Here I’ll share with you some tips and tricks to make the most irresistible Swedish meatballs!
Swedish meatballs are a thing of beauty, and if you’ve ever taken a trip to Ikea, you’ll know exactly what I mean. They’re actually really simple to make, but there are a few ways in which you can really elevate them to reach supreme deliciousness. Follow me…
Preparing Swedish Meatballs
The first this I like to do is tackle the onion. For Swedish meatballs I actually like to grate half on a box grater, then finely dice and fry the other half in butter:
- Grated – this will add moisture and a more intense savoury tone to the meatballs.
- Fried – gently frying the onion will sweeten it, which in turn adds another layer of flavour to balance out the more punchy grated onion.
This is a tip I picked up from Serious Eats and has been a real game changer in making Swedish meatballs.
Just make sure you let the fried onion cool before mixing in with the meat, otherwise it’ll lightly ‘cook’ the meatballs and cause them to go crumbly. I also like to very finely dice the cooked onion, almost into a paste-like texture. I find larger bits of onion tend to fall out of the meatballs and burn in the pan.
Process shots: add onion to butter (photo 1), fry (photo 2), cool and finely dice (photo 3), grate other half of onion (photo 4).
Making Swedish Meatballs
You essentially want to create a Panade (a mix of starch and liquid), which is what I do in my Homemade Italian Meatballs.
To do this you’ll want to use fresh breadcrumbs and liquid – here the liquid will be the excess onion juice from the grated onion alongside some cream. The breadcrumbs absorb the liquid and cling on to it, which keeps the meatballs soft and juicy as they cook.
What meat are Swedish meatballs made of?
I like to use half pork and half beef. I find this gives you a really nice well-rounded flavour. Just make sure they’re both high in fat (at least 15%, preferably 20%). This helps prevent the meatballs from drying out.
Swedish meatball seasoning
You’ll obviously want a good amount of salt (nobody likes bland meatballs!). From there, I like to use nutmeg and allspice, which gives the meatballs a really special touch. I also recommend using white pepper for a little heat too!
Process shots: mix onion, breadcrumbs, cream and seasoning (photo 1), mix in egg (photo 2), add meat (photo 3), mix (photo 4).
Cooking Swedish Meatballs
The best way to cook Swedish meatballs is to pan-fry them. This way you can use the excess fat that leaks out to start the sauce. Plus, pan-frying the meatballs helps create a nice crust, which in turn offers more flavour. As you fry the meatballs just gently turn them to brown them all over.
Once you’ve fried the meatballs there will be a lot of excess oil. You’ll want to remove and discard all but 3 tbsp. I find it easiest to pour it all out and scoop the 3 tbsp from there. That way you can also fish out any bits of char/burnt onion.
Process shots: scoop out chunks of meat (photo 1), roll into balls (photo 3), fry in batches (photos 3&4).
Sauce for Swedish Meatballs
The sauce for Swedish meatballs is actually really simple. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Flour – creates a roux to thicken the sauce.
- Beef stock – use low-sodium if you’re sensitive to salt.
- Cream – use double/heavy cream to keep the sauce thick and rich.
- Soy sauce – adds depth of flavour.
- Dijon mustard – adds another layer of flavour and cuts through the rich sauce.
- Seasoning – more salt and white pepper to taste.
Once you’ve created the sauce you’ll want to add the meatballs back in and simmer. This will not only heat the meatballs back through, but the sauce will also take on all the yummy flavours of the meatballs.
Process shots: add fat back into pan (photo 1), add flour (photo 2), stir (photo 3), stir in stock (photo 4), stir in cream, soy sauce, Dijon mustard and seasoning (photo 5), stir in meatballs (photo 6).
Serving Swedish Meatballs
I believe you traditionally serve Swedish meatballs with lingonberry jam and a pickled cucumber salad. Lingonberry jam is quite tricky to find, so I typically sub cranberry sauce or red currant jelly. I recommend using some sort of jam/jelly as the sweetness works really nicely with the rich sauce.
Alongside the meatballs and sauce, I recommend some Mashed Potato – or another form of carb to mop up that delicious sauce!
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for these Swedish Meatballs shall we?!
How to make Swedish Meatballs (Full Recipe & Video)
Swedish Meatballs (so delicious!)
- Large Pan & Wooden Spoon (see notes)
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Food Processor (for breadcrumbs)
- Box Grater
- Large Bowl & Fork
- 1 tbsp Measuring Spoon
- Large Tray
- Jug (for stock)
Ingredients (check list):
- 1 medium White Onion
- 1 1/2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 45g / 1.5oz Fresh Soft White Bread, pulsed into a crumb
- 3/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp EACH: Ground Nutmeg, Ground Allspice, White Pepper
- 3 tbsp Double/Heavy Cream
- 1 Egg
- 250g / 9oz Minced/Ground Beef (20% fat!)
- 250g / 9oz Minced/Ground Pork (20% fat!)
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 3 tbsp Flour
- 480ml / 2 cups Beef Stock (use low-sodium if sensitive to salt)
- 120ml / 1/2 cup Double/Heavy Cream
- 2 tsp Soy Sauce (light/all purpose)
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1/8 tsp White Pepper, or to taste
- Halve and peel the onion, then finely dice one of the halves. Fry it with 1/2 tbsp butter in a large pan over low-medium heat until soft & golden (try and go low and slow to tickle out the natural sweetness - about 10mins or so). Scrape out and leave to cool, then dice it as fine as you can get it. Grate the other half on a box grater and place both in a large mixing bowl.
- Use a fork to stir in the breadcrumbs, cream and all of the seasoning until the breadcrumbs soak in the liquid. Stir in the egg until well-combined, then add in the pork & beef and mix well with your hand.
- Use a 1 tbsp measuring spoon to scoop out 24-25 chunks of meat and place on a large tray, then roll each one into a ball (lightly wet your hands if the mix is sticky).
- Heat 1 tbsp oil and butter in the pan over medium-high heat and add half of the meatballs. Swirl the pan to coat them in the fat, then continue frying and gently turning until brown all over, about 5-6mins. Remove and place in a bowl to one side and repeat with the second batch.
- Pour all of the leftover fat into a bowl and place 3 tbsp of it back into the pan. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the flour to create a roux. Gradually pour in the beef stock, stirring as you go to ensure no lumps form, then stir in the cream, soy sauce, Dijon mustard and seasoning to taste (I typically go for 1/8 tsp white pepper and no added salt).
- Add the meatballs into the sauce alongside any resting juices. Simmer for 5 or so mins to thicken the sauce and heat the meatballs back through, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat then serve up and enjoy!
Quick 1 min demo!
Your Private Notes:
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