This homemade version of the iconic Ikea Swedish meatballs recipe is a great copycat. Made with a rich and savory cream sauce and packed with flavor, it’s classic comfort food that will become an instant family favorite.
Ikea Swedish Meatballs
If you’ve never been to an Ikea furniture store, you are missing out on rooms packed with cute decor and furniture and missing out on the food court section. Yes, Ikea’s are so large that they need their own food court! And one of the most famous foods to walk out of that court are these meatballs.
If buying new furniture or getting lost in a several-acre store (average is 7 acres per store) isn’t on your list of things to do, then stay at home and whip up a batch of these easy Swedish meatballs instead. Save yourself a day of wandering around and simply relax. You won’t have to go anywhere besides (maybe) to your local grocery store.
Ingredients for Easy Swedish Meatballs
For the Meatballs, You Will Need:
- Ground beef
- Garlic cloves
- Dried thyme
- Dried rosemary
- Olive oil
For the Swedish Meatball Sauce, You Will Need:
- All-purpose flour
- Beef broth
- Sour cream
- Heavy cream
- Tomato paste
- Brown mustard
- Worcestershire sauce
- Fresh Parsley
For the exact amounts needed, please see the recipe card below.
How to Make Easy Swedish Meatballs
For the Swedish Meatballs
- Combine the breadcrumbs and just enough milk to moisten them in a small bowl. Do this by pouring in a little bit of milk, mixing it, and then repeating until the breadcrumbs are all moistened.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- Add in the breadcrumb mixture and then mix again to combine.
- Add in more milk as needed until the consistency of the meatballs is soft and slightly sticky. You should be able to roll them into balls and have them stay in shape.
- Form the meat mixture into 1-inch-sized balls (I use a 1-inch cookie scoop).
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat your oil over medium-high heat until it is shimmering.
- Place some of the meatballs down into the pot and fry on all sides until browned. Do not crowd the pot. You will need to work in about 3 batches.
- Remove the fried meatballs and store them on a paper towel-lined plate while you continue.
- The meatballs will not be finished cooking at this point. They will finish cooking inside of the sauce.
For the Swedish Meatball Sauce
- Using the same pot that you fried the meatballs in, adjust the fat so that there are only 2 tablespoons of it in the pot. This means adding butter or removing grease as needed.
- Add in 2 tablespoons of flour and cook on medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes.
- Whisk as you gradually add in the beef broth and continue to whisk until the sauce has thickened. This should take about 3 minutes.
- Add in the sour cream, heavy cream, tomato paste, brown mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and allspice. Stir until combined.
- Taste the sauce and adjust as needed with salt and pepper.
- Add in all of the meatballs and gently stir them around to make sure that they all get covered and the sauce is evenly distributed.
- Bake the pot in the oven on the middle rack at 350 degrees F for 30-45 minutes.
- Stir gently once you have finished, and sprinkle some chopped fresh parsley before serving if desired.
- Serve warm, and enjoy!
Swedish Meatball Recipe Tips
- I used my dutch oven for this recipe, but you can use any large pot that is stovetop and oven safe.
- I used some of my homegrown dried herbs, but you could use fresh; just remember to double the quantities when going from a dry herb measurement to a fresh herb measurement. For example, 1 teaspoon of dried parsley would be 2 teaspoons of fresh parsley.
- The tomato paste is really what brings the sauce together and sends these homemade Swedish meatballs over the top.
What to Serve With Swedish Meatballs
Yes, you can prepare this recipe in advance. Either by making and freezing the homemade meatballs days or weeks early or by prepping the meatballs earlier in the day and keeping them in the fridge until you’re ready to make the sauce.
The sauce starts out with a basic roux, equal parts fat to flour. It’s really easy to make and tastes amazing, especially since you use the oil you fried the meatballs in. Using the meatball drippings as the fat for this roux really helps to make it extra flavorful and delicious.
You can keep your leftover meatballs stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat again before serving to make the sauce runny, and the meatballs warmed through. You may need to add a bit of water to the sauce to thin it out.
Yes, you can freeze this recipe. After the meatballs and sauce have cooled completely, place them into an airtight container for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge or for a few hours on the counter before warming them up in a pot on the stove until fully warmed.
This recipe for Swedish meatballs is actually better than the Ikea version. I love everything about this recipe, from the comforting and flavorful sauce to the easy prep. I can always count on there to be an empty pot whenever I make these. They never last long!
Better than Ikea Swedish Meatballs
For the Meatballs
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons onion grated
- 2 garlic cloves grated
- 1 teaspoon thyme dried
- 1 teaspoon rosemary dried
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the Sauce
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups beef broth
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pinch allspice
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped
For the Meatballs
- In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and just enough of the milk to moisten them throughout. Pour a little bit in, mix, and repeat until they are all moist.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.
- Mix together very well.
- Add in the breadcrumb mixture and mix until combined.
- Add more milk until the consistency of the meatballs is soft and slightly sticky. You should be able to roll them into balls and have them stay in shape easily.
- Form into 1-inch balls, I like to use a 1-inch cookie scoop for this job.
- Freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes, if time allows. This makes them hold up better for frying.
- In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat oil on medium high heat until shimmering.
- Place meatballs in the dutch oven and fry until brown on all sides. Don’t crowd the dutch oven, you’ll need to do about three batches. Remove fried meatballs from pan and store on a paper towel lined plate while you fry the rest.
- The meatballs aren’t fully cooked at this stage, you will finish cooking them in the sauce.
For the Sauce
- Using the pot you fried the meatballs in, adjust fat to be about 2 tablespoons. You may have to remove some fat or add a tablespoon or so of butter.
- Add 2 tablespoons of flour and cook on medium low for about 2-3 minutes.
- Gradually pour in the beef broth, whisking the whole time. Let simmer until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
- Add sour cream, cream, tomato paste, brown mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and all spice.
- Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
- Add all of the meatballs into the sauce and gently make sure they are all covered and evenly distributed.
- Bake in the oven, lid on, on the middle rack on 350 degrees F for 30-45 minutes.
- Stir gently once finished, sprinkle with fresh parsley for serving, if desired.