Köttbullar – Swedish meatballs

If you’ve ever been to IKEA and had lunch in their cafeteria you will no doubt have come across Köttbullar (pronounced shutbullar), which are the very tasty Swedish meatballs in a lovely creamy sauce served with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam.

Maybe not to everyone’s taste but in our family we love them and as well as coming home with flatpack furniture we always bring home a bag of frozen Köttbullar.

In these times of lockdowns and having to get get tested to shop for non food items and of course for a better taste I have decided to make my my own.

So what makes Swedish meatballs different to others, well to start with the meatballs are smaller than your average meatball and they are seasoned with allspice and nutmeg and no herbage, although you can use chopped parsley and mix your bread crumbs with cream. but I followed a recipe from the famous Swedish chef Niklas Ekstedt, although I used a slightly different method for the gravy, but non the less these are a tasty treat!

Serves 4


For the meatballs

4 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
4 tbsp milk or water
225 g (8 oz) pork mince
225 g (8 oz) veal or beef mince
2 tbsp grated onion*
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 whole allspice, crushed (optional)
salt and freshly ground white pepper
*The onion is better grated than chopped

For the cream sauce

300 ml (1¼ cups) hot water
½-1 beef stock cube
2 tbsp plain flour (all-purpose flour)
100 ml (7 tbsp) milk or water
½-1 tsp soy sauce
2-3 tbsp cream

Preparation method:

For the Köttbullar- meatballs

Put the breadcrumbs in a large bowl and add 4 tablespoons of milk or water. Leave them to absorb the liquid for about 5 minutes.

Add the minced meat to the bread and milk mixture then the grated onion, egg, allspice (optional) salt and pepper. Mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until evenly mixed. Don’t over mix or the meatballs will be more dense.

When all mixed take about a tablespoon or ice cream scoop of the mixture and roll it until it makes a ball. (Rinse your hands in cold water if the mixture is too sticky.) Repeat until you have used up all the mixture.

There are two options for cooking the meatballs. You can place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper or you can fry in the pan as follows.

Heat a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over a medium high heat until the butter stops sizzling. Fry half the meatballs, shaking the pan frequently when you first add them. When they are nicely browned, turn down the heat and cook for a further 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs from the pan and keep warm.

Add another tablespoon of butter and fry the remaining meatballs in the same way as in step 4.

For the Gräddsås – creamy sauce

When the meatballs are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the warm water and use it to scrap up all the meaty bits in the pan. Bring it up to the boil and let it simmer for a minute or two.

Sieve the mixture into a saucepan, add the stock cube and stir until dissolved.

Mix the flour with the milk or water and stir until dissolved. Pour into the saucepan, whisking continuously as you do go and when once boiled simmer the sauce for 5 minutes.

Add the soy sauce and cream. Heat for another couple of minutes, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. (Use a whisk if you like a little foam. If you like lots of bubbles, use an immersion blender with the blade half in and half out of the sauce.) Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Serve the meatballs with rårörda lingon, which is a cranberry jam and mashed potatoes. Pour the rest of the cream sauce into a jug for people to help themselves to if they want more.