Swedish Meatballs

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Smothered in a rich and creamy gravy and made with comforting fall spices, this Swedish Meatball recipe is sure to warm your soul during the upcoming chilly weather.

Truly, Swedish meatballs served with the typical mashed potatoes or soft egg noodles are a meal that brings everyone together — perfect for the holiday season!

Swedish meatballs and gravy over a beg of noodles in a white bowl.

Maybe it’s the warm spices. Or perhaps it’s the savory and buttery gravy. Whatever it is, this Swedish meatball recipe is oh-so comforting.

It’s a great weeknight meal to throw together after a long day at the office. And it’s also a delicious dish to serve to dinner guests visiting from out of town. Just be sure to make plenty — your guests will likely ask for seconds!

As you may (or may not) know, meatballs aren’t only for spaghetti. Like this Swedish meatball recipe, many dishes use meatballs in unique ways.

Check out my Skinny BBQ Turkey Meatballs & Mash, Chicken Meatballs with Honey Garlic Sauce, and Pork Meatball and Wild Rice Soup

ingredients for Swedish meatballs on a table.

Key ingredients & substitutions for the Best Swedish Meatballs

  • Unsalted butter | This recipe uses plenty of butter for several steps. You’ll use unsalted butter to sauté the onions, brown the meatballs, and flavor the gravy. 
  • Onion | The onion adds flavor to the Swedish meatballs. However, you may leave them out if you prefer.
  • Breadcrumbs | Use breadcrumbs to add bulk to the meatball mixture and create a softer texture. Choose panko breadcrumbs or whatever style is your favorite.
  • Milk | Add milk to the breadcrumbs to soften them, bringing moisture to the tasty meatballs.
  • Ground beef and ground pork | A combination of ground beef and ground pork create a delicious meatball. If desired, you can use one or the other or add ground veal to the mixture.
  • Parsley | Sprinkle the meatball mixture with freshly chopped Italian parsley. 
  • Spices | Warm spices, like nutmeg and allspice, are the secret to the unique taste of these meatballs.
  • Flour | Add some all-purpose flour for thickness when creating the creamy gravy.
  • Beef broth | Savory beef broth is the base of the tasty gravy. If desired, you can replace the beef broth with chicken broth. However, you should expect the overall flavor to differ.
  • Heavy cream | Create a velvety and divine sauce by adding heavy cream. If preferred, you may substitute the heavy cream with tangy sour cream.
  • Soy sauce | In the flavorful gravy, soy sauce lends a rich taste. Similar recipes call for Worcestershire sauce instead. So, feel free to swap this ingredient if you’d like.
  • Dijon mustard | For subtle spice and a kick of flavor, add a tiny bit of Dijon mustard to the Swedish meatball gravy.

How to make Swedish Meatballs Smothered in Savory Gravy

All you need to make these delicious Swedish meatballs is one mixing bowl, a serving dish, and a single large skillet. You’ll have a tasty and fragrant meal in no time at all!

STEP 1 | Preheat and prep

Get ready to create these tasty Swedish meatballs by first preheating the oven to 250 degrees. Next, prep the veggies by dicing the onion and chopping the Italian parsley. Then, you’re all set to dive into this recipe.

pouring milk over breadcrumbs in a bowl to soften.

STEP 2 | Cook the onions

First, grab a large nonstick skillet and set the stove to medium heat. Toss in some butter to melt, and add the onions and a pinch of salt.

Next, sauté the diced onions for about 5 minutes. You’ll know they are done cooking when they are soft and tender.

ingredients in a bowl of Swedish meatballs.

STEP 3 | Soften the breadcrumbs

While the onions are cooking, add the breadcrumbs and some milk to a large mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients and set the bowl aside, allowing the breadcrumbs to absorb the milk and soften.

uncooked Swedish meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet.

STEP 4 | Make the meatballs

Once you finish sautéing the onions, transfer them to the same mixing bowl containing the breadcrumbs and milk.

You’ll also toss in the remaining meatball ingredients — ground beef, ground pork, nutmeg, allspice, salt, pepper, and parsley. Next, lightly beat the egg and add it to the mixing bowl. 

Now, for the fun and messy part! Use your hands to combine all the tasty ingredients. That’s right — dig your hands in there and mix and mash until everything is thoroughly combined.

Of course, you may use a rubber spatula if you prefer, or use the paddle attachment on your stand mixer — but only mix a few seconds until the ingredients are combined.

However, it’s always easier to use your hands — and the meatballs will be more tender. Now it’s time to form the meatball mix into small balls, about 1.5 inches.

cooked Swedish meatballs in a skillet; whisking flour and butter together.

STEP 5 | Cook the Swedish meatballs

If you use your hands to form the meatballs, you’ll want to scrub and wash them well before moving on with the recipe.

Next, melt some butter in the same skillet you used to cook the onions. Set the heat to medium-high. Cook the meatballs in the melted butter until each is brown on all sides. This may take about 7 to 10 minutes. Be sure to turn them as you go. 

Then, transfer the meatballs to a serving dish. While making the gravy, keep the meatballs warm by placing the serving dish in the preheated oven.

STEP 6 | Start making the gravy

Now, drain off all but two tablespoons of the drippings from the skillet you just used to cook the meatballs. Next, add the last four tablespoons of fresh butter to the pan.

Once melted, evenly sprinkle the flour into the skillet. Then, cook the flour and butter, stirring for about one minute. Slowly pour in the beef broth while constantly whisking the ingredients.

Be careful not to splash the broth into the hot pan.


  • When cooking the meatballs, you will likely not have room in the single pan to cook all the meatballs at once. I suggest working in batches to ensure all are cooked evenly.
  • Cooking the ingredients in the same skillet blends all the flavors and saves you some dishes — it’s a win-win situation!
pouring beef broth into gravy for Swedish meatballs.

STEP 7 | Complete the gravy, combine, and serve!

The recipe is almost finished! Just add the heavy cream, soy sauce, and dijon mustard to the skillet. Then, cook for about 4 minutes while continuously stirring. The gravy is complete when it has a thick consistency. 

Finally, pour the savory gravy over the meatballs. Serve this dish while it’s still hot over buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Frequently asked questions

How are Swedish meatballs different from other meatballs?

For one, you’ll certainly taste the difference. However, the answer to this question depends on what meatballs you compare to these delicious Swedish meatballs.

If you’re curious about how Swedish meatballs differ from the common Italian meatball for classic spaghetti, there’s a pretty big contrast in flavor. Italian meatballs are often made with parmesan cheese and garlic, while Swedish meatballs are seasoned with allspice and nutmeg. 

Furthermore, Italian meatballs are typically served on spaghetti noodles and topped with a tomato-based sauce. Swedish meatballs can be served on top of mashed potatoes or egg noodles and smothered with a creamy white sauce.

Can you make this recipe ahead of time?

Swedish meatballs are an excellent dish to prepare ahead of time and save yourself the hassle at dinner time. Make the meatballs, cover them, and store them in the refrigerator for up to two days. When you’re ready, continue the recipe as directed.

You can also complete the entire recipe, leaving the sauce separate from the meatballs. This will store well in the refrigerator for about three days and in the freezer for three months. Though, if you are freezing this recipe, it is best to skip the gravy altogether and make it fresh before serving.

Are there more tips for making the perfect meatballs?

Absolutely! Meatballs aren’t necessarily a tricky food to make. However, there are some pro tips to get the best results. First, ensure you do not overmix the meatball ingredients. This can cause the meatballs to be extra dense and tough once cooked.

For this particular recipe, I suggest not omitting the warm spices that boost the flavor of the meatballs and give them that iconic Swedish meatball flavor. Also, when forming the balls, use water to wet your hands. This will help you create a smooth and perfect sphere. 

And finally, remember not to overcrowd the skillet when cooking the meatballs. When there are too many in the pan, the meatballs tend to steam rather than brown, making a difference in the texture.

Swedish meatballs in a skillet with gravy and garnished with chopped parsley.

Serving suggestions

This dish is so flavorful you can even serve the delectable Swedish meatballs all on their own. You may also pair them with seasoned and steamed veggies, fluffy mashed potatoes, or buttery egg noodles.

If you want to go the traditional route, serve these Swedish meatballs with lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes.

On the other hand, perhaps you want to try something different. My Woodshed Potatoes or Redskin Mashed Potatoes deliciously combine with the Swedish meatball flavors.

Swedish meatballs with gravy over a bowl of egg noodles.

Behind the recipe: Swedish Meatballs

Believe it or not, Swedish meatballs did not originate from Sweden. You’re not alone if you feel totally fooled. In fact, when IKEA fans discovered this fascinating truth, it made BIG news on social media.

If you didn’t already know, the famous and successful furniture store, IKEA, sells Swedish meatballs in its café. Dedicated and passionate IKEA fans love them. So, people were certainly thrown through a loop when the truth was revealed.

While Swedish meatballs are commonly served in Sweden, they were based on a recipe from Turkey. Sometime in the 18th century, King Charles XII brought them back from a visit to Turkey, and clearly, the country fell in love with the recipe’s unique and rich flavor. Now, Swedish meatballs are enjoyed as a casual weeknight meal and even on important holidays.

Swedish meatballs and gravy over a beg of noodles in a white bowl.

Swedish Meatballs

Smothered in a rich and creamy gravy and made with comforting fall spices, this Swedish Meatball recipe is sure to warm your soul during the upcoming chilly weather.
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 604 kcal


  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 1 ½ cups soft breadcrumbs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large egg slightly beaten
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard


  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and tender.
  • In the meantime, add the breadcrumbs and milk to a large mixing bowl and allow to soften.
  • Once the onions are ready, transfer them to the mixing bowl along with the ground beef, ground pork, nutmeg, allspice, salt, pepper, parsley, and egg. Use your hands or a rubber spatula to combine all the ingredients, then form into small 1 1/2-inch balls.
  • Melt another 2 tablespoons of the butter in the skillet over medium hight heat. Working in batches, if needed, cook the meatballs in the butter, turning to brown on all sides, for 7 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Transfer the meatballs to a serving dish and keep warm in the preheated oven.
  • Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of the drippings from the skillet. Add the remaining butter to the skillet and once melted, evenly sprinkle in the flour. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, then slowly add in the beef broth whisking constantly.
  • Next, add the cream, soy sauce, and dijon mustard. Continue cooking and stirring until the gravy is thickened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Pour the gravy over the meatballs and serve immediately over buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes.


  • When cooking the meatballs, you will likely not have room in the single pan to cook all the meatballs at once. I suggest working in batches to ensure all are cooked evenly.
  • Cooking the ingredients in the same skillet blends all the flavors and saves you some dishes—it’s a win-win situation!


Calories: 604kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 25gFat: 49gSaturated Fat: 24gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 176mgSodium: 1435mgPotassium: 506mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1074IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 123mgIron: 3mg

Life Love and Good Food does not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Nutritional information shared on this site is only an estimate. We recommend running the ingredients through an online nutritional calculator if you need to verify any information.

Keyword comfort food, dinner tonight, family dinner, gravy, meatballs
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was.
Sheila Thigpen, blogger

About Sheila Thigpen

Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer

Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.

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  1. 5 stars
    I hadn’t had Swedish Meatballs for years and made them for our Sunday dinner. This recipe was definitely better than the one I loved years ago and your tips made it so easy to follow.

  2. 5 stars
    My husband LOVED these!! HE’s a huge fan of Swedish meatballs and these were given two thumbs up!

  3. 5 stars
    These Swedish meatballs in creamy gravy are the ultimate comfort food meal! My whole family loves them, and they’re going to be on permanent meal rotation now. Thanks for the little history lesson, too. I had no idea “Swedish meatballs” originated in Turkey!

  4. 5 stars
    My entire family LOVED these meatballs. So much so that we had very few leftovers! The kids went back for seconds. That’s a HUGE win, and we’ll definitely make these again!

  5. 5 stars
    I love going to IKEA just for the incredible hostess gifts that I can there but I do love some meatballs. Now, these are WAY BETTER than theirs for sure. My kids couldn’t stop eating them and requested a double batch next time!

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