These Keto Swedish Meatballs are a spinoff of recipes from my Scandinavian family members, made keto, gluten free and with a few extra touches. Think of the IKEA favorite, but with less carbs, and homemade! These Swedish meatballs are an authentic family recipe and family favorite. Incredibly flavorful and spiced, made with both pork and beef, and served in a hearty, luscious and creamy sauce.
Here’s What You Need For These Keto Swedish Meatballs:
For the meatballs:
- Ground beef– This is the most essential protein to these meatballs. You could use all beef for these if you want. We use a mixture of pork and beef in this family recipe.
- Pork- Ground pork mixed with ground beef makes for a really flavorful meatball. IF you don’t like pork or don’t eat it, you could use all ground beef instead.
- Allspice – This is one of the essential “warm” flavors that make these meatballs so special. We use ground allspice.
- Ground nutmeg – Another essential warming spice for these keto Swedish meatballs.
- Ground cloves– Not a traditional ingredient, but the flavor is so perfect and pairs nicely with the allspice and nutmeg. Optional, but we recommend it!
- Salt – Diamond Kosher Salt is our new favorite salt source. It’s much easier to control (in terms of saltiness) when it comes to various types of salt, compared to different types of salt! Not all salts are created equal, and different types of salt are waaaay saltier than others. We love the diamond crystal shape. The texture is amazing it dissolves really well, and it’s perfect for seasoning food gradually.
- Ground black pepper
- Eggs – We will whisk our eggs slightly before adding them to meatball mixture. The eggs should also be room temperature.
- Pork rind crumbles – We use pork rind crumbs to help hold the meatballs together. This is a gluten free and low carb alternative to bread crumbs. You could sub 1:1 for almond flour if you want.
- Heavy whipping cream– We add heavy whipping cream to the meatballs in place of milk, adding even more richness. It helps keep these keto Swedish meatballs moist.
- Fresh garlic– We minced up some garlic and sauté it along with the onion. Again, this is not a traditional ingredient, but we just LOVE garlic. You could substitute for garlic powder if you want, or just skip this entirely.
- Sweet onion– We sauté sweet onion in some butter for added flavor for these meatballs, although this is not a necessary step. Traditionally, onions would be left raw. If you plan to sauté like we did, make sure to do this first so that the onions have a chance to cool off before adding it to the meatball mixture.
- Unsalted butter or any frying oil- To brown the meatballs. We prefer unsalted butter to create a very creamy and rich sauce.
For the sauce:
- Pan Drippings– We will use all of the pan drippings from browning the meatballs to create the base of this luscious sauce. The fatty, salty bits will create a great brown sauce base with lots of flavor.
- Unsalted butter- We add a bit more butter to the sauce to add more richness. You could use slated butter if you want, but we like the ability to control the salt level by using unsalted butter.
- Heavy whipping cream– To make a creamy and rich sauce, you will need heavy whipping cream.
- Beef broth – For that classic beefy flavor! You could use beef bone broth for even more added nutrients, as well as to add a lot of protein.
- Dijon mustard– Add to taste, but this will give you a truly great flavor to your sauce.
- Worcestershire sauce– Technically this ingredient is optional, but we recommend using it. You could substitute for soy sauce or coconut aminos if you prefer, but Worcestershire is the real winner that add a lot of flavor.
- Sweetener of choice– Sweetener is optional and to taste, we recommend Swerve granular to round out all of the flavors in the sauce.
- Xanthan gum– We add xanthan gum to the sauce gradually to thicken it as needed.
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Parsley for garnish, optional
Serve with: Creamy mashed turnips (you can skip the gouda cheese in this recipe) and traditionally, lingonberry jam or keto cranberry sauce, since lingonberries are so hard to find in the US!
Where Did The Inspiration For These Low Carb Keto Swedish Meatballs Come From?
Bri’s heritage is mostly Swedish and Finnish, and she spent some time in Norway as an exchange student in high school. You could say her love of Scandinavian food runs deep, and she takes great pride in reviving old family recipes, and reinventing her favorite Scandinavian dishes with a low carb and gluten free twist!
This particular recipe is based off of recipes from Bri’s grandmothers and family members, that have been passed thru the family for years. She had been craving these meatballs fiercely lately, so she got to work on remaking the recipe. This version has some added special touches, and has a few substitutions that make these meatballs gluten free and keto friendly. Over all this Keto Swedish Meatball Recipe is a gluten free version of an authentic family recipe!
What Seasonings Do I Need For These Keto Swedish Meatballs?
Allspice and nutmeg are the essential spices in these meatballs, aside from salt and pepper of course. Allspice and nutmeg add that traditional “warmth” of spice that you will find in many Scandinavian dishes. Scandinavian food is certainly not spicy, but relies on simple, subtle and often warm spices like nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice and cloves. The cloves are optional in the recipe, and they are something that Bri added. She loves the extra layer it brings to these comforting meatballs.
Do I Need To Use Worcestershire Sauce and Dijon Mustard?
The Worcestershire sauce is an ingredient used in my family recipes, but it is optional. You could also substitute soy sauce. With both the dijon mustard and the Worcestershire sauce/soy sauce, add to taste. We like a really flavorful sauce with a lot of zing, but you might not prefer it as much as we do.
Do I Need To Cook The Onions and Garlic Beforehand?
When it comes to the onions, you don’t have to caramelize them, this is an optional step. For the garlic, you could also substitute 1 tsp garlic powder for fresh garlic. Garlic is also not a traditional ingredient in Swedish meatballs, but many modern recipes call for it, and we think it’s such a wonderful addition. I’ve been avoiding showing my grandma this recipe, even though I know it’s so delicious. I just don’t know what she would think since I changed some steps from her original version!
What Meat Do I Need To Use In These Keto Swedish Meatballs?
Bri’s family recipes call for pork and beef, but if you don’t like pork/don’t eat it, you could use beef only. We just think the pork and beef combo makes these meatballs so incredibly flavorful and juicy. The fat rendered from them makes a very flavorful sauce.
Can I Use Almond Flour or Pork Rind Crumbs in Place of Breadcrumbs?
Breadcrumbs are generally known as essential to any meatball recipe to make them moist and juicy. You could of course make your own keto breadcrumbs, but that seems like a lot of work, especially when there are good substitutes! We used pork rind crumbs and they worked beautifully. Almond flour also works quite well, and you can sub them for each other in a 1:1 ratio.
Do I Need To Chill These Keto Swedish Meatballs Before Cooking?
This step is very important, so that your meatballs hold their shape. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but up to overnight. You will do this right after the meatballs are formed.
What Cooking Method Should I Use?
Depending on the size of your meatballs, you will likely need to cook these in the oven after browning for 20-30 minutes to get them all the way cooked thru. We made ours on the larger side, we made 24 meatballs, so this was definitely necessary. If they are smaller, you could probably get away with simmering the meatballs in the cream sauce for 20-30 minutes to make sure they are cooked thru.
How Much Salt Should I Add To These Keto Swedish Meatballs?
For the cream sauce, go easy on the salt until your meatballs and drippings are added in to simmer, because they will add a lot of flavor and salt into the dish. We don’t want you to end up with your cream sauce being too salty. We really encourage tasting as you go with this sauce, so that way you don’t end up with sauce that’s too salty.
What Should I Serve These Keto Swedish Meatballs With?
Traditionally this dish is served with boiled or mashed potatoes, so we came up with this absolutely DELICIOUS creamy mashed turnips recipe, that’s low carb. Also very traditional with many Scandinavian meatballs recipes, is to serve them alongside lingonberry jam. It adds a tartness and sweetness to this dish. If you ever get the chance to try lingonberry sauce, you must! It’s a traditional ingredient that just brings everything together. Lingonberries are very difficult to come by in the US, so we opt for keto cranberry sauce instead, as it’s probably the closest thing you can find to lingonberry sauce.
Here’s Some More Recipes You Will Love:
- Keto Lohikeitto, Finnish Salmon Soup
- Rutabaga Hash with Cabbage, Leeks and Bacon
- Lamb Meatballs with Feta and Lemon
- Low Carb Citrus Glazed Salmon
- Sharp Chef’s Knife & Cutting Board
- Mixing Bowls
- Measuring Spoons
- Measuring Cup
- Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
- Wooden Spoons
- Parchment Paper
- Baking Sheet
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Let’s Make These Keto Swedish Meatballs!
To start, bring out your meat and eggs and set on the counter so they come to room temperature. This will make them easier to work with when mixing all of the ingredients. If you are going to caramelize your onions and garlic before adding them to the meatballs, preheat your cast iron skillet over medium heat.
Mince you garlic and dice your onion very well. Add your onions to the cast iron with 1 tbsp of butter and a pinch of salt. Cook until soft and translucent, even a bit browned and caramelized if you want. Then, add the garlic to the skillet, and cook until fragrant, stirring often, for about 30 seconds. Then immediately remove from heat, and allow the garlic and onions to cool off before adding to the meat mixture. You could also skip the caramelizing step for the garlic and onions, see notes above.
In a small bowl, gently whisk together your eggs. Add your pork, beef, eggs, heavy whipping cream, pork rind crumbs, and seasonings to a large bowl. Add in your onion and garlic once they have cooled off. You don’t want them to scramble the eggs if they are too warm. Combine very well until all ingredients are incorporated. We just used our hands, wishing we had gloves, but there are very few to be found right now out in the world due to stay at home orders.
Now, you can roll into balls and then chill in the fridge, or you can chill the meat mixture in the fridge before rolling into balls. We think it’s easier to chill the meat mixture before rolling into balls, we’ve tried it both ways. Either way, you will want to chill these keto Swedish meatballs or meatball mixture for at least 30 minutes so that the shape holds together when you cook them. We like to add them to a parchment lined baking sheet to rest.
We made our meatballs large, mostly because we are sort of lazy to roll them into tiny shapes. This mixture will make 24 large meatballs, or up to 48 smaller sized meatballs. The size of the meatball will certainly affect cooking time, see notes above.
Now, heat your cast iron up over medium heat, and preheat your oven to 350°F, if your meatballs are on the larger side like ours were. Add in the butter and oil to the skillet used to fry the meatballs, but maybe add it in batches, as you will brown the meatballs in batches too, to avoid overcrowding the pan. At this point you will want to brown the meatballs, to seal in moisture and flavor. Your meatballs shouldn’t be cooked thru at this point, no matter the size of the meatballs.
Set your meatballs back onto the parchment lined sheet until you have browned all of them. Then, at this point, you will put them in the oven and bake until they are cooked thru, for large meatballs, this would be 20-30 minutes. See notes above about baking times if your meatballs are smaller.
While your meatballs are baking, make your cream sauce. Do not drain the pan from frying the meatballs earlier, and instead, add in the remaining 2 tbsp of butter, cream, and beef broth, stirring often. Add your Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, and sweetener to taste. Now, sprinkle in the xanthan gum extremely slowly, and whisking constantly to incorporate. Allow the sauce to simmer and watch the sauce thicken, stirring often. Be very careful not to add to much xanthan gum, as it can turn your sauce slimy.
We don’t recommend adding salt and pepper to the cream sauce until we add back in the meatballs with their drippings. This will infuse a lot of salt and flavor into the cream sauce. We don’t want you to accidentally make your cream sauce too salty. We will adjust the salt and pepper levels after the meatballs and drippings are added. Look how browned and luscious the sauce becomes once we add the meatballs to the sauce!
Now, simply allow the flavors to meld together while the meatballs simmer in the sauce for a few minutes. Adjust seasonings to your preference, and then eat! We recommend serving over a bed of creamy mashed turnips (a great low carb alternative to boiled or mashed potatoes that are traditionally eaten with this dish) along with some sugar free cranberry sauce (or sugar free lingonberry sauce, if you can find it!) Top the meatballs with parsley (optional) and enjoy this luscious dinner!
If you get a chance to try this keto swedish meatballs recipe, let us know what you think, would ya?! Leave us a comment, or catch up with us on Facebook or Instagram, or pin to your favorite Pinterest board for later.
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Until Next Time,
Briana & Chamere
Keto Swedish Meatballs
For the Meatballs:
- 1.5 lbs ground beef, 85% lean
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cloves optional
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 whole eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
- 40 grams pork rind crumbs about 1/2 cup (could sub almond flour)
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1 medium sweet onion, minced
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, divided (for browning the meatballs, and caramelizing the onions)
For the Cream Sauce:
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter (in addition to pan drippings)
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 cups beef broth
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard (optional)
- 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 2 tsp sweetener of choice (optional and to taste)
- 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional and added slowly to thicken)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
- parsley for garnish
For the meatballs:
- If you are going to caramelize your onions and garlic before adding them to the meatballs, preheat your cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp butter and caramelize your onions with a pinch salt, about 5 minutes. Add in your garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat right away, and allow garlic and onions to cool before adding to meat mixture. (If not caramelizing, skip this step.)
- In a small bowl, gently whisk together your eggs. In a large bowl, add the ground pork, beef, eggs, heavy whipping cream, pork rind crumbs, and seasonings. Add in your onion and garlic once they have cooled off. Combine very well until all ingredients are incorporated. Roll the meatballs into your desired size then place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and put them in the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes. Make sure not to skip this step, as this holds the meatballs together when cooking. We made 24 large meatballs, but you can roll them into the size you desire.
- Now, heat your cast iron up over medium heat, and preheat your oven to 350°F. Add in the remaining butter to the skillet, in batches as needed when browning the meatballs. Your meatballs will not be fully cooked at this point, we are browning to seal in the moisture and flavor.
- After all the meatballs are browned, bake them in the oven until they are cooked through, around 20-30 minutes.
For the cream sauce:
- While your meatballs are baking, make your cream sauce. Do not drain the pan from frying the meatballs earlier, and instead, add in the remaining 2 tbsp of butter, cream, and beef broth, stirring often. Add your Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, and sweetener to taste. Now, sprinkle in the xanthan gum extremely slowly, and whisking constantly to incorporate. Allow the sauce to simmer and watch the sauce thicken, stirring often.
- We don’t recommend adding salt and pepper to the cream sauce until we add back in the meatballs with their drippings. The pan drippings will infuse a lot of salt and flavor into the cream sauce.
- Now, simply allow the flavors to meld together while the meatballs simmer in the sauce for a few minutes. Adjust seasonings to your preference, and then eat! Top the meatballs with parsley (optional) and enjoy this luscious dinner!
These nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy and are only estimates. We cannot guarantee the accuracy.