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You have no idea how excited you all got when I mentioned on Instagram that I was developing a Swedish Meatball recipe. I’ve been trying to get it right since I bought back a frozen bag of them from my first ever IKEA trip in 2017 where we had them for lunch and I was mesmerised by the store, and I think after reading hundreds of recipes on the internet I’ve finally got it.
I know most of the recipes I include on this site are of the easy weeknight variety, but this is something that, unless you have a quiet afternoon you keep as a bit of a weekend project. You can’t underestimate the time it takes to shape and fry off tonnes of tiny little meatballs. It is well worth the effort, but perhaps one to save for a rainy Saturday afternoon when it is okay to do it with a cheeky glass of wine in your hand once you’ve got past the messy bit with all that raw meat?
To that end, you can batch cook these meatballs, if you wish. I’ve made this a serves 4 because that is roughly a pack of pork mince and half a pack of beef mince (if your packs don’t fit the measurements exactly just use half the beef and freeze the other half to make two homemade beef burgers later) so you can easily get all the effort out the way now and double it up to use two packs of pork mince and two of beef so you can make a stash of frozen meatballs to simply defrost and gently warm in the sauce and enjoy Swedish meatballs on a weeknight. Just make sure when you’re frying the meatballs off they’re cooked through, and cool them completely too room temperature before freezing.
When it comes to the gravy, the recipe I’ve included below is pretty much to use as a guideline only, I never really use one. However, it should start as a white sauce (flour cooked into butter before liquid is added to it) and you should always used fresh stock, either homemade, from a tub from the supermarket or even one of those rich ones from a can, I’ve tried using a beef stock cube and it just does not cut it (seriously, I spend a lot of time thinking about stock and here it matters!) After that I season to taste with salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce (some recipes call for soy sauce but I just find it a bit overwhelming) before returning the meatballs to the pan. I find different levels of seasoning suit different stocks used, and if there were any brown bits left in the pan from frying off the meatballs. As for the addition of cream, this only happens for me when I have a bit open in the fridge that needs using up. The flour and butter does make it creamy without the need for actual cream.
These easy IKEA-style Swedish Meatballs are really easy to make at home with a traditional gravy, delicious served with mashed potatoes, peas and Swedish lingonberry jam.
For the Swedish Meatballs
1 brown onion
1 large garlic clove
400g (14 oz) pork mince
250g (8 1/2 oz) beef mince
100g (3 1/2 oz) panko breadcrumbs
5 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
mashed potatoes, to serve
green peas, to serve
lingonberry jam, to serve
For the Gravy
50g (1 3/4 oz) unsalted butter
2 tbsp (heaped) plain flour
600ml (2 1/2 cups) fresh chicken or beef stock
2 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
2 tbsp single or double cream (optional)
To make the meatballs, peel and finely chop the onion and the garlic clove before gently frying in 1/2 tbsp of oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat for about 6-8 minutes until soft and golden.
Place the cooked onion and garlic, pork and beef mince, panko breadcrumbs, the egg, milk, salt, nutmeg and a generous amount of black pepper in a large bowl before mixing well with your hands. You want everything combined into a uniform mixture, but you want to avoid scrunching the meat together too much – this will make hard and heavy meatballs.
Using wet hands to help with the shaping, shape the meatball mixture into slightly smaller than average meatballs. You should get around 44. Set aside.
Heat just enough oil to completely cover the bottom of a large frying pan over a medium high until it is shimmering. Fry the meatballs in batches, turning regularly to make sure they’re golden on each side and just cooked through. Work in batches, frying them in a clockwise circle so you can always keep track of how long they’ve been on, setting them to drain on a kitchen towel lined plate to catch any excess oil once they’re done.
Pour any excess oil from the pan and use another piece of kitchen towel to carefully gather up any burnt bits. You can of course start with a new pan or totally wipe it clean, but brown rather than burnt bits will help add flavour to your gravy.
Return the pan to the heat along with the butter and melt until frothy. Add the flour and whisk vigorously for 2 minutes until the flour is nutty brown. Gradually whisk in the stock until you have a smooth, thickening sauce. Add the Worcestershire sauce and season to taste before returning the meatballs to the sauce, stirring so that they’re all coated in the gravy. Leave them on the heat for 5 minutes or so until heated through. Stir through the cream and a little more water, stock or even milk if you need it to loosen the sauce. Check the seasoning again before serving alongside mashed potatoes, boiled peas and a good dollop of lingonberry jam.
I'm a food writer living in London and the English Countryside. Welcome to my online diary where I share easy, weeknight recipes, foodie travel diaries and some of the best places I've eaten out recently.
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