Swedish Meatballs (Köttbullar): Around the Swedish Dinner Table

Lagom – not too much, not too little. Just right.

This describes one of the compliments you might hear from a Swede as you hand them a piece of cake or add a splash of milk to their coffee. They love the concept of balancing flavors and amounts so everything comes together simply and in all the right ways. While this concept can be used across many facets of life, you’ll often hear it around the Swedish dinner table along with an affectionate smile for the cook!

From daily meals to special occasions such as the crayfish party in the late summer, meals in Sweden are a family and friends affair. No day is known more for this than Fredagsmys (cozy Fridays) when all members of the family are fully obliged to chip in and make the meal. However, meals on this night are often more casual and easy, and many families have a tradition of watching a series or a movie together afterwards.

The Idensjö-Kronqvist Family has been a Homestay with DIS Stockholm since we opened in 2016, hosting students from Bates and Hamilton Colleges. They even joined two of their past students for their graduation at Bates! Cooking is one of their favorite hobbies to share with their students, and they love Fredagsmys. They have a cookbook that they give to the students each semester with their family favorite recipes, including Swedish meatballs.

Swedish Meatballs (Köttbullar)

Adapted from the recipe of Janis Granger, DIS Faculty Member


Serves 6 to 8
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground veal (ground beef may be substituted)
A handful of mixed fresh herbs (dill, flat-leaf parsley, and/or chives), roughly chopped
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups, fine dry breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon of ground allspice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Butter, for frying

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups beef stock
1 cup heavy cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To Serve
Mashed potatoes
Pressed cucumbers
Stirred lingonberries


For the meatballs

In a large bowl, combine the meat, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Add eggs and stir to thoroughly combine. Add breadcrumbs and then slowly blend in the milk, again stirring to thoroughly combine. Allow the mixture to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°F.

Using moistened hands, form a generous tablespoon of meat mixture into a 1-inch round meatball; repeat with remaining mixture to form about 50 to 60 meatballs. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet covered with wax paper.

Heat butter in a large frying pan until it almost turns brown. Arrange meatballs evenly, allowing room for turning them. Fry for 6 minutes, carefully turn and fry for another 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to a paper towel-lined platter. Transfer the platter to the oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining meat mixture until all meatballs have been fried.

For the gravy

Pour off and discard any burned butter in the pan, leaving any browned bits behind. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add butter. When foaming subsides, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until flour is light brown, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in broth, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits.

Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is reduced to about 2 cups, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cream and return to simmer.

Add meatballs to the gravy and simmer, turning occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve

Dish the meatballs and gravy atop a pile of mashed potatoes, and garnish with stirred lingonberries and pressed cucumbers.

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