At the height of the pandemic, IKEA revealed their Swedish meatball recipe and the world found comfort in making them at home. As an IKEA fan, I too enjoyed them with mounds of mashed potatoes. And over time, I improved the recipe by adding one key ingredient and making it more quickly by skipping two steps.
When I made my version in our test kitchen, they were gone in seconds and my co-workers said the meatballs reminded them of IKEA’s, but better.
These copycat IKEA Swedish meatballs are tender and deeply flavorful. The gravy is creamy and indulgent in the best possible way. You have to serve them on top of these perfect mashed potatoes and a dollop of lingonberry spread.
2 Tricks To Making My Copycat IKEA Swedish Meatballs
Make a Better Sauce: IKEA Swedish meatballs are a little different from classic Swedish meatballs because they do not call for nutmeg and include soy sauce in the gravy, which gives them a little warmth and flavor.
However, the sauce is too rich and tastes like it is missing something. This recipe includes Worcestershire sauce and a splash of pickle juice in the sauce for a bit of acidity to help cut through the richness.
A Quicker and Easier Recipe: IKEA’s recipe calls for chilling the formed meatballs to help hold their shape while they cook. Then the meatballs are browned on a skillet and popped in the oven to finish cooking through. I did not find these steps necessary.
There is no need to chill the meatballs. As long as you don’t disturb them as they brown—2 to 3 minutes per side—they won’t get stuck to the skillet or fall apart. Be patient and lower the heat as needed if they start to burn. The goal is to give the meatballs some color, not to cook them through.
You don’t have to finish cooking the meatballs in the oven either. After making the sauce, pop the meatballs into it and simmer until cooked through. This will save you time and from having to turn the oven on.
The Best Mashed Potatoes To Enjoy With the Meatballs
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
- Slow-Cooker Mashed Potatoes
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
Make the meatballs:
Combine the ground beef, ground pork, onion, garlic, milk, egg, panko breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Gently mix with your hands until just combined.
Roll the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls (about 2 tablespoons each), and place them on a large plate.
Brown the meatballs:
Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet set over medium heat. Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning them occasionally with tongs, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes total. They will not be cooked all the way through.
Transfer the browned meatballs back to the plate, and cook the remaining meatballs. Do not wipe the skillet out—all those brown bits will add flavor to the sauce.
Make the sauce:
Melt the butter in the same skillet set over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and continuously whisk until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
As you continue whisking, slowly add the beef stock and cream.
Increase the heat to medium-high, and continue whisking and cooking the sauce until it comes to a gentle simmer. Then, whisk in the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and pickle juice. Season to taste with more salt, if needed.
Add meatballs to sauce:
Reduce heat to medium. Return the browned meatballs to the skillet. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce thickens—it will coat the back of your spoon. Serve warm.
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