Savory Swedish Meatballs (Köttbullar)

Köttbullar, as Swedish meatballs are known, are made with ground meat and breadcrumbs softened in milk. The exact preparation varies from kitchen to kitchen. Sometimes the meatballs include ground pork or diced onion, and sometimes they are served with gravy. According to Sweden’s national website, the most important ingredient of this home-cooking staple is that the meatballs “must be prepared, above all, with love.”

Swedish Meatballs


  • ¾ cup (45 g) day-old white breadcrumbs
  • 1¼ cup (300 ml) milk
  • 1½ lbs (680 g) ground beef, or ground beef mixed with ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small onion (use less if desired)
  • ⅓ teaspoon (0.6 g) ground allspice
  • Salt and white pepper to taste
  • Butter, for frying


  • Place breadcrumbs in a bowl, and pour milk over the top. Soak for about 5 minutes.
  • Peel and grate the onion.
  • In a large bowl, mix the meat, egg, onion, allspice, salt, and white pepper until they are well mixed.
  • Shape meat mixture into small balls, using wet hands or wooden spoons.
  • On medium-high heat, melt butter in a frying pan until it stops sizzling.
  • Place meatballs in the frying pan (not all will fit at once). Stir or shake the pan frequently to brown the meatballs on all sides.
  • After the meatballs have browned, turn down the heat but continue cooking for about 10 minutes, until desired doneness is reached. (Use a meat thermometer if you would like—the meatballs will be almost well done at 160° F, or 70°C.)

Makes 45–60 meatballs, depending on the size.Traditional Swedish meatballs may be served without sauce or with thick or thin brown gravy.Do you have Swedish ancestors?

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Many thanks to our writers and the Swedish families who donated recipes: Sunny Morton, Glen and Debbie Greener, Jan and Betty Jonson, Sunniva Salomonsson, Dee Wilhite, and Rebecca Wood Haggard.Additional recipe credits: and

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