Swedish Meatballs

swedish meatballs

I was fortunate to have a Swedish meatball recipe in the collection I inherited from my grandmother. I tried them out for the first time last Christmas as part of my Christmas Around the World series. I emailed with Sophie from Sweden to get the scoop on Swedish food and she gave this recipe the seal of approval, authenticity-wise (she also sent me the recipe for Janssen’s Temptation, a potato gratin recipe, which I posted below).

Swedish meatballs are characterized by a fine texture and the addition of allspice. (Sophie said nutmeg is not in her family’s recipe, but that it may be in some.) They are usually served with lingonberry preserves, which can be bought probably at IKEA, or you can use cranberry sauce. It’s a very similar texture and flavor to preserved lingonberries.

A smooth gravy enriched with cream is also typical of Swedish meatballs. You may use whipping cream or sour cream, but either way make sure to have lots of mashed potatoes, noodles, or bread to soak it up. The gravy is delicious.

If you want to make these meatballs ahead of time, please do so. They freeze perfectly and are super handy to have around when you’re hungry and don’t feel like cooking. Just freeze the raw meatballs on a baking sheet and once they are fully frozen, pop them off and into airtight containers or bags. They keep in the freezer this way for up to 3 months and when you’re ready to cook, don’t thaw them, just put them right into a hot buttery skillet and add a few extra minutes for browning.

Swedish Meatballs Recipe Video!

Swedish Meatballs Recipe — Printable!


Swedish Meatballs

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5 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 1x


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound lean ground pork
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (3 slices)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Gravy (for a whole batch; reduce amounts if cooking fewer meatballs)
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken or beef broth
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream


  1. Combine all meatball ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix with paddle attachment until very smooth. Alternatively, mix by hand until smooth.
  2. Form into about 40 1-inch balls and arrange on waxed paper-lined baking tray. Chill 30 minutes. (Or freeze until solid, then pack into airtight containers to save for another meal. Do not thaw before cooking; add an extra 5-10 minutes cook time.)
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high in a large skillet and fry half the meatballs, turning frequently, until browned. They should not be cooked through at this point. Remove.
  4. Add remaining butter and cook rest of meatballs the same way. Remove.
  5. Add flour to skillet and whisk to cook until toasted.
  6. Whisk in stock until smooth.
  7. Add meatballs back to skillet and stir gently to coat in gravy. Simmer 10-15 minutes until thickened and meatballs are cooked through.
  8. Turn heat to low and gently stir in cream.
  9. Serve over egg noodles, mashed potatoes or rice.


  • Serving Size: 6 meatballs and gravy
  • Calories: 497
  • Fat: 20
  • Carbohydrates: 18
  • Protein: 58

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Other Swedish Christmas Recipes

Glogg — Swedish Mulled Wine

Oddly (or maybe not; maybe my grandparents had Swedish friends) there was also a recipe for Swedish Glogg in my grandmother’s collection. This recipe, though, was written in my great-grandfather’s handwriting.


Swedish Glogg — Christmas in Sweden

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Category: Drinks
  • Cuisine: Swedish


  • 1 750 ml bottle dry red wine
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 16 whole cloves
  • 32 inch cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup blanched raw almonds


  1. Dissolve the sugar in the wine and add the spices, raisins and almonds. Heat over medium heat several minutes until warm. Allow to cook, without simmering, for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the brandy and heat through.
  3. Serve warm.

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I finally got around to making gravlax! And it’s easy. And delicious. And fancy.

Lussekatter! Or Swedish Saffron Buns

Lussekatter are lightly sweet saffron buns would make a great Christmas morning breakfast, or even as something to leave out for Old Saint Nick.

Janssen’s Temptation — Potatoes with Cream and Anchovies

This recipe came from Sophie. It’s very reminiscent of my scalloped potatoes recipe, but even a little simpler. Don’t fear the anchovies! They cook down into nothing, leaving behind a rich, salty layer of flavor.


Janssen\’s Temptation – Christmas in Sweden

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Hilah Johnson
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 1x


  • 1 1.2 pounds (750g) potatoes, about 8 medium
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1620 canned anchovy filets
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Set your oven to 435ºF (225 C)
  2. Peel potatoes and cut into French fries, about 1/4″ x 1/4″ x 2-3 inches long. Slice onion into half-moons
  3. Butter a 2-3 quart baking dish. Layer the potatoes, onion, anchovies, salt and pepper in the dish, starting and ending with potatoes.
  4. Then pour the double cream over and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top
  5. Bake in the lower part of the oven for about 1hour or until the potatoes are soft and the gratin have a nice color If it gets to dark then just put on some foil but you know that 🙂

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swedish meatballs


  1. Robby on December 19, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Can I bake the meatballs? What temperature and how long do you think it would take? This looks delicious by the way! I can’t wait to try it. 🙂

    • Hilah on December 20, 2013 at 9:21 am

      Hi Robby!
      Yes! You can. Put them on an oiled tray and bake at 350F for 20 minutes. If they aren’t browned enough, you can put them under the broiler for a minute after that. Enjoy!

      • Robby on December 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm

        Thanks! I love this Christmas Around the World series!

        • Hilah on December 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm

          Thank you! I love it, too, Robby! 🙂

          • Steven McGarvey on March 3, 2014 at 3:46 am

            I love your shows and recipes!!! Could you do show on the proper way to clean a cast iron skillet?

          • Hilah on March 3, 2014 at 9:41 am

            Gotcha covered, Steven! This post covers everything from seasoning to washing and long term care, with videos!

  2. The Other Randy on December 20, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Just the other day, I was thinking about doing a The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-The Girl Who Played with Fire-The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest movie marathon and how appropriate it would be to have a smorgasbord to provide sustenance. Thanks for providing a recipe for the first dish to go on the menu! And the second (lussekatter)!

    Until this morning, I’d never heard of glogg. Now, I’ve seen two recipes in one day. It must be a sign that I should serve this with the rest of the smorgasbord.

    • Hilah on December 20, 2013 at 9:20 am

      You should totally have a smorgasbord! I’ve always wanted to have one, too.
      Tip I meant to add to the recipe, you can freeze the raw meatballs on a tray until solid, transfer to a bag (you knew that) then cook them in butter in a skillet when you’re ready. They only take a couple minutes more and I think they actually turn out better that way, more browned, than when cooking not-frozen.

  3. Shawn on December 22, 2013 at 2:34 am

    I couldn’t find anywhere else to contact you, so here I am…lol HELP!! I have an assload of frozen blueberries, blackberries and dried tart cherries and I need ideas of what to do with them. I’ve done cobblers, pies, muffins til I am blue, black, and red in the face…any new ideas?

    • Hilah on December 23, 2013 at 11:52 am

      Hey Shawn!
      I’ve made a sauce for pork with blackberries, green onion, a little curry powder, sauteed in butter and pureed that was really good.
      Duck or chicken and cherries is another good combination. Let me know what you end up making!

  4. Jewel Atkins on April 21, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    My Swedish neighbor adds cardamom in his recipe, too. It is quite lovely, almost like adding chai mix to the meat. I can’t wait to try this recipe.

    • Hilah on April 22, 2014 at 8:18 am

      Ooh, that does sound lovely. I’m still fascinated by the use of cardamom in Sweden/Norway/Denmark.

      • The Other Randy on April 22, 2014 at 9:14 am

        Someone, if they haven’t done it already, could do a really fascinating info graphic map that charts the use of various spices around the world. Much of it would reflect the conquest and/or subjugation of various cultures. The Persia-India-North Africa spice diaspora is fairly clear. But how cardamom made it to Scandinavia is a mystery to me. Maybe “Danish pastry”, which is actually Viennese in origin and contains cardamom, was the “seed”.

  5. Fran on April 27, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Hey Hilah! I made this dish tonight for my family and a friend’s family. We all loved it! The kids scarfed theirs down like there was no tomorrow! Not a single leftover to be seen. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Hilah on April 28, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      Marvelous! I love hearing that! Thanks, Fran. Next time you’ll have to make a double batch 😉

  6. Fredrik Sundqvist on May 10, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Hi again!

    I have to recommand a unique cheese from the north part of Sweden, Västerbottensost. Västerbottensost pie is delicious, you have to try it! I discovered this website today with recipes and products.


  7. Diana on January 22, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I only had 1/2 lb each of ground beef and ground pork, but that made 24 beautiful meatballs. Those and the gravy were SCRUMPTIOUS. I served over egg noodles. Mashed potatoes next time. Thank you for this recipe. Look no further than this for the perfect Swedish meatball recipe, people.

  8. Carol Holzem on December 2, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    I just found your website and LOVE it! My dad’s family was from Sweden and this is what I always requested for my birthday dinner. My mom always added a touch of paprika to the gravy and it added a nice color and flavor. Of course they were always over egg noodles. Keep up the good work. Thanks from Hillsboro, Oregon

    • Hilah on December 3, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      Thank you, Carol! Cold weather always makes me want these meatballs, too.

  9. Kathleen Smith on January 1, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Have only had frozen box lunch Swedish but loved them just the same. Have been missing them since no longer eating pork. Could more ground beef be used or should another meat (other than pork) be used? This recipe sounds wonderful!

    • Hilah on January 2, 2016 at 11:34 am

      Hi Kathleen,
      You could use more beef in place of the pork, no problem 🙂

  10. Gerilyn on February 1, 2016 at 9:21 am

    Hey Hilah!
    Just a quick question in regards to cooking the meatballs after freezing them. Should I let them fully thaw before putting them in the pan or will they still cook evenly when frozen (just slower)?


    • Hilah on February 1, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      Hey Gerilyn!
      I cook them frozen, as you said, at a slightly lower temperature for a little longer time. Works great!

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