Swedish Meatballs Aren’t from Sweden

Swedish meatballs aren’t from Sweden.  Yep, you are reading this correctly.   Swedish meatballs are well loved and enjoyed the world over, and with Sweden being in the name, it is easy to think that Sweden is where they originated.  Nope.  They actually originated in Turkey.  In the early 1700’s Sweden lost a war with Russia, and King Charles XII, who was the King of Sweden at the time, was exiled to the Ottoman Empire, near Bender Moldova, for five years before being allowed to return back home to Sweden.  When he was able to return home, he brought back a few foods and recipes as a gift from the Empire to the Swedish people.  He used food as a way to strengthen the relationships between Turkey, the Ottoman Empire and Sweden.   Some of the foods and recipes he brought back with him were stuffed cabbages, coffee, and the meatballs or kofte, as they are known in Turkey.   These kofte were served with a brown gravy made from sour cream and evolved into what is now known as Svenska Kottbullar in Sweden, or Swedish meatballs to the rest of the world.


Swedish Meatballs

1/2-3/4 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

2-3 TBSP butter

olive oil

1 small onion, chopped fine

1-1 1/2 lbs ground beef, or a combination of both ground beef and ground pork (2/3 lb of beef and 1/3 lb pork)

1 egg

1 TBSP brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp ginger

2 1/4 broth, either chicken or beef

3 TBSP flour

8 oz sour cream



Preheat the oven to 350* F or 175* C


Mix the breadcrumbs and the heavy whipping cream together and let sit for about 10 minutes.


While the breadcrumbs and whipping cream are setting, saute the onions in half the butter for about 10 minutes, or until they are lightly golden and translucent.

Mix all the spices, ground beef, sauteed onions, brown sugar and the egg together, incorporating everything together well.  Then add the breadcrumb mixture and mix well again.


Once everything is completely mixed together, form the meatballs, about 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 in size.  Cook the meatballs in the rest of the butter, mixed with a little bit of olive oil.  Cook the meatballs until they are browned on all sides.  The middle will still be pink, but they will cook more when you place them in the oven.


When the meatballs are ready, place them in a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and add about 1/4 cup of broth.  Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake for abut 40 minutes.

Whisk the flour into the butter and oil that is left in the skillet, then slowly add the remainder of the broth.  Mix everything together well, making sure to really incorporate all the meat drippings into the mixture.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes.  When everything is well incorporated together, turn the heat off and add the sour cream and salt and pepper as needed.


Add the meatballs to the gravy and serve over either cooked pasta or mashed potatoes.


I served my meatballs over cooked pasta, with some green beans and an herb bread.  I chose to go with a rich, oakey, buttery chardonnay because the sauce is more or less a white sauce.  Enjoy.


Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

30 thoughts on “Swedish Meatballs Aren’t from Sweden”

      1. Honestly, I’ve never had them. After herding my way through that monster store and then standing in line to pay I just wanna get out of there lol! But I have heard they’re great. And I might actually try them, one day.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Hey! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Outstanding blog and superb style and design.


    1. Thank you. I am glad to hear your are enjoying “A Jeanne in the Kitchen”. I am sorry I am just now getting back to you. For some reason this ended up in my spam mail. You can always reach me at ajeanneinthekitchen.com or my email address at ljbjej@q.com.


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