Swedish Meatballs “Köttbullar” – Traditional Recipe from Sweden

Swedish Meatballs Recipe - Köttbullar from Sweden
Swedish Meatballs Recipe – Köttbullar from Sweden

Every Swede has eaten them at least once in their life. And not only when going to a local IKEA store. It’s one of the most typical Swedish foods you can have on your plate: the delicious Swedish meat balls.

In Sweden they are called “köttbullar“, the Swedish word for meatballs.

You wonder how to make Swedish meat balls? Below you find an original Swedish recipe.

Meatballs at IKEA in Sweden

I took the picture above when I was at IKEA in Älmhult, a little town in Småland, South Sweden, where IKEA’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, started the company in 1943. Until today Älmhult remains the main seat of IKEA. Every time I go there for a visit, I make sure to stop by in the restaurant and get either fresh salmon or köttbullar.

Book about Sweden - How to be Swedish

Meatballs, favorit food of Swedes?

Not exactly. Actually meatballs aren’t even in the top 10 of the most popular Swedish dishes. The most popular one in Sweden is spaghetti with meat sauce.

Original Swedish meatballs recipe

Preparing meatballs is easy. Just follow the steps below and voila, your original meatballs à la Svensson are ready 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


  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.

Smaklig måltid!

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.

How to pronounce köttbullar

Astrid Lindgrens Köttbullar-song

Great song to play on repeat while cooking your meatballs. Or, actually, you will probably have to listen to the song only once, since it easily sticks in your head.

Now that you have prepared and eaten your homemade köttbullar, you can finally apply for a position as Swedish chef at IKEA. :) 

More about Swedish food and recipes

6 thoughts on “Swedish Meatballs “Köttbullar” – Traditional Recipe from Sweden”

  1. Hi.. nice blog, thank you for the recipes and all of the information about Sweden.
    Have a good day!

  2. I am intrigued by this recipe. We recently returned from Stockholm where we had swedish meatballs at a local restaurant that were delicious. they were a bit sweet, served in a wonderful gravy with mash potatoes. They were also served with a side of lingonberries (of course) and some slightly sweet pickles. Delicious. What is used to make the meatballs and gravy a bit sweet?

    • Hej Ralph! The sweetness comes from the bread, I guess. Which is rather sweet in Sweden.

  3. Back in the 70’s as a young Swedish- American woman my grandmother from the old country scolded me for not knowing how to make meatballs. My mother handled that task . Even with the popularity and convenience of IKEA’s handy bag I work on perfecting meatballs through guilt. While visiting family in Sweden tasting different family recipes I pry for secrets. One cousin makes them to perfection and has shared his recipe – although written in Swedish I think something was left out – that dash of allspice perhaps. Good cooks don’t reveal all their secrets . Anyway his version is delicious sans breadcrumbs instead using potatoes and a bit of coffee in the gravy . The best I’ve ever had . But yours is pretty much like my mother’s , grandmother’s and all the Swedes I know . Fun site .


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