Swedish Meatballs

From More than Meatballs

Swedish meatballs are among the most recognized meatballs in the world, perhaps because they are a popular snack at IKEA, though their fame goes back much earlier, at least to the 1950s and 1960s, when they were a common appetizer in the United States.

Lingonberry Jam Jar Lingonberry Jam is the key element in Swedish Meatballs.

The meatballs themselves are quite simple; it is the gravy and the classic condiment, lingonberry jam, that distinguish them from others. In my version, I use creme fraiche in place of the traditional sour cream to make a more voluptuous but slightly less tangy version. I also use homemade stock. You may use commercial beef broth, though the flavors and texture won’t be as good. To serve these meatballs as a main course, add steamed or roasted potatoes, tossed with plenty of good butter, alongside.

  • Makes about 30 to 36 meatballs


  • For the meatballs:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into very small dice
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup Panko or coarse homemade breadcrumbs (see Note below)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Lingonberry Jam
  • For the gravy:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 3 cups homemade beef stock
  • ¾ cup creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley


  1. Pour enough olive oil to just coat the bottom of a large heavy sauté pan, set over medium low heat, add the onion and sauté until very soft and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes; do not let the onion brown. Season lightly with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and let cool.

  2. Put the beef and pork into a mixing bowl, add the nutmeg, allspice, Panko or breadcrumbs, egg yolks, parsley and cooled onion and mix well with your hands, a large wooden spoon or a vegetable masher. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

  3. Set a baking sheet or large plate next to a clean work surface. Assemble all the ingredients for the gravy.

  4. Remove the meatball mixture from the refrigerator and shape it into small balls, about 1- to 1 ¼ -inches. As you work, set each formed meatball on the baking sheet or platter.

  5. Return the sauté pan to medium heat, add the remaining olive oil and when the pan is hot add some of the meatballs, being careful not to crowd them. Cook the meatballs, carefully turning them frequently so that they keep their shape, until they firm up, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked meatballs back to the sheet pan or plate and continue until all the meatballs have been cooked.

  6. Put the butter into the pan and use a whisk or metal spatula to scrape up bits of meat stuck to the pan. When the butter is foamy, sprinkle in the flour, stir and cook until it takes on a lightly golden brown hue. Season with salt and pepper and slowly whisk in the beef stock. Simmer gently for 3 to 4 minutes, until the gravy begins to thicken. Stir in the creme fraiche or sour cream, taste, correct for salt and pepper and stir in the parsley.

  7. Reduce the heat to low, carefully tip the meatballs into the gravy and jostle the pan to arrange them evenly; turn any that are not fully coated with the sauce. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 3 to minutes.

  8. Remove from the heat, keep covered and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wide shallow serving bowl and serve right away, with the jam alongside.

Note: Panko is a popular brand of Japanese breadcrumbs. If you want to make these meatballs gluten free, check restaurant supply stores near you for the gluten-free version, which comes in 20-pound sacks, perfect for sharing with gluten-free friends.

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