Swedish Meatballs

While I’m always on board for shopping for home goods, I have been known to make a trip to Ikea just for their Swedish meatballs! The moist meatballs in the slightly tangy, creamy gravy are comfort food heaven. So, naturally, I needed to make my own Ikea meatballs at home. 

close up straight on shot of swedish meatballs on noodles


 

Also known as Svenska Kottbullar, these little meatballs are juicy and tender and are smothered in a rich sauce. Both are so easy to make that once you try this Swedish meatball recipe you might make it a go-to for anything from busy weeknights to entertaining.

What Sets Swedish Meatballs Apart

These meatballs are bound to knock your socks off — get ready for everyone to ask you for the recipe!

  • Bread makes them better. By using bread instead of breadcrumbs you can create the juiciest and most moist meatball. 
  • The sauce has an irresistible tangy flavor. Sour cream gives the sauce its signature tanginess.
  • The sauce is packed with a punch of umami. Adding Worcestershire sauce creates a more complex flavor profile in the savory sauce. 

Ingredients

All of the ingredients for this simple recipe are easy to find at the grocery store or you may already have them stocked in your kitchen.

  • White Bread – Bread binds the meat together and adds moisture to the meatballs. Tear it into pieces before soaking it in the milk.
  • Evaporated Milk – Milk adds richness and creaminess to the meatball mixture.
  • Unsalted Butter – Use the butter to saute the onions and garlic. 
  • White Onion – Be sure to mince the onion finely so that it is easy to mix the pieces evenly in the meat mixture. 
  • Garlic – Mince the garlic into uniform pieces. You can also shave it on a microplane or use a garlic crusher.
  • Ground Beef – I like to use an 80/20 mixture so that the meatballs are moist and there are plenty of pan drippings left to make the sauce. 
  • Egg – Be sure to beat the egg ahead of time so that it is ready to be added to the meat mixture. 
  • Coarse Kosher Salt – Salt brings out the flavor of the aromatics and spices.
  • Ground Black Pepper – Pepper adds just a bit of gentle heat. 
  • Ground Nutmeg – Nutmeg adds warm flavor to the meatballs which creates a pleasant contrast with the tanginess of the sauce. 
  • Ground Allspice – Allspice adds even more warm flavor to the meat.
  • Unsalted Butter – The butter is the base of the roux. You may also need a bit extra if there isn’t enough remaining in the pan after sauteing the onions and garlic. 
  • Flour – Flour helps to thicken the sauce and makes it creamy.
  • Low-Sodium Beef Broth – Beef broth is the base of the sauce. 
  • Worcestershire Sauce – This sauce adds another layer of flavor and a bit of tanginess.
  • Sour Cream – Sour cream makes the sauce thick and rich and adds a touch of tang.
  • Buttered Egg Noodles, Mashed Potatoes, or Rice – Any of these are a hearty pairing for the meatballs. 
meatball mixture in bowl

How to Make Swedish Meatballs and Sauce

Making these meatballs and sauce is a cinch! 

  1. Soak bread. Add the pieces of bread and evaporated milk to a large mixing bowl and allow them to sit until the bread has soaked up the milk. 
  2. Sauté onion and garlic. Place the butter in a large skillet and heat until melted. Sauté the onion briefly in the butter before adding the garlic. 
  3. Combine with bread, milk and beef. After sauteing the garlic with the onion, pour the mixture into the bowl with the bread and milk. Add the ground beef to the bowl with the bread, crumbling it as you go. 
  4. Add egg and spices. Pour the beaten egg into the bread and meat mixture. Sprinkle in the spices before combining all of the ingredients with your hands.
  5. Form the meatballs and brown. Form meatballs before cooking them in batches in the skillet that was used to sauté the onion in garlic. Once all sides have been browned, transfer the meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate.
  6. Make roux. When all of the meatballs have been cooked, make a roux by adding butter and flour to the skillet with the meat drippings and whisking until completely combined. 
  7. Add Worcestershire and sour cream. Next, stir in the Worcestershire sauce and bring the mixture to a simmer. Then, add the sour cream and stir until smooth. 
  8. Add meatballs to sauce. Add the meatballs to the skillet and cover completely with the sauce. Allow the meatballs and sauce to continue to simmer together. 
  9. Serve and enjoy. Serve warm over noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes.

What to Serve With Swedish Meatballs

On a night when we’re looking for a comforting meal, we love to serve Swedish meatballs with some creamy mashed potatoes — for a lower-carb option you can make mashed cauliflower. They’re also amazing over a bed of buttered noodles, rice, or cauliflower rice

If you’re looking to add some veggies on the side, try roasted root vegetables, red wine vinegar broccolini, or peas and pearl onions

And if you’re going for the full Ikea meatball experience, add a dollop of lingonberry jam on the side, too. If you don’t have that handy, though, you can substitute cranberry sauce.

Variations 

There are loads of ways to switch up the sauce and the meatballs to make your own version of this dish. 

  • Breadcrumbs – While the meatballs may not be as moist, you can use breadcrumbs instead of bread as a binder for the meatballs. Experiment with plain or seasoned bread crumbs or try panko breadcrumbs.
  • Milk – Instead of evaporated milk, you can use full-fat milk, heavy cream, almond milk, or buttermilk.
  • Meat – Instead of 80/20 ground beef, try ground pork, ground turkey, or a mixture of different meats.
  • Spices – Add spices like as paprika, oregano, or Italian seasoning to add unique flavors to the meatballs.
  • Herbs – Add chopped fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, or basil to the meatball mixture.
  • Mushrooms – Add sauteed mushrooms to the sauce for texture and earthy flavor.
  • Dijon Mustard – Stir some Dijon mustard into the sauce for added tangy flavor. Start with just a small spoonful, then adjust to taste.
  • Greek Yogurt – Substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream. 
overhead shot of swedish meatball on spatula

Storage and Freezing

Swedish meatballs are a meal prep dream. Just whip them up and keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to reheat. 

You can form the meatballs ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before cooking them. 

How to Store Swedish Meatballs

Swedish meatballs can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for three to four days.

Can I Freeze Swedish Meatballs?

Freeze meatballs in a resealable freezer bag or freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. It’s best to store them separately from the sauce when freezing.

Common Questions About Swedish Meatballs

What makes Swedish meatballs different?

Swedish meatballs are different for a couple of reasons. First, they are often made with both pork and beef. Also, spices like nutmeg and allspice give them a nuanced flavor.

What is Swedish meatball sauce made of?

Swedish meatball sauce has a beef broth base and is thickened with a roux made from flour and butter. It’s also thickened with sour cream, which gives it a tangy flavor.

What do you eat Swedish meatballs with?

Serve Swedish meatballs on a bed of rice or with buttered noodles or mashed potatoes. You can also opt for riced or mashed cauliflower.

More Easy Meatball Recipes

While we love traditional spaghetti and meatballs (and have a few recipes for those,) meatballs also make great appetizers! Here are a few of our favorite recipes.

bowl of ranch cocktail meatballs

Ranch Meatballs

4.59 from 12 votes
With simple ingredients and 35 minutes, you can make these delicious EASY Ranch Meatballs for dinner! A great way to spice up your spaghetti and meatballs!
See The Recipe!
Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs is perfect for nights when you need dinner fast. You won't need to know how to make spaghetti and meatballs any other way! #howtomakespaghettiandmeatballs #instantpotrecipes #spaghettiandmeatballs  www.savoryexperiments.com

Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs

4.31 from 23 votes
Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs is perfect for nights when you need dinner fast. You won’t need to know how to make spaghetti and meatballs any other way!
See The Recipe!
angled shot of plate of cheesy meatballs bombs

Cheesy Garlic Meatball Bombs

5 from 6 votes
Cheesy Meatball Bombs are easy little meatballs bites covered in marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and wrapped in pizza dough.
See The Recipe!
close up of swedish meatballs over pasta with text overlay
close up straight on shot of swedish meatballs on noodles

Swedish Meatballs

5 from 6 votes
These EASY Swedish Meatballs are the best dinner idea. The moist meatballs in the slightly tangy, creamy gravy are comfort food heaven.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients

Meatballs:

Swedish Meatball Sauce:

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread pieces of and evaporated milk until bread is soaked, allow to sit.
  • In large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion, allowing to soften for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, cooking for another minute. Transfer the onion and garlic mixture to the bread mixture. Do not rinse out the pan, set aside with the heat off.
  • Crumble the ground beef as you add it to the bread mixture, then top with the beat egg and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice. Using your hands, toss to combine, but do not over mix.
  • Roll into 1-inch meatballs. Reheat the skillet over medium heat. There should be enough butter left in the pan to coat, but if not, add 1 tablespoon more butter or neutral oil to prevent sticking.
  • Add the meatballs to the hot pan, browning evenly on all sides, approximately 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove them to a paper towel lined plate or baking sheet to drain excess fat. Set meatballs aside, reserving the drippings in the pan.
  • Continue to heat the pan over medium heat, whisking in the butter and flour to the pan drippings. Slowly whisk in the beef broth and then add the Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a low simmer.
  • When simmering, whisk in the sour cream until combined. Return the meatballs to the pan, tossing to coat, and then reduce heat to low, simmering uncovered for 10-12 minutes.
  • Serve over buttered egg noodles, mashed potatoes or rice.

Notes

Many recipes use a combination of ground beef and ground pork, feel free to do this or use a “meatloaf mix” which is beef, pork and veal or even ground chicken, as long as it all adds up to 1 pound of ground meat. 

Nutrition

Calories: 375 kcal, Carbohydrates: 13 g, Protein: 19 g, Fat: 27 g, Saturated Fat: 13 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10 g, Trans Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 113 mg, Sodium: 691 mg, Potassium: 540 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 5 g, Vitamin A: 388 IU, Vitamin C: 3 mg, Calcium: 123 mg, Iron: 2 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 375
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: swedish meatballs
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
collage of swedish meatballs
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating




Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    That’s way better than Ikea meatballs! SO GOOD! Nutmeg is one of my favorite ingredients, I wouldn’t have thought to use it for meatballs. Will make again!

  2. 5 stars
    Love Swedish meatballs and this recipe is absolute perfection! The sauce is creamy and the flavors are spot on. So good!