This Swedish meatballs recipe has tender, perfectly seasoned homemade meatballs smothered in a deliciously creamy and buttery gravy. Making this IKEA favorite at home is easier than you think!
Try this classic Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe next.
The best Swedish meatballs
Sometimes meatballs are the only thing that will hit the spot, and these can be on your table in only 45 minutes. That's not long at all, right!? Homemade Swedish meatballs are so cozy and the ultimate comfort food dinner for your family.
These are more like the Americanized version that you'd get at IKEA than truly authentic Swedish ones. I'll go ahead and say it, though... these bad boys are better than IKEA meatballs! The sauce is SO good. You could eat it on just about anything. And you totally can since this recipe makes plenty of leftovers!
How to make them
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Add the meatball ingredients to a bowl, and mix with your hands.
Shape into 1 ¼ to 1 ½-inch meatballs (it makes about 25-30), and add them one-by-one to a parchment-lined baking sheet (for easy clean-up; we're not baking these). Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, then cook them in two batches until they're browned all over. Transfer meatballs to a plate.
Drain the excess oil from the skillet. Add the butter and then the flour to make a roux.
Whisk in the beef broth until smooth, then add the seasonings. Add the meatballs back to the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
Stir in the sour cream, and season with salt & pepper as needed. Enjoy!
Can I use pre-made meatballs?
- Yes, if you're in a rush! However, I recommend adding a pinch of allspice and nutmeg to the gravy since that's what gives Swedish meatballs their signature flavor.
Meatball success tips
- A delicate touch is best. Don't over-handle the mixture, and use your hands to mix it. You want to be able to still see individual components of the meatballs. When forming them, don't pack them together too tightly.
- More fat is better. Low fat meatballs will be drier, less flavorful, and are likely to overcook faster. I avoid using extra lean ground meats.
- Brown them! That sear adds so much flavor and also helps them hold together better and seal in the juices. You can bake them if you prefer, but they won't be quite the same, and the browned bits from frying make the gravy taste even better!
Tools for this recipe
- Meatballs are cooked when they're 165F in the middle. Use an instant read thermometer to quickly test.
- Use cooking tongs to quickly and easily turn them when you're browning them.
- Use a large/deep skillet for this recipe or a Dutch oven. My 12" Le Creuset skillet is pictured. A regular 10.25" skillet will be a bit small (I tested it!)
Substitutions and variations
- I recommend using the suggested mix of beef and pork for the best flavor and moisture, but you could use all beef. Turkey is much leaner, so if you want to go that route, add some olive oil to the mixture (a tablespoon or two).
- You can use regular breadcrumbs instead of panko.
- Try subbing the allspice for cardamom if needed.
- You could use heavy cream instead of sour cream if you prefer, but the tanginess of the sour cream really makes the Swedish meatball sauce special, so you may need to add a bit of lemon juice to compensate if you use heavy cream and feel the sauce is lacking something.
- You could leave the sour cream out entirely if you need to.
Leftovers and storage
- Swedish meatballs will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Reheat slowly in a covered pan over a low heat. The cream sauce may separate if it's heated too high.
- I freeze leftovers in Tupperware containers and then thaw from frozen in a covered saucepan over low heat, or thaw in the fridge overnight. Since there's sour cream in the sauce, there's a chance it can separate a bit, but it'll still taste good. You could always make the sauce without the sour cream if you're planning on freezing the whole batch, then simply stir the sour cream in just prior to serving.
What to serve with Swedish meatballs
- Traditionally, Swedish meatballs are served with lingonberry jelly on the side. I've seen it available to buy at IKEA. You could also try cranberry sauce or raspberry jelly.
- These are amazing with mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or rice.
- For a veggie side dish, try my Easy Roasted Green Beans or these Easy Glazed Carrots.
Questions about these easy Swedish meatballs? Made them? Leave me a comment/review below!
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (for frying)
- 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
- 1/3 cup flour
- 3 cups beef broth
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup sour cream full-fat
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
- Get all ingredients ready prior to starting.
- Add all the meatball ingredients (except for the olive oil) to a fairly large prep bowl. Using your hands, mix it together and then form 1 ¼ - 1 ½-inch meatballs (use about 2 ½ tbsp meat/meatball and it'll make approx. 25-30 meatballs). Place the meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet for easy clean-up.
- Add the olive oil to a large and deep skillet or a Dutch oven/pot and let it heat up for a few minutes over medium-high heat. Fry the meatballs in two batches until all sides are browned (about 5-7 minutes/batch). It's easiest to turn the meatballs with tongs. You may need to add a splash more oil for the second batch. Transfer meatballs to a plate.
- Pour out most of the fat from the skillet, but keep the brown bits in for extra flavor (don't wipe it out).
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter to the skillet. Once it’s melted, stir in the flour and cook, stirring often, for a few minutes until the roux starts to turn golden.
- Slowly whisk the beef broth in, and ensure the flour has dissolved into the sauce.
- Whisk in the Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
- Add the meatballs back to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and the gravy thickens to your liking (it's not meant to be a super thick gravy).
- Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream. I add it right into the skillet, but you could take out some of the sauce and add it to a cup and mix the sour cream in there first if that's easier for you.
- Season with salt & pepper as needed. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve immediately.
- See blog post for more tips, info on substitutions, etc... especially if you haven't made meatballs before!
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.