Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Gravy

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swedish meatballs creamy gravy

Like most busy mothers trying to getΒ dinner on the table in a hurry, I’m always trying to find shortcuts wherever possible. For me, this has been one of the biggest adjustments since becoming a mother; I am someone who used to make absolutely everything from scratch – bread, noodles, pasta – and this cooking style was bound to go out the window once our children came on the scene.

Most shortcuts I have discovered have been via other busy mothers, especially mothers who work full-time and obviously possess very advanced time-management skills in order to be able to put dinner on the table each night for their families. For these mothers, pre-chopped vegetables (whether sold fresh or frozen) are always high on their grocery list, as well as pre-mixed vegetables ready for steaming or stir-frying.

I came across some pre-made meatballs at the supermarket the other day and thought it would be my secret to a speedy dinner that evening with a quick homemade tomato sauce. Unfortunately, my family were quick to call me out. What would often be devoured very quickly in our home was pushed aside on everyone’s plate (mine included), and these meatballs were as tough as rocks.

swedish meatballs creamy gravy

Filled with guilt at having served my family a sub-standard meal, I tried to redeem myself a few days later by making one of our favourite dishes, Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Gravy … from scratch, of course!

My sister-in-law is Swedish, and everytime we visit her in Stockholm, we are always delighted when she makes us her special meatballs for dinner. Once, whilst I was observing her cooking, I noticed her add an unlikely ingredient to the sauce … soy sauce! It turns out that many Swedes have a bottle of soy sauce in their pantry and use it to add savouriness and colour to their dishes. My sister-in-law and I had a lot more in common than I had expected after all πŸ˜‰

The following is my recipe for Swedish Meatballs with a Creamy Gravy. If you are a fan of the same famous dish at IKEA – and let’s just admit that we ALL love IKEA’s version – this recipe is an even more delicious, yet homemade, version. I love using fresh herbs in my cooking, so these meatballs are packed with both fresh and dried herbs. In fact, I also serve these meatballs with tomato sauce – it’s a very versatile recipe.

swedish meatballs creamy gravy

It is typical to serve this dish with mashed potatoes and pickled cucumbers, although I sometimes change things a bit by serving it with pasta (such as orrechiette), or even some golden-fried hash browns or RΓΆsti (we live in Switzerland, after all).

But what is absolutely essential is some lingonberry jam to go alongside the meatballs. In summer, when lingonberries are available at the farmers’ markets, I like to make my own lingonberry jam (which is very quick and easy in small batches). Otherwise, a jar of store-bought lingonberry jam is just as good. We do, after all, have to find some shortcuts in the kitchen!

swedish meatballs creamy gravy

Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Gravy

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2-4

Ingredients

For the meatballs

  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or Panko breadcrumbs
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) double cream (heavy whipping cream)
  • 500 g (1 lb) minced beef
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • pinch of allspice
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence or dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 egg

For the sauce

  • 250-375 ml (1 to 1 1/2) cups beef stock
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) double cream (heavy whipping cream)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce, or to taste
  • 4 teaspoons cornflour, mixed in a little water to make a slurry
  • parsley, finely chopped
  • chives, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Soak the breadcrumbs in the cream in a large mixing bowl to which you will add everything else later.
  2. Once the breadcrumbs have softened (this will take just a few minutes), add the remaining ingredients for the meatballs into the bowl. Mix everything together with your hands until it is well combined.
  3. Shape the meatballs. I prefer to keep the meatballs small, but make them as small or as large as you like.
  4. Heat some oil in a large frying pan which you will also use later to make the sauce.
  5. Fry the meatballs until they are golden brown all over. You may need to do this in batches. Don’t worry if the meatballs are not cooked through completely, as you will continue to cook them later.
  6. Remove the meatballs to a plate.
  7. Pour the stock into the saucepan and use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the pan. Return the meatballs to the pan, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes.
  8. Remove the meatballs to a plate.
  9. Add the cream and soy sauce. Slowly whisk in the cornflour mixture to thicken the sauce to your desired consistency (you may not need all of the cornflour mixture).
  10. Taste for seasoning. If the sauce tastes too concentrated, add a bit of water.
  11. Return the meatballs to the saucepan, and garnish with parsley and chives before serving.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 4
  • Calories: 327
  • Sugar: 3.6g
  • Sodium: 375.5mg
  • Fat: 14.7g
  • Carbohydrates: 17.5g
  • Fiber: 1.2g
  • Protein: 30g
  • Cholesterol: 133.6mg

Share your photos!

If you have tried this recipe, I would love to hear how it turned out! Please leave a comment below and share your photos by tagging @eatlittlebird on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, and using #eatlittlebird

 

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58 Comments

  1. Deanna 4 February 2017

    I love Swedish meatballs! I never made them though! This makes me want to make them!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 4 February 2017

      They’re really easy to make at home. Hope you will try it soon!

      Reply
  2. Luci's Morsels 4 February 2017

    I totally understand the guilt of serving something store-bought in place of something homemade, but real life happens. These meatballs do look divine. And what a fun fact about the soy sauce!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 5 February 2017

      You are absolutely right – real life happens. Tonight, I had planned to make steamed mussels for dinner, but discovered that I had to throw away nearly half of the mussels! So we had steamed mussels as a starter and ordered pizza home delivery for our main πŸ™‚

      Reply
  3. Haley D. Williams 4 February 2017

    The sauce on the meatballs looks amazing! I would definitely be licking the plate πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  4. Lindsay Cotter 4 February 2017

    Some shortcuts are good and others we learn are not so good. It happens to us all, right?! This is a gorgeous homemade dinner. I can see why your family prefers your homemade cooking over store-bought!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 5 February 2017

      Yes, I agree – some shortcuts are indeed better than others. I guess I am still trying to find out what shortcuts work for me because, clearly, there are some nights when I need to get dinner on the table just that bit quicker. But it has nevertheless been fun trying out new things!

      Reply
  5. Michelle @ Vitamin Sunshine 4 February 2017

    I really love your blog! This recipe is so beautiful. I’ve had Swedish Meatballs on my recipe list for … years! And never got around to making them. I think I will adapt this (I have to make dairy free), and finally give it a go!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 5 February 2017

      Thanks, Michelle! You could certainly make this dairy-free by leaving out the cream in the meatball mixture and sauce by using a dairy-free alternative like almond milk. You probably won’t need to use so much, though. Hope you will give it a try!

      Reply
  6. The-FoodTrotter 4 February 2017

    This does look so delicious! I love it! Everytime I go to Ikea I always stop at the restaurant, but now I’ve the recipe I think I’ll get something even better it’s always better home :p

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 5 February 2017

      When I was younger, my family and I would go to IKEA just to eat at the restaurant! It might sound strange, but it was sort of normal for where we lived in Switzerland. So I suppose it’s also nostalgia that makes me enjoy the IKEA meatballs. But making them at home is much more fun and delicious πŸ™‚

      Reply
  7. Tina Marie 6 February 2017

    I do love that this meal is quick and easy to make without being in the kitchen all afternoon. Sometimes quick and easy turns out just a tasty!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2017

      It’s a relatively quick and easy dish. Rolling the meatballs take a bit of time, but it’s not challenging at all. I make this frequently during the week, which must mean that it’s an easy dish which requires not too much time πŸ™‚

      Reply
  8. Sarah @ Champagne Tastes 6 February 2017

    Haha- All I could think of was Ikea when I saw this πŸ˜€ Honestly, I’ve never eaten at Ikea’s cafeteria, because the lines at our Ikea are always RIDICULOUS. I’m sure homemade is better anyway!!!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2017

      I don’t know of a quiet Ikea store, especially at lunch time! But whenever we have a dreaded visit to Ikea to buy something for the home, I aim to have lunch there as a treat. Which means ordering their Swedish meatballs πŸ™‚

      Reply
  9. Megan Marlowe 6 February 2017

    This sauce looks luscious and creamy. My family is a HUGE fan of Swedish meatballs and we love to serve them with a side of mashed potatoes as you’ve done here. Can’t wait to serve this up to them!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2017

      Ooh our families have something in common then πŸ™‚ At the moment, my daughter will only eat potatoes in mashed form, so it’s appearing quite frequently on our menu!

      Reply
  10. Byron Thomas 6 February 2017

    I’m thinking the gods are trying to tell me that I should make some Swedish meatballs. This is twice today alone that I’ve read through a Swedish meatball recipe in its entirety. It’s lunch time here and I’m utterly starving. So much for starting my diet today. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2017

      LOL!! There are worse things to be reading, I suppose πŸ˜‰ And the diet can always wait!

      Reply
  11. Vanessa Price 6 February 2017

    I’ve neverade these but this recipe looks so good and just might be my first! And I appreciate how white that towel is in the pictures haha

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2017

      It’s an easy recipe, so I hope you will get a chance to try it soon. P.S. The “real” teatowel would have been a bit distracting in the photos, LOL πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  12. Jolina 6 February 2017

    We love Swedish meatballs. And yes, we’ve bought them at Ikea to bring home which I know may not be the healthiest thing but they’re so good! So I’m really excited about this recipe, now we can make them from scratch and know exactly what goes into them!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2017

      I once saw their meatballs in the freezer section and actually thought about buying them to try at home. However, we have a tiny freezer (like one in a mini bar fridge), so making them from scratch was my best option. And it is definitely good to know exactly what goes into them πŸ™‚

      Reply
  13. Stephanie@ApplesforCJ 6 February 2017

    Never a good idea to be reading food recipes when your hungry..haha. This looks so good with all that creamy sauce going on. And it’s nice to have some short cuts but for sure nothing beats homemade.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 6 February 2017

      You are absolutely right – I just need to find the right shortcuts. Some have been good, but I just need to experiment more. And definitely one of the best things about this dish is the creamy sauce – I often make extra sauce, especially if I end up serving the dish with pasta. The kids just keep asking for more and more sauce!

      Reply
  14. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way 6 February 2017

    Great minds must think alike — your recipe is Swedish and mine is Italian. πŸ™‚ Your recipe with cream sauce sounds delicious. You can’t go wrong with delicious balls of meat in a tasty gravy! Great recipe.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 10 February 2017

      Thanks, Marisa! I agree – meatballs in a creamy gravy can only taste good, whether it’s Swedish, Italian or otherwise πŸ™‚ I also love to serve this dish with pasta alongside!

      Reply
  15. Hanady | Recipe Nomad 7 February 2017

    Yummy yummy yummy! This looks a zillion times better than anything I’ve ever had at IKEA!! Moist, fresh and delicious meatballs! Can’t wait to make this!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 10 February 2017

      Thank you! IKEA is not bad, but nothing beats making them fresh at home πŸ™‚

      Reply
  16. Dene' V. Alexander 7 February 2017

    This is the second meatball recipe I have seen. The Lord must really be trying to tell me I need to use the 3lbs of ground beef I currently have in my freezer. Maybe I will just try both recipes I have seen. De-lish!!!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 10 February 2017

      So many ideas and so many options πŸ™‚ Thanks for popping by!

      Reply
  17. Kathy McDaniel 7 February 2017

    I am all about the shortcuts and know very well how disappointing it is when something just doesn’t work! We used to live in L.A. and stopping at Ikea for meatballs was something we did often. With your help, I can now make them at home (no Ikea in our area). Looks delicious!!!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 10 February 2017

      That’s really interesting to know that you also went to Ikea often for meatballs. I wasn’t sure if that was just a European thing. As always, homemade is always better πŸ™‚

      Reply
  18. valmg @ From Val's Kitchen 7 February 2017

    This looks and sounds terrific! Swedish meatballs have been one of my favorites for years, my Dad’s were awesome but he doesn’t make them any more unfortunately.

    Reply
  19. Alex 7 February 2017

    Beautiful, as always πŸ™‚
    Kudos to you for giving your family a homemade meal every night!

    Reply
  20. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie 7 February 2017

    Bummer about the premade meatballs! But these look so worth the extra effort.

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 10 February 2017

      Ha ha, indeed! And they don’t actually require so much time, especially since I’m pretty fast at rolling the meatballs πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  21. ManilaSpoon 7 February 2017

    I love that you added some soy sauce as both flavoring and seasoning to the sauce. I often do that do as it surely adds flavor! This looks like total comfort food for the whole family! YUM!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 10 February 2017

      Ha ha, I’m sure you understand the role of soy sauce in your kitchen too πŸ™‚ I like to add it to sauces and gravy for a bit of body.

      Reply
  22. Sandhya Ramakrishnan 7 February 2017

    Homemade food is so much better and my family is the same as yours. Anything that I usually cook, if bought from the store always gets a remark of how better the homemade ones are compared to the store bought ones. Love the recipe and the sauce looks great!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 10 February 2017

      Yes, isn’t it funny how they just know if something is not homemade? Sometimes I buy pre-cut vegetables and my husband will know right away because I don’t normally cut the vegetables that way!!

      Reply
  23. Uma 7 February 2017

    Homemade is always best! The garlic and fresh herbs takes the dish to next level!

    Reply
  24. I love Swedish meatballs — and at least with my recipe, I’ve found they freeze really well. I usually make a triple batch and store the rest of the meatballs and sauce in the freezer, so we can eat them during the week. I usually don’t get home from work until after 7, so cooking, eating, and getting my toddler to bed on time is always a challenge!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 10 February 2017

      That’s good to know that they freeze well. We have the tiniest freezer so I can never plan on freezing anything, but I do always make a large batch so that we can eat it again later in the week. I find the meatballs keep in the fridge for a few days uncooked. And I know what you mean about getting the children to bed on time … even when we manage, the children decide they are not tired!

      Reply
  25. These look like they are straight out of a magazine! I’ll have to make these for supper! I’m sure the family would love them! Looks fairly easy to do too!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 24 February 2017

      Thank you! It is indeed a fairly easy recipe. Hope you and your family will enjoy it!

      Reply
  26. Elaine @ Dishes Delish 23 February 2017

    These Swedish meatballs look so great! I love the gravy and I can’t wait to try them.

    Reply
  27. Kelly @ Trial and Eater 23 February 2017

    Love your photography!

    Reply
  28. Lynne Curry 25 February 2017

    I don’t know how you managed to make meatballs look so stunning! This entire meal looks mouthwatering. For the record, I’m a from scratch everything cook, too, but still haven’t mastered it with kids. Just take it as it comes and rely on leftovers like premade meatballs from the freezer in times of need. Beautiful blog!

    Reply
    • Eat, Little Bird 25 February 2017

      Oh thank you πŸ™‚ I probably need to invest in a large freezer so I can indeed freeze things like meatballs. It might make mealtimes less stressful, especially during the busy week πŸ™‚

      Reply
  29. Carol Borchardt 27 February 2017

    These look absolutely divine and your blog is beautiful! I haven’t made Swedish meatballs in years! Your recipe is going to change that!

    Reply

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