Cooking English

How to make the best Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes

Learn how to make Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes

Scroll down for a short version of the recipe and the download.

This week I’m making Swedish meatballs. This is something that I had never tasted before, not even in an Ikea! So I looked up different recipes that may or may not be a good representation of the Swedish meatballs and I extracted my version out of it. But, tell me, when you’re looking at this video below, wouldn’t you say it doesn’t matter if it is representative or not? It looks crazy good! And it is crazy good too….

Doesn’t this look incredibly tasty? Believe me, it is super tasty!

The meatballs

Make sure you get all the ingredients before starting. It is easier to work, when you only have to reach to get what you need! Don’t forget to wash your hands before cooking too.

For this recipe, we’ll start with the meatballs. As usual we’re using ciabatta, because that’s the bread we eat at this house. You tear it in pieces, put it in a small bowl and let it soak in milk. Make sure all the bread is covered in milk or at least touching the milk. Set aside while you are preparing the meatballs.

Grating or cutting?

Now we’ll cut the shallot as small as possible. As you’ll see on the video, you could also grate the shallot, but I don’t see the added value. Unless you want to rinse your eyes with a good cry, don’t grate anything like an onion. It is not worth it. It was as if the wrath of the onions an shallots had been released on me and it was horrible. In this recipe you can use a simple yellow onion too in stead of the shallot. It really depends on your taste.

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a pan. You have to wait until the oil is quite hot before adding the shallot. You can test the heat by putting in a small piece. When it “dances” and makes some noise, the oil is ready. Fry the cut shallot until they get slightly transparent, but not brown. Once they are done, set aside.

By hand or with a spatula?

Take a large bowl and combine the ingredients for the meatballs: the minced meat, the spices, and the egg. Before adding the bread, squeeze out the milk. If you’re not wearing an apron, watch out for streams of escaping milk! They get everywhere in between the fingers and the streams can go very far if you squeeze with enthusiasm. Then you can also add the shallots. If you find that they are too hot to add, you can wait for a moment and stir them so the heat can escape. Or you can already blend everything (especially the egg) and then add the shallot.

Blending is the best by hand or if you don’t like the touch: a spatula. Never use any electric devices to blend the ingredients of the meatballs, as this may destroy the texture of the meat. By hand is very nice, as you get to feel the meat and get a better connection with it. You’ll start to understand it more. Not that it will tell you all it’s feelings, but you could get some insights in the different textures of the meat and other ingredients. It’s easier to make a mental connection and remember later if you should add more or less bread, spices the next time you make the recipe. (If you’d like it more or less spiced).

meatballs with spices and breadcrumbs
Beautiful meatballs, come to mama!

Baking the meatballs

Once the mix is more or less even, you start to make balls. Usually for the Swedish meatballs, the size is rather small, about 4 cm diameter per meatball. Of course, you could also make smaller or larger balls. Larger meatballs have less tendency to dry out, but they have to bake longer (in the oven).

When you’ve made all the meatballs, take the same pan you used for the onions and heat the oil and butter. When the butter is melted, put in gently the meatballs, without splattering the grease everywhere and bake the meatballs on all sides. Try to get them brown on all sides. It is not necessary to have them completely done, as they’ll go in the oven for some time and they’ll bake until done in there.

fresh meatballs in a pan
They’re just asking to be eaten…

I used quite a large pan in my video, because I like that pan, but there are some downsides to it. First of all: the fat goes to the sides of the pan, as there is a small groove. So I need to replace the meatballs all the time to get them in the fat. Another point is that my heat source isn’t really adapted to that size of pan. If I’d use a larger heat source, the meatballs would burn quickly. But as I use this one, the pan doesn’t really heat evenly. To avoid these problems, you can prepare the meatballs in smaller batches in a smaller pan that is adapted. Or you could use a cast iron skillet, which should heat evenly on all sides of the pan.

baked meatballs
Do you see that ring of grease on the side? It’s better to bake the meatballs in smaller batches in a smaller pan.

The creamy sauce

Now you make the sauce. You can also do this in the pan you used for the meatballs (take them out first!), but I do it in a separate sauce pan. Make a roux, that is the base for many sauces. For this: heat the butter for the sauce and add the flour until you get a nice thick consistency. Whisk it well, because if you don’t it may stick and burn to your pan. If you want more sauce, you’ll have to use more butter and flour, and of course also the other ingredients. Be careful not to exaggerate with the butter and flour, because changing a lot in these quantities can make the sauce too dense or just the inverse.

Gradually add the beef bouillon while continuously stirring, then add the cream and then the Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Let it cook for a moment, so the sauce gets a little bit thicker.

swedish meatballs in sauce in casserole
This is just coming out of the oven!

I always like to finish my meatballs in the oven, but you could also put the meatballs in the pan with the sauce and let it bake for ten minutes in there, on a low heat. I put the meatballs and the sauce in a casserole that is oven resistant, cover it, and put it in a preheated oven for another 15 minutes on 180°C. If you made smaller meatballs, don’t put them in the oven for too long, not more than 8 minutes. Did you made large meatballs? Check if they are done by cutting one at 15 minutes. If not, keep them in the oven for another 5 minutes or as long as needed.

juicy meatballs with swedish gravy sauce
Do you smell those aromas? Ah, yes, computers can’t yet send any smells…

Mashed potatoes

Mashed potatoes are really easy! Start preparing your mashed potatoes just before making the sauce. Peel the potatoes with a knife or a peeler. Cut them in equal size. The larger the pieces, the longer they need to cook. As a student, I was the master of boiling tiny potato pieces! I started cooking way too late and everything had to go quickly. My potatoes were never larger than 2 cm…

Rinse the potatoes and add water until they are just covered. If you put a lid on the pot, you can just do enough water in it so the highest potato isn’t completely covered. Supervise that all the water doesn’t get evaporated. Put the pot on the stove and boil. After a while, check with a fork if the potatoes are ready. It should be easy to go through them, but not too easy that they break just by looking at them.

Drain the water and start mashing the potatoes with a fork or a potato masher. Add the herbs: pepper and mace (or nutmeg). Check the consistency: is it very dry? Or rather wet? Add a bit of butter, and mash again, check if you like the feel of the mashed potatoes. If you’d like it more liquid, you can add some milk. If you like it a bit more creamy, add an egg. Make sure to mash quickly, because egg will bake with the heat of your potatoes. Don’t be distracted!

How’s it served? And what’s the taste?

Serve everything on a plate and decorate with some chopped parsley. I just bought a small parsley plant, as I destroyed the one that was growing in my garden. You can replant a fresh store bought plant without any problems in a larger pot to extend the lifespan. You could also use frozen parsley. The taste is more or less the same. But I wouldn’t recommend dried parsley. The fresh green taste is important.

plate with mashed potatoes and swedish meatballs
This is one of those ultimate crowd pleasers! ❤

This is a recipe that I really recommend to each of you! It is child friendly too. It could easily be served on children’s parties as a crowd pleaser or on romantic dates as an easy win. Why not with some potato fries?

Tell me in the comments if you made it too and what you thought of it. I’m curious too if this recipe resembles the Ikea meatballs and the original Swedish meatballs!

Download the recipe here:

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