Light Swedish Meatballs With Milk Gravy

Swedish meatballs on farfalle pasta

The Spruce / Diana Rattray

  • Total: 65 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Servings: 12 servings

These Swedish meatballs—Svenska kottbullar—are made with a combination of ground beef and oats. The meatballs are sauteed and then finished in the oven with a creamy gravy. 

Authentic Swedish meatballs often contain a combination of ground meats. Feel free to use 1 pound of ground beef and 1/2 pound of ground pork or use half beef and half pork. Or use a combination of equal parts ground beef, pork, and veal. For a traditional meal of Swedish meatballs, serve them with boiled potatoes, their creamy sauce, and lingonberry jam or preserves. Sliced sour pickles are often included.

The meatball mixture is a basic combination of ground beef, finely chopped onion, and oats. Feel free to add 1/4 teaspoon of ground allspice and 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg for the more traditional spiced flavor. Or replace the oats with 2 slices of torn bread soaked in the 1/4 cup of milk.


  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (divided)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk (divided)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 3/4 cup milk

Steps to Make It

  1. Heat the oven to 350 F.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef with the onion, oats, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper, Worcestershire sauce, egg, and 1/4 cup of the milk.

  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Shape ground beef mixture into meatballs. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the meatballs. Cook until browned on all sides, turning frequently.

  4. Remove the meatballs from the skillet and set aside. Stir the flour, paprika, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the pepper into the remaining fat. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

  5. In a saucepan over high heat, bring the beef stock to a boil.

  6. Gradually whisk 2 cups of boiling stock and the remaining 3/4 cup milk into the flour mixture. Stir until smooth and well blended.

  7. Return the meatballs to the gravy and transfer the pan to the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

  8. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings.

Recipe Variations

  • Cook the meatballs in the oven if you'd like. Just mix and shape the meatballs and bake them on a foil-lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes. To make the sauce, heat the vegetable oil in a deep oven-safe skillet and make the sauce following steps 4 through 6. Add the baked and drained meatballs to the sauce and bake as directed.
  • If you can't find lingonberry preserves or jam in your local market, use cranberry relish or whole cranberry sauce as a condiment.
  • For a richer sauce, make it with 3/4 cup of half-and-half or heavy cream instead of milk.

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