Monica, Your Travel Gal
Mostly Authentic Swedish Meatballs Recipe
UPDATED: Dec 2022! A friend of mine asked me for this recipe and I thought it would make a good blog post! I am still working on making the sauce taste right so I will probably come back and tweak it a bit later. I used to have a recipe about 25 years ago that I found somewhere when I was first married to my Swedish husband. You know, I wanted to be a good wife and cook him something that reminded him of home. He told me it was good but it wasn't really authentic.
Since we have been home a lot this year, I decided to try my hand at making it again. Since I had lost that recipe I used so long ago, I asked my husband if he knew of a good recipe I could use. We looked online but didn't find one that seemed right to us. Then, we started pulling out our recipe books and we found my husband's old cookbook called "Bonniers Big Cookbook". This cookbook is quite beat up and old but it had lots of basic cooking instructions, what cooking implements to use, basic cooking instructions and so on. It reminded me of my old "Better Homes & Gardens" recipe book that I got when I first moved out. We looked up the "Meatballs with Cream Sauce" recipe and he translated it for me. Of course, I have modified it slightly to fit our needs but if you want the original translation, skip to the bottom.
It takes a bit of time to prepare and cook but I have found that having two frying pans going at the same time helps move things along faster. I also have my daughter or husband to help me so that speeds things up as well. My daughter/husband's job is rolling meatballs while I cook them. They recommend spraying/rubbing your hands with some oil first so the meat won't stick as much to your hands. Hopefully, you will have some help too or set aside enough time to do it all on your own.
My version serves about 5-6 people but it depends on how hungry your family is.
MEAT BALL INGREDIENTS
1.3 lbs ground beef
1 lb ground pork or turkey
1 egg (or equivalent in egg replacer)
1 cup whipping cream/milk/water (or almond/oat milk -- may need more)
1/4 cup freeze dried onions
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup mashed potato flakes
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Pinch black ground pepper (add more if you like it spicer)
1 tsp grillkrydda (can substitute ground allspice or BBQ seasoning)
1-2 tsp garlic paste (optional)
Chopped fresh parley (handful for meat mixture & small handful to garnish sauce)
2-4 T butter/margarine/oil
2-3 T flour (depends on fat in pan)
1 cup whipping cream/milk/water (or almond/oat milk)
1 cup beef or chicken stock
1 T dijon mustard (adds flavor)
White pepper (to taste)
Soy sauce (to taste & for color)
Few sprinkles of Worcestershire sauce (optional, adds color & flavor)
Salt (to taste)
Large bowl (for mixing meatballs)
Two frying pans
Large bowl (to hold cooked meatballs)
Fine mesh strainer (for sifting flour)
In a large mixing bowl, soak breadcrumbs, onions & potatoes in cream/milk/water for about 5-10 mins (helps meatballs stay moist)
Crack an egg into breadcrumb mixture and mix well
Add grillkrydda, garlic, a handful of chopped parsley, salt and pepper to breadcrumb mixture
Add meat and mix together with your hands (don't overmix!)
Heat your frying pans over medium high heat to melt the oil/butter/margarine (use enough butter to fry in but not drown)
Test a tiny portion of meat in a frying pan to test out your flavors
Adjust the seasoning as needed
Form into small meatballs about 1" wide (I use a small ice cream scoop for more consistent sizing)
Turn down the heat to medium to start cooking your meatballs
Fry meatballs until brown, using tongs or shaking the pan to keep them cooking evenly
Remove meatballs from frying pan when browned & keep warm (a large bowl with a foil tent)
After all the meatballs are done cooking, you can add more butter to pan if you want to make extra gravy (we never seem to have enough)
Make sure and scrape up the browned bits as it adds to the flavor of the sauce
Take the frying pans off heat or turn off the heat
Sift flour over juices/butter in the pan and make sure all fat is absorbed
Turn heat back to med heat and add stock slowly until all flour is dissolved
Use a whisk to make sure there are no lumps
Slowly add milk/cream and mustard
Increase heat slightly & boil until the sauce thickens, stirring/whisking frequently
Add salt & white pepper to taste
Add soy sauce until the sauce turns a darker brown and to taste
Add a few sprinkles of Worcestershire sauce to add additional flavor and color to your sauce (optional)
Taste your sauce and add more salt/pepper if needed
Add meatballs back to pan until heated through
Garnish with a small handful of sprinkle of chopped parsley
Serve your meatballs with boiled potatoes (or mashed), lingonberry jam and green salad!
I usually double the recipe because it is hard to find already mixed beef & pork together. Plus, it is just easier to buy each separately and mix them together on our own.
I also make this dairy free so my son can eat it. I use a combination of oil and dairy free butter to fry the meatballs in because the dairy-free butter is expensive! Plus, it cooks better with some oil as the butter/margarine has a tendency to burn. Instead of cream I use oat milk/cream as I find it tastes better than soy or coconut milk. We don't care for the taste of soy milk and coconut milk gives the sauce a coconut flavor that we don't care for either. Almond milk would probably work as well but the one we had in the house was vanilla flavored so that was definitely not the way to go. Go with the unsweetened and unflavored milk alternative.
My son is also allergic to eggs so I use an egg replacer as well. I find that the brand I use works is pretty thick so I usually use a little less than what most recipes call for.
If I use ground turkey instead of ground pork, it usually has a lot of water content so I have to adjust the liquid that I add to the breadcrumb mixture. The meatballs should be moist and hold together when you roll them into meatballs. If the mixture is too loose, add more breadcrumbs or mashed potato flakes. If it is too firm, add more liquid.
You can use fresh onions or freshly cooked potatoes as the original recipe calls for but I like the convenience of using freeze dried onions and mashed potato flakes. Again, this will change the liquid content of the breadcrumb mixture so you will have to play around with your proportions.
You may have noticed a strange ingredient on my list. What is grillkrydda? It is a spice blend that I have only found in Sweden. You can find it sold online but there are easy substitutions like allspice or the American version of BBQ seasoning. Yet another option is to make your own version. Many people in Sweden use this spice blend in their meatball recipes even though it is not in the original recipe below.
Here is one recipe that I use when I can't get the version from Sweden:
1 T freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, chili flakes or chili powder (to taste)
1 T smoked or regular paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 T onion powder
Why garlic paste? Mostly because I have it handy but I like using it in sauces as it blends in easier and you just squeeze it out of a tube. You can make a paste with fresh garlic cloves if you can't find the paste or just omit it all together since it isn't an authentic ingredient anyway. We just LOVE garlic!
The sauce/gravy is the hardest for us to get right because it depends on how much oil/butter is in the pan and how much sauce you want to make. In fact, the gravy/sauce is technically not authentic either but most modern Swedes make it (and Ikea as well) so it has become pretty commonplace.
If you want the original recipe without any modifications from me, here you go!
MEAT BALL INGREDIENTS
500 g (1.1lbs) of ground meat (mix pork and beef)
2-3 dl (1 cup) whipping cream/milk/water
1 small yellow onion (finely chopped)
1/2 dl (1/4 cup) breadcrumbs
2 small boiled and cooled potatoes (mashed)
2 T butter/margarine
Salt, allspice & white pepper (to taste)
1 T flour
2 dl (3/4 cup) whipping cream/milk
1 beef bouillon cube
Salt, white pepper and soy sauce (to taste)
Soak breadcrumbs in the cream/milk/water
Mash potatoes with a fork into the cream/breadcrumb mixture
Crack the egg into the bowl with cream/potato/breadcrumb mixture
Peel and chop the onion finely and mix it into the meat and breadcrumbs
For mild spice, use a pinch of pepper with 2 tsp salt
Heat the butter/margarine in the frying pan on med high heat
Put the bouillon cube in a pot with 2.5 dl (1 cup) water and heat until dissolved
Form the meatballs with the palms of your hands and place into the frying pan
Shake the pan so the meatballs are evenly covered in butter/margarine
Turn the heat down to medium to continue cooking the meatballs
Occasionally, shake the pan until meatballs are evenly cooked
Put the meatballs in a serving dish and setting it aside
Take the frying pan off the heat and add sift the flour over the fat in the pan
Stir to let the flour absorb all the fat, making sure no lumps remain
Return the pan to the stove and whisk the dissolved bouillon into the pan
Add the cream/milk and increase the heat to let it simmer and cook completely
Add salt, pepper and soy sauce to taste
Serve meatballs with the sauce & serve
You can also eat the meatballs with boiled potatoes, pickled cucumber salad, green salad, lingonberry jam or pickles
Originally published Jan 3, 2021. Monica, Your Travel Gal earns a small commission from some of the links featured in this blog article.