Swedish Meatballs

It's because of the meatballs... that we enjoy trips to the local IKEA store. The funny thing is that I know we're not the only ones who get in line for a plate of Swedish Meatballs there. I don't know why we're so drawn to them, especially at IKEA. I mean, they sell frozen meatballs there along with packets of gravy mixes... both loaded with sodium and lots of ingredients I can't pronounce. Well, rather than driving out to get our fix, I made Swedish Meatballs from scratch at home. Sorry IKEA, after making this, I don't think we'll be visiting quite as often for your meatballs...

Making Swedish Meatballs at home is easier than you may think... and you'll save yourself some preservatives and money in the process. The meatballs are definitely the star of the dish and it's distinct flavor comes from the use of spices like nutmeg and allspice. A touch of sweetness is added with a little brown sugar too.

The interesting part of this recipe is having your stand mixer do all the work. If you don't have a stand mixer, no worries - just mix everything by hand. However the stand mixer does a great job combining the ground pork with the spices along with mixture of torn bread soaked in milk, some baking powder for leavening and ground beef. Using a scoop to form the meatballs makes it easier for size consistency. The original recipe calls for frying the meatballs but in an effort to save time and energy (and calories!) I baked the meatballs instead.

For additional flavor, I made the gravy with some caramelized mushrooms and omitted the addition of cream. I thought the gravy was rich and flavorful this way and it really made the dish even more comforting! This is a great dish when you're looking for something other than the usual tomato based sauce and pasta. Yum!
Swedish Meatballs
recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated

1 large egg
1/4 cup half & half or heavy cream
2 medium sized dinner rolls, torn into small pieces
1/2 pound ground pork
1 small onion, grated on large holes of box grater
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 pound ground beef (80-85% lean)
vegetable oil for frying (optional) - see tip below

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 cup caramelized mushrooms (optional)
1/2 cup half & half or heavy cream (optional)
2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
For the Meatballs:
Whisk egg and cream together in medium bowl. Stir in bread and set aside.

Meanwhile, in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat pork, onion, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder on high speed until smooth and pale, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary.

Using fork, mash bread mixture until no large dry bread chunks remain; add mixture to mixer bowl and beat on high speed until smooth and homogeneous, about 1 minute, scraping bowl as necessary.

Add beef and mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl as necessary.

Using a small or medium ice cream scoop, form  meatballs with wet hands and set aside; repeat with remaining mixture to form 25 to 30 meatballs.

Heat oil in 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium-high heat until edge of meatball dipped in oil sizzles (oil should register 350 degrees on instant-read thermometer), 3 to 5 minutes. Add meatballs in single layer and fry, flipping once halfway through cooking, until lightly browned all over and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. (Adjust heat as needed to keep oil sizzling but not smoking.) Using slotted spoon, transfer browned meatballs to paper towel-lined plate.

Tip: rather than frying your meatballs, use a mini muffin pan and bake them instead! Spray the mini muffin pan with cooking spray to prevent sticking and place your meatballs in each well. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Remove and use in the recipe as directed.

For the Sauce:
Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add butter. When foaming subsides, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until flour is light brown, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in broth. Add brown sugar and caramelized mushrooms and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream (if using) and return to simmer.

Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, turning occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve. 


  1. That is a gorgeous look plate of Swedish meatballs! The first time I ever had these was when I was about 9 years old. My dad's Swedish colleague came to visit us in Indiana and brought his family. They made us Swedish meatballs as a special treat one night. I was hooked! I remember when we got the chance to visit them in Sweden many years later I made a special request for them :D I like the addition of caramelized mushrooms. Brilliant!

  2. I used to LOVE the Swedish meatballs at IKEA. Your homemade version looks infinitely better :). I love your tip on baking the meatballs in muffin tins - genius!

  3. Well, consider IKEA forgotten by me - these look incomparable!

  4. Looks really good. Wouldnt call them swedish meatballs tho. Being swedish myself, i dont know of anyone who makes them like that...

    For the actual meatballs, dont complicate it:

    Minced meat (beef)
    One or two eggs
    Salt, pepper, nutmeg

    Fry. DONE.

    And dont forget to serve with lingonberries and pickles!

  5. Thanks for another wonderful recipe, Joelen! These Swedish Meatballs were SO flavorful and comforting!