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Swedish Meatballs and Gravy

Swedish Meatballs and Gravy

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A comfort food classic, I can eat Swedish meatballs and gravy any time, any place!

Although we ate a few Swedish dishes when I was growing up, Swedish meatballs and gravy didn’t make the table as often as you might think. In fact, this recipe has been on a little more of a winding road than most. I first published it back in 2019 after my aunt (shoutout to Sandy!) uncovered what we all believed to be her moms Swedish meatball recipe. They were delicious.

Probably 6 months later, the REAL recipe surfaced. It’s very very similar, with the most notable difference being the addition of something seemingly simple: cream. And so little of it! But my mom made this specific recipe last Christmas and the verdict is in: these are just better.

That got me curious. I wondered if perhaps it was just the result of adding a little more delicious fat to the lean ground pork.  But there’s actually a little more to it than that. Cream’s high fat and water content protects the proteins in the meat from the high heat of cooking. At the same time, its lactic acid works to soften the collagen in both of the meats. The end result of both of these things is silkier, more luxurious Swedish meatballs. I was genuinely surprised at the difference it made.

three-swedish-meatballs-on-a-wooden-spoon-garnished-with-thyme-and-rosemary

Because the ingredients in this recipe are so simple, my advice for maximizing the flavor of your Swedish meatballs and gravy is choosing the right meat option. I always strongly recommend cooking with 100% grass-fed ground beef. You can find more information about that here. In addition to being a much healthier option, it has a deeper and richer beef flavor than its lower quality counter-parts. However, if you don’t have any available, conventional ground beef will work fine. I also recommend choosing the highest quality pork you can- and if you don’t have a selection of high quality pork, at least choose the fattiest ground pork you can. Ultra lean, factory-farmed ground pork is basically flavorless.

This is a perfect freezer-friendly recipe. If planning to freeze, place in a single layer on a cookie sheet while still raw. (Don’t skip the step where you let the meatballs rest in the refrigerator! I did a side-by-side comparison, and the ones that were allowed to sit first were significantly more delicious!)  Freeze until solid, rotating occasionally to keep from sticking. Once solid, place in a freezer bag where they’ll last 3-4 months. I usually bake them from frozen and just add 5 more minutes to the cook time, but you can let them defrost as well.

Typically these are served with lingonberries, although I rarely have them at my disposal. Cranberry sauce works well in a pinch, although I most often serve them over mashed potatoes. But they make a fine meatball sandwich, soup ingredient, or pasta topping as well! Swedish meatballs are great in almost anything that calls for Italian-style meatballs.

Looking for other awesome Swedish recipes? Try my recipes for Smörbakelser and Swedish Pancakes!

Swedish Meatballs and Gravy

A comfort food classic, I can eat Swedish meatballs and gravy any time, any place!

Course Appetizer, Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Swedish
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 1 day

Ingredients

For Meatballs:

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion (about 1 cup), small diced
  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • 2/3 lb raw 100% grass-fed beef (85% lean)
  • 1/3 lb raw ground pork
  • 3 tbsp bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp dried parsley

For Gravy:

  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions

Prepare Meatballs:

  1. In a medium pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Cook diced onions for about 7-8 minutes until translucent, but not carmelized. 

  2. Once onions are translucent, combine them with all other ingredients in a mixing bowl. You will probably want to do this by hand.

  3. Grease a large baking sheet. Roll approximately golf-ball-sized meatballs and place evenly on the sheet. Refrigerate for at least an hour and preferrably overnight.

To Freeze Meatballs:

  1. After letting the meatballs rest in the refrigerator, you can place the whole tray in the freezer. Rotate meatballs occasionally to keep them from sticking.

  2. After they have frozen solid, they can be placed in a large freezer-safe bag and stored for 3-4 months!

To Cook Meatballs and Gravy:

  1. Preheat oven to 425.

  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and evenly place meatballs.

  3. Bake for 20 minutes from refrigerated, or 25 minutes if frozen.

  4. In the meantime, prepare the gravy. Melt butter in a medium pot. Whisk in flour and let cook until it doesn't smell like raw flour anymore, about 1 minute. Add beef broth and heavy cream and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened.

  5. Serve Swedish meatballs and gravy by themselves or over mashed potatoes!

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