Swedish Meatballs (CRAZY JUICY!)


Swedish Meatballs made from scratch that are so juicy and tender your jaw will drop in amazement bathed in a rich, creamy, dreamy gravy that tastes 1000X better than the Ikea version!


Swedish Meatballs are the ultimate comfort food and possibly the best meatballs you will ever devour.  These from-scratch meatballs are baked and not fried for extra ease and time efficiency and I’ve included instructions how to freeze them as well!  Serve you Swedish Meatballs with egg noodles, potatoes or rice for a new family favorite without the winding trip through Ikea!   

Top view of Swedish Meatballs in skillet with easy creamy gravy

I looooove Meatballs from my Honey Buffalo Meatballs to my Italian Meatballs to my Cranberry Meatballs to my Korean Meatballs to Parmesan Meatballs but these Swedish Meatballs have to be the most tender meatballs I’ve ever made. You and your family are going to go crazy over them!

I grew up devouring Swedish Meatballs and actually didn’t even know Ikea Swedish Meatballs were a “thing” until college.  I’m happy Ikea has popularized this favorite but I promise once you try my recipe with from scratch meatballs and from scratch creamy beef gravy, you will be ruined and never be able to go back – sorry!

What makes Swedish Meatballs different?

Swedish Meatballs are different than standard meatball for a few main reasons:

  1. Swedish meatballs are made with a mixture of beef and pork.
  2. Swedish meatballs are made with a panade, which is a paste made of bread and milk or cream instead of breadcrumbs or panko.
  3. Swedish meatballs are seasoned with nutmeg and allspice.
  4. Swedish meatballs are served in a rich, roux-based beef gravy creamified with heavy cream or sour cream.

up close of Swedish Meatballs with sour cream in Swedish Meatball Sauce

What makes this Swedish Meatball recipe the best?

My Swedish Meatball recipe is unique (can I say better?) for a few reasons:

  1. The panade is made in the food processor so it’s super easy.
  2. The meatballs are baked and not fried. I have tried them both ways and found there is nothing gained from frying but several advantages to baking: 1) you don’t have to stand in front of your stove and babysit them, 2) you don’t have to cook them in batches 3) you don’t have to worry about them sticking or falling apart, the meatballs brown evenly all over and above all:
  3. By baking the meatballs, we can achieve the juiciest, most tender meatballs because we can infuse them with more moisture and they won’t fall apart when rotating in the skillet.
  4. The creamy gravy is made while the meatballs are baking so you don’t have to wait to cook your meatballs before you make your Swedish Meatball Sauce.
  5. The meatballs and gravy are seasoned to perfection.

HOW DO YOU MAKE SWEDISH MEATBALLS?

Swedish Meatballs are very easy to make with pantry friendly ingredients of beef, pork, onions, cream, milk and spices.  The most time consuming part is rolling the meatballs but even that is easy and can even be done and refrigerated beforehand!

All authentic Swedish Meatball Recipes should start with a panade as mentioned above. A panade is a mixture of bread and cream that binds the meatballs together.  As meatballs cook, the proteins tighten which squeezes out a significant amount of moisture.  The panade keeps the moisture from being lost and is the key to tender meatballs.

  1. Make Panade. Add roughly torn white bread to your food processor and pulse until broken into small pieces about the size of peas. Add milk, heavy cream, egg, egg yolk, minced onion and salt, garlic powder, dried parsley, pepper, nutmeg and allspice and pulse 3-5 times until completely combined.  How easy was that? It will be a moist paste-like consistency.

Showing how to make Swedish Meatballs by adding eggs onions and bread to food processor

Showing how to make Swedish Meatballs by mixing bread, eggs, heavy cream, onions, nutmeg, allspice in food processor

  1. Mix Meatballs: We add this mixture to a bowl with ground beef and ground pork.  Using your hands, mix just until combined. You never want to overmix meatballs because overmixing is what causes meatballs to become tough.  And be warned – the mixture will seem quite wet – which is a good thing.

Showing how to make Swedish Meatballs by mixing meatball mixture with bread and milk mixture

  1. Roll Meatballs: Roll your meatballs into approximately 24 meatballs.  I use a 1 ½ tablespoon scoop and it makes scooping meatballs super quick.  Place meatballs on a lightly greased, foil lined baking sheet and bake for meatballs for 15-20 minutes or just until meatballs are cooked through.

Showing how to make Swedish Meatballs by placing them on a baking sheet to bake in the oven

  1. Check for Doneness: I recommend cutting a meatball in half to make sure they are done. You don’t, however want to overcook your meatballs because then they won’t be as tender.

up close of juicy, tender Baked Swedish Meatball

  1. DON’T try and cook your meatballs in a skillet because they are so tender they will fall apart. By baking them, they stay intact because you don’t touch them until they have baked into a tighter meatball.

authentic Swedish Meatballs in a silver skillet with a serving spoon

HOW TO FREEZE HOMEMADE SWEDISH MEATBALLS

Once your meatballs are baked and still lined on your baking sheet you can either move on to making your gravy OR freeze the meatballs.  To freeze your Swedish Meatballs:

  1. Bake Swedish Meatballs according to directions.
  2. Let meatballs cool to room temperature.
  3. Place entire baking tray with the meatballs in the freezer. You will want to make sure the meatballs are not touching so they don’t freezer together.  If your freezer can’t accommodate your baking tray then use a small tray and freeze in batches.  Freeze for 1-2 hours.
  4. When your meatballs are frozen enough that they won’t stick together, then transfer meatballs to freezer safe bags or containers.
  5. Label meatballs and store meatballs in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  6. I DO NOT recommend freezing the sauce. Flour based sauce do not freeze well.
  7. To defrost meatballs, bake at 350 degrees F  for 10 to 12 minutes or until heated through. 

Top view of Swedish Meatballs in skillet with easy creamy gravy

HOW DO YOU MAKE SWEDISH MEATBALL SAUCE?

Oh the sauce!  Swedish Meatballs + Swedish Meatball Sauce = out of this world deliciousness!  This luxuriously rich and creamy sauce is actually beef gravy with splashes of Worcestershire, Dijon and a healthy dose of heavy cream.

Some Swedish Meatball Sauces use sour cream instead of heavy cream so feel free to experiment to your liking or simply stir in a dollop of sour cream in addition to the heavy cream if you want a little extra tang.  I was expecting to finish my Swedish Meatballs sauce off with sour cream but I thought it was perfect as written.

The Swedish Meatball Sauce comes together super quickly while the meatballs are baking so when they come out of oven it’s eating time!.  To make the creamy gravy, simply create a roux by melting 4 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. The olive oil helps the butter not burn.  If you would like to replace some of the butter with equal amounts olive oil, you are welcome to do so.

Next, sprinkle in flour and cook for 1 minute, which gets rid of the raw flour taste. Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in beef broth and heavy cream followed, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, dried parsley, paprika, allspice and pepper.

Bring Sauce to a to simmer until thickened (approximate 5-7 minutes) into a rich and creamy, intoxicatingly delicious sauce you are going to want to drink – no joke.   Add your meatballs, coat in sauce and EAT!!!

Crockpot Swedish meatballs

To make Crockpot Swedish Meatballs, you will follow the recipe as written except bake the meatballs for only 10 minutes then add them to your lightly greased slow cooker. Add the Gravy and continue to cook 1-2 hours until the meatballs are all the way cooked through.

Up close of Swedish Meatballs on a spoon garnished with parsley with rich, creamy gravy

WHAT IS A GOOD SIDE DISH FOR SWEDISH MEATBALLS?

Authentic Swedish Meatballs are traditionally served with potatoes (plain or mashed) or macaroni.  Our Americanized Swedish Meatballs are most often served with egg noodles but they are also delicious with any pasta, mashed potatoes and rice.  To complete the meal, they would be fabulous with Cranberry Apple Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad, and/or roasted broccoli, roasted carrots, roasted asparagus, fruit salad, and a big slice of crusty bread. Lingonberry jam is also a traditional accompaniment to Swedish Meatballs.

What is Lingonberry Jam?

If you have never heard of Lingonberry jam, it tastes like cranberry sauce but with kiss of balancing tartness.  It’s brightness cuts through the richness of the Swedish Meatballs and is a fabulous side.  If you can’t find Lingonberry jam then feel free to crack open a can of cranberry sauce for a more authentic Swedish Meatball experience.

top view of Swedish Meatballs with egg noodles on a plate

Tips and Tricks to Swedish Meatballs

  • I recommend the mixture of ground beef and ground pork as written for authentically delicious Swedish Meatballs but you may substitute the pork with lean ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey.
  • You can substitute the white bread for what bread you have on hand.
  • You can substitute the ¼ cup milk and ¼ cup heavy cream for half and half if you have it on hand. I chose to use both milk and heavy cream because we are already using heavy cream in the sauce and this keeps you from having to buy an extra ingredient.
  • You can roll your meatballs and refrigerate them and then bake them when it’s dinner time.
  • Don’t overmix your meatball ingredients – overmixing results in tougher meatballs.
  • The meatball mixture will be WET – don’t worry. Shape the meatballs the best you can and they will firm up when cooked but emerge crazy soft and juicy.
  • DON’T try and cook your meatballs in a skillet because they are so tender they will fall apart. By baking them, they stay intact because you don’t touch them until they have baked into a tighter meatball.
  • Do NOT use half and half in your Swedish Meatball Sauce or it can separate.
  • You can omit the heavy cream in the Swedish Meatball Sauce and stir in room temperature sour cream to taste.
  • You could also leave in the heavy cream and add sour cream for more of a rich tangy flavor.

Swedish Meatballs with egg noodles on a plate with a fork sticking into a meatballs

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Top view of Swedish Meatballs in skillet with easy creamy gravy

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs made from scratch that are so juicy and tender your jaw will drop in amazement bathed in a rich, creamy, dreamy gravy that tastes 1000X better than the Ikea version! These meatballs are baked and not fried for extra ease and time efficiency and I’ve included instructions how to freeze them as well!  Serve you Swedish Meatballs with egg noodles, potatoes or rice for a new family favorite without the winding trip through Ikea!   
Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 2 slices white bread roughly torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup fresh minced onion
  • 1 tsp EACH salt, garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp EACH pepper, ground nutmeg, ground allspice
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork

Creamy Gravy

Instructions

Meatballs

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Add bread to food processor and pulse until broken into small pieces (pea size). Add all remaining Meatball Ingredients EXCEPT beef and pork and pulse 3-5 times until completely combined. It will be paste-like consistency.
  • Add this mixture to ground beef and pork in a large bowl. Using your hands, mix just until combined. It will seem very wet which is good. Roll into approximately 24 meatballs using a 1 ½ tablespoon scoop and space evenly on prepared baking sheet. If your meatballs are too wet to form for whatever reason then add some breadcrumbs to firm up. *If you are making your meatballs in advance, you can cover your meatballs with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  • Bake meatballs for 15-20 minute at 400 degrees F or just until meatballs are cooked through (take care not to over cook your meatballs so they remain super tender).

Gravy

  • The last 10 minutes or so of baking, make Gravy. Melt butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and cook for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and slowly whisk in beef broth and heavy cream followed by all remaining Sauce ingredients.
  • Bring Sauce to a to simmer until thickened, approximate 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Taste and add salt to taste. Add meatballs (I dab off any extra grease from baking sheet), coat in sauce and continue to gently simmer until meatballs are heated through, approximately 1 minute.
  • Garnish with fresh parsley if desired and serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Notes

  • I recommend the mixture of ground beef and ground pork as written for authentically delicious Swedish Meatballs but you may substitute the pork with lean ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey (they won't be as juicy with the latter two).
  • You can substitute the white bread for what bread you have on hand.
  • You can substitute the ¼ cup milk and ¼ cup heavy cream for half and half if you have it on hand. I chose to use both milk and heavy cream because we are already using heavy cream in the sauce and this keeps you from having to buy an extra ingredient.
  • You can roll your meatballs, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate them and then bake them when it’s dinner time.
  • Don’t overmix your meatball ingredients – overmixing results in tougher meatballs.
  • The meatball mixture will WET – don’t worry. Shape the meatballs the best you can and they will firm up when cooked but emerge crazy soft and juicy.
  • DON’T try and cook your meatballs in a skillet because they are so tender they will fall apart. By baking them, they stay intact because you don’t touch them until they have baked into a tighter meatball.
  • Do NOT use half and half in your Swedish Meatball Sauce or it can separate.
  • You can omit the heavy cream in the Swedish Meatball Sauce and stir in room temperature sour cream to taste.
  • You could also leave in the heavy cream and add sour cream for more of a rich tangy flavor.

HOW TO FREEZE HOMEMADE SWEDISH MEATBALLS (NOT SAUCE)

The Gravy does not freeze well.  You will want to make fresh gravy at the time you defrost your meatballs.
  1. Bake Swedish Meatballs according to directions.
  2. Let meatballs cool to room temperature.
  3. Place entire baking tray with the meatballs in the freezer. You will want to make sure the meatballs are not touching so they don’t freezer together.  If your freezer can’t accommodate your baking tray then use a small tray and freeze in batches.  Freeze for 1-2 hours.
  4. When your meatballs are frozen enough that they won’t stick together, then transfer meatballs to freezer safe bags or containers.
  5. Label meatballs and store meatballs in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  6. I DO NOT recommend freezing the sauce. Flour based sauce do not freeze well.
  7. TO DEFROST:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place meatballs on a foil lined baking sheet (for easy cleanup) so they are not touching. Heat meatballs 10 to 12 minutes or until heated through.   

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22 Comments

  1. Diana says

    I made a Swedish meatballs recipes last night from a different web site. My husband and son thought it was great and remarked that they’d like to have again. I said no, I’m not making it again. They were edible, but, to me, bland. There was something missing. So my husband and I argue whether I should make them again or not. I told him that I’m definitely not making THAT recipe again. He said, “Well then give me the recipe and I’ll make it.” I said no I’ll make a different one. “Plenty of other Swedish Meatball recipes out there,” I said. And now the next day, I get this recipe in my email. Cool! Definitely doing this one. Just to show my husband how a Swedish Meatball recipe can be so much better.

    • Jen says

      Hi Diana, what a funny coincidence!! Or maybe it’s just a sign for you to not give up the Best Swedish Meatball search 🙂 I really hope you love this recipe – I definitely don’t think you’ll find it bland 🙂

  2. Vickie says

    You sure have a gift to cook, girl! These meatballs look wonderful! I do have a question-I apologize if I misunderstood your direction. If we freeze these meatballs and decide a couple weeks from now to use them, should we defrost the meatballs before making the sauce? Sorry if this is a stupid question but I hate to ruin a recipe when I’m not clear on instructions. I wasn’t raised making or eating meatballs and while I’m certainly old enough to be your mother, I am a beginner cook where meatballs are concerned! Thanks for sharing all your wonderful recipes! So happy to have found your website!

    • Jen says

      Thank you so so much for your kind words Vickie! I would bake the meatballs from frozen for about 12 minutes or until heated through. You sauce should take about 10 minutes so I would start your sauce just after your meatballs go into the oven. I hope this helps!

  3. Lin says

    I am very new to your website having used the link when you had a recipe on The Slow Roasted Italian. I have since unsubscribed from that site and added yours instead. Your recipes are more to my liking and I can’t wait to try them…especially ALL of the meatball ones! It is a beautiful, professional and very user friendly site, and, I love all of the advice, tips, and options you provide. But, I am most inspired by your personal story and that makes the recipes even more special. I am a cookbook collector (old school, I guess), having inherited my Mother’s collection of over 200 cookbooks. We both ONLY try recipes that have an individual’s “name” attached, because we find them to be “tried and true” and think of that person when we cook. I have already begun copying your recipes to place in a binder…just as if it were a cookbook. (Though I do hope you’ll consider the real thing some day!) I can’t imagine another more deserving person to invite into my kitchen! Thank you for sharing yourself with us and for showing God’s love and presence in all that you do.

    • Jen says

      Hi Lin, I’m so happy you stumbled upon my blog, welcome! Thank you for your kind words about my site and especially about my story – your love and well wishes means so much to me! What a special collection of cookbooks you have – and especially to have inherited them from your mother! I am so humbled to be invited into your home and into your kitchen with my own cookbook binder – I will do my best not to disappoint 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to comment so I can “meet” you and for making my heart smile! May God’s choicest blessings attend you! xo

  4. Sara says

    Hello! Going to give these a go for supper tonight! Do you use fresh minced onion or dried minced onion in the meatballs? Thank you for all of the great recipes – this is the second of yours we are having this week 🙂

    • Jen says

      Hi Sara, I use fresh minced onion. I hope you love them!

      • Sara says

        Thank you – in hindsight that would be A LOT of dried minced onion! I was feeling a little lazy and added 1 TBSP of dried minced onion instead of chopping an onion. The recipe was delicious and my kids devoured all but 2 meatballs. A nice change from an Italian style meatball. Thanks again!

        • Jen says

          I feel lazy all the time – great substitute! I’m so happy this was a hit with your family! Thanks Sara!

  5. Laura says

    I was looking for something different from the usual Mexican or Asian flavors I tend to favor and up popped your meatballs. They were super delicious and I loved how easy it was to bake the meatballs instead of frying. We added a little bit of dill because it’s my husbands favorite herb. Jen, your blog is my absolute favorite because everything turns out perfectly and makes me look like a star in the kitchen! Thank you.

    • Jen says

      Thank YOU Laura for making my day! I am so honored my blog is your favorite and everything you have tried has been a winner – that seriously makes me so happy! I’m thrilled these meatballs were a hit as well, and they sound fantastic with dill!

  6. Karine says

    My hubby and I made these meatballs last night, and they were delicious! We will be making these again!

    • Jen says

      YAY! I’m so happy they were a winner! Thanks Karine!

  7. Victoria says

    Made these for dinner tonight and my whole family was blown away! Absolutely delicious; definitely bookmarking and definitely making it again!

    • Jen says

      YAY! Gotta love when the whole family gives it a thumbs up! Thanks so much Victoria!

  8. Linda says

    Instead of heavy cream or sour cream can you substitute Greek yogurt?

    • Jen says

      Hi Linda, I think it totally comes down to personal preference – enjoy!

  9. Gwendolynn says

    What’s the best way to reheat this? I did it in a pan just like I cooked it originally and it got really oily.

    • Jen says

      hmmmmm, I’m sorry you had that problem Gwendolynn. Meatballs are what would make it oily so make sure to use lean ground beef and to wipe the meatballs of excess grease after browning in the oven. If you know you’re going to have leftovers, you can even reserve some meatballs to add later to the sauce.

  10. Stephanie says

    Made this last night for the family ….absolutely scrumptious Swedish meatballs, even better than my mom’s growing up!

    • Jen says

      Aw, thank you so much Stephanie! xoxo