A tasty and authentic recipe for Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Sauce, full of fresh ingredients for maximum flavour. Recipe with step-by-step photos.
We often visit my brother-in-law and his family in Stockholm, and something we always look forward to is a hearty serve of Swedish meatballs.
Like for many people, my first encounter with Swedish meatballs was at the local IKEA as a child. Back then, eating at the IKEA restaurant was the height of sophistication for me, an experience which I relished every time, never really stopping to think why we were, in fact, eating in a furniture store.
And even today, while I dread any trip to IKEA and having to navigate the crowded indoor maze for a pack of tea lights, our children are always so excited to sit down to a meal of Swedish meatballs and a slice of Princess Cake for dessert. For me, it is my reward for braving the trip to IKEA in the first place!
Swedish Meatballs Recipe
The following is my recipe for Swedish Meatballs with a Creamy Sauce. 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 a simple Tomato Pasta Sauce – it’s a very versatile meatball recipe.
Swedish Meatball Sauce
But what I think makes this meatball recipe “Swedish” in character is the creamy sauce.
My sister-in-law is Swedish, and everytime we visit her in Stockholm, we are always delighted when she makes us köttbullar 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, especially for the Swedish meatball sauce.
How to Make Swedish Meatballs
Soak the breadcrumbs in the cream in a large mixing bowl. This should take just a few minutes.
You can use any breadcrumbs you like, but I often use Panko breadcrumbs as I always have them in the pantry.
Add the remaining ingredients for the meatballs to the mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix everything together until all of the ingredients are well combined.
Shape the meatballs as big or as small as you like – I use about 1 tablespoon of the mixture for each meatball.
Heat some oil in a large frying pan or skillet which will fit all of the meatballs and sauce later.
Brown the meatballs in batches until they are golden and caramelised all over. The meatballs do not need to be completely cooked through at this stage.
Place all of the cooked meatballs onto a large plate.
Pour the stock into the pan and let it simmer gently. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any caramelised bits from the pan – this will add extra flavour to the sauce.
Return the meatballs to the pan, turn the heat down to low, and simmer gently for about 20 minutes. This process will ensure that the meatballs are cooked through, and the meatballs will also infuse the broth with more flavour.
Use a slotted spoon to remove all of the meatballs to a plate again. Turn the heat up to medium, and add the cream and soy sauce.
Slowly whisk in the cornflour (cornstarch) mixture to thicken the sauce to your liking.
Taste the sauce for seasoning. You may need to add some water if the sauce reduced too much in Step 5.
Once you are happy with the sauce, return the meatballs to the sauce to warm through again gently. Garnish with fresh herbs before serving.
What to Serve with Swedish Meatballs
It is typical to serve Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and pickled cucumbers, although I sometimes change things a bit by serving it with pasta, or even some golden-fried hash browns or Rösti (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).
If you can’t find lingonberries or lingonberry jam, cranberry sauce also works perfectly here.
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Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Sauce and Homemade Lingonberry Jam
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- Yield: Serves 3-4
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: Swedish
A tasty and authentic recipe for Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Sauce, full of fresh ingredients for maximum flavour. This easy to follow recipe is perfect served with mashed potatoes and homemade lingonberry jam.
For the Swedish Meatballs
- 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs or Panko breadcrumbs
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) double cream (heavy whipping cream)
- 500 g (1 lb) ground beef (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 Creamy 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 (cornstarch), mixed in a little water to make a slurry
- parsley, finely chopped
- chives, finely chopped
For the Homemade Lingonberry Jam
- 500 g (1 lb) fresh lingonberries
- 100 ml (1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon) water
- 300 g (1 1/3 cup) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
For the Swedish Meatballs with Creamy Sauce
- Soak the breadcrumbs in the cream in a large mixing bowl to which you will add everything else later.
- 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.
- Shape the meatballs. I prefer to keep the meatballs small, but make them as small or as large as you like.
- Heat some oil in a large frying pan which you will also use later to make the sauce.
- 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.
- Remove the meatballs to a plate.
- 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 on low heat for about 20 minutes.
- Remove the meatballs to a plate.
- Add the cream and soy sauce.
- Slowly whisk in the cornflour (cornstarch) mixture to thicken the sauce to your desired consistency (you may not need all of the cornflour mixture).
- Taste for seasoning. If the sauce tastes too concentrated, add a bit of water.
- Return the meatballs to the saucepan, and garnish with parsley and chives before serving.
For the Homemade Lingonberry Jam
- Wash the lingonberries and remove any spoilt berries, leaves and stems.
- Place the lingonberries in a medium saucepan, together with the water.
- Bring to the boil.
- Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Turn the heat down to medium-high, and continue simmering until the lingonberries have softened and broken down, and the mixture starts to thicken.
- If the mixture looks too thick, thin it with a dash of water.
- Make sure you stir frequently to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pan where it can burn easily.
- The lingonberry jam is ready when most of the berries have burst and you have a thick, jam-like consistency. If you like your lingonberry jam to have more texture, try not to squash the berries too much as you are stirring.
- The lingonberry jam will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Serve the lingonberry jam warm or cold with the Swedish Meatballs.
- Store any unused lingonberry jam in a sterilised jar and in the fridge.
I tend to make a small batch of lingonberry jam for this dish because it is quicker to cook than making a larger batch, and I can often make the lingonberry jam at the same time as the Swedish meatballs.
STERILISING GLASS JARS
If you wish to make a large batch of lingonberry jam for storing, make sure you prepare enough sterilised glass jars in advance.
To convert from cups to grams, and vice-versa, please see this handy Conversion Chart for Basic Ingredients.
- 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
This recipe was first published on 3 February 2017. It has been updated with new photos and more comprehensive recipe notes.