly always served with an addictive creamy gravy. This Swedish meatball sauce is SO FREAKING DELICIOUS that I wish it came bottled.
You can simmer the meatballs in the sauce to heat them up and coat them with the gravy. Alternatively you can drizzle the sauce over the meatballs when serving.
• Butter and flour to make a roux (paste)
• Beef broth– from a stock cube is fine or try Knorr stockpots
• Single (pouring) cream – see below for a Slimming World variation
• Worcestershire sauce and/or soy sauce
• A little apple cider vinegar (optional) to add acidity
• Some sugar or ligonberry jam (optional) for sweetness
How to make Swedish Meatballs
Full measurements and instructions can be found on the printable recipe card at the bottom of the page. Please take a look at the steps and video before attempting this recipe!
Step 1. Put the cream, mustard, seasoning, spices, onion powder and herbs in a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Mix in the eggs and leave for 10 minutes.
Step 2. Add the pork and beef mince and mix really well until thoroughly combined. You will have to get your hands dirty for this part.
Step 3. Roll the meatballs with slightly damp hands – they should be about the size of a walnut. You will have about 50 meatballs so consider freezing some for later.
Step 4. Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium low heat. Fry the meatballs, in batches, for about 10 minutes until firm and golden.
Step 5. Prepare the Swedish meatball sauce. Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan until foamy.
Step 6. Add the flour and mix to create a paste (roux). Gradually stir in the beef stock, whisking continuously until the sauce thickens. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, sugar and vinegar (if using). Cook for two minutes until the gravy thickens. Add the cream and stir to combine (do not let it boil).
Step 7. Now you can add the meatballs into the sauce to warm up and coat in the gravy, if you like. Alternatively serve the meatballs with some of the sauce drizzled over them.
How to serve Swedish meatballs
Traditionally served with ligonberry jam and pressed cucumbers (presskurga). If there’s one thing I would pick up at Ikea, it would be the lingonberry jam! If you can’t find any you could use cranberry sauce in a pinch. Serve your meatballs
- over buttery mashed potatoes
- with boiled new potatoes
- egg noodles are popular with young kids
- as an appetiser, with cocktail sticks or in a sandwich
Swedish meatballs tips and tricks
– Place the mince in the palm of your hand and use your other hand to roll into a small ball. Place the rolled meatballs in the fridge for half an hour to help them keep their shape.
– Make sure you fry the meatballs in batches, allowing room in the frying pan so that they colour well. Use tongs to turn them over at first, until they have firmed up sufficiently.
– To keep the meatballs warm: preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) and place the cooked meatballs in a baking dish, cover with foil and place in the oven while you prepare the sauce.
The meatballs themselves are suitable for weight loss diets if you use milk instead of cream, wholemeal breadcrumbs and cooking spray such as Fry Light to fry them.
I sometimes serve my Swedish meatballs Vietnamese style with rice noodles and salad- yes a big culture mash up but still delicious! You can even cook them in tomato sauce, Italian style.
To make a slimming meatball sauce: heat 500ml (2 cups) of beef stock in a pan and 1 tbsp cornflour diluted in 1 tbsp cold water. Simmer until slightly thickened and stir in 8 tablespoons fat-free creme fraiche (or fromage frais), 1 teaspoon Worchestershire sauce and 1 tsp soy sauce. Serve the meatballs over pasta or boiled potatoes with the sauce spooned over.
Can you freeze Swedish meatballs?
Yes! In fact this recipe makes a bumper batch so you should freeze some for family dinner emergencies… Cook the meatballs, cool completely and put in the freezer in a suitable container for up to three months.
To reheat from frozen place in a roasting tin covered with foil and cook in a 180° (350°F) preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until a metal skewer inserted into a meatballs comes out feeling hot. Alternatively defrost overnight in the fridge and reheat in a pan.
More recipes for meatball lovers!
- Soutzoukakia – Greek meatballs in rich tomato sauce
- Slow Cooker Beef Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
- Thai Green Curry Chicken Meatballs
- Vietnamese Pork Meatballs with Rice Noodle Salad (Bun Cha)
Please note I am not affiliated in any way with Slimming World or Weight Watchers. These weight loss plans are often updated in line with latest nutritional guidance and may change so for accurate information it is best to join as a member.
For the meatballs
- 450 g (1 pound) ground beef (mince)
- 450 g (1 pound) ground pork (mince)
- 60 g (just over ½ cup) breadcrumbs two slices wholemeal bread
- 5 tbsp milk or single cream
- 1 tbsp honey mustard (sweet Swedish mustard)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp onion powder (or granules)
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- ¼ tsp ground cardamom or grated nutmeg
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill (optional)
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp butter, to fry
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil, to fry
For the sauce
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 480 ml (2 cups) hot beef broth (from a stock cube)
- 250 ml (1 cup) single (pouring) cream or a mix of single cream and sour cream
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce)
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (optional)
- 1 tsp soft brown sugar or lingonberry jam (optional)
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley to serve
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill to serve (optional)
- salt and freshly ground pepper to season
Prepare the meatballs
- Whizz the bread in a food processor until you have fine breadcrumbs.
- Put the cream (or milk), mustard, seasoning, spices, onion powder and herbs in a bowl. Add the breadcrumbs and stir to combine. Mix in the eggs and leave for 10 minutes.
- Add the pork and beef mince and mix well until thoroughly combined.
- Roll the meatballs with slightly damp hands – they should be about the size of a walnut. You will have about 50 meatballs.
- Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan over medium-low heat. Fry the meatballs, in batches, for about 10 minutes or until firm and golden and no pink remains inside.
Prepare the Swedish meatball sauce
- Heat 3 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan or a saucepan until foamy.
- Add the flour and mix to create a paste. Gradually stir in the beef stock, whisking continuously until the sauce thickens.
- Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, sugar and cider (if using) and cook for two minutes. Add the cream and stir to combine (do not let it boil). Taste and make any adjustments if needed.
- Add the meatballs and simmer gently until they are coated in the gravy (alternatively you can serve the gravy on the side). Sprinkle with the herbs.
- Serve your meatballs with mashed or boiled potatoes with lingonberry jam.
- Place the mince in the palm of your hand and use your other hand to roll into a small ball. Place the rolled meatballs in the fridge for half an hour to help them keep their shape.
- Make sure you fry the meatballs in batches, allowing room in the frying pan so that they colour well. Use tongs to turn them over at first, until they have firmed up sufficiently.
- To keep the meatballs warm: preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) and place the cooked meatballs in a baking dish, cover with foil and place in the oven while you prepare the sauce.
The meatballs themselves are syn-free if you use milk instead of cream, wholemeal breadcrumbs and cooking spray such as Fry Light to fry them. To make a syn-free Swedish meatball sauce: heat 500ml (2 cups) of beef stock in a pan and 1 tbsp cornflour diluted in 1 tbsp cold water. Simmer until slightly thickened and stir in 8 tbsp fat free creme fraiche (or fromage frais), 1 tsp Worchestershire sauce and 1 tsp soy sauce. Serve the meatballs over pasta or boiled potatoes with the sauce spooned over. Please note I am not affiliated in any way with Slimming World. Syn values are based on the Slimming World online calculator. Nutritional information is always approximate, and will depend on the ingredients you choose, serving sizes etc.