Swedish Meatballs

The BEST Swedish meatballs recipe! Made from a mixture of beef and pork, flavored with nutmeg and cardamom and served with a tasty Swedish meatball sauce.

Swedish Meatballs
Elise Bauer

My first experience of Swedish meatballs came in the form of room service at a hotel in Stockholm. I was traveling alone for business, holed up in my room in comfy clothes with books to keep me company.

I ordered the only thing on the menu that looked familiar—meatballs—that first night. They were so good I think I licked the plate clean. I stayed in and ordered Swedish meatballs every night for the rest of the trip!

Video: How to Make Swedish Meatballs


Swedish Meatballs

Better Than IKEA Swedish Meatballs

Since that time in Stockholm, I've been on a quest to find a Swedish meatball as good, and we've done it here. What has resulted is one of our most popular recipes around the holidays —Swedish meatballs.

If you like the Swedish meatballs at IKEA, be prepared; these are a hundred times better! They're terrific over egg noodles for a main course or served as individual appetizers with a Swedish meatball sauce.

Browning Swedish Meatballs in pan
Elise Bauer

Serve With Swedish Meatball Sauce

Flavored with nutmeg and cardamom, these little beef-and-pork meatballs are best served with a Swedish meatball sauce — a rich roux-based and beef stock gravy, spiked with sour cream and a little lingonberry jelly.

For the record, it's not strictly traditional to serve sauce with Swedish meatballs in Sweden. But somehow, in translation from Europe to this side of the Atlantic, we have become accustomed to serving the meatballs with sauce, and thank goodness, it's terrific!

Lingonberry jelly is traditionally served with Swedish meatballs. It's a delicious jelly, but can be hard to find. Feel free to substitute with red currant jelly or raspberry jam. You can either serve the jelly on the side or mixed right into the sauce, which is what we've done here.

Do you have a family favorite recipe for Swedish meatballs? If so, please let us know about it in the comments. I've noticed several recipes calling for allspice, which we haven't used in this recipe, but you could certainly use it in place of or in addition to the cardamom or nutmeg.

Swedish Meatballs
Elise Bauer

More Ways to Enjoy Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 60 mins
Total Time 80 mins
Servings 4 to 6 servings

Lingonberry jelly is traditionally used with Swedish meatballs; you can substitute cranberry, red currant or raspberry jelly if you can't find lingonberry jelly. You can easily double (or triple) this recipe for a party.



  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1/2 large onion, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 3 slices bread, crusts removed, cut into cubes (2 cups)

  • 1 large egg

  • 3/4 pound ground beef

  • 1/2 pound ground pork

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom


  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 3 tablespoons flour

  • 2 cups beef stock

  • 1/4 cup sour cream (use full-fat or the sauce may curdle)

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 2 tablespoons lingonberry, red currant, raspberry, or cranberry jelly, to taste, optional


  1. Soak bread in milk, shred:

    Place the cubed bread in a large bowl and mix with the milk. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes for the bread to absorb all of the milk. Once the bread has soaked up the milk, shred with the tines of a fork or by hand.

    cube bread for swedish meatballs
    Elise Bauer
    shred milk soaked bread in bowl
    Elise Bauer
  2. Sauté grated onion:

    Melt the butter in a sauté pan on medium-high heat. Stir in the grated onion and cook until translucent and softened, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for a minute.

    grate onion on box grater for swedish meatballs
    Elise Bauer
    saute grated onion in a pan with butter to make swedish meatballs
    Elise Bauer
  3. Make meatball mixture with bread, onions, eggs, meat, spices:

    Stir the cooled onions into the milk bread mixture. Add the eggs, ground pork and beef, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cardamom. Use your (clean) hands to mix everything together until well combined.

    (If you have extra time, chilling the mixture for 20 minutes or so will make it easier to roll out the meatballs.)

    swedish meatball ingredients
    Elise Bauer
    swedish meatball mixture
    Elise Bauer
  4. Form meatballs:

    Use your hands to form the mixture into meatballs about 1 1/4-inch to 1 1/2-inch wide and place them on a plate or sheet pan. This recipe should make about 40 meatballs. Note that the meatballs will be a bit on the wet side.

    form swedish meatballs a little over an inch thick
    Elise Bauer
  5. Brown meatballs on all sides:

    Heat 3 Tbsp of butter in a large sauté pan on medium heat. When the butter is melted and foamy, start adding some meatballs to the pan.

    Working in batches as to not crowd the pan, slowly brown the meatballs on all sides. Use a spoon or tongs to turn them. Handle the meatballs gently so they do not break apart as you turn them.

    place just formed swedish meatballs in pan with butter
    Elise Bauer
    Browning Swedish Meatballs in pan
    Elise Bauer

    Once the meatballs have browned on all sides and are just cooked through, remove them from the pan to a bowl. You'll warm the meatballs in the sauce later.

    Once you have removed the meatballs from the pan, wipe out the butter and browned and blackened bits with a paper towel and rinse out the pan.

    We'll want to start with fresh butter because that way we won't pick up any burnt bits from the pan, and we will be able to more accurately gauge the amount of fat in the pan for making the meatball sauce in the next step.

  6. Make a roux:

    To make the sauce, first make the roux. Add 3 Tbsp of fresh butter to the pan. Heat the butter in the pan on medium heat until it melts and starts to bubble up.

    Slowly whisk in 3 Tbsp of flour. Stir until smooth. Continue to stir, allowing the flour mixture to cook, several minutes, until the roux is the color of coffee-with-cream.

    How to make Swedish Meatball sauce
    Elise Bauer
    Making the Swedish Meatball sauce
    Elise Bauer
  7. Add stock to roux to make sauce:

    When the roux has cooked to a lovely shade of light brown, slowly add the stock to the roux, stirring as you add the stock.

    The stock will sputter at first and the roux may seize up, but keep adding the stock slowly and keep stirring. Eventually the sauce will loosen and become silky.

    Elise Bauer
    whisk sauce for Swedish meatballs
    Elise Bauer
  8. Stir in sour cream and jelly if using:

    Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sour cream. If you are including jelly, either stir it in now or serve it on the side. Taste for seasonings and add more salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.)

  9. Add meatballs to sauce:

    Return the meatballs to the pan with the sauce and cook on low heat to warm the meatballs through for a few minutes.

    Swedish Meatballs in Sauce
    Elise Bauer
  10. Serve:

    Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Or serve individual Swedish meatballs dipped in gravy as an appetizer.


Vegetarian Swedish Meatballs from Joy the Baker

Swedish Meatballs
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
435 Calories
29g Fat
13g Carbs
30g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 435
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 37%
Saturated Fat 13g 65%
Cholesterol 144mg 48%
Sodium 639mg 28%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 3g
Protein 30g
Vitamin C 1mg 5%
Calcium 83mg 6%
Iron 3mg 18%
Potassium 586mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.