The Best Swedish Meatballs

The best Swedish meatballs are made from scratch with an easy homemade gravy. Make a huge batch of meatballs and keep them in the freezer for a quick meal!

I used to worry that no one would bother to make meatballs from scratch on a weeknight.

But then I realized that if a recipe is good enough, you might make them on a weekend, freeze them, and pull them out on your busiest weeknights.

The best Swedish meatballs are made from scratch with an easy homemade gravy. Make a huge batch of meatballs and keep them in the freezer for a quick meal!

So that’s my goal here: Make some AMAZING meatballs from scratch, when you have the time, and save them for when you need them the most. Which for me is always. I always need Swedish meatballs!

Cook’s Illustrated recommends mixing the meat in a standing mixer. While I think that’s fun and relaxing, I usually just mix everything by hand. No big deal.

Start with your binding agents first: egg, cream, and bread. Mash it together to make a paste. Then, add in both ground beef and ground pork, some grated onion, and spices.

I always bake my meatballs on a rack set over a baking sheet. It’s cleaner (no spattering mess on your stove top), it’s convenient (no baby-sitting or flipping meatballs), and it’s effective (you get even all-over browning).

The best Swedish meatballs are made from scratch with an easy homemade gravy. Make a huge batch of meatballs and keep them in the freezer for a quick meal!

At this point, you can either move on to making the gravy and immediately devouring the meatballs, or your can freeze them.

To prepare the meatballs for the freezer, make enough space in your freezer to accommodate a baking sheet (I always use the smallest one I have). You want to freeze the meatballs individually so they don’t stick together. After 30 minutes or so, you can transfer them to a freezer-safe container.

The gravy is FAST, ready in about 10 minutes. If you are cooking the meatballs straight from the freezer (which is what I always do), allow another 10 minutes to heat them through.

The best Swedish meatballs are made from scratch with an easy homemade gravy. Make a huge batch of meatballs and keep them in the freezer for a quick meal!

I love eating Swedish Meatballs with either mashed potatoes or egg noodles. SO GOOD. Lingonberries are hard to track down, so I always substitute cranberries. I make them from scratch when cranberries are in season. Otherwise, you’ll have to crack open a can.

Swedish Meatballs are definitely the ultimate comfort food!

The best Swedish meatballs are made from scratch with an easy homemade gravy. Make a huge batch of meatballs and keep them in the freezer for a quick meal!

Save these Swedish Meatballs to your “Dinners” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

The best Swedish meatballs are made from scratch with an easy homemade gravy. Make a huge batch of meatballs and keep them in the freezer for a quick meal!
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The Best Swedish Meatballs

The best Swedish meatballs are made from scratch with an easy homemade gravy. Make a huge batch of meatballs and keep them in the freezer for a quick meal!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 694 kcal

Ingredients

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 slice white sandwich bread
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Gravy:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon beef base
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Mashed potatoes or cooked egg noodles for serving
  • Cranberries for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and set a rack coated with oil or nonstick spray on top.

  2. In a large bowl, mash together egg, cream, and bread until a smooth paste forms. Add beef, pork, onion, allspice, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

  3. Mix well using a strong rubber spatula or your hands (I always wear latex gloves). Or, combine all ingredients in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment and mix until uniformly combined.

  4. Using wet hands, roll heaping tablespoons of the meat mixture into balls. Arrange on racks and bake until browned with crispy edges, about 20 minutes (an internal thermometer should read 155 degrees for 15 seconds).

  5. To freeze the meatballs, arrange meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet, not touching. Freeze until solid, about 1 hour, then transfer to a freezer-safe container. 

  6. To make the gravy, in a large skillet, melt butter until the foaming subsides. Stir in flour and cook for one minute.

  7. Add chicken broth, brown sugar, and beef base (if using). Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes until reduced to about 2 cups.

  8. Stir in heavy cream and return to a simmer. Add frozen meatballs, cover and cook until the meatballs reach an internal temperature of 155ºF and the gravy has thickened (allow about 10 minutes if the meatballs are frozen). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  9. Serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles and cranberries (or lingonberries, if you can find them).

Recipe Notes

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated January & February 2009  edition (Real Swedish Meatballs) .

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10 comments

  1. Holy moly! This will give the IKEA food court a run for it’s money! :) 

  2. Oh, tell me again of those pre-kid days…dreamy sigh. I mean, kids are good and all, but danged if they don’t suck up every minute of every day. I defnitely need more kid-friendly (and time-friendly!) recipes in my life!

  3. It goes without saying that this recipe is a winner in my eyes, Meggan. I love how you’ve simplified the recipe. Hey, why not? 

    Thanks for mentioning my version in your post! (but I’m not sure my recipe is all that authentic either!) Authentic doesn’t matter one bit, I don’t think – so long as it’s tasty and easy to make, and this sure ticks both those boxes!

    • Hello my dear Helen! You know me, always looking for lazy short cuts. :) But your recipe really is the ultimate. I for sure love making the meatballs from scratch, and when I do, your my source! xoxo

  4. I’m trying this recipe now my gravy doesn’t seem to be getting thick, will it thicken as is cooks?

    • Hi Kim, I usually let the gravy simmer to evaporate extra liquid if I don’t think it’s thick enough, but otherwise it generally thickens as it cools. I realize you are probably done by now so I hope it turned out okay (or at least tasted good). I am going to add some more notes about the recipe, I think it helps if your chicken broth is on the cooler side rather than the warm side (chilled broth, even). But, I realize the recipe isn’t written that way yet. I think it might help though. I will retest and update the recipe. I hope it worked out okay for you and I’m sorry for the issue!

  5. Can you make this ahead of time and freeze it?

  6. Hi Meggan .. Wondering if you ever made with beef broth instead of the chicken. If so does it give it a completely different taste

    • Hi Diane, I have not made it with beef broth. I imagine it would taste great, maybe a little stronger depending on the broth you used. I will have to try it that way next time so I can update the recipe with the info. Good question. Thank you!

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