Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

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There was a story I had to tell about Swedish Meatballs; somebody I know liked them a lot. So when she decided to live on her own, she asked me for the recipe, and I didn’t make a copy for myself. I had several copies of the gravy recipe, but couldn’t remember exactly where I got the recipe idea. I also gave her a brownie pan, because every girl needs a good brownie pan. But when I got that back, it still had the sticker on it, never used. I tried to give that brownie pan away to a family who lost everything in a fire, but they didn’t need it. So the cursed brownie pan remains, but the Swedish meatball recipe is ne’er to be found.

This is my attempt to recall the original recipe for tasty Swedish meatballs.


Meatballs always start with meat. I don’t remember if I used just ground beef or ground beef and ground pork, so I went halfway: 1 pound beef, 1/2 pound pork. Then you need the sticky things that will hold it together, and some flavoring. Today, I will use nutmeg & allspice with egg, Panko bread crumbs, onion and parsley. Everything is better with fresh parsley, but I never seem to have any. So if you use fresh parsley, double the amount you use. Some people like to saute their onions first, but this time around, I just chopped it really fine, so you barely notice them. Other people use a cheese grater to get thin, stringy onion.

Some versions of Swedish meatballs use veal or ground lamb – you could try that instead of pork, if you have special dietary concerns. For a small alteration in flavor, you could also use chopped garlic cloves, or 1/4 tsp garlic powder. Classic recipes also don’t use nutmeg.

Mix your meat well, by hand, but don’t work it over until it becomes tough. Nobody likes a rubbery meatball.

Form your meatballs as big or small as you like, remember that will change your cooking time. Smaller meatballs will cook faster, and you’ll have more, which means two batches of frying. Just cook them in olive oil until dark brown all around, stirring them to keep them moving and rolling. Using this recipe, I got 19 meatballs, or 2.5 meatballs per serving, so you might want to make them a bit smaller.


Some people prefer to bake the meatballs, which is a healthier option. Just bake them for 20-25 minutes at 400. But this way, you won’t get that rich, creamy roux beef gravy that comes from the bottom of the frying pan. I prefer this method. A roux is a gravy made from the fat drippings in the pan and flour. It’s the best traditional gravy making process. Just like you would do on Thanksgiving. If you had leftover energy and extreme devotion to the perfect bird & mashed potatoes. I usually skip that gravy-from-scratch part on turkey day, so whenever I can, I like to make my gravy from a roux.

While these are Swedish meatballs, there appear to be no rules or regulations about the gravy, or the traditional way of making them. I found a great resource with tips for “authentic” Swedish meatballs at swedishfood.com if you’re interested in the Christmas meatball recipe, or some more backst

I add onions to my gravy, cooked in butter, in the crusty pan, just a few minutes until soft. Then, I add the flour, broth Worcestershire, salt, pepper and parsley. Roux. Sauce. Swedish meatball gravy. I found it interesting that over at swedishfood.com, they use soy sauce in the classic recipe. You can try it like that.

Swedish Meatballs with Gravy

How to Serve Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs & Egg Noodles

There are many ways to serve these tasty morsels, but I prefer simple egg noodles.

  • Egg noodles or German Spaetzle
  • Rice
  • Creamy mashed potatoes (the traditional base or side)
  • A side of green and a side of tart berry sauce

What to Serve with Swedish Meatballs

The general rule is: starch, veggie, sauce. So if you put your meatballs on top of starch, pour the gravy over them, all you need is a decent side of green veggies (apple-cranberry compote/cranberry/lingonberry sauce optional). Here are just a few ideas:

  • oven-roasted broccoli (w/garlic & parm)
  • sauteed green beans
  • pan-seared Brussels sprouts with bacon (try this from finecooking.com, at least until I add my holiday recipes)
  • salad

Swedish Meatballs

Homemade Swedish meatballs with rich, creamy gravy makes a comforting Christmas meal, pot-luck dish or weeknight dinner.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Swedish
Servings: 8
Calories: 159kcal
Cost: $14



  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp diced onion
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ c Panko bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley


  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp diced onion
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 c beef broth
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley



  • Combine the meatball ingredients and mix well.
  • Shape your meatballs about 1 ½ Tbsp of beef mixture.
  • Warm a large skillet with olive oil on medium, and drop the meatballs in. Turning repeatedly until brown, about 10 minutes. Add more oil as necessary to keep them from sticking. (Use a lid to keep the heat in between turning to ensure even cooking.)
  • Remove meatballs to drain on paper towel.


  • Reduce the heat and add butter an onions. Cook onions while stirring, just until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.
  • Gradually add flour, stirring to combine. Cook about one minute.
  • Slowly add broth while stirring or whisking, then add Worcestershire, salt, pepper and parsley. (If using fresh parsley, add it after the sour cream.)
  • Add the sour cream and stir to combine.
  • Add the meatballs, and mix them with the the sauce. Heat for ten minutes, stirring occasionally and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh parsley if you got it.


Swedish Meatballs Nutrition Label

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