Swedish Meatballs

Swedish MeatballsSwedish meatballs can be a main course, but their small size is ideal for an appetizer, ready to be stabbed with a toothpick or picked up by hungry fingers. But if you’re not planning a festive smorgasbord in the near future, then just stash these meaty morsels in the fridge for middle of the week snacking.

The allspice and nutmeg seasoning in these Swedish meatballs is subtle, but enough to be noticed, and makes the dish taste different from your average meatball. Swedish meatballs are usually made with a blend of beef and pork, which you could certainly do, but they’re also really delicious made with ground bison. The small size of Swedish meatballs means they don’t need to be cooked long, which is perfect for bison, a type of meat that is most tender and juicy when served medium rare.

Why use bison? Bison is a great source of protein, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. Bison aren’t mass-farmed and rarely treated with antibiotics and hormones. Ideally, buy bison that is labeled as 100% grass fed.

The cream sauce served with these meatballs is traditional (as is a dollop of lingonberry jam on the side) but not necessary if you don’t do dairy. There’s no question the sauce is delicious, but Swedish meatballs will disappear quickly without it too.

Servings: 22 small meatballs

Time in the Kitchen: 35 minutes



  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (30 g)
  • 1/4 of a yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground meat (bison, or a mix of beef and pork) (450 g)
  • 2 tablespoons water (30 ml)
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (2.5 ml)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (1.25 ml)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (1.25 ml)
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice (a pinch)
  • 1/2 cup beef stock (120 ml)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (120 ml)
  • Finely chopped fresh dill for garnish


Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

By hand, very gently mix together the cooled onion, meat, water, egg, salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice. Don’t over-mix the meat (which can make it tough). The blend will be loose and quite damp.

Step 1

Gently form small meatballs, using about a tablespoon of meat for each. The meatballs will not be firm; this is okay, and means you will have tender, juicy meatballs. If you find the meat too hard to work with, then refrigerate it for 30 minutes to an hour. Wetting your hands with water can help the meat stick to your hands less.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the same frying pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs and fry, turning after 4 minutes or when the bottom is browned and no longer sticking to the pan.

Step 2

Cook for another 4 to 6 minutes.

Step 3

If making the sauce, remove the meatballs from the pan. Add the stock and bring to a boil for 3 minutes, scraping up any bits of meat in the pan. If you want a smooth sauce, strain the stock then return it to the pan.

Add the cream to the stock and simmer gently until it reduces and thickens, about 3 minutes. Add the meatballs back to the pan for a few minutes before serving.

Step 4

Garnish with dill.

Swedish Meatballs

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37 thoughts on “Swedish Meatballs”

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  1. mmm these look good. I haven’t made homemade meatballs in a while. This is something I want to try.

  2. Yum, but for some reason I am feeling this strange urge to buy inexpensive furniture that I can put together by myself in 18 minutes or less… Odd!!?

    1. To say nothing about wandering about through a maze of colorful and interesting items to find that all that is at the end is where they demand you pay before leaving, oh wait, is that frozen yogurt? Maybe that would be better than that chunk of cheese we were expecting…..

    2. So true. I think I’ll go buy a Glorkenfliegel and assemble it now!

  3. Great job Mark! As Swedish as can be.

    But you should add some mashed lingonberries when serving it. Cranberries works as well as they are very simaliar to lingonberries in taste. colour and carb content. And some pickled, salted cucumber should be there as well. Traditionally it’s served with boiled potatoes but it you want to lower carb content you can serve it with boiled or mashed swedes [in Brittish English, Rutabagga in American English but even rutabagga stems from a Swedish word – “rotabagge”]. Bon apetite from Sweden!

  4. Funny that the recipe starts with UNsalted butter… If only we could find that here in Sweden 😉

    It does look delicious though, and will probably taste just as good with salted real Swedish butter.

    1. You can get unsalted butter. (ARLA), but not the ecological, that has a bit of salt.

    2. I have no problem finding unsalted butter in Sweden, I always use it to my bulletproof coffee. I also make my own meatballs using grass-fed ground beef, they are delicious.

      1. Wow that is sounds really good! Where do you get your grass-fed meat? I have not been able to find it yet around here 🙂

        1. I live in Västerås, Sweden 100 km West of Stockholm. I buy all my meat from a cooperation of several farms called “Gröna hagars kött”

  5. Sounds like a good recipe. I wish I had a meat grinder so I could make these with liver. I think I’ve already eaten my share for at least the next few days, and my dad just got back with like 4 pounds of it for me… I’m the only one here who eats it and only for the nutrition, not because I enjoy it (though sometimes I do, probably as a result of alcohol consumption that makes me feel more carnivorous). Looks like I’ll be using lots of spices and hot sauce etc. and overdosing on retinol.

    1. I think it’s also a bit better cooked in bacon grease and eaten with the bacon, and once lately I had it in a bowl with olives and their juice along with primal enough flavourings, especially hot sauces, and it was decent.
      I talk to myself past 2am in the morning on the internet because I only hang out with cool people.

      1. And that’s why we like reading your posts! Well, after we all wake up of course.

        1. Because I share all the clever things I come up with, like my idea for a primal Catholic pizza place (with discounts during mass)?
          It would be called… Cheese is Crust.

  6. It’s funny, here in Sweden we just call them “meatballs”. 🙂

    They are a staple in the Swedish kitchen, kids love them and pour ketchup over them. Usually you buy them in the store, but it is nice to make them at home with bits of bacon and onion inside. That is typical grandma cooking.

  7. Typical grandma cooking is a great phrase! One of my grandmas cooked almost not at all and the other lived on a farm in Oklahoma. Lots of bacon to be sure, but inevitably along with homemade biscuits and cream gravy (awesome but more flour). Oh, and lemon meringue pie and endless Folger’s coffee cans full of chocolate chip cookies. None of this bothered me as a kid but I feel much better now even with my inconsistent and half hearted primal efforts.

    1. “…endless Folger’s coffee cans full of chocolate chip cookies.”

      Yes! My grandma used to put her homemade chocolate chip cookies in a Folger’s coffee can too! I loved them because they had a little hint of coffee flavor to them. Just had to comment… so randomly coincidental!

  8. I made these this evening. Sub’d chia seeds for the egg, coconut oil for the butter and coconut oil for the cream. They came out great! A hit with the family… Thanks!

    1. I made them for lunch… sub’d DIY egg replacer for the egg. Delish!

  9. “Garnish with dill.”….say what?
    If you wanna garnish it with anything it is usually parsley that’s being used.

    Who would wanna put dill on any type of beef anyway 🙂 Just weird…

  10. These are brilliant! Made with beef/pork combo and served with mashed potato, steamed kale, cranberries and pickled cucumber. The sauce was a little tasteless until the meatballs went back in (plus a dollop of sour cream) for a few minutes, then it all came together beautifully.

    Thanks for including metric measurements too!

  11. These were delicious! My beautiful young bride made these for us. We used bison meat and served with a salad. Fantastic! I added a little habanero salsa for extra seasoning.

  12. SNARKY is not Paleo…..plaaaaaaay…..use the butter on your wife

  13. Just made these and they’re wonderful – I’ve had to hide them from myself if there are going to be any left for dinner!

  14. I made these tonight. My picky 6 & 4 year olds went back for seconds! I added a little nutmeg, salt and pepper to sauce since a previous post said there wasn’t much flavor. Hubby thinks meat needed a little more flavor so next time I’ll adjust 🙂

  15. Used coconut milk instead of cream. The sauce broke the first time because I took too long to try and thicken. The second time I made it, I added a 1/2 T of tapioca starch to the coconut milk before adding it to the pan. Thickened perfectly on a simmer. Delicious!

  16. OMG these meatballs were so good! Will definitely keep them on the menu.

  17. These have become a household favorite! They are SO good. Even my picky stepson scarfs them up. 🙂