Authentic Swedish Meatballs

Total Time
Prep 20 mins
Cook 30 mins

This recipe is one of my earliest food memories. Every Christmas Eve, my family enjoys an authentic Swedish Smorgasbord, of which this is an essential part. My mother still tells tales (and I'm 40) of me as a toddler, standing by the dish of meatballs and eating as many as I could hold. These are not spicy, like most Scandinavian food, but have a great flavor and texture. In fact, they are so soft, that I usually chill the meat mixture before rolling and frying to avoid meatballs with flat sides. I've included the directions for the gravy, which I usually don't make, as it's traditional, but the balls are wonderful without it on any buffet table, or as an addition to a potluck. They are also good cold, straight from the fridge. If you like to do OAMC cooking, these freeze beautifully, in fact, I never make less than 100 meatballs at a time, lightly brown them, then flash freeze to finish later. The traditional recipe calls for a mix of beef, pork, and veal- if you object to veal, they work equally well with an even mix of beef and pork. Don't try to use these as an option for spaghetti, the seasonings just don't match. Prep time does not include chilling the meat mixture or the prepared meatballs.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Melt butter in a skillet.
  2. Saute onions in the butter until golden.
  3. Soak the bread crumbs in the milk.
  4. To the bread mixture, add the meats, egg, onion, allspice, salt, and pepper. Mix until a smooth texture is achieved.
  5. Chill mix for an hour or so, to firm it up.
  6. Form mix into meatballs, using 1-2 tablespoons of meat per ball. (these should be smaller than a golf ball). If you are making these on a warm day, you might want to chill the formed balls again, so that you don't get flat sides when you fry them.
  7. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.
  8. Melt a small amount of butter (traditional) or oil in the pan.
  9. Add enough meatballs to fill the pan very loosely.
  10. Shake the pan as you fry the balls, to keep the round shape as they cook. Continue to cook until they are evenly brown on all sides.
  11. Remove each batch to a warm platter in the oven, as you fry the rest.
  12. If you wish to make the gravy, deglaze the pan with a little water after each batch, and reserve the resulting drippings in a bowl.
  13. For the gravy:.
  14. When all of the meatballs have been fried, mix the flour and cream (or milk), and add to the reserved pan drippings in the skillet.
  15. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  16. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit of cream (or milk) to thin, then taste and season with salt and/or pepper as needed.
  17. Pour gravy over warm meatballs and serve with boiled potatoes and lingonberry sauce.
Most Helpful

this is an authentic recipe for swedish meatballs. i married a swede and his gamla mor mor (old mother's mother) taught me to make them just like this. the secrets that you must follow are these.... always grate the onions very fine, including the onion juice and make your meatballs small. not like italian meatballs, but about double the size of a marble. i can't remember if they make them petite at ikea. as far as the sauce, or gravy, make plenty of it and let the diner scoop it on themself. if you can't fid lingonberry, you can use cranberry, or raspberry on the side. make sure to boil fingerling. or small red potatoes with the skin on.

noneenator May 19, 2011

We really enjoyed these. They have such a nice flavor and although they are not "spicey" they have a nice delicate flavor that is well rounded. I put them over tricolor radiatore pasta. My little girl loves Swedish meatballs so I made these as a surprise for her. She really loved them. I used a slightly different gravy because I needed alot of it since I was putting them over pasta. I made just one change to the meatballs- I had to add more meat. There was too much liquid for this small amount of meat. It was still really squishy and wet after the chill time so I added meat a quarter pound at a time until I thought they were about right. I ended up adding another whole pound of meat and they were still very soft but I left them that way because the recipe says they are supposed to be very soft. All the other ingredients I left as written in the recipe. For the gravy, I cooked 3 tablespoons of butter with 4 tablespoons of flour until browned and then added 2 cups of light cream, the pan juices, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp white pepper and 1 teaspoon of beef base. It was absolutely perfect and complimented your meatballs perefectly! The gravy did not over power the delicate flavor of the meatballs. I also resisted my urge to add garlic. Being Italian, I just want to add garlic to everything and I think it does not belong here so I held my garlic hand back! :) I ended up with 51 of these little cuties. Thanks for the great recipe Ingrid!

Realtor by day, Chef by night May 12, 2009

Delicious Swedish meatballs. The flavor was wonderful. I did do the pan sauce and served with the option of using noodles with the meatballs and sauce. My only problem with the recipe was the consistency of the meatballs. After reading some other reviews, I decided to use a little bit less milk and a little more bread crumbs so the meatballs wouldn't be too soft. I followed the directions in terms of putting the mixture in the refrigerator and also after forming into balls. The meatballs were still had too much liquid to form and keep the round ball shape. I'm wondering if there is a difference in the breadcrumbs you use.? That's the only thing I can think of that would change the consistency. That said, I really loved the flavor and would like to try them again. Thank you. Made for ZWT9 Scandinavia - for the Soup-A-Stars

LifeIsGood August 04, 2013