These heavenly Swedish Meatballs are a homemade version of the iconic Ikea meatballs. They’re a whole lot easier than assembling flat-pack furniture, that’s for sure! Extra-soft and juicy, with a dash of classic spices like allspice, they’re smothered with the bread-mop-worthy sauce.
I’m that person who goes into Ikea just to pick up tea lights, only to emerge 2 hours later with all sorts of useful organisation solutions, looking for a problem to solve.
I’m also that person who confidently puts together Ikea furniture (I’m a chartered accountant! I can do this!), only to worryingly end up with one leftover screw or bracket. Thankfully, none of my Ikea furniture has come tumbling down (yet), so now I have a theory that Ikea throws an extra piece into every flatpack just to mess with us.😂
As for their meatballs? Flatpack shopping is hard work. I can’t blame anyone who needs a pick-me-up after making it out the other end of the Ikea maze.
But once you’ve tried homemade Swedish Meatballs, you’ll never order these at the Ikea cafe ever again!
What’s so special about Swedish Meatballs?
If you’re wondering what’s so special about Swedish Meatballs, or what they taste like, close your eyes and imagine this: incredibly soft meatballs, made extra juicy by using a combination of both pork and beef and soaked bread instead of breadcrumbs, lightly spiced with just a touch of nutmeg and all spice that gives it the signature Swedish flavour, smothered in a creamy gravy that is absolutely to-die-for.
These are meatballs unlike any other – and regular readers know I have a very big soft spot for my favourite Italian Meatballs.
But I’d go as far to say that if you aren’t a regular maker of meatballs for whatever reason (pain to roll them, don’t like mixing meat with your hands etc etc), but you have the inclination to make ONE meatball recipe, make it these Swedish Meatballs.
You won’t regret it. I promise.
What goes in Swedish Meatballs
Here’s what you need to make the Swedish Meatballs.
Beef AND pork – the beef gives it flavour, the pork gives it juiciness and tenderness;
Bread – the secret to extra soft meatballs! Far more effective than breadcrumbs;
Nutmeg and All Spice – the signature spicing, just a small, subtle amount. All Spice is a particular type of spice made from a plant called Pimenta dioica. It smells like cloves. It’s a common spice found in normal supermarkets, and costs no more than usual spices. Best substitute is Mixed Spice.
Beef stock/broth and cream – for the creamy gravy;
Flour – to thicken the gravy;
Egg – for binding the meatballs together.
How to make Swedish Meatballs
Here’s how to make them:
FIRST, chop up sandwich bread, the soak in grated onion. This is a secret tip for ultra soft, extra tasty meatballs. Grating onion = no need to pan fry chopped onion AND extracts onion juices which soaks the bread, which later puffs up inside the meatballs as they cook, creating ultra soft meatballs!
How I roll meatballs
And here’s how I roll meatballs. It’s the fastest method I’ve been able to come up with!
Use an ice cream scooper with a lever to scoop up the mixture. Standard size is 3 tablespoons – I use slightly less than the scoop (3 tablespoons is quite large);
Scoop and dollop all the mixture;
THEN roll them all;
Voila! Even size meatballs, rolled relatively quickly!
Sauce for Swedish Meatballs
The sauce for Swedish Meatballs is a creamy gravy that is made with butter, beef broth/stock, thickened with flour and made creamy with cream.
But the most important flavour for the a really good creamy gravy is the pan drippings after searing the meatballs. All the brown stuff left in the pan after browning the meatballs adds incredible flavour into the gravy, which is why baking these meatballs is not an option!!!
What to serve with Swedish Meatballs
The Swedish Meatball eating experience is incomplete without creamy Mashed Potato. You need the mash so you can savour every last drop of that wickedly delicious creamy gravy.
Having said that though, rice, noodles or pasta are adequate fall backs, or some bread for mopping up the sauce (try this easy Artisan bread, or emergency No Yeast Sandwich Bread). And if you’re really trying to cut down on carbs, Creamy Mashed Cauliflower is your answer!
If you start now, you’ll have these on the table in less than hour. Are you ready for the most sinfully delectable meatballs you’ve ever had in your life?? – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
This recipe features in my debut cookbook Dinner. The book is mostly new recipes, but this is a reader favourite included by popular demand!
Swedish Meatballs (homemade Ikea Meatballs)
- 2 slices white sandwich bread , crusts removed, chopped into small cubes (Note 1)
- 1 onion , small (brown, white or yellow)
- 300g / 10 oz ground beef (mince)
- 300g / 10 oz ground pork (mince) , or sub with more beef (Note 2)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg , preferably freshly grated
- 1/4 tsp All Spice powder (Note 3)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp oil
- 40g / 3 tbsp butter , unsalted
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 cups beef broth/stock (salt reduced), or sub with chicken
- 1/2 cup heavy / thickened cream (Note 4)
- Grate onion using a standard box grater (see video).
- Scrape onion and juices into bowl. Add bread and mix well – onion juice should make bread soggy (if not, add a tiny splash of milk). Set aside to soak for 1 minute.
- Add remaining Meatball ingredients EXCEPT oil. Mix well.
- Using a tablespoon measure and measure out a heaped tablespoon (or use ice cream scooper which is what I do), dollop on work surface. Repeat with remaining mixture: 25 – 30 meatballs. Then roll into shape.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add half the meatballs and brown all over (but raw inside still) – about 3 minutes. Remove onto plate, then brown the remaining batch.
- If there is lots of oil, pour off excess and discard. Lower heat to medium.
- Add butter into skillet and melt. Add flour and stir in. Cook for 1 minute.
- While mixing, add about 1/4 of the beef broth – it will thicken quickly. Then gradually add remaining beef broth, stirring as you go. Switch to whisk if required to make it lump free.
- When the liquid is simmering, add meatball and juices pooled on plate.
- Turn up heat slightly to keep it at a rapid simmer. Cook for 8 – 10 minutes or until the liquid thickens into a thin gravy, stirring occasionally.
- Add cream, simmer for a further 2 minutes then remove from stove.
Originally published January 2017. Post updated 13 May 2020 with improved videos, plus ingredients and step photos added. No change to recipe, it’s perfect as is!!!
Life of Dozer
Dozer – I love you, but if you bump that tripod while I’m filming, you will be in a LOT of trouble!!
And from the original publication date:
Trying to negotiate with Dozer using a Swedish Meatball…..