Savory Swedish Meatballs

No smorgasbord is complete without Swedish meatballs. Our authentic recipe is warmly spiced with nutmeg and allspice, then smothered in a rich sour cream gravy. They’re just like the IKEA meatballs you crave, but truly DIY!

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Here’s how it starts: you make the trek out to IKEA in search of the perfect coffee table, and on your way out you happen to wander into the restaurant and try the Swedish meatballs. The next time you go to pick out a lamp, and decide to grab some meatballs before you go shopping. Then a week later, you don’t actually need any furniture, but find an excuse to go anyways — and make a beeline straight for those meatballs. We know how it is. Those little morsels are addictive stuff! We’ll show you how to make them at home, no assembly required.

OK, so there’s some assembly required. But this recipe is so foolproof, you’ll get tender, savory results every time. The flavor is 100% authentic, but we made a few tweaks to the recipe for convenience sake. The first is that, depending on what part of Sweden your meatball tradition hails from, Kottbullar (that’s Swedish for “meatballs”) can include a little veal or elk with the ground pork and beef. We left those out — but if you’ve got some leftover elk in your freezer, go for it!

Also, clearly no Swedish grandmother was using panko in her meatballs. But most of the classic recipes have you go through the added step of pulverizing bread to make your own breadcrumbs. We decided to cut out that trouble to save time, and since panko is our favorite for breading and binding. (If you’ve made our fully-loaded mashed potato balls, crockpot mozzarella-stuffed meatballs, or crispy oven-baked onion rings you already love it, and probably still have some in your pantry.) Soaking the panko in milk results in a toothsome meatball that never falls apart. It also helps the ingredients stick together so that you don’t have to handle the meat too much, which will keep your meatballs tender, and never dense or gummy.

Swedish meatballs make crowd-pleasing holiday appetizers, or you can make them a meal with egg noodles or mashed potatoes. But if you really want to be authentic, ladle them up with plenty of gravy, boiled potatoes, and lingonberry jam on the side.

Swedish Meatballs

Serves 6 (about 20 small meatballs)
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 35 Minutes



  • ⅓ cup panko
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ small onion, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil


  • ¼ cup butter
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (garnish)


  1. In a small bowl, combine the panko and milk, and let sit until the milk is fully absorbed.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, onion, parsley, garlic, egg, salt, pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and the milk-soaked panko. Mix until fully combined and roll into about 20 small meatballs.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the meatballs on all sides. Transfer the cooked meatballs to a casserole dish covered in foil or a low oven to keep them warm.
  4. Prepare the sauce: return the skillet to heat and melt the butter. Add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until it turns brown. Slowly, while stirring, add the beef broth and cook until thickened. Add the Worcestershire sauce, dijon, salt and pepper. Whisk in the sour cream. Add the meatballs back to the pan, and toss to coat them in sauce.
  5. Serve the meatballs and sauce with egg noodles, mashed potatoes or rice, and garnish with the remaining chopped parsley.

Does your family make Swedish meatballs another way? Tell us about your traditions!