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Classic Swedish Meatballs

I'm a "Svenska flicka" (Swedish girl) from northwest Iowa, where many Swedes settled at the turn of the century. This recipe was given to me by a Swedish friend. It's obviously a 20th century version of a 19th century favorite, since back then they didn't have bouillon cubes or evaporated milk! I think you'll agree that these modern-day "Kottbullar" are very tasty. —Emily Gould, Hawarden, Iowa
  • Total Time
    Prep: 15 min. + chilling Cook: 20 min.
  • Makes
    3-1/2 dozen


  • 1-2/3 cups evaporated milk, divided
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • Dash pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Canned lingonberries, optional


  • Combine 2/3 cup evaporated milk with the next 5 ingredients. Add beef; mix lightly. Refrigerate until chilled.
  • With wet hands, shape meat mixture into 1-in. balls. In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Brown meatballs in batches. Dissolve bouillon in boiling water. Pour over meatballs; bring to a boil. Cover; simmer 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, stir together cold water and flour. Remove meatballs from skillet; skim fat, reserving juices. Add flour mixture and remaining evaporated milk to pan juices; cook, uncovered, over low heat, stirring until sauce thickens.
  • Return meatballs to skillet. Stir in lemon juice. If desired, top with lingonberries.
Nutrition Facts
1 meatball: 36 calories, 2g fat (1g saturated fat), 10mg cholesterol, 87mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 3g protein.


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Average Rating:
  • grandmascooking22
    Feb 20, 2021

    Best Swedish meatball I've ever tasted...including IKEAs. The meatballs are very fragile so I baked in the oven and baked till very done so they'd be harder and not fall apart in the gravy. I made the gravy and 5 or so minutes before serving I put them in the gravy. I could have added more bread crumbs but was afraid it'd affect the consistency. I made the recipe exactly as written with exception of the onion. I used a few Tablespoons chopped super fine as husband does not like onions but I felt they were needed for flavor. This recipes has replaced my go-to Swedish meatball recipe I've used for years. This one is better.

  • Kim
    Jan 8, 2021

    These were fantastic, left out the minced onion and added onion powder. Used Better than Bouillon. Excellent family meal, will definitely be making it again.

  • angela32
    Dec 11, 2020

    These are easy to make and taste great. I left out the allspice because I didn't have any.

  • TouchedPainter1
    Nov 1, 2020

    These are awesome, and delicious, and I am a foodie. I never use salty, acidic bouillon, I only use "better than bouillon". Balls held up without falling apart. The only flour ever in my house is bread machine flour; I find it worked out better no matter what I am coking/baking. I have been known to add a few other spices/herbs to my cooking. I love this recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  • Katie
    Aug 27, 2020

    I wasn't expecting much of this recipe, but had some ingredients that just needed to be used and this fit the bill without hitting the grocery store. These were easy and DELICIOUS!!! I really believe the key to this recipe is not over handling the meat mixture and using a high quality broth. (I used Better than Bouillon.) I was generous with the allspice and used a tad more panko crumbs. I minced my onions so my meatballs wouldn't fall apart. I also threw in a quarter cup of fresh minced parsley. Everything was a great consistency and cooked to perfection. Definitely adding this to my list of keeps.

  • Karen
    Jul 11, 2020

    OMG!!! I have to tell you my meatball world is complete. I love meatballs and make Italian ones a lot. The secret ingredient that make them delicious is buttermilk. I've made Swedish meatballs once and it was this recipe. When I got to the party the host and his roommate tasted them. I was outside the window and I heard them sneaking a bunch in a container saying these are the best swedish meatballs I've ever had and these are for my lunch this week.I just giggled quietly I was proud and knew they were delicious. I lost the recipe and have been trying to find for about 8 years. I knew it had evaporated milk and I remembered svenska flicka meaning little girl. It's the only recipe I've seen with evaporated milk. Anybody reading this make them and you'll be in Swedish meatball heaven.. Yayyyy I finally found it. avnjuta all

  • ASIA
    May 8, 2020

    Firstly I just want to say I messed up on these because I put the whole evaporated milk in the meat mix which obviously made it extremely wet, I had to add more bread crumbs. But other than that this recipe was an amazing base recipe! I did not use regular bread crumbs I used panko crumbs, I added onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, a little bit of ground spicy seasoning. I ended up adding milk to the end and adding corn starch in that mix. For anyone who thinks this recipe sucks, you do realize you take a recipe and you make it your own! Adjust it to how you would like it! My meatballs turned out amazing. I used this recipe like i said as a base and I added from there! It was better the next day in the fridge and heated in the microwave because it had been marinating in its own creamy sauce. For future reference to anyone that cooks. -Add seasonings to recipes no one likes to put seasonings on their recipes because thats an acquired taste for some -If something looks a little bland add lemons, limes, extracts, cilantro etc. Happy Cooking! Cause I am making these again for the 2nd time this week!! I can not get enough and my mom wants me to make her some too!! Oh and thanks for posting this recipe!! IT was a HUGE HIT!

  • Sherri
    Apr 1, 2020

    Awesome better than IKEA! PS i had to join to be a member to post---great recipe.

  • jofloats
    Feb 17, 2020

    I am just reading these reviews. I can not believe Ted has never written a recipe stating “add next 2,3 or 8 ingredients. Been cooking for over 60 yrs these were not difficult to follow. Plus he hasn’t tasted them yet. At least Erin tasted them before saying they weren’t like the frozen ones from ikea. I want to read reviews from people who have TASTED recipes.

  • Ted
    Nov 28, 2019

    I, like other people, followed this recipe to a “T”. They fell apart pathetically. This recipe made my cooking skills look bad. ( and I know how to cook meatballs). The instructions were very, very unclear. “Add with next 5 ingredients”. ??? Like how hard is it to be a little more clear and thorough and spell out those ingredients instead of having me guess what they mean. I haven’t even tasted them yet but I felt the need to write this because of how frustrating it was following this recipe. There are better recipes out there. Follow those. Save yourself the time and frustration and avoid this one.