Swedish Meatballs With Ground Beef and Pork Recipe

Swedish meatballs
Classic Swedish meatballs with ground beef and pork

Kelly Cline/Getty Images

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
499 Calories
29g Fat
17g Carbs
40g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 499
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 37%
Saturated Fat 13g 66%
Cholesterol 245mg 82%
Sodium 977mg 42%
Total Carbohydrate 17g 6%
Dietary Fiber 1g 5%
Protein 40g
Calcium 164mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Swedish meatballs are, alongside Italian meatballs, the two popular variations of meatballs in the United States (Italian meatballs aren’t Italian in origin, but that’s a different story).

The interesting historic tidbit about Swedish meatballs is that they are not originally Swedish, a fact that Sweden officially acknowledged in 2018. What is known in Sweden and around the world as Swedish meatballs goes back to Charles XII, the King of Sweden. During the Great Northern War that Sweden fought against Russia over the supremacy of Sweden in the Baltic area, the king lived in the Ottoman Empire (the predecessor of modern Turkey) from 1709 to 1714. During that time, he became such a fan of the Turkish meatballs, köfte, that upon returning to Sweden, he brought a recipe for the meatballs with him. Those became the famous Swedish meatballs known as köttbullar

Swedish meatballs are different from their Italian counterparts in several aspects. Swedish meatballs are smaller than Italian meatballs, about one inch in diameter or smaller.

The sauce is different too. Swedish meatballs are served in a white, creamy, smooth, roux-based gravy, unlike Italian meatballs, which are served in tomato-based sauce such as marinara, which is often on the chunky side.

The seasoning of Swedish meatballs is another distinguishing aspect. While both types of meatballs are made with sautéed onion, Swedish meatballs are milder and contain no garlic or herbs. In this recipe, no extra spices are added to the sauce; other recipes add a pinch of ground nutmeg and allspice, the traditional spices for white sauce.

The other difference between Swedish meatballs and Italian meatballs is the way the meatballs are served. Swedish meatballs are both served as a dinner entree with boiled potatoes or noodles, and as an appetizer. Served with toothpicks, they are a popular party food.

These excellent Swedish beef and pork meatballs are made of three quarters ground beef and one quarter ground pork. Other recipes have a 50:50 ratio of ground beef and ground pork.

The preparation of Swedish meatballs consists of two main steps: making the meatballs and the gravy. In addition to ground beef and pork, the meatball ingredients include egg, breadcrumbs, and butter for sautéing the and onion. The gravy is a flour-based roux with milk and heavy cream.

A popular accompaniment for Swedish meatballs is lingonberry jam, which reflects the typical Scandinavian flavor combination of savory, sweet, and sour.

Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs (plain)
  • 1/4 cup onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • For the Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large bowl, beat the egg; add 1/3 cup milk and breadcrumbs and blend thoroughly.

  2. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook the onions in 2 tablespoons butter until lightly browned; cool slightly. 

  3. To the egg and crumb mixture, add the cooked onion, salt, black pepper, ground beef, and ground pork. Shape the meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

  4. Place the skillet used to cook the onions over medium heat and cook the meatballs, turning to brown all sides. Add the 2 tablespoons of water, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

  5. Transfer the meatballs to a bowl with a slotted spoon and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings. Stir in 2 tablespoons of flour. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of milk and 1/2 cup heavy cream, stirring constantly. When well blended, add meatballs back to skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer the meatballs for 10 to 15 minutes longer. 

  6. Serve with boiled potatoes, rice, or pasta.