Old-School Swedish Meatballs

By Corby
December 13, 2014
59 Comments


Author Notes: These aren't from Ikea. They contain no pre-made meatballs, onion soup mix, or cream of mushroom. They are not healthy in any way. Old-school Swedish meatballs are a hassle to make but are absolutely worth it -- even in the triple batches you will have to make to satisfy your family, friends, and yourself. Merry Christmas to all!

New-School Tips:
- When browning the meatballs, roll them frequently to maintain any semblance of roundness. Cooking chopsticks (the long ones) are a great asset for this and keep your wrists away from sputtering melted butter to boot.
- Swedish meatballs do quite well in a warm crockpot, should you find it in your heart to share them.
- Homemade, collagen-rich broth adds a lot to an already fantastic recipe. Out of distaste for store-bought broth, I once used homemade pho broth in the recipe and it complemented the spices in the meatballs nicely.
Corby

Food52 Review: WHO: Corby has been a member of the Food52 community for the past year and a half.
WHAT: Classic Swedish meatballs made painstakingly from scratch -- but worth the effort.
HOW: Combine ground pork and beef, butter, onions, egg, sugar, spices, and moistened bread into balls, then brown them in a large skillet. Place in a baking dish with broth and bake them until cooked. Add a healthy serving of gravy, made from the skillet drippings, and enjoy.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Once the meatballs, filled with a slew of spices (Ginger, Allspice, Nutmeg) have been baked in broth, they are irresistible -- as is the smell that will be emanating from your oven. Make the most of your gravy, and pair the meatballs with mashed potatoes for the ultimate comfort food combo.
The Editors

Serves: 6

Ingredients

Swedish Meatballs

  • 2 pieces day-old white bread, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon butter plus 1 tablespoon butter, divided
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2/3 pound ground beef
  • 1/3 pound finely ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper, white if possible
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup beef stock or bone broth

Brown Gravy

  • 2 tablespoons Swedish meatball pan drippings
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef stock or bone broth
  • 4 ounces sour cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Swedish Meatballs

  1. Preheat your oven to 350º F (175º C).
  2. Place the bread and cream in a small bowl, mix, and let stand about 10 minutes until absorbed.
  3. Melt the teaspoon of butter in a large, shallow skillet and cook the onion for approximately 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer browned onion to a large mixing bowl and add the meats, brown sugar, salt, spices, and egg, then mix until nearly combined. Add the moistened bread and mix gently until combined.
  4. Melt the tablespoon of butter in the skillet over medium heat. Form meatball mixture into 1 1/2 tablespoon-sized balls and cook in batches until the outsides are evenly browned, approximately 5 minutes. The meatballs will still be pink inside. Transfer to a baking dish when browned and add more butter to the skillet as needed to cook all of the batches of meatballs.
  5. Pour 1/4 cup of broth into the baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 40 minutes, until the meatballs are fully cooked and tender.
  6. Transfer meatballs to a serving dish and pour gravy over (recipe follows).

Brown Gravy

  1. After making the Swedish meatballs, transfer their drippings to a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook until light gold in color, then slowly pour in broth or stock while whisking constantly.
  2. Simmer the gravy until thick, about 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Just before serving the meatballs, stir in the sour cream.
  4. Note: If you are not serving all of the meatballs at once, reserve gravy before adding sour cream. Reheat the meatballs and gravy separately and combine the sour cream with the gravy after heating to prevent the sauce from breaking as it is heated.

More Great Recipes:
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Reviews (59) Questions (2)

59 Comments

Vicky M. February 18, 2018
Perfect Swedish Meatball recipe. I served over rice and with roasted cumin and coriander carrots on the side. Delicious.
 
Änneken December 25, 2017
I make these regularly and they continue to amaze me every single time. I am so in love with the seasoning and the gravy. I always have them with Marcells Hazan's mashed potatoes. A total winner!!
 
tosacem December 30, 2017
Can you share Marcells Hazan's mashed potato recipe?
 
Jennifer B. September 30, 2017
Do you add all the cream with the softened bread or just the bread?
 
Rob D. August 22, 2017
What a great recipe! I added some fresh dill to the meat mixture as well. I think the baking in the oven with a little broth really does it justice. They were incredibly tender and flavorful. The apartment smelled great. This is the best Swedish meatball recipe I have tried, hands down. I am an Italian-American and cook make types of meatballs and have to say this recipe is right up there. It is not difficult and try it as directed!
 
Salinas R. June 26, 2017
Congratulations @food52 ! this is the first recipe I try and now you have my trust. I didnt read the ingredients carefully and started cooking until I realized I didnt have sour cream so I used heavy whipping cream ( and no egg). The instructions leave room for interpretation that being said my final results were delicious. Im looking forward to trying more of your recipes.
 
Annika H. February 9, 2017
Sorry to say but this is not Swedish meatballs but I will try it anyway! Annika from Stockholm Sweden
 
valn February 9, 2017
Annika, I would love to hear how you or your friends in Sweden would make "Swedish Meatballs".<br />
 
toweringinferno September 22, 2017
I made a recipe similar to this for a Midsommar gathering, and was told the flavours were on point but what differentiates Swedish meatballs is the texture. Apparently they whip the meat mixture so it becomes aerated and gets that spongy feel. Delicious either way, but for authenticity the devil's in the details!
 
Donna F. February 8, 2017
Question for you Corey- we wouldn't go through a big batch but I can see making a large batch at once is worth the effort. For th freezer- must they be cooked first and then frozen or do you freeze them raw? Which is preferable for best results?
 
Author Comment
Corby February 8, 2017
Since the balls are cooked in two stages- pan fried and then baked-I would pan fry them until they have enough structure to transfer to a bag, then freeze them in a single layer. They will finish cooking when they are thawed and baked in the oven. This leaves you without gravy drippings for the frozen batches, just plan accordingly.
 
Nancy F. December 1, 2016
I used ground veal instead of pork. I only had light cream instead of heavy. I didn't have beef stock so I had to use HERB-OX--UGH!!! But it all came out delicious. Next time, I'm going to do the crock pot. I like serving over egg noodles. Thank you!
 
Rhonda35 April 17, 2016
Corby, these meatballs are delicious! I didn't change much - added minced mushrooms to the onion, and added fresh dill and parsley to the meat mixture and also to the gravy. My husband, whose grandmother was 100% Swedish, said the meatballs tasted like the ones she used to make. :-) Thank you for sharing your recipe!
 
Kimberly M. December 24, 2015
How to change this to a crock pot recipe?
 
Author Comment
Corby October 21, 2016
I think you can transfer to a crock pot after searing the meatballs. Add the broth to the pot and cook on high until the meatballs reach 165 F
 
Julia C. December 19, 2015
So happy to find this recipe in time for Christmas! It seems to duplicate my mother's recipe traditionally served on Christmas Eve in our family. She began serving it after moving to Minneapolis as a newlywed and being befriended by Scandinavians. It joined a spaghetti dish taught to her by an Italian family as brand new bride during WWII on the table. You could say our Christmas Eve dinner was a symbol of her gratitude to the women who befriended a young bride by inviting her husband and and her to their family celebrations and gifted her with cherished recipes. I now honor and celebrate all their memories at my holiday table with those and other similarly given recipes.
 
Mike September 7, 2015
The recipe card looks exactly like my mothers! I don't know where it is, so glad to have the pic! I'll be configuring these to gluten-free now that I am older. Thanks for the post!
 
Horto May 6, 2015
How can we make these vegetarian
 
Author Comment
Corby June 2, 2015
Hi Horto,<br />I'm afraid I don't have much experience with mock meats, but my inkling is to use seitan and fully caramelize the onions. You might need to omit or reduce the sugar. For the gravy, I would favor mushroom stock over other vegetables. Let me know if you try it out, I'd love to share these with vegetarian friends.
 
Susan April 19, 2015
Made these for the first time last week. Years ago I began asking my family to rate new recipes on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being excellent! This recipe earned a 10 by all. The meatballs are very tender when done in in the oven with the broth or stock. You'll NEVER eat IKEA's again!
 
Tony February 8, 2015
This Swedish meatball recipe is a winner! I had to comment the meatballs are so moist and tasty!
 
Tony February 8, 2015
Swedish Meatballs<br /><br />2<br />pieces day-old white bread, crumbled<br />1/2<br />cup heavy cream<br />1<br />teaspoon butter plus 1 tablespoon butter, divided<br />1<br />small onion, minced<br />2/3<br />pound ground beef<br />1/3<br />pound finely ground pork<br />1<br />tablespoon brown sugar<br />1<br />teaspoon salt<br />1/4<br />teaspoon ground pepper, white if possible<br />1/4<br />teaspoon ground nutmeg<br />1/4<br />teaspoon ground allspice<br />1/8<br />teaspoon ground ginger<br />1<br />egg<br />1/4<br />cup beef stock or bone broth<br />Preheat your oven to 350º F (175º C). Place the bread and cream in a small bowl, mix, and let stand about 10 minutes until absorbed. Melt the teaspoon of butter in a large, shallow skillet and cook the onion for approximately 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Transfer browned onion to a large mixing bowl and add the meats, brown sugar, salt, spices, and egg, then mix until nearly combined. Add the moistened bread and mix gently until combined. Melt the tablespoon of butter in the skillet over medium heat. Form meatball mixture into 1 1/2 tablespoon-sized balls and cook in batches until the outsides are evenly browned, approximately 5 minutes. The meatballs will still be pink inside. Transfer to a baking dish when browned and add more butter to the skillet as needed to cook all of the batches of meatballs. Pour 1/4 cup of broth into the baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 40 minutes, until the meatballs are fully cooked and tender. Transfer meatballs to a serving dish and pour gravy over (recipe follows).<br />Brown Gravy<br /><br />2<br />tablespoons Swedish meatball pan drippings
 
Michelle G. January 19, 2015
Like u would use a chicken to make chicken broth, bone broth is made using bones from beef, lamb, veal and making it richer is the marrow.
 
Diane January 19, 2015
What exactly is "bone broth"?
 
Julie R. January 19, 2015
Bone broth is stock made from meaty bones....I use beef or veal stock which I have made and keep in my freezer. Always low sodium....
 
pamela January 19, 2015
thank you for the comments in answer to my query.<br />
 
inpatskitchen January 18, 2015
Congratulations Corby! What a wonderful take on Swedish Meatballs!