Swedish Meatballs

Meatballs with cream sauce (köttbullar med gräddsås)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Medium
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You might’ve seen them on the Muppets or tasted them at IKEA, but Swedish meatballs really are a thing. This delicious Scandinavian recipe goes great with potatoes and lingonberry jam.

Serving suggestion:

  • Plate it up with mashed or boiled potatoes and lingonberry jam to create the ultimate Swedish flavour combination.
  • Some people enjoy Swedish meatballs (köttbullar) on their own without any sauce (e.g. when they’re part of a smorgasbord buffet) so you can always give this a go too.


For the meatballs:

  • 4 tbsp of breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp of milk
  • 225g of pork mince (8 oz)
  • 225g of veal or beef mince (8 oz)
  • 2 tbsp of grated onion
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 3 or 4 whole allspice (crushed)
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp of butter — for frying

For the cream sauce:

  • 300ml of hot water (1¼ cups)
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 tbsp of plain all-purpose flour
  • 100ml of milk (7 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp of soy sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp of cream


  1. In a large bowl, add 4 tablespoons of milk to the breadcrumbs and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes — this should help it absorb the liquid.
  2. Mix in the mince, grated onion, egg, allspice and seasoning until it’s evenly mixed. You can use your hands or a wooden spoon for this part.
  3. Take a tablespoon of the mixture and shape into a ball. Continue this until you’ve used all the mixture (at which point you should have around 30 to 40 meatballs). Alternatively, you can make them bigger, it’ll just reduce the number of meatballs.
  4. Add butter to the frying pan and heat it on medium-high until the butter stops sizzling.
  5. Fry the meatballs until they are nicely browned (you may need to turn them over while cooking). Then turn down the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes.

    Tip: you might find it easier to cook the meatballs in two batches as there likely won’t be enough room in the frying pan to evenly cook them all at once.

  6. Remove the meatballs from the pan and pop some foil over them to keep them warm until you’re ready to serve.
  7. Take the pan (you’ve just been cooking in) off the heat and pour in some warm water. Use a spoon to mix up all the residue left behind from the meatballs and then pop it back on the heat, bring it to the boil and let it simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Sieve the mixture into another saucepan, then stir in the stock cube until it dissolves.
  9. In a bowl, mix the flour with the milk and stir until it dissolves. Pour this mixture into the saucepan, whisking continuously as you do so. Let the sauce simmer for 5 minutes.
  10. Lastly, add the soy sauce and cream, and heat it for another couple of minutes, stirring throughout with a wooden spoon.

Background: Swedish meatballs

Swedish meatballs actually originate from Turkey, where they’re known as ‘köfte’. 

It’s widely believed that this iconic dish is based on a recipe that King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the 18th century. (Apparently he also brought coffee home with him on this trip too — thanks Charles!)

The first recorded mention of this Scandinavian recipe was in the 1754 Swedish cookbook by Cajsa Warg. Since then, Swedish meatballs have become a nation-wide favourite, with many different recipe variations floating around — every family has their own special way of cooking them!

Over time, Swedish meatballs and their delicious sauce have made their way onto the global stage, appearing in iconic scenes with the Swedish Chef from the Muppets and into the hearts of people all around the world in the IKEA restaurants.

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