This is it! The Swedish meatballs that my mom made for me and my sisters growing up, and I now make for my own kids. My kids love them, and therefore, I make them at least once a month. I also use this base recipe to make sliders, “Swedish Meatball Style Sliders” I call them. Delicious.
With any classic recipe there will be many variations, so if you are surprised by this recipe, that is why. No breadcrumbs, egg, or nutmeg, and I even skip the sauce…
Meatballs are a good source of iron, protein, and B vitamins, which is especially important for picky eaters who may not be getting enough of these nutrients from other foods. When my kids were younger, and shunning most meat, I found that this was one of the only ways I could them to eat it.
One of the key elements of this recipe is the shredded and sauteed onion. Shredding the onion makes it much finer and less likely to be noticed by discerning kids. And when you saute the onion the flavor mellows a bit and becomes better suited to be a meatball ingredient.
The recipe my mom and I use is adapted from a classic Swedish cookbook, Vår Kokbok. While it’s typically made with 1/2 beef and 1/2 pork, I often use all beef just to simplify my shopping a little. Swedish meatballs are smaller than Italian meatballs, so they take a little extra time to make, but they are well worth it! Once you have made this recipe a couple of times, you become more efficient and skilled, and it gets easier and faster.
- ⅓ cup old-fashioned oats (gluten-free if needed)
- ⅔ cup water
- 2 teaspoons potato or corn starch
- 2 + 2 teaspoons canola oil or butter + more as needed
- 2 tablespoons grated yellow onion (about ½ small onion)
- ½ pound grass-fed ground beef
- ½ pound ground pork (or substitute ground beef)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon white (or black) pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional)
- nonstick spray
- In a large bowl, mix together the oats, starch, and water. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil or butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until soft and fragrant, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add the ground beef, pork, salt, pepper, and onions to the oat mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
- Wet hands and form meat mixture into small balls, making sure that they are all about the same size. (Recipe should make anywhere from 32 to 40 meatballs, depending on size). Place uncooked meatballs on a wet* cutting board.
- Heat another 2 teaspoons of canola oil or butter in a large nonstick** or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add about 8-12 meatballs, being careful not to overcrowd the skillet. Shake the pan so that they cook evenly while retaining round shape. Once browned on all sides, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes, until cooked through.
- Transfer cooked meatballs to a Dutch oven, sprayed with nonstick spray and placed over very low heat. Cover and keep warm while you finish cooking the other meatballs.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 with remaining meatballs.
**A nonstick skillet will need much less added fat, and the meatballs will be less likely to stick. But a cast-iron skillet is the more classic tool for making meatballs.
As I said, I don’t make the gravy type sauce that many Swedes do (like they serve at IKEA), probably because my mom never made it. However, I do love to serve the meatballs with a little lingonberry jam, a classic Swedish condiment. My older son likes to dip them in ketchup. Whether I serve the meatballs with potatoes, pasta, quinoa, or couscous depends on the day.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. Remember to make extra and freeze to have on hand for quick dinners (this kid-favorite is especially good to have on hand on those nights when you are going out for dinner but still need to feed the kids).