How to Make Swedish Meatballs
When you think of Scandinavian food, you probably think of Swedish meatballs (and Ikea!). This flavorful and simple dish is by far one of the most popular to come out of Sweden (pickled herring just never took off in quite the same way). The process of how to make Swedish meatballs isn't really all that different from making any other type of meatballs. We suspect it's their miniature size as well as the lingonberry jam and gravy -- giving the dish a perfect sweet-savory balance -- that has made Swedish meatballs such a huge hit in this country.

Swedish meatballs can be made of various types of meat. Some cooks use a combination of meats, such as half beef and half pork, or half veal and half pork. Almost any ground or minced meat will do. This recipe uses lean ground beef and fat-free half-and-half to lower the fat content of the traditional recipe.

Transcript
-Hey, everyone. I'm Judith. Well, we all know the reason we go to IKEA. It's not for that furniture; it's for those meatballs. Well, today you're in luck because I'm gonna replicate those Swedish meatballs right here in the kitchen. Today, I'm gonna be showing you how to make Swedish meatballs. So what you'll need for this is full pieces of firm white bread, cubed; 1 cup of fat-free half-and-half divided; 1 large egg beaten; 1 pound of lean ground beef; a quarter cup of dry plain bread crumbs; 1 tablespoon of grated onion; 1 teaspoon of salt; a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg; and a quarter teaspoon of pepper; 2 teaspoons of butter; 1 jar of home-style beef gravy; and some lingonberry sauce is optional. So, the first thing we wanna do is preheat our oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, let's get a large mixing bowl, and what we wanna do is add in our cubed bread. So, in it goes. So we'll add now our half-and-half, which has been divided; so, half of a half-and-half, and it goes into the bowl. And we also wanna add in our egg yolk. So, let's stir that in so all of the bread gets covered. And we wanna let this mixture soak into the bread for 5 minutes. So, it's been 5 minutes. Our bread is soaked into that creamy, eggy mixture. So now what we're gonna do is take a fork and just mash it up, and it should mash pretty easily. So got your muscles going, and we'll get that nice and soft. So, once that's looking a little bit like baby food, all nice and mashed up, we can then add in our other ingredients. So, all of our other ingredients is going in here aside from our gravy and our butter. So, in goes our beef. Today, we're gonna do some lean ground beef, so it's half of the fat is in our meatballs, which is good. Bread crumbs going there, salt, pepper, that lovely scent of nutmeg, our grated onion, and the rest of our half and half. Alright. And you can get a spoon or you can do it with your fork, but we'd just wanna mix that in altogether very, very well. So, make sure you got a lot of muscle power in there, and let's get all of those ingredients mixed up nicely. So, once our mixture is all coming together here, sometimes you'll find it is actually better to do with your hands and we're gonna get our hands dirty because you wanna make this mixture into our meatballs. Before we do that, let's get our large skillet here. Put it to a medium-high heat, and get this butter melting. So, our butter goes in there. Now, with your hands, you can get your meat mixture. Now, really, you have to play it by ear here. It's kind of trial and error. If you find your mixture is a little bit too liquidy and creamy as mine is just ever so slightly, you can add in more bread crumbs. So that will make it a little bit more to the consistency that you wanted. So, once our meatball mixture is all combined together, now it's time to make our little meatballs. So, they wanna be about 1-inch wide. Obviously, if you like them a little bigger, that's fine, but, you know, keep them petite. That way, they'll get round a little bit more. So, with your hands, just roll them up into a ball and all we do, our butter is nice and hot there in our pan, is in batches we'll put them in our pan and let them fry up there. So, we wanna get them so they're all nicely browned on the outside. So, we'll do the same with all of our mixture. We'll work in batches, get them all fried up, nicely browned, and then we'll transfer them onto the baking dish. So, our meatballs are now browned on all sides as you can see, and what we wanna do now is cook them the whole way through in the oven with some of the gravy. So, let's transfer some of our meatballs onto a baking dish like so. They are looking and smelling fantastic already, and this is just a really nice way to finish them off, cooked in gravy, and they cook all the way through. In the saucepan, we just wanna get them browned. They're not fully cooked. So, in they go. And this is just fantastic either served as an appetizer or over noodles with some pasta, whatever you like. Meatballs are always a winner. So, once they are all on the baking dish, now let's mix in some of our gravy. So, we wanna add in about a quarter cup of our gravy, so I'm just gonna eyeball this, about a quarter cup of our gravy there, and mix it in if we can with our spoon just to get a nice and colored as fast as we possibly can. In that way, when these meatballs are cooking in the oven, they stay nice and moist cooking in that gravy. So, we'll just give them a good turn all of them now with our gravy. Now, as I said, our oven is preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. So, these are gonna go into the oven covered with a little bit of our aluminum foil, which we're gonna do right now. There we go. Perfect. And they're gonna go in that for 20 minutes. So, the last 10 minutes while our meatballs are cooking in the oven, let's get our gravy ready. So, let's get our saucepan to a medium heat, and we'll add in our remaining gravy. And what we also wanna do is add in our remaining half-and-half to that too. So, in that goes. Now, we wanna bring this to a boil. Once it boils, then we're gonna reduce that to a simmer and it's gonna simmer here for 10 minutes. We wanna serve that nice and hot to go with our meatballs. Right. So, our Swedish meatballs are out of the oven. They've been in there for 20 minutes. Uh, and they're looking fantastic. So we wanna serve them nice and hot with our gravy. So, let's spoon up a few of these. Now, a little goes a long way with meatballs and any leftovers we have, you can stick them in the freezer and they can freeze for up to a month. So, let's stick for 4 or 5 on there. Uh, they look great, nice and moist as we like them. And last but not least then, let's get our sauce. That lovely gravy with a half-and-half is just blended in to make this lovely thick sauce, and let's just smoothen that either on top or on the side, however you like it. Oh, look at that. Fantastic. And that's it with a little bit of lingonberry sauce like the Swedish like will be perfect. There you go. No need to go all the way to IKEA when you can do it at home. That's how you make your Swedish meatballs.
What You'll Need
  • 4   pieces firm white bread, cubed

  • 1   cup fat-free half-and-half, divided

  • 1   large egg, beaten

  • 1   pound lean ground beef

  • 1/4  cup dry plain bread crumbs

  • 1   tablespoon grated onion

  • 1   teaspoon salt

  • 1/4  teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1/4  teaspoon pepper

  • 2   teaspoons butter

  • 1  12  ounce jar or 1-1/2 cups homestyle beef gravy

  •  Lingonberry sauce or red currant jam, optional

  •  


Step By Step
1
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine bread, 1/2 cup half-and-half, and the egg. Let soak 5 minutes. Mash bread mixture with a fork and add all remaining ingredients except the butter and gravy. Mix together and shape into mini meatballs. Melt butter in a nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add meatballs in batches, browning on all sides. Transfer finished meatballs to a baking dish. Mix in 1/4 cup gravy, cover, and bake 20 minutes.
2
Meanwhile, in a saucepan, over medium heat combine remaining gravy and remaining 1/2 cup half-and-half. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Serve meatballs with creamy gravy, and lingonberry sauce, if desired. Leftovers can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.


Note
  • Serve over egg noodles with a side of cooked vegetables and you've got a meal.
While this dish is a favorite in homes across the United States, it's no surprise that it's best known in the Midwest, where large numbers of Swedish immigrants settled. Serve these Swedish meatballs with their creamy gravy as an appetizer or over noodles with the ligonberry sauce on the side. The meatballs can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.
When you know how to make Swedish meatballs, you have an easy option other than take-out when you're in the mood for "international" fare.
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