Real Swedish meatballs in cream sauce

Make the famous Ikea meatballs with this authentic Swedish meatballs recipe with easy to follow instructions! Swedish meatballs are easy to make and incredibly flavourful thanks to their delicious cream gravy. Enjoy them the Swedish way with mashed potatoes or pair them with your favourite veggie side. They come out perfect every time!

We all know them from Ikea. They’re small, they have that unmistakable onion and butter flavour, and they’re served with a delicious cream gravy. They are Sweden’s national dish, the most famous Swedish food in the world. In their homeland they’re known as köttbullar med gräddsås and we’re obviously talking about the Swedish meatballs!

Swedish-style meatballs are incredibly easy to make and only require a bunch of ingredients, really. They freeze wonderfully, being perfect make-ahead lunch options. They are rich and flavourful, and paired with the right side dish they will not disappoint as main course when entertaining! Once you learn to make homemade Swedish meatballs you’ll never buy frozen again.

Swedish meatballs in cream sauce.

Authentic Swedish meatballs

Swedish meatballs are not like any other meatballs. Meatballs exist in many cuisines, and in a way reflect a place’s own flavours and preferences. Think of Middle Eastern meatballs made with ground lamb and flavoured with cumin. Or Italian meatballs drowned in rich tomato sauce. Even the Swedish meatballs have some key qualities that make them unique!

So what’s so special about köttbullar?

  • They are small and perfectly round. Swedish meatballs are rarely large and never flattened. They generally measure about 2,5 cm (1 inch) in diameter and weigh between 15-20 grams.
  • They are fried (in butter). I know healthier versions call for baking them, but real Swedish meatballs are fried. Best if in butter, or in Swedish rapeseed oil.
  • Their main flavour element is onion. Not garlic. Not parsley. No other spice. For true authentic Swedish meatballs the onion is king. And you should be able to taste it.
  • They are firm. As opposite to Italian meatballs, köttbullar are rather firm in texture.
  • Cream gravy, mashed potatoes, preserved lingonberries and a couple sliced pickles are what completes the dish in its most traditional way. But you can enjoy them any way you like.

Small meatballs in cream gravy in a skillet.

Ingredients and substitutions

To make homemade meatballs you will need the following ingredients:

  • Beef and pork mince – if you don’t eat pork you can do just beef, or beef and lamb. For a game meat alternative I recommend venison (check out my venison empanadas!). Salsiccia is not recommended for the added spices as it may change the overall flavour.
  • Egg yolks – use the leftover whites to make honey hazelnut cookies.
  • Shallot – or yellow onion. Alternatively you can use onion powder or onion paste.
  • Breadcrumbs – you can use any type, including gluten-free or panko.
  • Salt & pepper – black pepper preferred, but white works also fine.
  • Oil for frying – or butter if you feel like a true Swedish grandma.

For the Swedish meatballs sauce you will need:

  • Cream – preferably with a whopping min. 30% fat. Oat cream is a great alternative for dairy-free.
  • Beef stock concentrate – liquid or a cube, dissolved in little warm water.
  • Dijon mustard – mustard gives the sauce more flavour, but skip if allergic/don’t like.
  • Worchestershire sauce – can be subbed with soy sauce but halve the amount if you do.

Ground meat surrounded by other ingredients needed for the recipe.

Swedish meatballs recipe step by step

  • Finely mince the shallot. I don’t mind a bit of onion here and there, however if you prefer a smoother finish you can grate the onion or use onion paste or powder.
  • Combine the ground meat, onion, egg yolks, salt and pepper in a bowl. Knead the mixture with your hands until homogeneous, 1 minute.
  • With slightly damp hands take a small amount of mixture at a time and roll into meatballs. To make them all the same size I weigh mine at 15 g each.
  • Set a skillet on medium-high heat and add 4 tbsp oil or butter. When hot, add the meatballs to the pan. Shallow fry for a couple of minutes, then roll the meatballs over to cook the other side. After another couple minutes roll the meatballs again to cook the sides where they look raw. Shallow fry the meatballs until homogeneously cooked and slightly browned for a total time of about 10 minutes.
  • When cooked, turn off the heat. Transfer the meatballs to a plate lined with kitchen paper for the time being. With the help of a spoon remove some of the cooking fat leaving about 2 tbsp in the pan. Some onion bits may have escaped the meatballs as the meat shrank, keep those bits of fried onion for more flavour in the gravy. However if they have burned do remove them.

Frying meatballs in a skillet.

Meatball cream sauce

  • Return the pan to the stove on medium heat and pour all the cream in. In a small bowl aside, mix the water and the stock concentrate, then add to the pan. Stir in the mustard and lastly add the Worchestershire sauce. Stir to combine and keep simmering on medium heat until the sauce thickens, 3-4 minutes.
  • Put the meatballs back into the pan and toss to coat in the cream sauce. Your meatballs are ready to be served!

Swedish meatballs in cream gravy.

Can I freeze the Swedish meatballs?

Yes, Swedish meatballs freeze great both with the sauce or without! If you have some ground meat that needs to be used, Swedish meatballs are a great recipe for it. Just make them, fry them, let cool and store away for up to 3 months.

If you are using fresh ground meat you can even store them raw. Then you just need to thaw them and you can go ahead and cook them. You can even bake them from frozen, but check that their inner temperature reaches 75°C (170°F) before serving. However, if you are using ground meat that had been previously frozen, it is not recommended to freeze them again raw. Cook them- the original way in the pan, or in the oven, then store away.

If you want to make the whole recipe ahead so you can prepare the sauce in the same pan where you fried the meatballs, good news! Once your köttbullar in cream gravy are ready divide them into lunch boxes, let cool and store in the freezer. It makes for the perfect make-ahead lunch as they microwave very well!

Swedish meatballs in cream sauce in a skillet.

Swedish food inspiration

If you’re feeling inspired to make more food from the land of Ikea, here are some more Swedish recipes for you to try:

  • Kladdkaka, Swedish chocolate cake – something between a brownie and a lava cake, kladdkaka is a chocolate cake with a sticky texture loved by kids and adults alike. Made with 7 ingredients and ready in less than 30 minutes, this is a favourite!
  • Skagenröra, Swedish shrimp salad – traditionally used to top buttered toast or baked potato, skagenröra is a mixture of cooked shrimp, cream, mayo and dill. Serve it on small toasties for the perfect appetizer idea!
  • Pepparkakor, Swedish ginger thins – another Ikea food, pepparkakor are the Swedish gingerbread cookies. They are thin and crispy and a favourite for Christmas.
  • Picklad rödlök, Swedish pickled onion – simple pickled red onion perfect to top lots of various dishes and fantastic in burgers!
  • Lussekatter, Swedish saffron buns – another Christmas time recipe from Sweden, Lussekatter are semi-sweet yeast rolls flavoured with ground saffron.
  • BONUS: Renskav, Sami reindeer stew – a reindeer meat recipe from the Sami people from northern Sweden, also made in a cream gravy.

Are there other Swedish recipes you would like to see here on the blog? Let me know in the comments! And don’t forget to pin this Swedish meatballs recipe for later!

Authentic Swedish meatballs recipe traditionally served with cream sauce. Easy to make with step by step instructions, once you learn how to make Swedish meatballs you will never buy frozen again. Plus they freeze great themselves! This is the best recipe for firm meatballs.

 

This recipe was originally posted in February 2018 and has been updated in January 2020 with new photos, better wording and a recipe card.

Swedish meatballs in cream sauce.
5 from 5 votes
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Swedish meatballs in cream sauce

Authentic Swedish meatballs recipe traditionally served with cream sauce. Easy to make with step by step instructions.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Swedish
Keyword ground meat, ikea meatballs, swedish meatballs
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 637 kcal
Author Eva | Electric Blue Food

Ingredients

  • 500 g beef and pork mince
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 shallot
  • 40 g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil for frying
  • 300 ml cream
  • 1 tbsp beef stock concentrate or 1 stock cube
  • 2 tbsp warm water
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce

Instructions

  1. Finely mince the shallot. For a smoother finish you can grate the onion or use onion paste or powder.

  2. Combine the ground meat, onion, egg yolks, salt and pepper in a bowl. Knead the mixture with your hands until homogeneous, 1 minute.

  3. With slightly damp hands take a small amount of mixture at a time and roll into meatballs. To make them all the same size I weigh mine at 15 g each.

  4. Set a skillet on medium-high heat and add 4 tbsp oil or butter. When hot, add the meatballs and shallow fry for a couple of minutes. Roll the meatballs over to cook the other side. After another couple minutes roll the meatballs again to cook the sides where they look raw. Shallow fry the meatballs until homogeneously cooked and slightly browned for a total time of about 10 minutes.

  5. When cooked, turn off the heat. Transfer the meatballs to a plate lined with kitchen paper for the time being. With the help of a spoon remove some of the cooking fat leaving about 2 tbsp in the pan. Keep the onion bits that may have escaped the meatballs as the meat shrank for extra flavour; but discard if burnt.

  6. Return the pan to the stove on medium heat and pour all the cream in. In a small bowl aside, mix the water and the stock concentrate, then add to the pan. Stir in the mustard and lastly add the Worchestershire sauce. Stir to combine and keep simmering on medium heat until the sauce thickens, 3-4 minutes.

  7. Put the meatballs back into the pan and toss to coat in the cream sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes or your favourite veggie side.

Recipe Notes

  • A regular adult portion is 10-12 meatballs together with a vegetable side dish like mashed potatoes. However, if planning to only serve these meatballs with a simpler side dish like a leaf salad, you can count on this recipe yielding 3 portions rather than 4.
  • The nutrition information included in this recipe card is a guideline only and based on a suggested serving size.
Nutrition Facts
Swedish meatballs in cream sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 637 Calories from Fat 459
% Daily Value*
Fat 51g78%
Saturated Fat 22g138%
Cholesterol 278mg93%
Sodium 1616mg70%
Potassium 558mg16%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 33g66%
Vitamin A 1232IU25%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 90mg9%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

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20 Comments

  1. cakespy February 24, 2018 at 14:06

    These sound absolutely wonderful. And yes, I remember the Swedish Chef! Ha! <3

    Reply
    1. Eva February 24, 2018 at 18:14

      Hi Jessie, nice to read you under a non-sweet post 😀 Glad you also enjoy a savoury treat like these meatballs. Well, there is so much cream they could be classified as cake, in all honesty 😀 Thanks for stopping by and sharing the Swedish Chef love!! <3

      Reply
  2. Laura Langley October 13, 2018 at 16:42

    is this 300 g of each beef and pork or 300 grams total?

    Reply
    1. Eva October 13, 2018 at 21:16

      Hi Laura! It’s 300 g total. You could do only beef but I like it better mixed.

      Reply
  3. David Scott Allen January 12, 2021 at 06:34

    Loved the Swedish Chef! Loved all those Muppets!

    The recipe looks fantastic— I can’t wait till I can entertain again and have an excuse to make these.

    Reply
    1. Eva January 12, 2021 at 12:19

      I love the Swedish Chef’s scene where he throws meatballs around like tennis balls!! Hope you get a chance to try these soon!!

      Reply
  4. Sharon January 12, 2021 at 17:13

    5 stars
    Swedish meatballs can take some time to make so that’s why I love this easy meatball recipe whenever I’m craving some creamy comfort food.

    Reply
    1. Eva January 18, 2021 at 21:36

      Thank you Sharon!

      Reply
  5. Jenny January 15, 2021 at 18:51

    5 stars
    Love Swedish meatballs! My absolute favorite comfort dish. I have never made them, my mother in law always makes and brings them over, and we devour them. This is my chance to show off for a change. Thanks so much for the terrific recipe!!

    Reply
    1. Eva January 18, 2021 at 21:35

      Hi Jenny! I’d be curious to know if my recipe can compare to your mother in law’s! Hopefully it does! Good luck with the show off 🙂

      Reply
  6. Naiby January 16, 2021 at 22:50

    5 stars
    Thanks to you, it’s now possible to make these popular Ikea meatballs. The sauce is so enticing. Thanks for this recipe.

    Reply
    1. Eva January 18, 2021 at 21:34

      Thank you Naiby! As you can see Swedish meatballs are really easy to make! Hope you get a chance to try them soon!

      Reply
  7. Amanda January 18, 2021 at 02:29

    5 stars
    These meatballs are delicious! They were so perfectly tender, and the cream sauce was unbelievably delicious. I can’t wait to make them again.

    Reply
    1. Eva January 18, 2021 at 21:32

      Thank you for your kind words Amanda! Glad you enjoyed them!

      Reply
  8. Loreto's Nardelli January 18, 2021 at 04:15

    5 stars
    I laughed because as I read Swedish meatballs I automatically thought Ikea. Funny how that is! Lol.
    I love Swedish meatballs and that cream sauce just so good with mashed potatoes. Yours look perfectly round and all symmetrical. I am already smelling the aroma, it is making my mouth water. Now all I have to do is try your recipe. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Eva January 18, 2021 at 21:30

      Hi Loreto! I know it’s hilarious, but Ikea really takes the credits for exporting them all over the world! Hope you will enjoy my recipe!

      Reply
  9. Nicole January 18, 2021 at 07:02

    I love meatballs but I’ve never made Swedish Meatballs. This recipe looks incredible and so simple. These are truly the perfect comfort food! Pinned for later.

    Reply
    1. Eva January 18, 2021 at 21:29

      Hi Nicole! I really hope you will get a chance to try them!

      Reply
  10. Cindy January 18, 2021 at 09:31

    I love the smaller size of Swedish meatballs and this cream dijon sauce is so delicious! Will be adding this to our regular meal rotation.

    Reply
    1. Eva January 18, 2021 at 21:29

      Wow Cindy I’m honoured to be featured in your meal plans 🙂

      Reply

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