Swedish Meatballs

Classic Swedish meatballs made from a mixture of beef and pork, flavored with nutmeg and cardamom and served with a rich beef and sour cream gravy.

Lingonberry jelly is traditionally used with Swedish meatballs; you can substitute cranberry, red currant or raspberry jelly if you can't find lingonberry jelly.

  • Yield: Serves 4 vikings, or 8-10 regular people.

Ingredients

Meatballs:

  • 1 large yellow or white onion, peeled, grated (through a cheese grater)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 4-5 slices of bread, crusts removed, bread cut into pieces
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

Sauce:

  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sour cream
  • Salt
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp of Lingonberry, cranberry, red currant or raspberry jelly, more or less to taste (optional)

Method

1 Sauté the grated onion in the butter over medium-high heat until the onions soften and turn translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

2 In a medium bowl, mix the bread pieces with the milk. Set aside for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread soaks up all the milk. When it does, pulverize the bread in a food processor and pour it into a large bowl.

3 Add the cooled onions to the bowl of milk and bread. Add the rest of the meatball ingredients—eggs, ground pork, ground beef, salt, nutmeg, cardamom, pepper. Using your (clean) hands, mix well for about 2 minutes until the ingredients are well combined.

4 Use a tablespoon to measure out the meat for the meatballs. As you form the meatballs, set each one aside on a sheet pan or plate. You should get 40 to 50 meatballs.

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5 Heat 6 tablespoons of butter for the sauce in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, reduce the heat to medium and add some of the meatballs. Do not crowd the pan. Work in batches, browning them slowly on all sides. Be gentle when you turn them so they don't break apart. Do not cook the meatballs all the way through, only brown them at this stage. Once browned, use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pan, setting them aside so you can make the sauce with the remaining pan butter.

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6 Start the sauce. (Check the pan butter to see if it has burned. If the butter tastes burnt, discard the butter and replace with new 6 tablespoons.) Heat the pan butter on medium until hot. Slowly whisk in the flour. Stirring often, let the flour cook until it is the color of coffee-with-cream; this is a classic roux.

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7 As the roux is cooking, heat the beef stock in another pot until it simmers. When the roux has cooked until the color of coffee-with-cream, slowly add the hot beef stock a little at a time. Everything will sputter at first, and the sauce will seize up and solidify. Keep stirring and adding stock slowly, and it will loosen up and become silky.

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8 Add the meatballs to the sauce and turn the heat down to low. Cover the pot and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. You might need to do this in batches.

9 To finish, move the meatballs to a serving dish. Add the sour cream and mix well. Either add the lingonberry jelly to the sauce or serve it on the side.

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Comments

  1. lorenza

    We grew up having these on Christmas eve for our buffet dinner. these were my favorite. I still have my mom’s recipe (not sure where she got it from) and I am in charge of making them now. We keep them warm on the table in a chafing dish

  2. LC

    Thank you for posting this timely classic, I was thinking about what to serve for Christmas Eve dinner and this is it. I’m wondering what to serve as a side (s) to this dish?

    I would say mashed potatoes or egg noodles. ~Elise

  3. Sara Sabo

    What fun it was to go on the web and see Swedish Meatballs. This recipe looks pretty good. I loved it that the gravy was made from the pan drippings (this is the only way to make it just right). I am 1st generation of Swedish decent here in America and the Swedish customs, especially at Christmas Time are very important to my family. These customs and foods are now being passed to my grandkid’s. Along with Swedish Meatballs, LImpa (Bread), Korv(Sasuage), Cod with a cream sauce (I do not use dryed cod), Cardamom Coffee Bread among many other foods are served every Christmas Eve.
    It is alot of work but the Swedish “Tomte” that lives under the floorboards helps but you better do your part or the Jul goat will butt you. This is the day all distant relatives and many friends decide they want to be Swedish. Myself and my three brothers many of our kids and grandkids plus close friends will be gathering this Christmas Eve to enjoy the Swedish/American spirit that we have blended. God Jul to all

  4. Rayna

    You mean when I get a craving for these, I don’t have to drive 1 hr to our “local” IKEA?
    ;-) I can’t wait to try these, and I must admit I love the lingonberry jam on the side, which, ahem, you can find plenty of for sale at the swedish furniture giant. If I left the jam out of the sauce, would I have to make any adjustments in amounts of the other sauce ingredients? Looks delicious!

    No adjustments needed. ~Elise

  5. Alena

    These look delicious and authentic! I grew up eating these. We always served them with tiny boiled, buttered potatoes (with fresh dill on the side).

  6. Lili

    IKEA is good for many things, meatballs is not one of them. This is a great recipe – make your own! :)

    Here are a few variations from a Swedish native:
    If you can get it, use a mix of ground beef, pork, and veal (2 parts beef, 1/2 part each of pork and veal).
    Some people prefer the taste and texture of little pieces of onion. They have to be small otherwise the taste overpowers and the meatball falls apart. If you can stand it, mince instead of grate.
    For every day meatballs in my family, we stuck to basics and only added salt, pepper, maybe a little soy. Sometimes we would mix it up a bit for Christmas and add a little allspice, and/or cardamom. Nutmeg and white pepper is good, too.
    If you can find real Swedish anchovies (ABBA or Graebbestads – at IKEA or your local Swedish grocery store ;), use 1 – 2 Tbl spoons of the liquid for a great bump in flavor, you will get a tiny hint of the allspice as well. (Use the rest of the can, and the filés, to make Janson’s Frestelse – Janson’s Temptation; a traditional Swedish potato dish for your Christmas spread.)
    Some people swear by replacing some, or even all, of the dairy, and some of the breadcrumbs, with one or two (depending on size) boiled potatoes and cold sparkling water or club soda. This will give you a lighter, more tender meatball – but be careful with proportions, if the “dough” is too soft, the meatballs are impossible to fry – they’ll just stick and fall apart.
    Also, be careful with adding too much egg, you don’t want to taste it, it’s only a binder. I’ve never used more than 1 egg.
    Fry your meatballs in batches, adding a 1 – 2 Tbl spoons of butter for every new batch.

    ALWAYS use real butter. Unless you’re allergic, any other product is treason :)

    Labor intensive, but the best – imo, pan-gravy: Cook out the pan after every batch, with water for regular brown gravy, or cream, milk, etc for a creamy gravy. You can also cook out pan with wine, sherry, etc, once or twice for added flavor. Reserve liquid in a separate bowl. When you’re done frying, strain the liquid, pour in a sauce pan and add salt, pepper, perhaps a little soy, to taste. Thicken gravy the way you normally would, or as per above.

    For the Christmas smörgåsbord (spread), meatballs are traditionally made small and served without gravy.

    As an entrée, serve larger meatballs with gravy, mashed or boiled potatoes, lingonberry jam, and pressgurka – thinly sliced, pickled cucumber.

    Happy Holidays – God Jul!!

  7. Linda

    OMG these look and sound incredible. Guess what we are going to have for dinner? Thanks, as always, for the inspiration. The following recipe I’ve used calls for the meatballs to be baked.

    OLD COUNTRY SWEDISH MEATBALLS

    3 cups bread crumbs
    1 1/2 cups milk
    3 lbs ground chuck
    2 eggs beaten
    1 large onion finely chopped
    2 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    1/2 tsp allspice
    4 cups beef broth
    1 1/2 tsp dill weed
    1/4 tsp pepper

    Instructions:
    Soak bread crumbs in milk about 5 minutes. Combine mixture with eggs, ground chuck, onion, salt, nutmeg and allspice. Shape into balls place on cooking sheet in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

    Place meat balls in heavy cast iron fry pan or dutch oven with broth, dill and pepper. Cover and simmer on low heat for 1 hour.

    Put 2 T. Wondra in 1 cup milk for gravy. Serve over noodles or with golden yukon potatoes.

  8. Emma

    Looks Great!, I presume you could freeze the meatballs – could you freeze the sauce?

    I don’t know, haven’t tried freezing either yet. ~Elise

  9. Matthew Hyner

    My mom had a great meatball recipe she would call sweedish meatballs although apparently they were just sweet meatballs :) The lingonberry jam at Ikea gives there’s a similar taste but completly different way of getting there. Basically 2.5lbs of your meatballs(although she didn’t use pork) in a pot, add a can of cranberry sauce, fill the can with OJ, and a small can of plane tomato sauce…simmer about 2 hours and the best meatballs you may ever eat.

    That being said, I may try this next week :)

  10. nika

    In the 60s and 70s middle class suburban America, we were positively awash in swedish meatballs. That and little weenies on toothpicks, fondues, gacky casseroles, i could go on but I am feeling a bit nauseous.

    Like people above said – you are so lucky to have had an authentic experience for your first time.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe – I might give it a try and rehabilitate or heal from my 1970s scars (winks).

  11. Barbara Dale

    I grow up on Swedish meatballs, my mother being 3nd generation here in US. Her recipes calls for, beef, veal and pork, along with 2 tsp nutmeg, 2 tsp paprika and 1 tsp of dry mustard. The sauce is a garlic, tomato paste and beef stock with 1 tsp of bitters and of coarse the sour cream. Thanks for your recipe, sounds delicious.

  12. Becky

    I’m 2nd generation Swedish decent, and my grandfather brought his mother’s recipe over and gave it to my mother. I remember as a kid we would have his Swedish meatballs every Christmas Eve. It is one of my fondest memories of Christmas growing up, along with my mother making 6 or 8 Swedish Tea Ring pastries. Since I moved on in my adult life we lost the recipe even though I have my grandfather’s recipe box with over 1000 recipes, this was not in it, so about 5 years ago, with my Swedish father at my side as my taste tester (tough job) we embarked on a quest to find the perfect recipe. Found one that used veal beef and pork in a 1/2-1-1/2 ratio and I cooked them up by pan frying them in a non-stick skillet without butter, just to brown them, then baked them for about 10 minutes turning in the middle. Taste tester determined that they were missing something… Onions.. diced super fine so as not to overpower the meats. Then they were perfect. I pan fry them just to brown them then bake them, because I’m not patient enough to keep an eye on them in the frying pan and not burn them. I make them tiny, only 1″ in diameter. After one batch has baked, I boil then scrape the drippings off the baking sheet into the frying pan and make my cream sauce from that, just light cream, salt, water/pan drippings, a little starch to thicken it up, and, a secret (2 mashed up meatballs) for extra texture. We serve them over egg noodles, with a heaping spoonful of the sauce and we’re good to go.

    So, now for the last 5 years, I’ve been lucky enough to be the official maker of the meatballs for our 20+ person christmas gathering. This results in 5-6 batches of meatballs totaling about 800 meatballs per season, and this is the only time of year I make them.

    Your recipe looks similar to mine aside from the sauce difference and the seasonings are different. I’m not sure about the cardamom, it’s such a strong flavor, I don’t know about adding it to mine, but may do a test batch at some point. For me, what makes a meatball Swedish is 2 things, the Nutmeg and Allspice are requirements, and the smell they create in the house as they are cooking. I have to reminisce every time I smell them.

    Now, those folks who throw store bought ‘swedish meatballs’ in a pan and drop a can of mushroom soup over it and call it done are cheating and a store bought ‘swedish meatball’ from the freezer section will NEVER be a real Swedish meatball!

    Congratulations on embarking on a Swedish journey through food. To me, making Swedish meatballs is about the only thing I have that connects me to my heritage, as I currently am reluctant to visit IKEA, and these meatballs are labor intensive, and notoriously difficult to master. :)

  13. Erik

    I grew up eating Swedish Meatballs made by my Great Aunt – she and my Grandmother were born in Sweden. I remember going to her house and just scarfing these down. They were awesome with or without gravy. While I don’t have the recipe readily available, I do know that one of her not-so-secret ingredients was beer. She always added some to the mix. I think that helped make them even better.

  14. Terri

    You got it all right–the beef & pork, the spices, the gravy. Lingonberry jam is often served on the side. The sour cream was a nice touch to the gravy. I’ll have to try that next time. Cardamom is traditional, but allspice may be used instead.

    Small red potatoes, boiled with a little dill are a traditional side dish. Mashed potatoes are great, too.

    Well done!

  15. angela

    Cute story… my stepson lives in stockholm with his mother during the school year and visits us in CA every summer. One day he was helping me with dinner and we got to talking about our favorite foods. He mentioned that swedish meatballs are SUPER easy to make so I told him to tell me the recipe. He is 11 and clearly Im not too experienced with kids because I believed that he was going to give me a real recipe…

    “Take some meat, roll it into little balls and then cook it.”

    It reminded me of how even though I watched my mom make certain staple dishes 100s of times, as an adult I could never replicate them. So much of what parents do is unseen by their children, even if you do it right in front of them!

    That’s hilarious! Reminds me of the time my 10 yr old nephew wanted to make fried zucchini blossoms the way his dad makes them so he went into my garden, picked some, put them in a frying pan and turned on the heat. Didn’t turn out the way he expected! ~Elise

  16. Sara

    On Babylon 3, Jikar (sp?) said that every culture everywhere in the universe had their equivalent of Swedish meatballs.

    Indeed. My mom made great Swedish meatballs. And she was nowhere near Swedish in any part of her ancestry.

  17. tralala

    my mother, swede …. she made the meatballs with soda crackers … not bread … crackers were cheaper … twas the old days … love that food from the old days ….

  18. Danielle

    These are simmering on my stovetop as I type this and my house smells AMAZING. I broke one and cooked it through before making the roux and it was absolutely delicious!

    Thanks for a great recipe, once again!

  19. CGHipp

    I made this recipe for supper tonight and they were fantastic – thanks for posting it. I was going to freeze the leftovers but I think we’d all just rather eat them until they’re gone!

  20. teresa

    Next time, definitely try substituting saltine cracker crumbs in place of the breadcrumbs. It adds a subtle, delicious flavor. This is how I make meatballs for my Swedish husband. :)

  21. Katee

    I’ve been helping my Nana make these for years every Christmas and since she is no longer with us I’ve taken over the tradition. Essentially the same recipe, although we just use beef and definitely add allspice. The sauce she used to make is a little bit different. You can freeze these with decent results. She always used to freeze portions of the meatballs in the sauce and they would reheat fine.

  22. Kay

    Try a Swedish variation by adding 1 tsp slightly crushed caraway seeds along with a bit of allspice to the meat mixture. Also it’s much easier to use a melon baller to scoop small meatballs into a mini muffin tin, bake instead of frying, then add the meatballs into the gravy and proceed as directed in the basic recipe.

  23. Edith

    Thanks for the recipe, Elise! Made these last night, with some substitutions for what I had on hand. Mine turned out great, but I imagine your original recipe would be even better. I used only ground beef, and substituted allspice for the cardamon. I plopped in a dollop of grape jelly (in lieu of the lingonberry) and all turned out tasty. My kids are big fans of the IKEA version, and thought these were even better! :)

  24. Andrea

    A favorite as a kid! I loved Swedish meatball night! We also loved Swedish pancakes–so easy, and way more healthy than “regular” ones! It’s basically like a crepe, but a tiny bit thicker!

    3 eggs
    3/4 cup flour
    1 1/2 cup milk
    pinch of salt
    3 TBLS sugar
    1 tsp vanilla (we Americanized it with this)

    mix ingrediants together until smooth, lump free and golden! Spoon a ladel full into a 10″ skillet coated with enough butter for the pancake to slip around the pan when it’s cooked. Flip once. (You’ll need a long spatula that is good and lubed up with butter!) You can roll them up as they come out of the pan, or fold them into triangles! Serve with a HEAVY dusting of powdered sugar (and jelly if you want!) Yummo! It’s our Sunday mornings around here–and other special days: birthdays, 1st day of school!

  25. Trish

    Swedish meatballs was definitely one of my all time favorites as a child. My mother would serve them with egg noodles on the side. I’ve tried to replicate the distinct taste but to no avail. This recipe definitely looks like a winner!

  26. Marcia

    My MIL from my 1st marriage was 1st generation Swedish-American and a fabulous cook. Christmas Eve at her house was an incredible feast. I watched her make Swedish meatballs and she gave me her recipe, which came from the Vasa Cookbook. The instructions are sketchy but yours fill in the blanks. The recipe does not call for veal like yours does, but that sounds like a great idea. I always make them in a cast iron skillet. I don’t know what makes them taste better that way, but they do. A well-seasoned pan works as well as a non-stick pan.

    3 Slices Bread
    1 c. Milk
    2 Eggs, slightly beaten
    2 lbs. Lean ground beef
    ½ lb. Ground pork shoulder
    2 T. Minced onion
    1 T. Salt
    1 t. Sugar
    ½ t. Pepper
    4 T. Butter
    Directions
    1. Remove crusts from bread. Soak bread in milk. Add slightly beaten eggs. Pour this mixture into meat and work with hands until well blended. Add onion, salt, sugar and pepper. Continue to work with hands until mixture is light and fluffy.
    2. Shape into balls about the size of walnuts. Melt butter in a skillet, add meatballs and cook until browned. Cover skillet and allow to steam over low heat 20 to 25 minutes.
    3. Gravy may be made by adding 2 tablespoons flour to the pan drippings and then thinning to desired thickness with milk.

  27. Molly

    I just started a gluten free diet and am wondering if potato flour or rice flour would work in place of wheat flour.

    I don’t usually cook with either of those flours, so don’t know what to tell you. You might just try it and see. ~Elise

  28. Angela

    I’m gluten free as well. I’d like to know if we can use rice flour or corn flour instead. Thanks very much for your great site, I love it!

    No idea on the gluten-free flours, but if you try it, please let us know what you use and how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  29. Delishhh

    Love your site, always here visiting. I am a Swede born and raised but now live in Seattle, WA. Good twist on Swedish meatballs. Every family makes Swedish meatballs but with their own little twists, so there are a lot of versions out there. There are a few things that are a must for them to be Swedish. You do need the mixture of pork and beef, you need the allspice. Then the meatballs are always small in size, you always eat them with boiled potatoes, “brown” gravy and lingonberries. Here is my recipe: http://delishhh.com/?p=44

  30. Gabby

    Just made this for dinner tonight. Excellent meatballs. I’m nowhere near Swedish and I don’t think I’ve ever had them at Ikea. I just know they were oh so good! Thanks for the recipe!

    Oh and I served with red current jelly. Even better with the jelly. I COULD cut back on the spices just a bit but not by much. Still very, very good. Will be making again and again.

  31. Chris

    If you do not use Cardamon a thousand Vikings will descend upon you and will drink your beer and leave the non- Swedish meatballs behind. Mild Sausage [easy on the sage] in place of ground pork and ground up stove stuff stuffing in place of bread crumbs

  32. jonathan

    I share a house with two other Vikings, and I can assure you this would never satisfy the three of us. I think you need to revise the suggested serving size numbers.

    Cheers,
    Olaf the Terrible

  33. Jessica

    Oh. my. gosh. This was heavenly. It was such a perfect meal for a blustery cold, Christmas tree decorating day. The flavors were amazing, and my Norwegian husband said it’s one of my top ten meals (we’ve been together for 10 years), which amazes me. Thank you for sharing!!

  34. Linda

    Elise, these were excellent. Very easy to put together. I could not find Logonberry jelly so I got some Boysenberry. A very good flavor in the sauce. The addition of pork makes the meatballs more moist and using butter is the way to go for the full effect. I promise I will never make the ones I posted above again (I will not be offended if you delete my post with my recipe.) Thank you, as always, for adding to my recipe box keepers. Happy Holidays!

    So glad you liked them! ~Elise

  35. chris

    This recipe looks so good! Can’t wait to try.

    I know this might kill the authenticity or the things that make this recipe great…. but does anyone have a variation on this recipe that you could do in a slow cooker? Like maybe using frozen meatballs (I know, heaven forbid for those who are cooking purists) and adding the spices to the gravy instead?

    It just seems like the type of recipe that could translated to slow-cooker quite well and made easy for busy folks. Any ideas or recipes would be appreciated!

  36. Jennifer

    My Grandmother-in-law emigrated from Sweden to the US in 1925, and I was fortunate that she taught me how to make her version of Swedish meatballs before she passed away. It is very similar to yours, except without the bread and milk and she swore that the gravy had no cream or sour cream in it. I personally love the sour cream in the gravy….

    In addition, I have gone low carb, so when I make my family meatballs I use Guar (xanthan gum) as a thickener for the gravy in place of the Flour. I’m sure the gluten free folks could do the same.

    Thank you for the gluten-free suggestion! ~Elise

  37. Ajani Truth

    These look great. I eat some beef but don’t eat pork. Is there any good substitute? I see people mentioned veal which I do love but they are mentioning it WITH the beef AND pork. Help me out! I want to try this soon.

  38. melissa

    These look wonderful and I am looking forward to trying them. What do you serve them with?

    Potatoes or egg noodles. ~Elise

  39. Michelle

    Elise, what kind of bread? white or brown? need to know so they can come out PERFECT! thanks.

    I would use white bread. We used French loaf from La Brea Bakery, so good. ~Elise

  40. Sven

    The recipe looks perfect.
    My mother is norwegian, and in her version she uses potato flour instead of bread for the binder.
    Maybe norwegians have a high incidence of gluten intolerance?

    Gotta make these soon…so comforting!

  41. Donna Cummings

    I made these Sunday and followed the recipe exactly as written. Except I used 1/2 tsp of cardamom and nutmeg. They were incredible!! Elise, I have made so many of your recipes and haven’t been disappointed yet. Thank you for helping me mix it up at dinner

  42. Claudia Durbin

    This recipe is fantastic! The spices give these meatballs a wonderful holiday aroma, plus it’s great for feeding a big crowd – easy to make – LOVE IT!

  43. Lauren

    Elise,

    These look wonderful. I am already planning on making these for my family Christmas. Mu Great Grandmother was Swedish and it has been years since anyone in the family made these.

    I do not often make meatballs. Would it be ok to make the meatball mixture the day before?

    I think you’ll be fine making the mixture the day before, as long as you keep it chilled. ~Elise

  44. Anna

    Can I just say it tickled my funny bone to check in with your blog today and see today’s recipe is white sugar-coated round cookies on the same pattern dish that these meatballs are on? For a second I thought it was another meatball recipe with a white sauce.

    Anyway, I made the Swedish meatballs last night and they were incredibly delishous (though my hungry 12 yo complained that they took too far long to make). I served them over lightly wilted chopped chard with garlic and butter. The nutmeg and cardamon made these meatballs authentically Swedish and a nice change from Italian meatballs, and IMO, these are in a league far above Ikea’s factory-made meatballs. Next time, however, I’ll get started much earlier, double the meatball recipe, and reserve half the browned (but not cooked through) meatballs for freezing.

    Being a gluten-free family, I left out the bread and milk because we were out of GF bread; the meatballs were fine without them, though I was extra careful turning the meatballs to make sure they didn’t fall apart while still soft. I probably should have reduced the eggs to 1 to reduce the wetness, but it wasn’t crucial. As I had a late start on dinner, I was a bit sloppy while quickly forming the meatballs; I just scooped the meat into balls with a geared s/s “cookie/ice cream” scooper, which worked fine. I used a finger to press any raggedy meat bits into a ball shape and then ejected the meatball into the hot pan.

    I also cooked the meatballs in ghee (clarified butter) instead of plain butter, so there was no issue with burnt butter solids after browning the meatballs. My broth was homemade from meaty bison bones and had a 1/2 inch fat cap at the top of the jar, so I added that fat to the ghee, too; I hate to think that some might skimp on the cooking fat. The cold broth I used started out firmer than Jello, so with the full fat sour cream and the cooking fat, it made a really rich and hearty-tasting sauce.

  45. Nichole

    I made this last night and it was delicious. I will halve the cardamom the next time I make it, because I like the flavor, but want it to be a bit more subtle. I served the meatballs and sauce over some buttered egg noodles. I was told by my fella to make sure I keep this recipe. I think that means he liked it!

  46. Marcie

    I made these for friends tonight and they were delish! Thanks for sharing this recipe, it’s definitely a keeper.

  47. Sopheavy

    I made this last time and my husband loved it! I also boiled some egg noodles and served this over them. I didn’t have cardamon so left it out and still turned out great. Yummy!

  48. booch221

    I tried this recipe and it’s delicious! They have just the right balance of flavors without being overly spicy. Cardamom was $16 a bottle in the spice section so I got some in the bulk food section for 23 cents. Lingonberry jelly is expensive too and it tastes just like cranberry sauce, so you can save some money by making that substitution. For bread I used a ciabatta and did not cut the crust off.

    I baked my meatballs on a wire rack set in a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and they came out just fine.

    I had to use an immersion blender to puree the lingonberries and sour cream into a smooth sauce.

    Best Swedish meatballs I’ve ever had. Make them a day ahead as the flavor improves overnight.

  49. Julie

    Great recipe (even better the second day). I’ll wow my mom with Homemade IKEA Meatballs soon. I fresh ground my own cardamom and found it really powerful so I might back it off a bit next time.

  50. Amanda

    Thank you, Elise! Once again you have saved me when I had no idea what to make for dinner. I saw this and decided to go to store to get the meat at 4:45 pm and before 7:30 we had a delicious dinner. I halved the nutmeg and cardamom (not a big fan), but regretted is as it was not noticeable in the finished product at all.

    One question, is the amount of butter/pan drippings crucial in the roux making? I added 1/3 c of flour and it seemed very thin, not like any thick roux I have ever made before (such as when I am making mac and cheese for example). I added more flour and when I poured in the broth my sauce was super thick. I had to add more stock and of course, ended up with a ton of sauce.

    Excellent recipe, thanks again. You never disappoint!

  51. booch221

    I bought whole cardamom seeds and ground them in my coffee maker. I added one teaspoon along with one teaspoon of nutmeg to the 2.5 pounds of meat. There are no other spices in this dish except for pepper. I thought they were perfectly seasoned.

  52. Kelly

    So excited to see this recipe! It looks about as close to what my Swedish great grandmother Marion Anderson always made for Christmas Eve, than any recipe I’ve found before.

    My grandmother (who is French-Canadian, not Swedish, but for some reason loves to lord her possessions, including family recipes, over everyone’s heads) will NOT share this recipe unti she dies. She’s 83, but looks and acts 60, so while I’ll complain endlessly about her bad behavior, I’ll give great thanks to being part of a fine gene pool.

    Apparently the recipe is in her will. I’m her first of 16 grandchildren, and if she doesn’t bequeath it to me, I’m taking that as a green light on my memoir about our relationship.

    Can’t wait to make these for Christmas Eve. Already bought the Lingonberry jelly.

  53. Suzanne

    In hopes of getting booed off the forum, I just want to say that I am a vegetarian and substituted firm pressed tofu for the meat and vegetarian broth instead of beef broth. The produce? hands down, the best vegetarian meal to date. I had some friends over and they were just amazed at how great they were…I know it’s a little ironic saying vegetarian meatballs, but it was a smash. Even my husband tasted one and said, I thought we were doing vegetarian tonight! Ha! It was fantastic! Thanks for ALL the great recipes.

  54. cassie

    Made it and loved it! really good with the lingonberry jelly… oh and I used Ritz crackers instead of bread because someone coming for dinner is allergic to yeast. I served it with egg noodles. Thanks Elise!

  55. Anju

    My husband and I made these tonight and wow, were they fabulous! I loved the fact that they come out looking and tasting like a more complicated dish than they really are. And such a refreshing change from traditional tomato sauce-based meatballs. Those are tasty as well but there’s something unique about these Swedish meatballs (even if IKEA makes them too). Speaking of IKEA, this recipe is way better than IKEA’s, and I love the fact that you get 50 hearty-sized meatballs, not some tiny little things the size of Maltesers. Thanks so much, Elise!

  56. Scott

    Wow! These are excellent!! We did brown the meatballs in our halogen convection oven, but other than that stuck to the recipe exactly. We served them over egg noodles…yummmmmm!!

  57. Colette

    This recipe sounded so excellent that I just had to try it! It is in a word, FABULOUS!! On a scale of 1-5, I would give it a 6! The only change I made was, I didn’t have cardamon and since it was $11.39 for a small bottle at my local store, I substituted a combination of nutmeg and cinnamon(in equal amounts). I served them to company and I thought they were going to lick the plates. I served simple buttered egg noodles and string beans with mushrooms. It was a good combination.

  58. Angela

    I made your recipe over the weekend. Following your recipe was the first time I have successfully made a roux. It was smooth and silky. The Swedish Meatballs would have been perfect except I do not have a food processor so I couldn’t get the milk/bread fine enough. They were the only issue and that was my issue not the recipe. Sauce was great too. I always have good luck when I try one of your recipes. Thank you

  59. Jackie Johnsen

    Subtle excellance … You have to try this recipe! I found the ligonberry jelly on sale at the discount organic grocer, followed the recipe exactly and served with egg noodles. My husband and I had delicious lunches that crazy week before Christmas. Thank you! Next year though I will probably serve this Christmas Eve. 5 star COMFORT FOOD

  60. Tony V

    I made this Swedish Meatballs recipe yesterday, and it was fantastic! Thanks so much! (I served them with egg noodles and peas)

    I prefer large meatballs, so I made about 30 2″ meatballs (using an ice cream scoop)

    My comment: In Step 5, where I heat the butter to brown the meatballs – I added another 1/3 cup Canola oil which has a higher boiling point. That way I got the tasty benefit of butter without any “burn”. Also, the slight increase in sauce volume was better for my larger meatballs.

    Anyways, just thought I’d share my experience.

  61. Jen

    I made this recipe Christmas Eve (under pressure of time) for my guests. Everyone loved it, so I made it again for another gathering the day after Christmas. Fantastic! I may add this to the traditional fare.
    The recipe was easy to follow. I substituted in whole wheat bread and ground 93/7 turkey. The only change with the meatball cooking was I found I had to finish them in the microwave instead of leaving them slightly raw when adding to the sauce. I also added a few tablespoons of whole bean cranberry sauce, the flavor and appearance was amazing!

  62. Carolyn

    I’m making these right now, and I literally cannot stop smelling the bowl! They’re not even cooked yet! I think these will become a bona fide addiction…

  63. Dawn

    Great recipe! This was my first time trying Swedish Meatballs and with a picky family, they turned out to be a hit! Hint: Give yourself plenty of time to prepare. If you have to cook the meat balls in batches like I did, it will take you about an hour.

  64. Fran

    I’m German and I have tons of family in Sweden. Their Swedish meatballs do have a twist that really distinguishes them from other sorts of meatballs for me: put in tons of fresh, chopped dill and parsley! Seriously, they should be almost green – everyone will be green with envy for your meatballs. Also, allspice instead of or in addition to cardamom.

    I always make them with tons of herbs and everyone (including me) loves them.

    Also, for the sauce, instead of using plain beef broth I reduce equal parts of red wine (I use a Carbernet) and beef broth to about half. Makes it taste richer.

  65. Telly

    The sauce is really, really fantastic an makes the dish. I serve with mashed potatoes. Tastes just like the meatballs we always thought we could only get in Sweden!

  66. Frank

    Finally got around to making this recipe this weekend. The sauce really does make the recipe great and it’s right on the money with what they serve at Ikea :). The meatballs there obviously have a different texture as they’re processed(?) into a standard shape and frozen.

    A few changes on my end were:
    - substituting pulverized bread for breadcrumbs (just enough to soak up all the milk about 1 cup of crumbs)
    - omitting cardamom as I didn’t have any on hand
    - reducing the sour cream to less than 1/2 cup (the brand I had was quite rich – I suggest adding about 1/4 cup at a time to your taste)

    My wife and sister-in-law loved it (even better than Ikeas). Next time I’ll try it with the cardamom for more flavor. This one’s definitely a keeper. Thanks Elise!

  67. Erin - Milwaukee, WI

    Delicious! First time making homemade meatballs, and would recommend this recipe. Didn’t include jelly & made some healthy substitutes: replaced pork with ground turkey, used lean ground beef, margarine, low-fat sour cream, and low sodium beef broth. Our friends loved them (kids included) and didn’t notice the substitutes. We put the meatballs in a slower cooker (low) and just added the sauce. Will try next time the suggestion of adding vegetable oil to the butter to brown the meatballs to avoid the butter burning. We used new margarine for the sauce but added in some of the burnt margarine from the meatballs for flavor.

  68. GSM

    Once again, your site provides the most authentic and delicious recipes! These were easy to make, and sooooo yummy. I made a triple recipe for an event and baked the meatballs (350° for 20 minutes) instead of pan frying them; they turned out great.

  69. Nicole

    My family is Swedish but I realized I’d never made Swedish meatballs so I decided to give this recipe a try on a dinner party of 5. I didn’t have Cardamom so I subbed allspice, and I only had 3 cups of beef broth left so I added a cup of chicken broth, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. I served with egg noodles and everyone ate more than they should have and I still had leftovers. Delicious! I will put this in regular rotation (but probably half it for normal dinners). Thanks for connecting me with my roots!

  70. Noga Saeed

    I never order anything but meatballs everytime I eat in Ikea, but not anymore because this recipe is WONDEFUL…
    I just made this today, I didn’t use the bread and milk, instead of that I used breadcrumbs and it was DELISOUS…
    Thank you so so so so much
    :)

  71. Amanda

    I made this last week and it was amazing. Admittedly, I should have saved this cooking project for a weekend meal because it was quite the production – but even so, I wasn’t disappointed in the least with my efforts.
    I found that I needed to keep the meatballs relatively small due to their delicate nature. They kept falling apart as I tried to turn them when they were larger. Keep them smaller than a walnut and you should be good. :-)
    My whole family raved about these – always a sure sign that I’ve scored another recipe keeper!

  72. Frank

    Reading this recipe, and looking at the pictures, leads me to believe that you spent time in my Mom’s kitchen. (She is Swedish by the way.)

    The only differences I can see are that:

    My Mom used 1 lb pork, 1 lb beef and 1/2 lb veal. But then, 45 years ago you could only get ground beef… we didn’t have medium, lean and extra lean ground beef, so 1/2 pound of veal would have “leaned out” the meat mixture; and

    We tore the bread into pieces instead of cutting it.

    Tusen tack for the memories.

  73. Vanessa R

    I made a few modifications to be on the leaner side: I used lean ground turkey instead of beef and pork, I cut down on the bread used to about 3 slices, used 1 egg instead of 2, and after they were browned, used a can of cream of mushrooms for the sauce to cut out some of the butter and stock. They were awesome!!! The cream of mushrooms became very savory, and the meatballs were amazing with those spices! The pickier eaters in my family loved them, and they were devoured in a flash.

    I’ll be making them again tonight!

  74. Deb

    I made this a few nights ago. Wow! It was so yummy we had it for lunch and dinner the next day. Oh by the way it makes enough to feed an army. My hubby is already asking me to make it again:) would recommend this to anyone. Thanks again!!!

  75. mikael wallin

    Hi,
    Come across your site with this receipt of the Swedish meatballs yours is fine but it misses out of 1 impotent ingredient (you have milk) as long as i can remember from my grand mother mother’s receipt book they never put that inside they put BEER inside to make them more light.
    And you can use any kind of lager you like even porter if you can find it,,

    Enjoy,,from an old swede that love meatballs.

  76. Maria

    These look delicious however this is definitely an Americanized recipe. I have never seen meatballs in Sweden served in the sauce like that and sour cream isn’t used in the sauce recipe– it would be actual cream. A traditional meatball plate would have fried meatballs, boiled new potatoes, lingonberry jam (not in the sauce!), pickled cucumbers and cream sauce for the potatoes OR mashed potatoes but no cream sauce. And as yummy as they are, they’re NEVER served with egg noodles– it’s completely unheard of in Sweden.

    Regarding the egg noodles, the recipe doesn’t call for them. I did suggest them in the comments as a serving option, because to my taste, the meatballs do taste good with egg noodles. Or potatoes. Or rice. Or just about anything. Heck, they would even taste great on a sub roll. ~Elise

  77. Lynn

    I made this recipe gluten free (for my Celiac son) and it was wonderful. Substituted Rudi’s multigrain gluten free bread (4 slices) and used a combination of Pamela’s gluten free flour mix in the roux, along with Arrowroot (mixed in some warm water) to thicken. The gluten free flour browned up nicely for the roux but I also like to use some arrowroot to thicken while keeping the flavor light. According to my mom, my Swedish grandmother apparently did not use cardamom in her meatballs but I love it and thought it tasted perfect in this dish. I had really good quality cardamom seeds that I ground myself and so I used less than called for (about 1/2 to 3/4 tsp) and it had fantastic flavor.

  78. Maureen

    Could these be kept warm in a crockpot set on low do you think?

    Yes, I think that would be a great way to keep them warm. ~Elise

  79. Annika

    The look really tasty! But for me, this is not the traditional Swedish way. We don’t usually cook them in the sauce, otherwise the receipt is pretty much the same. For holidays (for example Christmas) we just make the meatballs and serve them with several other dishes as a buffet. These dishes are usually things like boiled potatoes, Christmas ham, “janssons frestelse”, head cheese, malt bread, butter and cheese, herring, miniature frankfurter, beetroot sallad, smoked salmon, spareribs, raw spiced salmon, lots of different types of sausage, boiled eggs, crispbread, “Ris á la Malta”, a type of cheese cake and so on.

    But if you serve it for weekdays, you usually eat this dish with mashed potatoes and meat gravy, with “pressgurka”(cucumber salad) and lingonberry jam on the side.

    Sorry for my terrible English :) I’m working on it!

  80. Debra

    Holy Mary Mother of God these are GOOD! My mom is 100% Norwegian, so I grew up on Norwegian meatballs. As a grown-up asking her for the recipes from my childhood, I’ve been horrified to find out that there are ingredients such as “an envelope of onion soup mix” in the family meatball recipe. I tried this tonight and was blown away (I’m going to try and slip this into the recipe box). I have no idea how to spell it, but…. “toussen tuk!” (thousand thanks)

  81. Neil

    At what stage can I freeze them. Before or after browning ?

    Good question. I haven’t frozen them, but if I were to, I would probably do so after browning. ~Elise

  82. Barbara King

    I recently used this recipe to make Swedish Meatballs for New Years Eve for five of us and the meatballs and sauce was delicious! I did not use the sour cream however. They were as yummy as the ones my Swedish mother made for us when I was a kid. She was a first generation Svenska Flicka and her children really loved her meatballs. My kids loved my meatballs too that I have always made but I usually made them the lazy way with cream of mushroom soup and milk until I made these. My 31 year old son was here for New Years Eve and he raved about these as did my husband. He told me these meatballs were way better than the ones I usually made even though he always raved about mine! His comment was OK with me because this recipe is the way my mother made hers and her meatballs were so wonderful! I also made Rotmos which is mashed potato (red potato with the skins) and mashed rutabaga ( I mix with cream cheese) also a cucumber salad. I forgot to buy lingonberry jam but served jellied cranberries and chokecherry jelly and they were great substituts. It was a wonderful way to honor my mother and ring in the new year! I loved using the Cardamom and nutmeg in this recipe. I think it made the difference in taste for me. My grandparents came from Nordbotten in Sweden and cardamom was used in many breads (Limpa) that they brought from Sweden and nearby Finland. By the way Elise, our first born daughter we named Elise Marie 45 years ago! She is named after a Swedish ancestor and has always loved her name! Thank you for the recipe……it is a keeper in my family no more mushroom soup in my meatballs!

  83. Alicia

    This was wonderful! I had to change it up a little due to available ingredients. I used deer instead of beef and because of the low fat content in it, I used pork sausage. I also didn’t have any sour cream, so I used some cream cheese and heavy cream. This is now my go to recipe for Swedish Meatballs!

  84. Leah

    I made this today, and my family loved it. I’ve never had homemade Swedish meatballs before…I had no idea what I was missing! Every recipe I’ve tried from you website (and I’ve tried several) has been wonderful. This is the first place I go now when I’m looking for a new recipe. I really enjoy the stories, history, & info, too. Thanks Elise!

  85. Lisa

    Several couples and my husband and I have themed parties all the time, and last night our theme was Food from Sweden. I volunteered to make swedish meatballs, but had never made them before. This recipe was very easy to follow and the results were delicious! I will definitely be adding this dish to my regular repertoire of recipes.

  86. Hillary

    Made these tonight for a good rainy-day dinner.
    I did change a couple things – instead of using black pepper, I used white. I used about 5 inches of a crusty loaf of sourdough bread, without removing the crusts and just soaked them in a little extra milk for about ten minutes.
    Next time, I think I’ll reduce the amount of cardamom. Not that I don’t love it – but the first thing I tasted was the cardamom, instead I’ll probably use a little more white pepper.
    My sauce wasnt as light as I was used to, so I had some cream in the fridge and added that.
    But I love this meatball recipe!
    I only cooked ten, and froze the others by just frying them, letting them cool, and sticking them in a Ziplock for the freezer. So far, they haven’t stuck together.

  87. Judy B.

    Eating these RIGHT NOW!! Amazingly delectable!! My hubby loves Swedish meatballs and I usually make them at least 4 or 5 times a year, but we use a different recipe. I’ve been wanting to try these, so we made them together today. SO GOOD!! We stirred a little red currant jelly in the sauce and it’s really good. Followed the recipe exactly, and it’s a huge hit at our house. As for those little rubbery balls from Ikea…they should stick to making furniture. :-) Thanks, Elise…another keeper!

  88. Bill S.

    My wife and I are participating in a club cruise on our boat this weekend. For one of the events we are all supposed to bring an appetizer. We live in Washington State and guess what… it’s going to be wet and cold/ We figured something warm would be appreciated by everyone. I searched for a Swedish Meatballs recipe on the web and yours was a standout. I cooked the meatballs and the sauce (minus the sour cream and ligonberry jam) tonight which is 2-days ahead of our event. I will add the sour cream and meatballs for the final cooking about 30 min. before the reception. In my opinion good gravy must be made with homemade stock but I this case I used store bought stock. I can tell the difference in flavor but it was, of course, a lot easier. Judging from the other comments and the aroma of my kitchen these will be a big hit.
    Thank You!

  89. Erin

    Hi there, have made this recipe 3 times as written. I always love the result, however the cardamom flavor is very pronounced for my taste. I have Green cardamom pods that I use in Indian cooking- have not tried red cardamom and I am wondering which type you use? Is there a big flavor difference. Or perhaps I am just not a huge fan of the flavor and need to cut back for my tastes. Thanks for another great recipe! :)

    • Erin

      Ok after consulting google I see that black cardamom is more popular than red.. Perhaps they are one and the same (and by that I mean my brain got confused)

  90. ibikenyc

    I made these last night and still have not come back down to earth!

    I used a beef-and-pork mixture (50-50), panko, and heavy cream in the meatballs. Two whole teaspoons of pepper sounded like a lot, but we like hot stuff, so I put them in. I’m so glad I did! The heat part of the pepper is in the background, but the “fruity” part of the pepper adds beautifully to the flavor of the whole dish. I’ve made Swedish meatballs before but never with cardamom; another inspired ingredient.

    I had intended to use heavy cream rather than sour in the gravy, but I forgot completely about adding either. The gravy is anyway so delicious that I can’t imagine its being any better! Can’t wait to try it again with the sour cream.

    A WONDERFUL, five-star recipe! Thank you so much for posting it! :-D

  91. Katrina Elisabet

    If you use pumpkin pie spice, you don’t have to measure out the other spices. One of these days I’ll have to measure out how much of it I actually use. Normally I just keep adding it until it smells just like my grandmother’s meatballs!