No IKEA? No problem. Making Crockpot Swedish Meatballs from scratch isn’t just easy, it’s better. Come meal time – or party time – these warm, spiced ground beef meatballs in their tangy, signature sauce will impress everyone from kiddos to co-workers.
Before you even ask, no, these aren’t the ones made with grape jelly. What we’ve got here is a slow-cooker spin on an absolute classic from the same country that gave us ABBA and the Billy bookshelf.
Though it’s presumed meatballs originated in the middle east (think kofta meatballs), they’ve definitely migrated over the centuries. Right into cans of Chef Boyardee and bags in IKEA freezers.
And you have to hand it to IKEA. I can’t tell you how many people I know who used to regularly dine at their cafe and bring Swedish meatball fixins home. When you’ve got 3 locations within a semi-reasonable drive (I mean, reasonable for the D.C.-metro area), well, Swedish meatballs actually become a semi-regular dinner.
Now, there have been some, uh, scandals and skepticism. And then, of course, came pandemic and inflation and a move just outside that semi-reasonable zone. So a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do. Time for an IKEA HACK!
My kids will happily gobble these up in Swedish meatball soup, and now I can tell you from experience that bringing them out of the broth and onto a plate is a winner too. Building this as a slow cooker recipe guarantees they’ll be flavorful and fun, even if they aren’t super fast – especially when simmered in that creamy, tangy sauce.
Why the Crockpot?
- Texture! Your trusty slow cooker is literally made for cooking up perfectly tender meatballs (Swedish, or otherwise) – they’re never dry or crumbly.
- Scale! The crockpot lets you make a really big batch, which is especially handy if you’re planning to serve them as a party appetizer. Double the recipe, make ’em mini sized, do what you gotta do. Once they’re finished cooking, the warming setting makes it very easy to serve ’em up at the perfect temperature throughout your event. Or, ya know, eat them for a day straight yourself. You do you.
- Freezer Meal! If you’re not into sharing, Swedish meatballs freeze very well. I always double the meatballs (without the sauce) and stash half in the freezer for a quick meal down the road.
Why Homemade Swedish Meatballs are So Good!
I’ve a bit of a total freak for meatballs of all sorts, especially ones that have an extra kick of flavor (like chicken shawarma meatballs – total swoon), but these particular little nuggets hold a special place in my heart.
First of all, forget frozen. Homemade Swedish meatballs are too easy – and tasty – not to make yourself. And you cannot possibly recreate their unique sweet and savory flavor profile from any ol’ bag of frozen balls.
Second, you know exactly what you’re getting when you make meatballs from scratch. If you’re picky about protein, homemade is the way to go.
Third, their unique warm and tangy flavor is definitely addictive. The meatballs are seasoned with both warming spices like allspice and nutmeg, in addition to savory seasonings like parsley, onion powder, and garlic powder. And then there’s that swoony, decadent sauce – Worcestershire sauce and dijon mustard create a unique tangy gravy, while heavy cream and sour cream add a creamy, rich finish.
How to Make Crockpot Swedish Meatballs
Make Swedish meatballs from scratch in your slow cooker. Featuring a blend of warming spices and savory seasonings, ground beef meatballs stay tender and juicy in the crockpot. Serve with tangy gravy over rice, pasta or even mashed potatoes. Swedish meatballs are freezer-friendly and party-perfect!
- Combine the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined – ground beef, panko bread crumbs, dried parsley, allspice, nutmeg, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and eggs.
- Form one-ounce (two tablespoons) portions into round balls and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake in a 400°F oven for 10-12 minutes, or until a crust forms and is lightly golden brown; they will not be cooked through at this stage.
- Transfer the meatballs to your slow cooker and arrange in an even layer; it’s okay if they’re overlapping.
- Whisk broth, heavy cream, Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard and cornstarch until very smooth.
- Pour the sauce over the meatballs.
- Seal the crockpot and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours; for a thicker sauce, crack the lid open in the last 30-60 minutes to allow steam to escape and the sauce to further thicken.
- Gently fold in sour cream using a rubber spatula. Taste for seasoning and adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve as desired, right away – Swedish meatballs are best warm. Enjoy!
- If you like a thicker sauce, crack the lid open in the last hour of cooking to allow the steam to escape and for the sauce to further reduce.
- If you like a creamier sauce, increase the heavy cream to 1 cup and reduce the beef broth by half a cup. But be careful – more than 1 cup of cream will dilute the seasonings in the sauce.
- Use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the sour cream; this will prevent the meatballs from falling apart.
Make It An Appetizer!
If you’ve ever wanted an excuse to bust out some decorative toothpicks, here’s your chance!
Mini Swedish meatballs are perfect for parties. Form into 1″ (approximately 1 tablespoon) meatballs and bake for 5-8 minutes, just until a crust forms and meatballs are lightly golden brown; slow cook according to the instructions in the recipe card. Keep meatballs and gravy on the “warm” setting in the crockpot and add to your appetizer spread.
How to Serve Crockpot Swedish Meatballs
Like other meatballs before them, slow-cooked Swedish meatballs are a flexible meal option. They not only work over your family’s favorite rice, steamed egg noodles, or mashed potatoes, but you can keep it lower carb – or just sneak in some veggies – by serving over cauliflower rice or mash.
No matter how you serve ’em, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend you garnish with sour cream and/or lingonberry jam for bigger, better flavor. (And honestly, the lingonberry jam is worth the trip to IKEA in case you needed a reason.)
Did you make these crockpot Swedish meatballs? I’d love to know how they turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
Crockpot Swedish Meatballs (From Scratch!)Print Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
For the Meatballs
For the Sauce
- 2 cups beef broth
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- ½ c sour cream
- Heat the oven to 400°F; line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine all meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl – ground beef, panko bread crumbs, dried parsley, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, allspice, nutmeg, pepper, egg, and egg yolk. Mix gently using your (clean) hands until the ingredients are evenly distributed, but be careful not to overmix.
- Form two-tablespoon portions of the mixture into 1” meatballs, then arrange in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. You should be able to form approximately 30 meatballs.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until a solid crust has formed and the meatballs are lightly browned; the meatballs will not be cooked through at this stage, but that is intentional – they will finish cooking in the crockpot.
- Transfer the meatballs to a crockpot and arrange into an even layer; it’s okay to stack them into several layers..
- Whisk the broth, heavy cream, Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard and cornstarch in a large bowl until very smooth; pour the sauce over the meatballs.
- Seal the crockpot, then cook on high for 2 hours, or low for 4 hours. For a thicker sauce, crack the lid open in the last 30-60 minutes to allow steam to escape and the sauce to reduce.
- Add the sour cream and gently mix into the sauce using a rubber spatula. Taste for seasoning and adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
- Garnish with fresh chopped parsley, a dollop of sour cream, and/or a dollop of lingonberry jam. Serve warm over rice, egg noodles, or mashed potatoes. Enjoy!