The Best Swedish Meatballs

18 reviews / 4.5 average

All hail the tender, savory, creamy Swedish Meatball!

I grew up eating a lot of Swedish meatballs, and I have to say – Swedish meatball recipes are varied and they all kind of have their own personality. But after testing several ingredient combinations and methods, this is the one that I like best:

Sautéed garlic and onion and cream-soaked bread pulsed into a semi-smooth paste, mixed with ground beef and ground pork with plenty of salt and pepper, browned to golden meatball perfection, baked to tender meatball perfection, and finally rolled around in a rich and creamy, savory, sour cream-based gravy. It is mellow, comforting, and flavorful all at the same time.

The meatballs in and of themselves are a world wonder, but let me fill out the plate for you for what to serve with Swedish meatballs.

  • Creamy Mashed Potatoes <– I like these, obviously, because they’re very easy and have so much garlic herb flavor.
  • Tangy Cranberry Sauce, for which we use the recipe on the back of the cranberry package.
  • Vinegary Cucumber Salad, which seems a little strange at first glance but is so essential for cutting through everything and waking the whole plate up.
Swedish meatballs in a bowl with mashed potatoes, cucumber salad, and cranberries.

Okay now friends, be warned: Swedish meatballs are a tad bit more diva-status than most of the recipes we share on POY. They’re gonna take a little time to make. You’ve got the rolling, you’ve got the browning, you’ve got the baking and gravy-making…

But they are SPECIAL. They are perfect for holiday meals or dinner club or just a little something extra on a Thursday.

May your gravy be creamy and your meatballs be extra-savory and your special dinner be one to remember. ♡

Watch How To Make This Recipe:

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The Best Swedish Meatballs

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x


Swedish Meatballs that are perfectly tender and spiced, served with creamy, savory, tangy gravy. Comfort food at its best!



Swedish Meatballs:

  • 4 slices white bread, no crusts
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt (more to taste)
  • a few shakes of black pepper


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (more to taste)


  1. In a small bowl, soak the white bread in the heavy cream. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and the garlic; sauté for 5 minutes until softened. Add the soaked bread and the cooked onion / garlic mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for 10-15 seconds until mostly smooth. 
  2. Add your bread / garlic / onion mixture to a large bowl with the remaining meatball ingredients. Mix well. Roll into meatballs.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter; sauté the meatballs in batches, turning occasionally, to get them browned on the outside (the inside doesn’t have to be cooked yet). Transfer browned meatballs to a pan, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes until cooked through.
  4. Gravy time! Wipe the skillet out so it’s clean. Melt the butter. Whisk in the flour; sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the beef broth, slowly, stirring after each addition. Gradually a smooth sauce should start to form. Stir in the sour cream and season with Worcestershire sauce and extra salt.
  5. Put meatballs back in the gravy pan and let them get nice and coated. Serve over mashed potatoes, with a cucumber salad and cranberries.


You can use pan drippings to make your gravy, but the gravy will be more lumpy and flecked with meatball bits. I prefer a smooth gravy, which is why I like to wipe out the pan first and just start fresh with butter.

The meatball mixture is WET! That’s normal. We want that because it makes for a very tender meatball once it’s cooked. If you get your hands slightly wet, you’ll have an easier time rolling them. 

If you are using thin, plain white sandwich bread, you may want to use 6-8 slices instead to make a thicker bread mixture.

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Sauté
  • Cuisine: Swedish

Keywords: swedish meatballs, meatballs, swedish food, gravy recipe

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This recipe is part of our collection of yummy pork recipes. Check it out!

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  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Great recipe! That gravy looks amazing!
    And I’ve never seen a soaked bread and the cooked onion/garlic mixture mixed into meat to make meatballs. Will have to try this

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This looks great. For a shortcut I use fresh white breadcrumbs, just a couple of tablespoons of cream then grate a small pre-frozen onion straight into the mix – gives you the moisture plus the oniony taste spreads easily throughout the meat mixture. Also white pepper, white sugar and just ground pork, but my family is a Danish – Swedish hybrid so we probably do things a little differently 🙂

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Do you have a recipe for the cucumber situation? This all looks amazing and I want all of the parts 🙂

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Jessica Pchajek

    I want to make the cranberry sauce from scratch too but I don’t know which package you’re referring to. Is it on the back of a fresh bag of cranberries? (I’m in Vancouver, Canada so might not be familiar with any brands, btw)

    My grandma is coming to visit this weekend and I’d love to make this for her!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Linda Alvarez

      Hi, Swedish girl here!! The real deal to eat with Swedish meatballs are lingonberry. Bye raw frozen lingonberries and just stir with a bit of sugar, it will resolve with the juice from the berries. If you can’t find lingonberries, it might just work with cranberries but I have never tried it! 🇸🇪🇸🇪🇸🇪

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    These look delicious. My husband does not eat beef. Would you substitute ground turkey for the beef?

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I was wondering if you had a solution for a full large crock pot full of just the meat balls. I would like to make them for Christmas day.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Whoever uses a blender to make meatballs obviously never made them since they were a kid and taught by their grandmother, js. Also, Swedish meatballs famously go with lingonberry not cranberry.

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I love Swedish meatballs, they are our families go-to quick comfort food, but this is because we use the frozen Ikea meatballs and I’d rather make them from scratch. It looks like the beef and pork is quite smooth, was it also put in the food processor?

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made these tonight and they were delicious! I found that by covering the meatballs with foil before baking them, any texture you achieved by pre-browning them was gone. And since you wipe out the skillet before making the gravy, all those flavour bits are gone too, so I’d just bake them next time – saves SO much time and work! And one other note on timing, next time I’ll start the gravy when the meatballs are 15 min away, not 30…the gravy was done quickly and formed a skin while I waited for the meatballs to be done.

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I just stopped to say beef AND sausage are the right way to go. Legit swedish meatballs.

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I was so confused for a moment because I was like “but you already have the perfect swedish meatballs recipe?” and then I realized that I’d gotten so caught up in how awesome the wild rice ones are that I’d legitimately forgotten that meat existed.

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Made these for Christmas Eve dinner. They turned out very tasty. I ended up adding black pepper and red pepper flakes to the gravy to add a hint of heat. Thanks Lindsay!

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I have been making this dish but there is a little difference between how to make your dish and how to make min. i have felt that your way is good. I will also try to make this dish in the same way.

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Adding the meat to the food processor would result in a more tender meatball. They aren’t Swedish without a touch of nutmeg.

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Virginia D. Jorgensen

    You miss the point of being Swedish by not adding the spices. Living in Minnesota you would think you had the ability to pick up some local Norwegian or Swedish cookbooks to compare the correct ingredients. You may call them meatballs but not ethnic Swedish or Norwegian with out the correct spices.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Linda Alvarez

      No no no, I am Swedish, living in Sweden. No nutmeg in our meatballs please! It is just minced beef and minced pork (like 70/30), bread crumbs, milk/cream, union, bouillon, salt and black pepper. Absolutely no nutmeg or any other spices. Allspice is a traditional Christmas spice and is only used in Christmas meatballs.

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I am curious about the addition of brown sugar. In Australia we do not use as much sugar in our cooking as Americans. I love Swedish meatballs but have always included allspice and yet you use no spices apart from pepper.

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Thyme, Allspice, and Nutmeg. If your Swedish Meatballs don’t contain these things, you aren’t Swedish-Meatballing hard enough.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Linda Alvarez

      Well, I am Swedish and here in Sweden 🇸🇪 we never use those spices, and most certainly not together! Allspice is a traditional Christmas spice and is only used in meatballs during Christmas. Read my comment above and THAT is the real Swedish meatballs ingredients!!!

  17. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made my own Swedish meatballs for the first time!!! And gosh it wasn’t difficult at all! Thank you so much for the amazing recipe.

  18. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Smells heavenly. Everything was going well until I was browning the meatballs. Then they started to fall apart. Do I need more bread in the onion garlic cream mixture?

    Thank you!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      So sorry to hear this, Shannon. 😕 It’s hard to say why they fell apart without seeing them. You could try a little bit more bread next time to see if that helps. Let us know how this goes for you!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Will try again and update. Can I ask how big the meatballs are supposed to be? The ones I made were big. Approx 2”. Maybe that’s too big?