We love The Swedish Chef, but he has nothing on these Swedish meatballs and noodles. Those are extra wide egg noodles by the way, with sliced baby bella mushrooms for the win.
While your first thoughts on the subject may drift to IKEA, this is far easier to assemble than their MALM bed, and no allen wrench is required. And for us, it’s a two-hour drive to get to their cafeteria. No thank you.
But what about Boston Market’s microwaveable frozen version? It is way more convenient, but as of this writing it doesn’t even seem to be featured on their website anymore. Always thought it was weird to offer something as a frozen home version that wasn’t sold in the restaurants, but that’s a discussion for another post. Anyway, the best part of that was the noodles by far.
Maybe one day we’ll have to visit the IKEA in Boston to see if those are superior meatballs. On second thought, we’re putting that on our list of crazy things we’ll never get around to trying.
In the meantime, we’ve hybrided the two ideas to make a rendition of the furniture store’s flagship meatball that feels right at home in a stroganoff-esque sauce resting on a bed of sleep inducing yellow noodles.
The best of both meatballs: frankensteining some recipes
Back when the pandemic started, IKEA released their recipe for meatballs and gravy, and surprise surprise, the secret sauce ingredients were soy sauce and dijon mustard. Never would have guessed that. But it makes sense since these two ingredients are complex enough to do a lot of the heavy lifting.
Whether it’s the actual recipe found in their stores or not, this is pretty darn good. But can we make it better? We sure did!
Here’s what we changed with our Swedish meatballs and noodles
We wanted to do a little something extra with the meatballs, so we added more garlic, because you’re not really tasting it with 1 clove. Plus, it’s good for you and bad for vampires. And we opted for about half as much onion to give that garlic a fighting chance against said vampires.
Then we added in a smidge of ground allspice. This gives it a distinct flavor-popping aroma. If it works for Jamaican jerk chicken and Cincinnati chili, it works here. Many mistake allspice for being a spice blend, but it is actually a dried berry.
Coincidentally, allspice has some similar flavor notes as other spices. So if you can’t find ground allspice, you can blend together cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. For this little amount you probably won’t notice a huge difference.
The meat mixture
We also went for a 1:1 ratio of ground beef chuck to ground pork. Instead of using milk, which is typically used in meatballs to make a panade, we subbed out for more beef stock and water. Then we added in an extra egg to help bind it all together, and this made for a slightly lighter, yet still tender meatball.
The gravy sauce
As for the sauce, we just made some minor tweaks including using heavy whipping cream instead of European double cream. We also subbed out the vegetable stock for all beef stock. Why buy two stocks if you already have one open?
Additionally, we’ve included some sauteed baby bella mushrooms that further compliment the umami flavor of the soy sauce and dijon mustard.
Making Swedish meatballs and noodles with mushrooms
The Swedish meatballs
The process for making these is very similar to our Spicy Mediterranean Meatballs. You can check out the step-by-step process on that page.
The only difference is:
- Two different meats are used (80% lean ground chuck and ground pork).
- Some extra breadcrumbs and liquid for the panade
- We are using some different spices
- We also use real onion and garlic for this recipe instead of the powdered version. But if you’re short on ingredients you can use powdered.
We used a food processor to blend it all together, mainly because it helps give the meatballs a smooth outside texture and blends all the ingredients thoroughly. It helps develop the interlinking protein network of myosin, which is what makes the meatballs chewy and smooth on the inside. But if you prefer to do it all by hand, you can.
Can Swedish meatballs be baked?
Yes, in fact we love cooking them this way. We baked them in the oven vs. in the pan because the meatballs cook at an even rate at 350° F.
The only downside to this method is that they develop a ring of liquified proteins, which is commonly mistaken for fat. This is easily remedied by taking a paper towel and wiping off the meatballs once they are cool enough to handle.
Can Swedish meatballs be frozen?
Again, yes! Because they’ll be cooking at the same rate in the oven, this works great if you want to bake a batch and freeze them for later. Then all you have to do is thaw and finish in a cast-iron pan by browning the meatballs for a few minutes.
Making the Swedish meatballs and noodles gravy sauce with baby bella mushrooms
Steps for sautéing mushrooms
- Over medium heat, melt a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon olive oil in a non-stick skillet.
- Once butter is melted, stir in sliced mushrooms to coat in oil. Season with a little salt to get them sweating.
- Keep stirring and sautéing until the mushrooms have browned and most of the moisture has been cooked out. 8-10 minutes. Set aside, then stir into the gravy until done cooking.
Make the roux, it’s deja vu.
If you’ve made our Smokey Maple Bacon Poutine recipe, you know just how easy making a beef-based gravy can be.
Simply melt some butter, stir in the flour for a few minutes until it becomes a light golden brown and then slowly whisk in your broth. Then, you’ll add your spices and cream of your choice (see below for different options) and keep stirring until it’s thickened.
How to make the gravy creamy? : 3 different ways
This is kind of a choose your own adventure. There are a few ways to get your gravy nice and creamy and it’s totally up to your personal tastes.
- Heavy cream. This gave us the most well-rounded flavor and didn’t compete with the other sauce ingredients. The official IKEA meatball experts use European double cream, but that’s not available most places in the US.
- Sour cream. This is what is in Boston Market’s sauce. It will give your sauce a tang and makes it more of a stroganoff. Depending on how much tang you want, you might experiment with different amounts of sour cream and heavy cream till you get it just right.
- Greek Yogurt. This will also give it a tang, but we found that was mostly what we were tasting and the thickness of the yogurt required extra beef broth to thin out. The upside is you get a really nice thick coating for your meatballs. Yogurt will work if it’s all you have on hand, but we added some extra salt and sugar to balance out the sour notes.
Making the noodles
We really like extra-wide egg noodles because the meatballs seem to nestle themselves into them well. However, you can sub in just about any dry noodle pasta that you want.
This is by far the easiest part. Simply fill a large pot or dutch oven with water, add salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cook the noodles to the manufacturer’s directions, then drain and serve. That’s all there is to it.
The only secret we have to offer is to make sure your noodles are done boiling when your gravy is done. So allow plenty of time to get your water up to a boil. Then, when you add your noodles, start your gravy and you should finish about the same time.
What do Swedish meatballs and noodles go with?
Swedish meatballs are traditionally served with lingonberries as a side item. But we didn’t have any and instead used raspberry jam, the very same jam used in our Rosemary Raspberry Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies. It gives an otherwise brown dish some much needed color and sweetness. We also garnished with some chopped parsley.
If noodles aren’t your thing and mashed potatoes are what you desire, go for it! That is gravy’s best friend after all.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. As always, comments are welcome and encouraged!
Swedish Meatballs and Noodles with Mushrooms Recipe
These meatballs are the ultimate comfort food. We top them with a rich, creamy gravy and serve them over extra wide egg noodles with a spoonful of our favorite jam. Save yourself a trip to your favorite Swedish furniture store, and make these at home!
- Prep Time: 20 min
- Cook Time: 25 min
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4–6 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Swedish
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp beef stock
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 cup plain fine bread crumbs
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1/2 lb 80% ground chuck
- 1/2 lb ground pork
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup beef stock
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 12 oz package of wide or extra-wide egg noodles
- 1/8 cup chopped parsley for garnish(optional)
- lingonberry preserves or other berry preserves or jam of your choice
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine the onion, garlic, eggs, beef stock, and water in a food processor and mix until the onion and garlic is pureed, about 15 seconds.
- Add the breadcrumbs, sea salt, black pepper and allspice to the food processor and pulse about 5 times to combine well.
- Then add the ground meats and mix for 30 seconds, stopping to scrape down container with a silicone spatula halfway through, until all of the ingredients are combined and the meat has a smooth, paste-like consistency.
- Use a cookie scooper or tablespoon measure to divide meat mixture into equal mounds for forming balls.
- Get a small bowl of water to wet your fingers. This will prevent the meat from sticking to your hands.
- Roll each meatball in your hands to smooth the outer surface.
- Place lightly greased aluminum foil on a baking sheet or use a silicone baking mat and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the meatballs are just lightly browned.
- Allow meatballs to cool and wipe off any accumulated proteins (the whitish substance that’s often mistaken for fat) with a paper towel. Now would be a good time to start boiling the water for the noodles. If freezing the meatballs for later, store in a freezer storage bag and when ready to use, thaw, then move to next step.
- Brown the meatballs in a skillet over medium heat for a couple minutes until brown all over, then move them to a bowl to rest. You can now use the skillet to make the gravy sauce.
- Start boiling the water for noodles as per directions below.
For the gravy sauce and noodles
- Bring 3 quarts of water to boil in a large pot or dutch oven. Add salt to taste, 1-2 tsps.
- Add 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet used to brown the meatballs and bring heat back up to medium. When the butter is melted, add the sliced mushrooms and stir to coat. Sprinkle with some salt and sauté the mushrooms until golden brown and most of the moisture is released. About 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set mushrooms aside in a small bowl.
- Add noodles to boiling water directly after you’ve sauteed the mushrooms for the gravy. Let it come back to a boil. Cook egg noodles per package instruction times. You should have plenty of time to finish the gravy while the noodles are cooking. Drain noodles in a colander and set aside.
- Make the roux for the gravy by adding the other 3 tbsp of butter to the skillet and melt over medium heat.
- When the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk continuously for 2-3 minutes until the roux is golden brown.
- Slowly pour in the beef stock and keep whisking until smooth.
- Whisk in the soy sauce, dijon mustard and cream and bring to a simmer to thicken.
- Add the cooked mushrooms to the gravy and stir. Then add the meatballs to the sauce and stir to coat. Allow them to simmer until warmed through.
- Arrange noodles on a plate and spoon the meatballs and gravy over the noodles. Optionally, garnish with parsley and serve with lingonberries or fruit preserves.
*This recipe can be made without a food processor, but we recommend using one in order to get a smoother texture.
Keywords: meatballs, noodles, gravy
The butter to flour ratio was off and made the gravy way too thick. I made as directed then had to add more stock, heavy cream, sour cream, soy and mustard. As well, I also added garlic powder, pepper, and parsley for more depth of flavor.