Swedes Love Their Meatballs

Know how to cook Swedish meatballs - How to be Swedish

Have you been to IKEA recently? If you had a delicious lunch there together with your partner or children, you probably considered ordering some healthy like a typically Swedish salmon with potatoes. But then you went for köttbullar (meatballs) with fries. Happens to me almost every time.

When you ordered köttbullar, you might have pronounced the ‘k’ of ‘köttbullar’ with a ‘k’-sound. The correct version would be “shöttbullar” instead. Although the waitress said it wrong, too, do better not correct her. Unless you want to risk getting that one meat ball she dropped on the floor a few minutes ago.

Here how to correctly pronounce köttbullar (video)

Popular Swedish food

Swedes love their meatballs. This is why you, as a new-Swede, should know how to prepare their national dish. Even though, contrary to many Swedes’ believes, this dish isn’t even on the Top 10 list on the most popular in Sweden.

Book about Sweden - How to be Swedish

The most popular dish in Sweden is NOT meatballs. It’s Spaghetti with köttfärssås (mincemeat sauce)

Whenever you feel like having Swedish meatballs but don’t want to go to IKEA and risk spending money on furniture and home decoration that you actually don’t need, remember, you can easily prepare them yourself. No magic. Even I can do it. Here’s the recipe…

Original Swedish meatballs recipe

Just follow the steps below and voila, your original Swedish meatballs can be served on your IKEA tableware in no time.


For 4–6 servings

  • some butter/oil for the pan
  • 75 g (¾ cup) white breadcrumbs
  • 500 g (18 oz) ground beef/pork mixture
  • 250 ml (1¼ cup) milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 onion
  • salt
  • pepper
  • ground allspice

Preparation, in 8 easy steps

  1. Soak the breadcrumbs in milk, for about 10 minutes.
  2. In the meantime dice the onion and fry gently in a little butter/olive oil without browning.
  3. Blend the ground meat mixture with the onion, egg, milk/breadcrumb mixture and the spices.
  4. Add salt and pepper. Continue blending for about 5-10 minutes. Add a little water if the mixture feels too firm. Check the taste by test-frying one meatball.
  5. Then shape small meatballs with the aid of two spoons or with your hands – it’s easier if you smear some butter in your hands to make the raw meatballs stick less. Place on clean plates.
  6. Brown a pat of butter in a frying pan, and as soon as it ‘goes quiet’ place the meatballs in the pan and let them brown on all sides.
  7. Shake the frying pan regularly.
  8. Fry until meatballs have the desired color.

What to serve with Swedish meatballs

Most Swedes serve kokt potatis (boiled potatoes) or potato purée. But you can also combine it with French fries, egg noodles or Spaghetti. Also, don’t forget to add some raw stirred lingonberries. This makes your plate look more colorful and inviting.

Now that you have prepared and eaten your home-made köttbullar you can consider yourself a step closer to perfected Swedishness – and apply for a position as chef at IKEA.

Disclaimer: No, IKEA didn’t pay me anything to mention them so often on this blog. Swedes mention IKEA even more often, and they don’t get paid either.

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