swedish meatballs

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Swedish Meatballs I One Lovely Life

IKEA and I are buddies. Pals. Amigos.

I love spending a few hours every few months wandering through the store. It’s ginormous. It takes hours. I almost never buy anything when I’m there, but it is SO fun to look.

One thing I wish was different about my IKEA experience: I wish I could read the dern labels. I can’t pronounce any of the names of the lines. I feel super embarrassing when I have to ask a sales associate for help and have to fumble through the name. Woof. It’s the worst.

But other than the labels thing, I love everything about the IKEA experience. I love the furniture, love the modern prints on the fabrics, love the prices, and love the food. Naturally. The good news is Swedish meatballs are easy to make at home. And even easier to pronounce, which is muy bueno for those of us not Swedish-language-inclined.

These make a fantastic anytime dinner. You can make them ahead of time and store them in the freezer, then just thaw them when you’re ready to make them or just make them and eat them the same night. Very kid friendly and easy to make your own. I used extra-super-very lean beef, but you can certainly use ground turkey if you prefer.

Swedish Meatballs I One Lovely Life
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Swedish Meatballs

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For the meatballs:

  • 1 1/2lbs ground beef (I use the 93% lean)
  • 1/4c fresh breadcrumbs (not the dry ones from a canister)
  • 1/4c milk
  • 1/2 onion, diced finely
  • 1 Tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp pepper
  • 1/2tsp allspice
  • 1 egg

For the sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4c flour
  • 3c beef broth
  • 1/2c whole milk or half-and-half
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Make meatballs by adding ground beef, breadcrumbs, and milk to a large mixing bowl. In a large pan, saute onion in the 1 Tbsp olive oil or butter until translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and allspice. Add to ground beef mixture. Add egg and use your hands to combine all meatball ingredients until well combined. Form into 1 1/2″ meatballs.
  2. Cook meatballs in 1 Tbsp butter in the same pan you used to saute the onion. Cook meatballs in batches until well browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes each batch. Remove meatballs from pan.
  3. Melt the 2 Tbsp butter in the same large pan and cook onion and garlic in butter till tender. Sprinkle with flour. Stir and cook 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add beef broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Stir in milk or half-and-half and return meatballs to pan.
  4. Heat through and serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Top with additional sprinkle of allspice if desired.


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  1. It is so handy to have meatballs in the freezer. Yours look delicious!

    I have never been to IKEA, but it sounds really fun.

  2. my trips to ikea are foretold by a long and heavy hankerin'for their swedish meatballs. But what kills me is their "elderberry sauce" that goes along side the meatballs. Schlockinlochin Goodilyoodily ürb (soooo good).
    I'm totally going to try these, but do you have any ideas on the elderberry sauce?

  3. You can buy jars of the ligonberry preserves at IKEA…it lasts forever in your fridge – I have literally had a jar in the fridge for 6 months and it is still good and it is shelf stable before opening, so you can buy several to have on hand.

  4. Okay Emily – truth and nothing but the truth – I LOVE your blog! This is great! I cannot believe all the recipes you have made and photographed and written about, you are a real Chef! I cannot wait to start cooking.

  5. Do you happen to have a good Deviled Egg recipe? I've never made them before and although they don't look hard, I'd LOVE to have a tasty recipe.

    I don't even know you in person, but I totally love your food blog. I've tried many of your delicious recipes. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing.

  6. Thank you for sharing your delicious recipes!

    It marks almost a year since my mom passed, and I have fond memories of her and I spending time in the kitchen (and on vacation, and etc.).

    I love to cook, but like you, am gluten and dairy free. As such, could I use full-fat coconut milk and vegan butter to replace the dairy called for in this recipe?

    Thank you again 💕

    1. Cassandra – Hi! I haven’t made these dairy free yet, but I’d recommend using cashew cream to thicken instead of coconut milk (since the coconut milk lends a coconut flavor). And dairy free butter would probably work great!

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