Swedish Meatballs

When I was but a callow youth, my mother used to make the most delightful Swedish meatballs.  I will now share our family recipe, and an alternate recipe that you might find tasty.

Here's my mom's recipe:

You may laugh, but I assure that the McCormick mix results in consistently good meatballs.  Having said that, I much prefer the following from-scratch recipe.  I cobbled it together out of several recipes I found online, and have tirelessly refined it over the past several months.


For the meatballs:

  • 2 slices fresh white bread
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) clarified butter (you'll use 4 tblsp for the meatballs, and 4 for the gravy)
  • 1 very finely chopped onion
  • 1 and 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 pounds of ground meat.  Either 1 pound each of beef & pork, or two pounds of "meatloaf mix".  Some people use lamb! You could too!
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

For the gravy:

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley

If you are eating the meatballs as an appetizer, you will also need to fashion your own toothpicks, preferably from the Norway Pine, a tree common to the coniferous forests of Sweden.  If you are eating the meatballs as an entree (my preferred way), serve the meatballs over egg noodles, in the same method of beef stroganoff.

The Method

Before we begin, please note that you'll be using the same 10-inch pot/dutch oven for cooking the onions, the meatballs, and the gravy.  There's no need to completely clean it in between cooking the different items, and if you do clean it you obviously don't care what I have to say so go ahead and have terrible gravy, I don't care!

  1. Turn the bread into breadcrumbs with a food processor or by hand.
  2. Put the bread and milk (in Swedish, "brilk") in a bowl and set it aside.
  3. Sautee the onion until soft in 1 tablespoon of butter.  Sprinkle the 1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt on them as they cook.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the meat, the brilk, egg yolks, salt, seasonings, and onions.  Mix by hand until all ingredients are evenly distributed.  Take a core sample and send it your local geologist to confirm before continuing.
  5. Form the meat into a perfect sphere, about exactly 1 inch wide.
  6. On medium-low heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Add meatballs and sautee them until golden brown on all sides.  Remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-lined plate.  If you promise me that you won't overcook them, you could also turn your oven on to warm, and place the meatballs in the oven.
  7. Drain the butter and remove most of the crisped meaty drippings.
  8. On low heat melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and add the flour to the pan.  Whisk until the flour turns light brown.
  9. Add the beef broth and stir until the gravy begins to thicken.
  10. Add the sour cream and continue to cook until the gravy is your desired consistency.  Add the meatballs to allow them to get hot.
  11. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Note on Clarifying Butter

If you're making your own clarified butter, you should use a bit more than a stick because you'll lose some to the clarification.  I typically melt a stick and a half.  You might have a little more than you need but HEY you have EXTRA clarified butter, which is good.

  1. Slowly melt butter in small pot
  2. Skim off top solids with a spoon. You can keep these for later use in some other recipe.
  3. Strain the remaining butter through a cheesecloth.