Swedish Meatballs (Svenska Köttbullar with Lingonberries)
I am constantly amazed at how much flavor can be packed into such a simple thing like a meatball! Our favorite of all meatballs (and one of our top favorite comfort food meals!) are these Swedish Meatballs (Svenska Köttbullar with Lingonberries)!! Or ‘Mom’s Meatballs’ as they are called in their native country, where they are always made with staple ingredients and a whole lot of love.
Over the years of making our best and favorite Swedish Meatballs recipe, we have tried many different tweaks in the ingredient quantities and methodology. Still, we have found that our best results have come from staying true to some of the traditional ingredients and methods of making these flavor-packed meatballs!
Even in Sweden, these meatballs (aka Köttbullar med gräddsås – meatballs with cream sauce) are made with varying recipes anywhere you go, but there are a few things that are a common theme among Mom’s best meatball recipes.
Here are several of the key items that make your traditional Swedish Meatballs so darn yummy!
- A blend of both pork and beef are used for the ‘meat’ in Swedish meatballs…and yes, we are using just beef in today in our video and the photos shared in this recipe post. The pork and beef blend tastes better, in my opinion, but I happened to get hold of some lingonberries and knew I needed to make these meatballs right now despite having only ground beef on hand and ready to use. Veal or venison are also used in some recipes.
- Grated onion is used in the meatball ingredients, rather than chopped, diced, or minced onion. I say it all the time, that I prefer not to bite into raw portions of onion but in this case it’s not just about my preferences. Gasp! It’s true, this method of grating the onion is preferred for making the best Swedish meatballs ever! Alternatively, if grated onion isn’t used, the chopped onion is usually pan fried in butter (an extra step that we skip).
- Milk soaked white bread or white breadcrumbs is one of the core components of authentic Swedish meatballs. Bread crumbs are a popular substitute, but if available do use the real deal. The milk soaked bread adds moisture and gives the Swedish meatball it’s trademark soft consistency.
- Don’t forget the allspice! One of the flavor essentials in making traditional Swedish meatballs is the seasoning. You can’t get these meatballs right without a touch of allspice.
A few interesting facts: Köttbullar is Sweden’s national dish! Swedish Meatballs became in international hit thanks the the ‘Swedish Chef’ on the Muppets!
*Be sure that there is enough room between your meatballs when pan frying so that they fry up correctly (fry in batches, if necessary). If there are too many meatballs packed into your skillet or frying pan, they end up steamed rather than fried!
**Traditionally served with potato puree or boiled potatoes, with fresh lingonberries on the side, we like to serve our Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and some lingonberry jam!
Watch Swedish Meatballs Recipe on my Bake It With Love YouTube Channel
Last Updated: January 2nd, 2018
Swedish Meatballs (Svenska Köttbullar with Lingonberries)
- 2 slices white bread (hand torn, or use white breadcrumbs or panko)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 lb lean ground beef (recommend a blend of 50/50 pork and beef)
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1/4 cup white onion (grated is best - if using chopped onion, saute with a tsp of butter until translucent before adding to meatball mixture)
- 2 Tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
- 1/4 tsp each, salt & pepper (to taste)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
- 5 Tbsp butter (divided - 1 Tbsp & 4 Tbsp portions)
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard (coarse ground)
- 2 Tbsp lingonberry jam (or fresh lingonberries)
- Place the ground beef (or both beef and pork) in a medium mixing bowl. Next, place white bread slices in a small bowl and cover with milk, then allow to soak briefly (about a minute).
- Squeeze excess milk out of soaked bread - gently, don't squeeze all of the moisture out! Hand tear the bread slices into chunks, placing the pieces into the mixing bowl with the ground beef.
- Add freshly grated nutmeg and crushed whole allspice (if available). Grate the onion into the bowl (I like to let any of the onion juice drip into the bowl, which is why I grate directly into my meatball mixture).
- Add the chopped fresh parsley and remaining seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic powder) and the egg. Combine thoroughly.
- Divide meat into 12 portions (for larger 2" meatballs) and roll in your palms until well rounded. Be sure to press together gently so that the meatballs hold up well during cooking. Place formed meatballs on a damp plate (to prevent sticking to the plate).
- Fry the meatballs in a large skillet or frying pan. Bring the olive oil and the one tablespoon pat of butter to medium high heat and place the meatballs in the frying pan (leaving room between the meatballs).
- Cook the meatballs, turning until all sides are browned and they are cooked completely through. Remove from the frying pan and transfer to a plate (cover with aluminum foil, or transfer to a bowl with a lid - keep the meatballs covered so they retain their moisture).
- Melt the remaining 4 Tbsp of butter and add the all-purpose flour, whisking the flour mixture while the liquids are added. Add the beef broth in small amounts, whisking into the pan drippings and flour mixture until all of the beef broth is added and the gravy is smooth.
- Whisk in the heavy cream, then the coarse ground Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper, if needed. Finally, add the lingonberry jam (or fresh lingonberries - cranberries have a similar taste and can work almost as well) and whisk to combine.
- Return the cooked meatballs to the gravy in your frying pan or skillet, top with additional fresh chopped parsley (if desired) and bring the sauce to a simmer. Turn the meatballs while sauce simmers and thickens. Allow to simmer 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.