My Swedish meatballs simmered in a creamy sauce are delectably tender, juicy and savory. Served with boiled baby potatoes or even mashed potatoes, this Swedish meatball recipe prepared from scratch is an easy and scrumptious meal just brimming with comfort and coziness!
Swedish Meatballs, Most Delicious When Homemade
Back in the day, a big part of the fun of taking a trip to our local Ikea was to stop in at their cafe and make a little meal out of their famous Swedish meatballs smothered in creamy gravy.
Truth be told, we haven't had those meatballs in quite some time now, but when our son was a little guy, he absolutely loved them...
Back then, we would buy a big bag of the prepared Swedish meatballs they had in their frozen food section to have on hand at home (along with a jar of their famous lingonberry sauce to go alongside) for when he'd get a craving as an after school meal.
Sometimes I would serve them with a side of traditional boiled potatoes, or I'd make creamy mashed potatoes and pile the meatballs, along with their creamy sauce, right on top.
And while I thought they were pretty good, it's the texture of prepared or frozen meatballs, in general, that I've never been the biggest fan of.
They can come across a bit “spongy” to me, and I have the feeling that it's the quality of the meat itself as well as the ingredients used as the binder.
So, a while back I decided to create my own delicious and easy Swedish meatball recipe to have on hand, complete with a creamy sauce, and found it be a delectable offering to enjoy whenever we found ourselves nostalgic for a little taste.
After all, nothing beats the flavor and cozy comfort of a home cooked meal, and what could be cozier than a plate of tender and juicy homemade Swedish meatballs, covered in sauce?
How to Make Swedish Meatballs with an Easy Sauce
The good news is that the creamy, savory, and slightly tangy sauce that Swedish meatballs are simmered in is quite simple to whip up, and really only has a few key ingredients.
It's a basic sauce that starts with a “roux”, a thickener made with equal parts butter and flour, to which stock (typically beef, in this case) is added, along with a touch of sour cream and fresh herbs as finishers.
But because I like as much depth in my Swedish meatball sauce as possible, I like to saute a bit of garlic with the butter before adding in the flour for the roux. Then, I whisk in my beef stock and stir until thickened, sprinkle in some black and white pepper, and finish the sauce with the sour cream plus a tiny hint of Dijon mustard.
And because I allow the browned meatballs to simmer in the sauce to finish cooking, that just adds even more savory, beefy flavor to this already velvety and creamy sauce.
Here's a sneak peek at my easy Swedish Meatball recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To begin, I soak some breadcrumbs with some milk or cream, then add those to my ground meat, along with some grated onion, eggs, seasonings and herbs, and gently mix by hand.
- Next, I scoop equal portions of the meat mixture and shape into meatballs.
- Then, I heat a large skillet (I love my cast iron for this) with a bit of butter and oil, and brown the meatballs, in batches, on all sides for a few moments (they won't be cooked through, and that is fine).
- The meatballs are then removed from the skillet, and a bit more butter is added in; and once melted, I add in the garlic, then whisk in some flour to blend.
- Next, some stock is whisked in until smooth and thickened, followed by some sour cream and a touch of Dijon; then, the browned meatballs are added back into the pan and allowed to gently simmer until cooked through for 10 to 12 minutes.
- I finish the Swedish meatballs with fresh chopped parsley and/or dill, and serve with boiled or mashed potatoes, or even wide egg noodles.
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 600 calories
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
- Olive oil, about 3 tablespoons, divided use
- 1 small onion, finely minced
- 1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs (from a small 2 ½ ounce French roll finely processed)
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk or half & half
- 1 ½ pounds ground beef (85/15 ratio)
- 1 egg, whisked
- 1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 ounces unsalted butter (4 tablespoons)
- 1 large clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 6 ½ tablespoons)
- 4 cups beef stock
- 1 ½ tablespoons sour cream
- ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard (optional)
- Pinch ground nutmeg
- Pinch ground allspice
- Pinch white pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley or dill, or a combo of both
- Begin by preparing your meatball mixture: place a large heavy-bottom non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, and add in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil; once hot, add in the minced onion, and saute for about 3 minutes until softened and slightly golden; remove the onion from the pan and allow it to cool on a plate, and wipe the skillet clean.
- In a bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs with the milk or half & half, and allow those to soak for a just a moment.
- To a large bowl, add the ground beef, the cooled onion, the soaked breadcrumbs, the whisked egg, the garlic, the salt, black pepper, nutmeg and allspice, and using your hands, combine the mixture well.
- To make the meatballs, take roughly a heaping ounce of the mixture, and roll it into a ball (you should have 24 meatballs total), and hold on a plate.
- Place the same skillet you used for the onion back on a medium-high heat, and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil; once hot, add about half of your meatballs in (work in batches) and allow them to brown and sear on all sides, for about 5-6 minutes (they will be only partly cooked through, but will finish in the sauce); spoon the browned meatballs onto a plate to hold while you repeat with the remaining meatballs; wipe out the skillet once again to clean it.
- To prepare your sauce, place that same skillet over medium heat, and add in the butter; once melted, add in the garlic and whisk just until aromatic; then, whisk in the flour to form your roux (it will be paste-like), and after about 30 seconds, pour in your beef stock, whisking the whole time to avoid lumps and to create a smooth sauce.
- Allow the sauce to come to a gentle simmer over low heat and to “tighten up” a little, about 2-3 minutes; then, whisk in the sour cream, the Dijon (if using), the pinch of nutmeg, allspice and white pepper, and add the meatballs back into the pan with the sauce.
- Simmer the meatballs gently in the sauce for about 10-12 minutes (you can cover the pan, if desired), or until cooked through; then, turn off the heat, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and/or dill, and serve with your desired side.
Tips & Tidbits for my Swedish Meatballs:
- Good quality ground meat: While I prefer to use all ground beef for this recipe, you can also use a combo of pork and beef. Opt for a fat ratio of 85/15 for the beef, as a leaner meat will yield slightly tougher meatballs.
- Fresh breadcrumbs are best: If it's possible for you to process a roll into fresh breadcrumbs (it's super quick and easy!), it will yield a more tender meatball; otherwise, you can use regular breadcrumbs, or even panko.
- A sprinkle of spice adds flavor to Swedish meatballs: A little hint of nutmeg and allspice adds a lot of depth and flavor to Swedish meatballs, so add a little sprinkle into the meat mixture and the sauce!
- Prepare Swedish Meatballs ahead: If you'd like to get a head start on the recipe, you can prepare your meatball mixture and form it into meatballs, place the meatballs onto a plate, cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge, then brown them when ready. You also can prepare the sauce separately, and simply reheat that in the pan when you plan on serving the dish.
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2018, and has been updated with even more love!