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Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs

Homemade Swedish meatballs are so simple with this delicious slow cooker recipe! With just a few tweaks to this traditional dish, you can make a filling meal with a sweet and savory sauce that will leave everyone scraping their bowls for more!

Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs served on plate

What’s To Love About This Recipe 

  • I used to think I needed a trip to Ikea to warrant an order of Swedish meatballs. (Anyone else??) Now, I no longer have to take on furniture projects to try this amazing dish; this homemade recipe is so tasty and easy enough to make any day of the week.
  • If you’re stuck in a recipe rut but want to try something you know everyone will love, this one would be perfect! Use everyday ingredients to make the meatballs and add a little extra sweetness by adding blackberry preserves to the gravy.
  • This recipe is written to incorporate your own meatballs made from scratch. However, you can also use a store-bought option in a similar flavor profile to save a few steps!
  • The rich, creamy gravy is reason enough to make the whole meal! Choose your favorite noodles, rice, or potatoes to serve alongside the meatballs and enjoy every last spoonful.

What are Swedish Meatballs?

A traditional Swedish meatball dish includes meatballs made from mixed ground pork and beef, a creamy gravy, sweet lingonberry jam, and allspice seasoning. 

There is some debate about the recipe’s origin, but the sweet meatballs-and-gravy combination was most likely discovered in Turkey centuries ago. Swedish meatballs differ from other meatball dishes because of the signature cream-based gravy and the addition of lingonberries or preserves. 

To make classic Swedish meatballs slow-cooker-friendly, I’ve made a few adaptations for both taste and convenience. I’m confident you will love the results!

Ingredients Needed  

Mix up your own Swedish meatballs at home with a list of simple ingredients and serve with made-from-scratch gravy and frozen noodles.

To save even more time, you could use a store-bought frozen or refrigerated meatball instead, but it is important to select a flavor that works with the overall recipe. Skip Italian meatballs due to the seasoning differences, but a homestyle or plain chicken meatball will do. 

Add these ingredients to your list!

Meatballs

  • Ground chicken and ground pork –  Use ground chicken for a lighter flavor and texture, or substitute ground beef if you prefer a more traditional recipe. Ground pork combines well with either meat. Whichever meat combination you choose, ensure the meat is lean to prevent added grease once it is in the slow cooker.
  • Panko bread crumbs – I prefer using panko bread crumbs so that the meatball doesn’t become too “cakey.” Some recipes use regular breadcrumbs, which results in a lighter texture. If you need to, you can also use gluten-free panko.
  • Half and half – Soak the panko bread crumbs in half and half for extra richness. This also keeps the meatballs from drying out!
  • Egg – Add an egg to bind the meatball ingredients together and keep them from breaking apart during cooking.
  • Seasonings – You probably already have each of these in your pantry! Just a bit of garlic powder, dried minced onion, salt, nutmeg, and allspice results in a deliciously seasoned meatball.
  • Beef broth – Cook the meatballs in beef broth, which will also be used to make the creamy gravy at the end.

Noodles and Gravy

  • Butter – Divide up the butter to brown the meatballs and also to create a nice roux for the gravy base.
  • Flour – Use a regular all-purpose flour or swap out a gluten-free all-purpose flour if needed.
  • Sour cream – This adds a creamy thickness to the gravy and a bit of a tangy flavor.
  • Seedless blackberry preserves – Blackberry preserves are a close alternative to the traditional lingonberry jam used in many Swedish meatball recipes. A jar of seedless preserves is an easy addition, and I like to add them both for a slight sweetness and to thicken up the gravy without using too much flour.
  • Reames Frozen Egg Noodles – I love keeping a package of frozen egg noodles in the freezer to serve with slow cooker comfort foods. These are the perfect size and texture to serve with a generous amount of creamy gravy. If this brand is unavailable near you, look for traditional Amish egg noodles for similar taste and texture.
multiple ingredients including ground chicken and pork, spices, cheeses, butter, and butter displayed on table

How To Make Swedish Meatballs In The Slow Cooker

With a little prep on the front end, you can get the meatballs into the slow cooker early in the day, freeing you up to focus on other things around mealtime. Whisk the gravy and cook the noodles, and you will be minutes away from dinner on the table!

  1. Add the ground meat to a large bowl.
  2. Mix together panko bread crumbs and half and half and let it soak for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the soaked bread crumbs, egg, and seasonings to the ground meat, and mix with your hand until just combined.
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil in a skillet or multi-cooker.
  2. Form the meat mixture into ping-pong-sized balls and place them in a single layer in the skillet or multi-cooker.
  1. Brown meatballs on each side for about 2 minutes, then transfer them to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the beef broth, cover the slow cooker, and cook on low for about 6 hours or high for about 3 hours.
  1. To make the gravy, heat the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a skillet.
  2. Whisk in the flour until smooth.
  3. Slowly pour in the broth from the slow cooker and continue to whisk the mixture.
  4. Next, add in blackberry preserves and sour cream and bring the gravy to a simmer while continuing to whisk until the sauce thickens (about 5 minutes). If the sauce is too thin, whisk in a slurry of 1 or 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with an equal amount of water.
  1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions.
  2. Serve meatballs with sauce over the noodles and garnish with parsley, if desired.
Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs cooked in slow cooker with wooden spoon picking up 4 meatballs

What To Serve With Swedish Meatballs 

Since creamy gravy is an essential component of any Swedish meatball recipe, you must have some delicious carbs to soak up every last bit! Besides frozen egg noodles, other yummy options include fettuccine pasta, fluffy white rice or Mashed Potatoes.

Choose a veggie like Oven Roasted Carrots or Sautéed Green Beans with Garlic and you’ll have a complete, delicious meal to serve those you love.

Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs in slow cooker next to pasta

Storing and Reheating

Store leftover meatballs and gravy in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can freeze them in a sealed container for up to 3 months, however, the gravy will not preserve well in the freezer. I recommend mixing up a new gravy with fresh broth for any meatballs that have been stored in the freezer.

To reheat, defrost in the fridge and add to a skillet on the stove or use the microwave.

Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs served on plate
Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs served on plate

Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs

Jennifer Draper
Homemade Swedish meatballs are so simple with this delicious slow cooker recipe! With just a few tweaks to this traditional dish, you can make a filling meal with a sweet and savory sauce that will leave everyone scraping their bowls for more!
4.50 from 8 votes
Save
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 847 kcal

Equipment

  • skillet or multi-cooker
  • Slow Cooker

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound ground chicken or sub ground beef if you prefer a more traditional flavor
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 5 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup seedless blackberry preserves
  • 16 oz Reames Frozen Egg Noodles

Instructions
 

  • Add ground meat to a large bowl
  • Mix together panko bread crumbs and half and half and let soak for 5 minutes
  • Add soaked bread crumbs, egg, and seasonings to ground meat mix, and mix with your hand until just combined
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil in a skillet or multi-cooker
  • Form meat mixture into ping-pong-sized balls and place in a single layer in skillet or multicooker
  • Brown meatballs on each side for about 2 minutes, then transfer to slow cooker
  • Add beef broth, cover, and cook on low for about 6 hours or high for about 3 hours
  • To make gravy, heat remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in the skillet
  • Whisk in flour until smooth
  • Slowly pour in broth from slow cooker and continue to whisk the mixture.
  • Next, add blackberry preserves and sour cream, and bring gravy to a simmer while continuing to whisk until sauce thickens (about 5 minutes)
  • Cook noodles according to package directions
  • Serve meatballs with sauce over noodles and garnish with parsley, if desired

Notes

  • Store leftover meatballs and gravy in the fridge for up to 3 days in an airtight container. Freeze meatballs for up to 3 months, and make fresh gravy when ready to defrost, reheat, and serve.
  • If you prefer to use frozen meatballs, look for similar seasonings and ingredients as this recipe (i.e. not Italian meatballs, but instead chicken or homestyle meatballs).
  • To thicken the gravy, whisk in a slurry of 1 or 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with equal amounts of water.

Nutrition

Calories: 847kcalCarbohydrates: 74gProtein: 42gFat: 42gSaturated Fat: 18gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 254mgSodium: 889mgPotassium: 971mgFiber: 3gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 575IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 113mgIron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @slowcookergourmet or tag #slowcookergourmet!
Important nutritional disclaimer

Swedish Meatballs FAQs

  • Can you make Swedish meatballs in the Instant Pot? This recipe can easily be adapted for the Instant Pot. Follow these steps:
    • Form the meatballs, then sear them on sauté mode until browned. 
    • Add the broth, seal the pot, and cook on high pressure for 5 – 7 minutes, depending on the size of the meatballs. 
    • After cooking, remove the meatballs from the pot. 
    • Make a slurry with the flour and stir it in along with the remaining sauce ingredients. Turn to sauté mode to let it thicken.
    • Turn off the Instant Pot and stir the meatballs back into the sauce to serve.
  • Can this recipe be made gluten-free? To make gluten-free meatballs, replace both the panko bread crumbs and the flour with gluten-free versions.
  • How do you make the gravy thicker? To thicken the gravy, whisk in a slurry of 1 or 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with an equal amount of water.
  • How do you keep Swedish meatballs from falling apart? Adding an egg to the meat mixture helps bind the meatballs together to keep them from crumbling. Also, be sure not to stir them around in the slow cooker until they are almost fully cooked; otherwise, they can fall apart.
  • Can you overcook meatballs in the slow cooker? Meatballs can be overcooked and start to dry out as moisture evaporates from the slow cooker. After the meatballs have cooked, turn the slow cooker to the warm setting until ready to serve, or turn the heat off completely.

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