Swedish Meatballs

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

This recipe serves 4 to 6 people and can easily be doubled for serving a party.

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a main, 8 to 12 as an appetizer



  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large yellow or white onion, peeled, grated (use the large holes of a box cheese grater)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 slices of bread, crusts removed, bread cut into cubes (2 cups of cubed bread)
  • 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 ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom


  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (use full-fat sour cream or the sauce may curdle)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp of Lingonberry, red currant, raspberry or cranberry jelly, less or more 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 shred milk soaked bread in bowl

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 saute grated onion in a pan with butter to make swedish meatballs

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 swedish meatball mixture

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

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  Browning Swedish Meatballs in pan

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  Making the Swedish Meatball sauce

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.

whisk sauce for Swedish meatballs

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

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

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  • Sasha

    I loved this recipe and added minced sautéed mushrooms to the sauce as well as an extra little splash of milk to the meat mixture when I was forming the meatballs. Turned out lovely! I also used a combo of chicken and beef stalk. Maybe next time I’ll add garlic to the meatballs too. :)


  • Trevor

    Definitely worth the time to make these , kept this recipe!! #Substituted Cranberry jelly for the jam, I’d recommend the jam to get that salty/sweet finish, I just put a few small spoonfuls over plated meatballs.


  • Vicky

    Question about the pork…. do you just use grocery store ground pork or do you grind or ask the store to grind some cut of pork? Is the store ground pork greasy? Thanks!

    • Summer Miller

      Hi, Vicky! You could use either. If you have a butcher you prefer you can ask them to grind it for you. When you go that route you can specify how lean or fat you make it.

  • Camille

    I live in Sweden, and it’s definitely traditional to have brown sauce with your meatballs. Thanks for the nice recipe.

  • Andrea

    I love this recipe; I’ve made it several times, using some combination of turkey, lamb, and beef instead of pork. White bread is best, but I’ve made it with wheat and it was fine. I don’t suppose anyone has served it alongside the rice pilaf from this site? I’ve got some leftover and can’t decide if it would be a weird combination or not.. I know it wouldn’t be at all traditional, but there aren’t any Swedes around, so maybe I can get away with it?


    • Carrie Havranek

      There’s only one way to find out, Andrea–give it a shot! I don’t see any problem with it. This is how new dishes are born. The rice would soak up some of the gravy. Could be delicious. Go for it!

  • sher32

    Fantastic! I have made these three times now, in 5 weeks. I had a recipe years ago and remembered that it included Hollandhouse white cooking wine and dried onions so the last 2 times I prepared this I sauteed 2 Tablespoons grated onion, 2 Tablespoons dried onion and I poured in 1/3 cup of cooking wine and let cook a couple minutes,right before I added the beef stock. I love it both ways but do think that the wine adds some zing to the sauce. when I use wine I also cut the sour cream in half.
    Thank you so much!!! Best Swedish meatballs recipie I have found in 15 yrs.


  • Kristin

    Definitely loved this. I used raspberry preserves. I will probably do cranberry next time and use half as much but it was still great.


  • Dave

    Thanks for the great recipe, will definitely make again! The meatballs had a delicious aroma and flavor. I used only 80/20 beef and sprinkled in a little allspice for fun. Ended up with 45 of them using a level tablespoon to measure. I didn’t rinse the pan before making the sauce, just used what was in there to start the roux. Considered passing it through a strainer and measuring it, but it was just for me so I didn’t go to the trouble. It came out a bit thick because I overestimated on the flour, but still tasty. Served it with mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, and raspberry preserves.


  • paul

    This was great. I didn’t use any jelly, but the rue was just as I remember it from childhood. I also used elk instead of beef because that is what I had in the house. Tasted great.


  • Alice

    This was great! I might use half as much jelly next time.

  • Leslie Mickelson-Carter

    Hi – Thank you for your great recipe! I have had a recipe for Swedish Meatballs from my grandmother that was passed down to my Mom. She is 91. My recipe is based on the fact that my grandmother was German Jewish and they never used pork. It is almost exact to the one you provide but the changes are pretty simple.. no pork… just ground beef. She used beef bullion cubes (2) instead of broth and always added at least a teaspoon of lemon peel zest (fresh) to the sauce. The difference in the broth vs. water was the same, 2 cups.

    What amazed me so much was that my grandmother was predominately brought up Jewish and my mother passed this recipe to me (without the pork) as it was a staple in their cooking. I am half Norwegian and half European…including Jewish…via Ancestry…but what amazes me is that this recipe was adapted by my grandmother. I honestly thought it was Swedish/Norwegian. The Lingonberry was a side in jelly form.\

  • Sam

    I only have Delight whole grain bread which seems less dense than regular white bread and the slices are thinner to cut the carbs/cals. Can I use it instead? Maybe toast it first?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Sam, I think you’ll need to experiment, perhaps you’ll need a little more bread to get to the 2 cups. If the mixture is still too wet, you might want to add just a little more bread. I wouldn’t toast it first.

    • Sam

      Exactly what I did. Used 4 slices of bread instead of 3 and the grains didn’t make any difference in taste or texture. Recipe turned out perfect. I served canned whole cranberries on the side and it was really good. Both my husband and I love this dish!


  • Jessica

    Really good meatballs. I did alter the gravy a bit by adding half a packet of Knorr brown gravy mix for a meatier tasting sauce.

  • Rachel

    I made this with homemade noodles this evening. It was delightful! I loved the flavor and texture of the meatballs. I added grape jelly (the only jam/jelly in the fridge atm) to the sauce, which was probably a mistake, seemed like the sauce probably wasn’t meant to be sweet.

  • Barb

    Awesome recipe. I made it for Sunday dinner and my family LOVED it. Thank you! This is keeper.


  • Jennifer

    I’m going to be making these for a small crowd tomorrow – can the meatballs be baked instead? If so, do you know for how long and at what temperature? Thanks!

  • Mary

    I love the sauce for this. No fail gravy! I will try this again. I over seasoned due to compensating for additional meat. I over compensated! All in all, easy recipe and I will follow ingredients to the tee next time. Was delicious though!


  • Margie

    Great recipe!!
    Doubled it and taking it to the Christmas Eve family gathering. I added fresh parsley to meatball mix. Used Better Than Bouillon (roasted beef) with seedless raspberry preserves for the gravy…Yummmm.


  • Jennifer

    Absolutely amazing! I always multiply this by 3 or 4 and freeze the browned meatballs.


  • Kristen

    I just made 200 meatballs when visiting my daughter across the country. I use my Mom’s recipe from longgg ago, (she was Swedish). She used beef, pork, veal, a 8:1:1 ratio, twice ground. Dried onions, no egg, allspice, mace, salt, pepper. Plain bread crumbs were mixed with warm milk, which made a slurry. Then mix all together and I prefer to bake in the oven. Perfect for us.

  • Wendi L

    Elise, could you please tell me the previous recipe amounts? I love these meatballs and have been making them for a few years now! Thank you so much!


  • Fred

    I have made this recipe several times using the older recipe and they turned out great! I have not had a problem with forming the meatballs. I usually toast my bread crumbs then add the milk. By toasting the bread crumbs it dries the bread out and allows the milk to absorb into the bread making the mixture not as “wet”. I also use a #40 scoop to form the meatballs.


  • Gunilla

    Hi there. Can I use allspice in place of the cardamon and nutmeg as well as panko bread crumbs instead of white bread? If so, what amounts for these subs? Thank you!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Gunilla, you can use the allspice in place of the cardamom, as mentioned, but I wouldn’t leave out the nutmeg. I do not recommend using panko instead of white bread for this recipe.

  • Hedy

    Can this recipe be adapted to be made in a crockpot? I’d like to serve it on my Christmas buffet but how to keep it warm?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Hedy, Good question! These meatballs cannot be made in a slow cooker because they require browning which you can’t do in a slow cooker. But you could easily prepare the recipe and keep the meatballs and sauce warm in a slow cooker for a buffet.

  • Duke

    I made these exactly according to the recipe. I half Swedish and half German. Both halves loved these. Delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe


  • Katrin

    Will the recipe work with gluten free bread and gluten free flour (such as rice flour or buckwheat)?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Katrin! We haven’t tested it, but I think that this recipe should work just fine with gluten-free bread. For the gravy, I’d substitute 3 tablespoons of cornstarch. Enjoy!

  • marlene

    Why would anyone even think of buying Ikea meatballs again… great recipe. Just for a change I use TVP instead of bread. Thanks!


  • Dahlton

    Family didn’t like it. Didn’t taste similar to Swedish meatballs we’ve had else where.


  • Sally

    Absolutely amazing meatballs so tasty froze some and even better when reheated. Sauce was delicious but a bit of a disaster.

  • C Miller

    My family is always super excited when I say I am going to make this recipe. I make it minus the nugmeg (since I don’t like nutmeg) but the rest I follow exactly. Thanks so much for another great recipe!


  • Ken

    Would FROG Jam work in this recipe?

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Ken! Emma here, managing editor. I had to look up what FROG jam was – Fig, Raspberry, Orange, Ginger – sounds heavenly! And sure, I think those flavors would work well here. Enjoy!

  • Julio

    Best Swedish meatballs ever!! Added some Worcestershire sauce to the meat mix and the final sauce, other than that exactly like the recipe calls for. Have made this now twice, both times the most amazing meal!!


  • Ozzy

    It was easy and straight to the point, I did double the ingredients as I made bigger meatballs and bake them @350 in the oven for about 15-20 mins and I used wild berries jam. Gotta say this will become a family favorite as the nutmeg with cardamon mis was amazing .


  • Marie

    Update time. The meatballs were difficult to work with because of being so mushy, but I did manage to brown them without them falling apart. Their texture once cooked was *excellent*, very moist and soft, much better than my usual recipe that uses bread crumbs. So I do think using milk-soaked bread is the way to go after all; I’ll just use a lot more bread or a lot less milk. The sauce, to my utter disappointment, was fairly bland (I’ll add Worcestershire sauce next time). While I’m a massive cardamom lover, I found it didn’t quite work for this recipe and I’ll substitute allspice.


    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Marie, I had to remake this recipe several times in preparation of a video we are making for it and I agree with your comment (and others) that the meatballs could be hard to work with. I’ve changed the ratio of milk to bread around, less milk, more bread, so the meatballs are now easier to work with. They’re still on the wet side, but I didn’t have any problem forming them or cooking them.

      The sauce really depends on the stock you are using and seasonings. I’m using Better Than Bouillon beef broth, at 1 teaspoon for 2 cups of water (otherwise it’s a salt bomb) and then I add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt to the mix. The sauce is mild on its own because it’s really just butter, flour, stock, and sour cream. But it does pick up the meatball seasonings the longer the meatballs stay in the sauce.

  • Marie

    My kid is obsessed with Swedish meatballs, and as I find the recipe I normally use okay but rather bland, I decided to use this one which sounded tastier… The mix was *very* goopy and soft, presumably because of the milk-soaked bread, and I could hardly shape it into balls. The misshappen raw meatballs are waiting for supper time in the fridge, and I’m extremely skeptical as to whether they’ll stay whole in the pan. Yes, I’m sure I didn’t mess up the proportions. Not sure what went wrong… I’ll let you know what happened after I try to cook them

  • Clara

    Grandma Olson used rye bread /so do I. Otherwise, this was great.
    Little trick….don’t over fill the pan….shake it, meatballs will stay round instead of getting flat.


  • Matenai

    I made the recipe exactly without changes as I believe one can only judge a recipe by following exactly. The results were excellent and like having something that tasted much healthier but similar to Ikea’s. I am sure they spent decades on their recipe so you hit a home run with this one. I did not have fresh spices to grind and the cardomon and nutmeg were McCormick and very old but they still worked out fine in the end…and the quantities scared me at first but they did work out fine. We served on egg noodles and would like the gravy a little thicker so next time maybe try a half cup of flour.

    One thing that would help is to give the pan sizes for cooking sauce and meatballs…


  • Elizabeth

    I followed this recipe to the t. It was so mushy I couldn’t form it into meatballs. I had toast some bread , put it in a food processor to make my own breadcrumbs to add and save the recipe. Next time I will not soak the bread in milk. I will add a little milk but also my own dry breadcrumbs. The sauce was good. Just had to add more salt and a little extra sour cream.


    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Elizabeth, I remade this recipe several times and I agree with your comment (and others) that the meatballs could be hard to work with. To fix this, I’ve changed the ratio of milk to bread around, less milk, more bread, so the meatballs are now easier to work with. They’re still on the wet side, but I didn’t have any problem forming them or cooking them.

  • Jill

    I had to add quite a bit to the sauce to make it taste better. Following the recipe left me with a sauce that was bland and not at all close to the robust flavor you would expect from Swedish meatballs. Adding some allspice, Worchestershire, rosemary, ground garlic and onion, made it taste much closer to a traditional sauce. I will say the consistency was very silky, but it was just missing flavor.


  • ap duffy

    I just made this and my family is raving about it! Of course I cheated a bit as I always make a vegetarian option for myself, so I used freshly made veg stock in lieu of beef and added mushrooms and onions to the sauce, sautéed in the butter before making the roux. I also baked the meatballs and they came out great! For my veg option I added steamed carrot, broccoli and peas and served over noodles for both options. Delicious! Thank you Elise!!


  • Shelly

    Made these with Elk. Excellent! Did not have lingonberry, substituted cranberry jelly, but I would not recommend that substitution. Definitely would make these again, next time will try venison.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Shelly, oh I bet they were amazing with elk! So meaty. Yeah, cranberry jelly is probably best for turkey. But blackberry would be good, or red or black currant jelly.

  • Gretchen Almoughraby

    I just tried this with 100% beef (chuck) and it turned out great!

  • Erika

    Can I only use chop meat? Or is the pork a must?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Erika, this recipe calls for ground pork and ground beef. You can try it with all ground beef, but I don’t know how it will turn out for you. If you do try it with all ground beef, please let us know how it goes!

      • Tina

        I always just use ground Chuck.My grandma never made this gravy,but I really love it.I don’t use any jam though.

  • Debbie White

    Perfect recipe! Made this today and followed the recipe exactly. Such wonderful flavor in the meatballs using cardamom and nutmeg. Great with mashed potatoes. Found lingonberry sauce at the BX at Scott Air Force Base and we were ready for a perfect dinner.

    • Elise Bauer

      I’m so glad you liked it Debbie!

    • Carrie

      Did you add the jam to the sauce or did you serve it on the side?

  • Josey-Ann Konieczny

    Oh my goodness thank you for such a wonderful recipe Elise I always wanted to try Swedish Meatballs but never have. I chose your recipient because it sounded the best. I didn’t have any cardamon but substituted allspice they are absolutely outstanding the house smells glorious and the taste oh my it made 48 meatballs I truly wanted to freeze half but I don’t think they will make it to the freezer. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Stephanie

    If you don’t have fresh bread but you do have bread crumbs, how much would you use?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hello Stephanie, this recipe doesn’t work with breadcrumbs, only with fresh bread. Believe me, I’ve tried. Doesn’t work.

    • Lou

      4 slices = i cup bread crumbs

  • Jill

    I have tried this recipe 4 times. I have tried to make it a little healthier by baking the meatballs instead of cooking them in butter on the stovetop. They were ok. Save your calories and follow the instructions. These are amazing. The flavor is what I remember when growing up and having my Swedish grandmother Agda make these for the holidays. Awesome recipe. Thank you for sharing.


    • Carrie

      Did you use the jam the recipe called for and did you put it in the sauce or on the side? Also, did you use the cardamom?

  • Jennifer Martin

    To incorporate sour cream, flour, cream etc into your sauce, just use a whisk. Works great!

  • Kitty1136

    Hi! Thanks so much for the recipe. It was my first time trying and I think I messed up the sauce some how. Any tips so the sour cream blends nicely into the sauce. Mine didn’t seem to incorporate. Thanks!

    • Geneva H.

      To incorporate sour cream into any hot liquid, it is important to first temper the two: take a small portion of the hot liquid and mix into the sour cream, then add this mixture back to the hot liquid. This will usually prevent the sour cream from curdling.

  • Zina

    I just made these for the first time and they are delicious. Thank you for sharing :)


  • Stephanie

    This is a great recipe. I halved it (and used veal) and was a little skeptical about the quantities of black pepper, nutmeg, and cardamom, which seemed a bit too much, but I followed the directions. I also used liquid whey from making Greek yogurt in place of the milk. This is a keeper.


  • Mary

    In your recipe did you grind your own cardamom? I have the green pod cardamom, but I am wondering if grinding your own vs store bought ground cardamom makes a difference in the
    recipe? Also — perhaps a silly question — are you grinding ONLY the seeds inside and not the whole pod? — thank you! :-)

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Mary, I do grind my own cardamom. Cardamom is expensive but pretty much lasts forever if you buy them in the whole pods. I grind just the seeds, not the whole pods. And when I measure, I do not pack the freshly ground spices down. Freshly ground spices are much stronger than already packaged and ground.

  • Kris Anne Gabbard

    This recipe is excellent.


  • Alejandra Sevilla

    OMG! This recipe is so good! Everyone loved it. I can see it becoming a favorite soon!


  • Jill Stadler

    So much better than the Alton Brown recipe, which doesn’t have enough binder in meat and the meatballs fall apart and is too light on spices. This is a lovely gravy, but like others, I added allspice, plus a pinch of each in the gravy with a bay leaf, and I increased the gravy recipe by a third and added a little Vermouth, a couple of tbsps. I also cooked it for ten minutes before I added the meatballs in to cook another ten minutes. Very, very good.

  • Ed

    Added allspice and ginger (per The Nordic Cookbook). Otherwise followed recipe. Results were excellent. Glad you were hooked on meatballs in Sweden, Elise. Great recipe. Thanks.

    • Carrie

      Did you add Allspice and Ginger in lieu of something? Also, how much Allspce and Ginger did you add? And did you use dried ground ginger or did you use freshly ground/grated ginger?

  • Steve

    fried in the pan with 60% butter/ 40%oil mix added a little Marcella wine to to the white sauce, basically I stuck to the recipe, just added a few things…used red onion (love the red onions grated) used a 80% lean pork mix/ 100% beef mix100% added Wiltshire sauce to the meat mix (just 2tbl spoons) and POW wow..there is a PARTY in MY Mouth now…GREAT RECIPE! one of the best i have made and all the neighbors love it as well…Mabuhi Philippines!

  • C.B.

    Hubby and I love this recipe. The ground cardamom adds a nice unexpected zing to the meatballs. I enjoy them on their own but hubs loves the sauce with lingonberries. I make the roux and sauce in the same frying pan and strain the black bits out before returning the sauce to the burner to reheat; and then fold in the sour cream. I just hate to waste the flavourful fond at the bottom of the pan. Thank you Elise!


  • Melanie

    Not good at all as they have way too much cardomon and I love cardomon in Indian food. (2 types of cardomon and it is not specified, I used the green Indian kind)
    Labor intensive directions – I baked to meatballs as frying them in small batches would have taken an hour. Baked at 425 for about 15 min. turning halfway through. That worked well.

    The sauce tasted nominal at best. Now to be fair, I used full fat plain yogurt instead of sour cream but it usually is an ok substitution. Also it would so much easier to brown or toast the flour in a dry pan and then add butter. Also adding “roux” to the stock works much better than adding stock to the roux. If you have stock in bigger pot, you can put all the meatballs in at once to simmer.

    • Rachel

      Obviously you did it wrong. If you wanted 30 minute meals than you should have looked for a Rachael Ray recipe. … FYI, if you are making something like onion did then yogurt is a great substitution. When you are making gravy, not so much.

  • James

    Simply Amazing, an astounding savory smell, I cooked as you suggested but instead of a slow simmer I actually slow cooked in a crock pot. Also not only did I brown the meat as directed I actually used the very same pan I used for the mornings bacon. Such a flavor the sauce has and also added a touch of ACV.
    Wow….even my nephew who hates everything not pizza loved them. TYvm

    • Valerie

      I’m looking at these for a potluck dinner. How long did you cook in a crock pot and at what temp (low or high)?

  • Paula

    I just made your swedish meat balls and they are just delicious, thankyou. May I just say that I included the crust of the bread in the milk and thermomix-pulverised them and I thought that was fine instead of excluding the crusts when it all turns to a right gooey bread/milk paste anyway. :)


  • Kim | Arizona Renaissance Woman

    These were great! My husband said they remind of his grandmother’s meatballs. That’s the first time I’ve heard that, and I’ve tried other Swedish meatball recipes. He asked to me save the recipe. :)


  • Laura

    I just want to say thank you! I found your recipe because my daughter had a school project to make a traditional food from her ancestor’s country. My great-grandfather came to America from Sweden. As we were cooking these, there were several complaints about the ingredients, however the finished product was a big hit! I plan on incorporating these into our Christmas traditions. Thanks again! These are fantastic!

  • Paul

    Delicious recipe. Always a hit with our family. I use 1/4 to 1/2 cup of brewed coffee (usually left from the morning) to seize the roux. It adds yet another layer to the flavor.

  • Ivy

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I usually make these Meatballs as written but occasionally I use Allspice instead of Cardamom. I often check this site first when looking for specific “old time” favorites or something new and exciting like Celery, Blue Cheese and Hazelnut Salad also on this site. I haven’t been disappointed yet! I love to cook and entertain frequently with country home cooking, but all made from scratch with first quality ingredients. Served on good china and linen tablecloth, it just doesn’t get better than that! Yup, lots of work start to finish but so worth it. This recipe reminds me of my Grandma, a grand Swedish lady whose broken English was a delight to my child’s ear. I well remember her tiny boiled potatoes with butter and fresh dill or parsley.

    • Elise Bauer

      Thank you Ivy, I’m so glad you like it! I agree they are worth the effort.

  • Clara Edman

    I never ever fry my meatballs. I bake them. Preheat the oven to 225 – 250 degrees. Then line the baking sheet(s) with parchment paper. Seasoning of meatballs vary from cook to cook. Personally, I also use only beef or combination of ground beef and ground turkey, because I do not eat any meat from the pig. I also substitute cream with low fat condensed milk. I would serve them with cranberries, because lingonberries are too sour for my taste. And I am Swedish, born and raised, but has lived most of my live in the US. If you can find reindeer/caribou meat, that would make really fantastic meatballs.

  • Heidi

    Sara Sabo, where would I locate your recipe for Limpa?

  • Mike Benayoun

    Thanks for the recipe Elise. Those are definitely better than the IKEA version… unless you prefer horse meat ;-) I used a similar recipe to prepare kottbullar yesterday (just made a couple tweaks like using allspice) and served them with lingonberry jam, pressgurka (pressed cucumbers) and potatismos (mashed potatoes). They were absolutely DELICIOUS! I am ready to go back to Stockholm and celebrate Midsommar next week ;-)

  • Clara Edman

    Swedish meatballs are traditionally made with 3 kinds of ground meats, beef, pork and lamb. However, because I can’t afford lamb and I don’t eat pork ever I use very lean (92% fat free) and ground turkey.
    I never use heavy cream in my sauces. I prefer low fat or fat free unsweetened condensed milk. You will still get a rich sauce. I bake my meatball in a very hot oven (425 – 425 degrees) for about 20 minutes. One neat trick, line the cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cleanup will be a snap.
    I grew up in Sweden and my mother always used 3 kinds of meat. At that time I did eat pork. She fried the meatballs, but I found that baking them was a lot easier and less labor intensive. And they always come out perfect.

  • Debbie

    I made an authentic Pickled Cucumbers with Ginger for a side with the home made cranberry sauce. It was so delicious and, YES!!! Better than IKEA!!! Thank you for the recipe!!! Next time I am going to make the mashed turnip and red potatoes instead of the noodles!!!! My great grand-mother was from Sweden and, I am sure she would be proud of this recipe!!!


  • Hina

    Elise, do you think chicken broth would work instead of beef broth? I only eat halal and beef broth is tough to come by and I really don’t want to spend a day making it.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Hina, good question! I haven’t tried making it with chicken stock. I’m not sure I would recommend it. Not quite the right flavor to go with the beef meatballs.

  • Giovana

    Absolutely delicious!! I only used beef since that’s what I had on hand. Also I didn’t have lingonberry sauce so I used raspberry currant. Your recipe is amazing, my entire family loved them. Thank you.


  • Jean

    Thank you! I’m a long time fan of Swedish meatballs and these were delicious. I used sourdough bread and cut back on the kosher salt to 1 teaspoon- still worked..

  • Erica

    I found this recipe last year, and now it’s my family’s favorite meal. Thank you for posting this! The only change I made was adding 3 teaspoons of cardamom to the meat and 2 teaspoons of cardamom to the sauce, with a full cup of sour cream instead of 3/4. It gives it a very rich, savory flavor! :)

  • Sonia

    can these be baked in the oven you think?
    yes, they look divine but glad to read someone has actually made them and turned out well……

  • Melanie

    As always, your recipe is excellent! I made these for our New Year’s party. I cooked the meatballs and sauce as written, but instead of continuing to cook the meatballs in the pan with the sauce, I added both the sauce and meatballs to my slow cooker and let them simmer there. I added the jelly (in my case, homemade cranberry sauce left over from christmas) and sour cream right before the guests arrived and they were perfect. Everyone raved about them and I had very few left over. Those few left over are my lunch today with some noodles. Thank you for such wonderful stories and recipes!


  • Jane Keller Wilcox

    To Shawn, I was introduced to the cardamon bread while living in Norway, and they only made it around Christmas! It was dark brown and it was to die for! It was simply called Yul Brod with that little mark over the o. I only lived there for three years but when that bread came on the market, I stocked up and froze it! Isn’t interesting how everyone has a different recipe for for these meatballs? I would love a recipe for the cardamon bread, is yours a dark one?

  • Eugenia

    I have only had Swedish meatballs that were commercially made. I saw this recipe and had to try it. It does take some time, but I really think the result was yummy! I do have say I used venison instead of beef.

  • Michelle

    These were tasty but a lot of work. And mine fell apart almost completely – the only change I made was to use ground turkey isntead of beef/pork – would that make them fall apart. I think next time I’ll just bake the meatballs – less risk of falling apart and much less fat (Sooooo much butter).

  • Erin

    My mother is half Northern Irish and half Swedish, and prefers mashed potatoes to any other side :) I served this recipe with egg noodles and as I was adding them to the pot, felt a pang of guilt! Next time it will be mashed potatoes.

  • Erin

    FABULOUS! I made this recipe following the instructions exactly and served it over egg noodles and a side of home made cranberry sauce. My husband and his friend raved! Two hours after we finished dinner, (i.e. licked our plates clean) they were still thanking me for the delicious meatballs. Later, when we turned off the lights to go to sleep, my husband whispered, “thank you for the meatballs”. I am laughing while shaking my head at this, because I cook ALL the time, and most recipes I make are WAY more complicated and labor intensive than this. You would think they both had gone hungry for months or something, but apparently these meatballs are just that good. I loved them, too!!! I am eating leftovers as we speak in the form of a cold sandwich… sourdough bread, smashed meatballs, cranberry/red pepper jam. YUM.


    • Erin

      I forgot- one thing I didn’t follow to a T was the cardamom. I didn’t have any so I used allspice. It was still amazing!

  • Martha

    Hi Elise!

    Thank you for this recipe.

    My comment MAY not be allowable because I mention a specific product.

    I buy a sturdy wheat bread called “Brownberry Natural Wheat Bread, Catherine Clark’s Original Recipe!” It is on regular supermarket shelves. Perhaps you are familiar with it. Can I use this bread in making the meatballs?

    Thank you.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Martha, I’m not familiar with that bread. I usually use a rustic Italian or French loaf bread. But if you use it in this recipe, please let us know how it works out for you!

  • Jane Keller Wilcox

    The mashed potatoes in the Ikea recipe was in the meatballs, not served with the meatballs, that is what I thought was funny! I guess used as a binder instead of bread, like I said before, everyone has a different recipe for these little balls!

  • Kathy Erbes-Mrsny

    My aunt Mary married into a Swedish family and passed along her recipe to me, very similar to yours. Her trick to keep the meatballs round as they browned was to constantly roll them in the pan by shaking the frying pan back and forth. Builds up the arm muscles! Thanks for sharing this.

  • Jane Keller Wilcox

    Sometimes the oil gets too hot and gets to burn, you need to clean out the pan, and start over. Otherwise, you end up with strange tasting sauce. You can’t walk away from this sauce while you are making it. You must stay by it’s side. And you must constantly shuffle the pan. Oh off the subject but not really, did anyone see the post of a copycat recipe for the IKEA recipe for Swedish Meatballs that called for Mashed Potatoes? Thought that was different!

    • Suzanne V

      My friend is Swedish and she makes her great-grandmother’s meatballs with mashed potatoes. I tried it but the meatballs literally fell apart. I’m going to try this recipe tonight.

  • Geraldine Saucier

    Made these delicious Swedish Meatballs the other night for dinner and they were enjoyed by the whole family. Served them over buttered noodles.


  • Lora Fones

    Can you substitute anything for nutmeg? My husband does not like it and I would like to try these.

  • Jane Wilcox

    I too add rice to my Mexican meatballs, and corn meal. I always add bread soaked in mile to my Italian meatballs. I got that recipe from a woman of Sicilan heritage.

  • Marl

    Hi Elise:
    This will probably be considered a ‘stupid’ question but anyway……
    Why do we add bread (or other ‘filling’) to the meat? Is the only reason to ‘make them go further’? Or does it add to texture or taste or both?


    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Marl, great question! Meat firms up when it cooks, so it is helpful to have something starchy in with the meatballs so that they are more tender to eat. We add rice to our Mexican meatballs, and I love shredded zucchini in with turkey meatballs. Also the bread in the filling can absorb some of the moisture that is released as the meatballs cook, helping to make the meatballs more tender and more moist.

  • Barefootmom

    Made these for dinner tonight (yes, it’s Tuesday and yes, I worked all day!). So maybe a bit more time to prep on a Tuesday night, but definitely worth the effort! What a hit with the family. So glad there are leftovers!


  • MaryAlecia

    Clearly Swedish meatballs must be served with lefsa, lutfisk and mashed potatoes, as my grandmother has always done. And plenty of butter to go all around! Thank you for this recipe, I was just talking about making them the other day. Since my husband and I don’t eat pork, i’m going to play around with which meat used to make the meatballs. Any suggestions?

    • Jane Wilcox

      You might try subbing turkey or chicken, the pork gives it a rich flavor. The three meats are a standard in meatloaves, the beef, pork and veal, I usually leave out the veal because A. is used to be hard to find, B. now that I can find it, it is expensive! You might try game meats such as bison or elk, I had a burger in Santa Fe, that was a mix of venison, elk and bison and it tasted like the finest beef one could buy. I don’t know how it would taste in this recipe, or where you live and if these meats are readily available to you. Ground duck might even be an option, I am not fond of ground foul so I don’t know how it would taste like this although, I do mix ground pork an chicken in won tons for won ton soup, so it works there. You might try mixing one or two meatballs first so you don’t ruin an entire batch. I know some just use all beef. If you use the right seasonings, and right sauce, it may not make that big a difference if you aren’t used to the taste of pork. Good luck, and post with how it turns out, you may come up with somthing completly different! Sometimes great new recipes happen that way.

      • Jane Keller Wilcox

        In looking at my above recipe, my keys must have been sticking, it should read 1/4 tsp of ground ginger! It looks like 14 teaspoons, wow! That would have been some spicy meatballs! Sorry!

    • Ylwa

      FYI lefsa is not swedish but norwegian bread, we dont have it in Sweden at all. Lutfisk is a special fish dish of old origin and has nothing to do with meatballs , Its traditionally served with white gravy boiled potatoes and green peas and typically swedish mustard,preferably made from scratch. Its becoming less popular among younger people as well as ” dopp i grytan” which is bread soaked in the stock you get from boiling the ham. Not many eat pigs feet anymoore , another old Christmas tradition in Sweden .
      Last but not least, we hardly use neither cardamon nor nutmeg in swedish meatballs but usually add some allspice for Christmas meatballs, otherwise not, but as always you can do as you like. The bread in the meatballs can be substituted for some mashed potatoe and the gravy is usually made from boiling some water in the fryingpan between batches of meatballs, then add some cream and some broth if needed, and salt and pepper.lingonberryjam is a must as a side together with mashed potatoes, thats classical everyday dish.

  • Jane Keller Wilcox

    I can’t resist adding my Aunt’s recipe to this crazy mix: Notice my comments at the end, to my family as I sent it to them.

    Swedish Meatballs
    ¾ pound ground chuck
    ¼ pound ground pork
    ¼ pound ground veal
    (Or use ¾ pound ground chuck and ¾ pound ground pork)
    1 ½ c. soft bread, torn into small crumbs (2 slices makes 2 c.)
    1 c. half and half or light cream
    ½ cup finely chopped onion
    1 T butter
    1 egg
    ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
    1 ½ tsp. salt
    ¼ tsp. pepper
    Dash of nutmeg
    14 tsp. ground ginger
    2 T flour, ¾ cups of beef broth, ¼ cup water, ½ tsp. instant coffee powder
    Soak bread in cream for 5 minutes. Cook onion in butter until soft. Combine meats, bread, onion, egg, parsley and seasonings, mixing well with a mixer or food processor. Chill for an hour or so if too mushy. Shape into teaspoon sized balls. Brown the balls in 2 T butter, shaking skillet so they don’t stick. Cook in batches, adding more butter or oil if needed. DON’T BURN! Remove balls and drain on paper towels. SAUCE: Add flour, stirring to blend in butter, and then add broth, water and coffee powder mixing well. Pick up browned pits in bottom of pan as you wisk all together. Add meatballs back to the pan cover and simmer for thirty minutes. Check often and add more water if needed. I like to serve these over egg noodles if using for dinner, or they make great appetizers in a chafing dish on a buffet table. I also like more gravy, so I add more broth and more coffee and more water. We got this recipe from one of Grampy’s cousin’s wives. She was of Swedish heritage and this was her family’s recipe. All Swedes have their own version of this dish. This is the only one I have ever come across with coffee in it and it makes it very special. I have a Norwegian cake recipe a neighbor gave me and it has coffee in it too, so I guess it is Scandinavian thing.

    • Connie

      I notice you say to mix well with a mixer or food processor. I read that the meat in Swedish meatballs should be practically pulverized with a Kitchen Aid mixer paddle before adding the rest of the ingredients. Ever hear of that? I guess it’s similar to pounding chicken breasts to tenderize them. I’d appreciate your thoughts. I will be making these tomorrow.

      • Elise Bauer

        Hi Connie, I haven’t heard that, but if it works for you, great!

      • Jane Keller Wilcox

        Yeah, the meat seems to be or rather works well being really mushy, but you have to refrigerate it after to chill it up after. I guess it is a matter of texture? It is the way I was taught to make it, so the meats are really blended well. I guess you don’t have to, but it is just the way I was taught. It isn’t mushy after chilling. I guess it is like what you said, it might make a difference in the tenderness. I know in some meatballs they add gelatin to bloom them a bit to tenderize, I saw this on America’s Test Kitchen. So, I guess, whatever. This has always worked for me, doing it the way I said, but must chill before rolling into balls.

  • Linda

    I haven’t a Swedish background but I do enjoy IKEA’s meatballs when we make the trip to San Diego :) Made your recipe today and it was a grand slam! (also watching the playoffs, hence baseball jargon).

    Thank you for sharing these delicious recipes. Every one that I’ve tried has been excellent.


  • Jane

    I am waiting for my Swedish Meatballs to cook so I thought I would look up other recipes in the meantime. I found this website and what fun! I have so many different recipe for this little jem. I have never found one like the one I have. Mine came from the wife of a cousin of my dads, who was of Swedish heritage. Her version has ginger and nutmeg in the meat, the meat calls for pork, beef and veal, and the sauce has instant coffee in it and no cream of any sort, nor any ligonberry jelly or any other jelly or jam, just beef boullion and water and coffee after making the roux from the butter after browning.

  • 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!

  • 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


    • Jane Keller Wilcox

      I lived in Norway for three years back in the early eighties, and they used cardamom in baking a lot, I had never had it before and loved it! They made a dark bread with it, and put it in cookies, remarkable!

  • 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)

    • Elise Bauer

      We just use green cardamom. If the flavor is too intense for you, I would just cut back.

  • 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!


  • 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!


  • 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!


  • 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)


  • 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!!!


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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!


  • 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.


  • 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!


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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!!


  • 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!


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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!

  • Marcie

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


  • 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!


  • 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!


  • 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


  • 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!


  • 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!!


  • 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!


  • 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!


  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • mikael wallin

    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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!


  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • syarina

    hi, can I skip the pork? would it taste the same? has anyone tried (excluding the pork i mean)?

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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

  • Roy Woodruff

    Try adding approx. 1/4 cup of Southern Comfort to the sauce…………………..

  • 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!


  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Lauren


    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

  • 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!

    • Jane Keller Wilcox

      Norwegians make what I call a potato flour tortilla and roll up sour cream and sugar in them and serve them with coffee! So, yes, they are familiar with potato flour.

      • Angel Ridout

        You don’t happen to have a recipe for those potato flour tortillas by any chance do you? I’ve recently had to go gluten free for medical reasons and am on the lookout for a pita bread type substitute.

        • Jane Keller Wilcox

          Sorry, Angel! Not Anna, sorry for the mistake in name!

        • Susan

          The “tortilla” is called Lefse and is a (Norwegian, at least) traditional bread made for the holidays. It’s tricky to make and takes some time. There are recipes online (most fairly similar) and videos on Youtube so you can learn. You might want to watch them before you attempt making Lefse. They can be ordered from a few sources (I’ve tried some from Lefse Shack that are very good) Good luck!

          • Susan

            Angel…another note; these is regular white flour in the recipe, it’s what helps hold the potato mixture together. These won’t work for your diet.

          • Angel Ridout

            Thanks! I’ve found that Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour can be used as a straight across trade in gravies and stuff. :)

      • Jane Keller Wilcox

        The name of the tortilla like thing is Lefse, you can find many recipes on the internet, but ones I saw call for plain flour, but you could use potato or rice flour I suppose, Anna. Just Google “Lefse”, and you will get many hits, or look for a Norwegian web page for recipes.

      • Jane Keller Wilcox

        Thinking back when I first posted the above, I said potato flour tortilla, but I think I said that meaning as opposed to a corn tortilla, meaning it looked like a common flour tortilla to me. I knew it was made with leftover mashed potatoes, not really knowing if my friend used potato flour or regular flour. I think she used all purpose.
        They also have solid element burners (electric) on their stoves and cook the things right on top, with out a frying pan. At least, that is how my friend did it! I loved those stoves, cooked so evenly, but took long to heat up and long time to cool down.

  • 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

  • melissa

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

    Potatoes or egg noodles. ~Elise

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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.

    Olaf the Terrible

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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
    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.

    • Jane Keller Wilcox

      Interesting to note that 100 years ago, here and in other countries, veal was cheap! Not anymore, that is why we have gone to mixtures of just pork and beef. Also, as people immigrated here from Sweden, Germany, Russia, Italy, Ireland, Poland, etc, some of the foods they were used to weren’t available, so they substituted with what they could find that was the closest. That is why we eat corned beef on St. Paddy’s Day, and there is no corned beef in Ireland. It was a sub for something else (I can’t remember what off hand, mutton maybe?) That is how our Italian food is so Americanized, our Chinese food too, etc. Just some food anthropology I have picked up along the way.

  • 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!

  • 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!

    • Gwen

      I grew up with Swedish pancakes too and was happy to be the recipient of the Swedish pancake pan. Sometimes they end up being breakfast for dinner.

  • 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! :)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. :)

  • 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 ….

  • 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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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. :)

  • 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.

    • GigiRo

      Barbara, I have that same recipe in one of my Swedish cookbooks (nutmeg, paprika, dry mustard) and it’s a good one; both the meatballs and sauce have more “bite” than is typical. I generally go the nutmeg-allspice route, but I am going to try Elise’s cardamom idea tonight. (Elise, your Italian meatball recipe is my new go-to, so I’m willing to try this.) My only change will be to fine dice the onion instead of grating and I don’t care to mix the Lingon into the sauce. As for people who claim there is one authentic way to make Swedish meatballs, it’s like saying there is only one way to make an American meatloaf. Nonsense. My relatives here and there have their own preferences. Some are nutmeg, some are allspice, some are both. As for sauce, Swedes use cream or sour cream or crème fresh. If you use sour cream be sure to follow the instruction here about putting it in at the end, as sour cream can break if the sauce is too hot. If you want something more foolproof try crème fresh, which gives the same flavor and will not break. Or cream. If you are serving this to company and want something fancier than a boiled potato, look up hasselback potatoes, which are pretty and tasty…and Swedish.

      • Jodi Holland

        I’m curious about your entire recipe. My Swedish great-grandmother’s recipe also calls for coffee in the gravy! Also ginger rather than cardamom.

        • Jane Keller Wilcox

          Jodi, did you find my original recipe? If not, I can repost or send it to you. Jane Wilcox

  • 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 :)

  • 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

    • Lyne

      I have frozen meatballs plenty of times and they always taste as good as when I first made them. I always make a huge batch of Italian meatballs and there are too many for one sitting, so in the freezer they go! Btw, I bake mine as it goes faster. While one batch bakes I make roll the other batch. As for gravy, never had a problem but just freeze the gravy and nothing else in it as it is easier to whisk back into shape when it’s heating up.

      • Veronica

        Has anyone tried baking the meatballs, then freezing them and making the gravy on a separate occasion? I understand that means you would have no pan drippings to start your roux. I wonder if the gravy would still taste ok?

        • Connie

          Yes, I have done this. My secret is that I deglaze the cookie sheet the meatballs were baked on with a little hot water then scrape the entire mess into a small container to freeze along with the meatballs. Just add this “essence” to your gravy when you finally do make it.

  • 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.


    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

    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.

  • 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!!

    • Connie Tucker

      Ha ha! We actually have a Swedish grocery nearby! I live outside Stockholm, Maine, and reap all the benefits of their authentic fare, like sil, gotenberg sausage, lingonberry jam, etc.. Now if they’d only make the actual meatballs so I can buy them on a busy day…

  • 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).

  • Tina

    My grandmother always added a little veal to the meatballs. We always had them on Christmas eve. No jam.

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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