My Swedish meatball recipe is simple to whip up and tastes delicious – we love them for dinner with mashed potatoes, but they’re just as good with egg noodles if you prefer.
My Swedish meatball recipe
I have to make a confession: It’s been a long time since I ate meatballs at IKEA. Unpopular opinion, but I’m not their biggest fan.
Juicy homemade meatballs in a delicious brown gravy, though? These happen all the time around here, and I could eat the whole pan by myself if it wasn’t for my kids and husband, ha!
Ingredients you’ll need
Here is an overview of the ingredients in the recipe (great to use as a visual grocery list at the store!). Jump to Recipe for quantities.
- meat: I use lean beef, but you can also use a fattier ground beef if that’s what you have – I recommend draining some of the fat after browning the meatballs. You can also use a mix of ground beef and pork if you prefer.
- broth: Beef broth is best here, but you can also use chicken broth with a dash of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce added.
- mustard/jelly: these are optional and can be left out if you think they’re too weird in a gravy – but I will say these are the ingredients to help get that “IKEA taste”
Step by step photos
- if you’re in a hurry: use regular store-bought meatballs – you’ll need about 1.5 pounds
- if you don’t knead/shape the meatball mix well, the meatballs will fall apart as you’re cooking them in the pan. if you’re unsure, bake the meatballs instead of pan-frying them to help them retain some shape (they could still fall apart in the sauce, so please do really make sure to roll them into firm balls).
- likewise, brown the meatballs very well, until browned and crisp, or they’ll fall apart as you’re turning them.
- if the jelly and mustard in the sauce sound weird to you (apparently those kind of people exist 😉), feel free to leave them out – but you’ll lack some of that beloved IKEA flavor
- to keep the meatballs round during cooking: freeze them for 5-10 minutes on a baking sheet after shaping them. sounds weird, but it helps them retain their shape!
Tips for lump free gravy
Swedish meatball sauce starts with a roux. That’s just the fancy French word for gently heating some butter and flour before adding the liquids.
The first step to perfect gravy is to make sure you don’t burn the flour and butter for the sauce! It should turn a medium brown, but no more. (I’ve had to re-start the sauce before because I burnt the flour, it can’t be saved.)
For lump-free gravy, you’ll need to whisk very well and fast once you start adding the liquids. As soon as you start pouring the beef broth into the cooked flour and butter mix, it will begin to seize up and thicken.
Do not be alarmed by this, it’s important that you keep going and add all the liquid while whisking! Whisk all the while you’re pouring the liquid into the pan, and then keep whisking until it’s smooth.
As a veggie side, we often enjoy my easy sautéed green beans or roasted asparagus. Or frozen peas, if I’m in a hurry. A Creamy Cucumber Salad is another favorite, especially when it gets warmer outside!
No matter how you serve them (oh hey, I just wrote a post on all the possible side dishes for any kind of meatballs!), I can guarantee you one thing: They definitely taste better than IKEA’s – well, at least in my opinion they do.
More classic comfort food
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Easy Swedish Meatballs
For the meatballs:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 small onion very finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic finely minced
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- black pepper to taste
- 1 large egg
- 1-2 tablespoons milk
- 1 tablespoon oil
For the gravy:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons flour use 2 tablespoons if you prefer a thinner gravy
- 1 1/2 cups beef broth
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon smooth Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon grape jelly OR lingonberry jam; or less, to taste
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Make the meatballs:Add all ingredients for the meatballs EXCEPT for the oil to a large bowl. Knead very well. I like doing this with a handheld mixer with the hook attachment – it's so much faster! Using about 2 teaspoons of meat mixture, roll into firm balls. (Freezing the meatballs for 5-10 minutes at this point helps them to keep their shape.)
- Cook the meatballs:Heat the oil in a wide, deep skillet. Brown the meatballs on all sides, until well browned on all sides. This will take between 6-8 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the pan and set aside. If you prefer baking the meatballs, place them on a lined baking sheet and bake them at 425°F for 10-12 minutes or until browned and no longer pink in the middle.
- Make the gravy:Bring the skillet back to medium heat. Melt the butter, then stir in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until medium brown. Quickly pour in the beef broth while whisking constantly. Simmer until thickened, then whisk in the milk, mustard and jelly. Simmer gently over medium-low heat until creamy, about 1 minute. Season to taste.
- Finish the dish:Place the meatballs back in the gravy and warm very gently until heated through. Serve immediately.