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Swedish food. A bowl of meat balls, sprinkled with parsley.

Photo: Visit Stockholm

Categories: Restaurants

The best meatballs in Stockholm

Publish date: 29 February 2024

Enjoy the most Swedish of dishes: meatballs. Here are some tips in Stockholm.

One dish stands out as the quickest way to get a crash course on typical Swedish flavor combinations: meatballs. Made world-famous (but not conceived) by the Swedish Chef, meatballs are usually made on a mixture of beef and pork, milk or cream, eggs, and breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper.

Meatballs - the Swedish way

köttbullar med potatis och lingon
Visit Stockholm

Although meatballs might not be a Swedish invention, there is a typically Swedish way of serving them, mixing umami meat and gravy, sweet lingonberries, and acidic pickled cucumber. Every household has its recipe. But the basics are:

  • Start with the pickled cucumber as it benefits from having time to soak in the brine. The quickest variant is probably pressgurka ("pressed cucumber"). Slice the cucumber thinly, put the slices on a plate or in a strainer, and draw out the water with salt. Then put a paper towel and something heavy (like a pot or pan) on top for the pressing and let them rest for 15-20 minutes. When ready, the slices should rest in the brine (a simple 1-2-3 mix will do; 1 part vinegar, 2 parts sugar, 3 parts water) for at least 20-30 minutes.
  • Meatballs made of minced meat (usually a mix of beef and pork), mixed with salt, pepper, eggs, chopped onions, and breadcrumbs, rolled up into ping-pong-sized balls. Good plant-based substitutes are either soybean or mushroom mince, flavored with soy sauce.
  • Potatoes, either mashed or boiled are the most common. If you're going for a fancier presentation, try the Hasselbackspotatis.
  • Lingonberry jam can be found at every Swedish grocery store and supermarket. But rårörda lingon is pretty common as well: whole berries (fresh or frozen) mixed with a tablespoon of sugar for sweetness.
  • The gravy is usually done last. Take the meatballs out of the frying pan, but don't wipe off the fat as it will add flavor to your gravy. Add some butter, flour, and cream (dairy or plant-based), and spice it with salt, pepper, and stock to your liking.

As meatballs are a staple of the Swedish kitchen you'll find them on the menu at most classic Stockholm restaurants. Establishments like Tranan, Riche, Sturehof, and Pelikan have served meatballs for as long as anyone can remember. A few restaurants, like Meatballs for the People and Meetballs & Pancakes, go all-in on the meatballs, though.

Size may vary, but the traditional way to eat them is with mashed potatoes, gravy, lingonberry jam, and pickled cucumber. Here are some suggestions on where to enjoy the most Swedish of dishes.