How to make your own IKEA-inspired Swedish meatballs

You need not risk getting lost at the giant store to enjoy this iconic fall favorite.

  • Tuesday, November 23, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

By Gretchen McKay / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

For me, one of the best things about going to IKEA has always been its Swedish food market. I cannot begin to tell you how many Choklad Not bars I’ve eaten in the car on my way home over the years (mmm … hazelnuts!), and I’m also a huge fan of the raspberry Kafferep cookies. But the real draw is the store’s frozen Swedish meatballs.

They can be heated up in minutes in the oven or frying pan, and when paired with buttered noodles and a big spoonful of the store’s lingonberry jam — well, what a quick, easy and delicious meal.

I was pretty sad, then, when on a recent visit, an employee told me my local store would be out of meatballs for the next couple of months due to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions.

Which is not to say you or I can’t still enjoy one of fall’s favorite dishes; we just have to spend a little more time in the kitchen, making them from scratch.

This recipe, adapted from Serious Eats, uses a blend of ground beef and pork for maximum flavor. The meatballs are bound with milk-soaked bread and then cooked in a roux-based gravy made with beef broth and heavy cream. A dollop of spicy brown mustard and dash of apple cider vinegar make it extra rich and flavorful.

I like the meatballs over buttered noodles, but you could also pair them with mashed, boiled or roasted potatoes. Don’t forget the lingonberry jam for a sweet-tart finish.

Swedish meatballs

1½ cups cubed fresh bread

½ cup half-and-half

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 medium onion, finely minced or grated, divided

1 pound ground beef chuck (about 20% fat)

1 pound ground pork

4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

½ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 large eggs, beaten

Freshly ground black pepper

Canola or vegetable oil, for frying

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups homemade or store-bought beef stock

Heaping teaspoon spicy brown mustard

½ cup heavy cream, half-and-half or sour cream

Dash of apple cider vinegar

Minced flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Buttered, cooked egg noodles or boiled potatoes, for serving

Lingonberry jam, for serving

In a medium bowl, combine bread with milk, tossing to coat. Let stand until bread is completely softened and most of the milk has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add half of the minced onion and cook, stirring, until onion is golden and tender, about 7 minutes.

To a large bowl, add ground beef, ground pork, soaked bread and any remaining milk, cooked onion, remaining raw onion, 4 teaspoons salt, ground spices, eggs and a good grind or two of black pepper. Mix gently with your hands until thoroughly combined.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Dipping your hands in water as needed to prevent meatball mixture from sticking, roll roughly tablespoon-sized portions of meatball mixture into balls slightly smaller than golf-ball size. Transfer to lined baking sheet.

Set a rack over a clean baking sheet and heat oven to 200 degrees. Heat about ½ inch oil in a wide skillet to 350 degrees. Working in batches, lower meatballs into oil and fry, turning until well browned all over, about 2 minutes. Transfer browned meatballs to rack and keep warm in the oven.

In a medium saucepan, melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat until foamy. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking, until raw flour smell is gone, about 3 minutes. Whisk in beef stock, bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in mustard, cream and cider vinegar, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add meatballs to gravy and stir to coat. Simmer until meatballs are heated through. Serve right away with buttered noodles or potatoes, and lingonberry jam. You also can spear them with toothpicks as an hors d’oeuvre.

Serves 6-8.

— Adapted from

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