You guys, I have a confession to make: IKEA's Swedish meatballs are one of my favorite foods on the planet. I used to work right across the street from IKEA (for like ten years, holy moly!) and those savory little meatballs would lure me in all the time pre-keto. Imagine my disappointment when I learned my go-to lunch was chalk full of carbs. Total devastation. When my friend Abbie of Appetite for Energy reached out to share her easy keto Swedish meatballs recipe, I was elated!
It's been years since I've had the pleasure of diving into these saucy meatballs and I cannot wait to dig in. Check out Abbie's recipe below and be sure to check out the other quick and easy meals on her site.
Can you get juicy Swedish meatballs, laden with delicious creamy sauce on the table in 30 minutes?
Of course, you can. And your family will devour them and worship you forever!
Simple, low carb 30-minute meals
We all want simple, easy weeknight meals and these easy Swedish meatballs are just that.
At appetiteforenergy.com we ONLY create easy, low-carb 30 minute meals...recipes that you can pull together on a busy weeknight in around 30 minutes.
No one wants to start cooking a slow roast at 6 pm only to realize when you look at the recipe you googled that morning, that you need to marinate the chicken for 3 hours!
To avoid a dinnertime fiasco, I try to choose recipes that can be cooked in around half an hour. That way, I know even if it takes a little bit longer (because I’m multitasking and attempting to make school lunches at the same time), I’m going to be out of the kitchen quicker.
Easy Keto Swedish Meatballs are a recipe that you’ll return to again and again. It’s a classic family favorite along with pretty much any meatball recipe EVER.
For a classic Italian style keto meatball recipe, you’ll also love our 30 Minute Gluten-Free Meatball Recipe.
What are Swedish meatballs?
Sweden is famous for a couple of things namely Swedish meatballs and IKEA. They’re also famous for the Swedish meatballs from the IKEA restaurant - just what you need after a busy morning picking up throw rugs, magnetic spice racks and wall hooks for your dish towels.
Swedish meatballs are easy to make at home. They are known as Köttbullar and are basically meatballs in a creamy sauce. Sounds pretty good, right? You’re probably wondering whether they are keto-friendly or not.
Well, the authentic recipe uses breadcrumbs and milk which are no no’s on a low-carb or ketogenic diet. In this recipe, I’ve replaced the breadcrumbs with grated zucchini to provide the bulk (and sneak some veggies in).
What to serve with Keto Swedish Meatballs
Swedish Meatballs are typically served with pressed cucumber and lingonberry sauce. Since I have no idea what any of those things are (?), I serve this keto style, with cauliflower rice. It can easily be prepared while the meatballs are simmering, especially if you have some prepackaged or frozen cauliflower rice on hand.
For a decadent date-night meal, cauliflower mash will take these easy Swedish meatballs to the next level. Just allow some extra time to make the mash.
The importance of salt in meatballs and on the keto diet
To make the meatballs, start by crumbling the ground meat into a large bowl and then grate the zucchini. You’ll need about 1 cup of zucchini to add to the ground meat. Don’t dry the zucchini though, as the water helps to keep the meatballs moist and tender.
Add in an egg, along with the salt and pepper. Don’t skip the seasoning here. Firstly, because the salt, in particular, is critical to bringing out the flavors in the meatballs. I’ve cooked many a pan of meatballs and forgotten to add the salt and pepper during this stage. The result is a disappointingly bland dish.
The second reason is so to help keep sodium levels up. We’re probably all aware that sodium levels get depleted very quickly on a ketogenic diet. Adding salt to food is an easy way to boost sodium and keep electrolyte levels balanced.
If sodium levels get too low, we typically get a headache, feel tired and suffer from what’s known as the keto flu. Luckily, it’s quite easy to fix these problems with added salt and other simple tactics.
To learn more simple strategies like this for combating keto diet issues and blasting through weight-loss plateaus, check out:
The Definitive Guide To Keto Diet Mistakes FREE 30 Page Guide + Cheatsheet
Roll up some keto Swedish meatballs
Using wet hands, combine the mixture and roll the meat into roughly 18 equal sized balls. To help with this, try using an ice-cream scooper to measure out the mixture. This step also helps them to cook evenly.
Melt the butter over medium heat, then cook the meatballs for a few minutes until browned. Flip and cook the other side for 3-5 minutes.
While the meatballs are cooking, whisk together the broth, mustard, and cream. Pour it into the skillet, around the meatballs and increase the heat. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through, and the sauce has thickened up a little.
Prepare cauliflower rice the easy way
As the meatballs simmer, make some cauliflower rice. I try to get the pre-prepared cauliflower rice (or frozen) as it’s just so much easier. If you want to make it fresh, process cauliflower florets in a food processor briefly until it resembles rice.
For this recipe, the cauliflower rice only needs to be heated. I don’t think it’s necessary to pan-fry it in butter as the dish is already creamy enough. It will be delicious as it soaks up the cream sauce. I recommend microwaving the cauliflower rice, so it’s just cooked and voila - keto dinner perfection!
To learn more about the different ways to cook and store cauliflower rice, visit 10 minute cauliflower rice.
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 pound ground chuck
- 1 cup zucchini grated (or 1 med zucchini)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon all purpose seasoning (I used McCormick and Garlic and Herb)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- Crumble ground meat into a large bowl
- Using a medium grater, shred zucchini until you have about 1 packed cup full (don’t dry or remove water)
- Add grated zucchini to the bowl along with egg, seasoning, and salt
- Mix with hands until just combined
- Melt butter in a large heavy bottomed or cast iron skillet
- Roll meat into 18 equal sized balls and place in skillet
- Cook for about 3-5 minutes then ﬂip and cook another 3-5 minutes until lightly browned
- Whisk together broth, mustard, and cream
- Pour into skillet with meatballs and bring to a hard simmer for 5-10 minutes until meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly
- Use an ice cream scooper to make measuring out equal sized meatballs easy and so that meatballs will cook evenly
- Only mix meat until everything is just combined. Overworking the meat will cause your meatballs to become tough
Hi, I'm Abbie from Appetite For Energy, where we share simple low-carb recipes that can be made in 30 minutes or less. We love helping busy people start and maintain a low-carb diet, especially families where not everyone eats a low-carb diet! Come on over and visit us at appetiteforenergy.com.
Michelle Hamel says
These look amazing! Can't wait to try them
Thanks for the awesome recipe Abbie
This makes a Good Breakfast!
It is very good stuff and I can't wait to make them. Well informative for me.
Denita Zediker says
Made these tonight. Delicious! Definitely a recipe to keep!
Wow, these meatballs look great! Very detailed recipe and the photos are top quality!
Dusti Beane says
hey- so i tried finding an area where i could leave a comment for you that has absolutely nothing to do with this recipe. But it is a kind of feedback as well.
I would like to know if you posted or blogged something about how much sugar you can consume during a day. If you have not, can you tell me what your thoughts are on it?
Tasha Metcalf says
Most folks on keto avoid added sugar altogether, but sugar does occur naturally in food and doesn't need to be banished from your diet completely. Everyone takes a slightly different approach, but if you're just starting out 20 - 50 grams of carbohydrate per day is a pretty common carb intake range. Any potential sugars in your food would be included in this daily total.
You'll find that added sugar is in a lot of processed foods, so eating whole foods is your best bet to keep sugar intake low. The idea behind nutritional ketosis is to keep your carbohydrate intake low enough that your body switches from burning sugar as a primary fuel source to burning fat for energy instead. Not sure if that is the information you are looking for, but sure hope it helps!
Dusti Beane says
Thanks for responding! I have tried Keto before and had limited success =( this time around I am really researching before starting again so I have a better understanding of how it works!
I really enjoy your blog!
Keep on keeping on =)
Emily A Sharp says
Looks and sounds delicious! How many meatballs in one serving?
Great recipe! The sauce took longer to reduce for me, about 30 minutes or so. Added some cayenne to both the meatballs and the sauce, and didn't have the mccormicks so i just added powdered garlic, dried oregano and dried basil. but other than that, followed the recipe as is. Super delicious though and am looking forward to left overs tomorrow.
Great recipe, it really hit the spot. I added a little allspice to give it that Swedish meatball flavor. Also, a touch of Xantham Gum in the sauce thickens it right up without adding carbs.
These were salty (and I love salt), but very delicious! I will definitely make these again.
These were great, but I couldn’t get the sauce to thicken up. Really soupy. Had it with cauliflower mashed potatoes. They were really yummy though
Sasha Graham says
Hi! I'm lactose intolerant. Is there another sauce I could add to the meatballs that doesn't include cream?
Peekies mom says
Is the macros for just the meatballs or for the meatballs and cauliflower mash? Looks good, and planning to make tonight as it is rainy and dark!
Tasha Metcalf says
The macros are just for one serving of the ingredients included in the recipe. Hope that helps!
Making these tonight! What kind of mustard? Spicy brown or Dijon mustard??
My family is BIG into meatballs, so these will have to be on the list soon! Thanks for sharing.
What kind of mustard? Dried mustard? Prepared mustard? Yellow? Dijon? Or something else?
I've been reading this over and over trying to find out the answer to that question. There will be a great deal of difference in the taste, depending on whether the mustard is dried or prepared, or dijon. I cannot answer, but hope to bump this back up to the top so it will be answered.
Wow, these meatballs look great! The ketogenic diet is a very low-carb, high-fat diet that shares many similarities with the Atkins and low-carb diets.
Jen English says
I too have the mustard question... two other people have asked before me... so what kind of mustard???
Delicious!! We added gluten free flour (probably not Keto? But we’re not 100% keto) and mushrooms to the gravy to thicken — so good!
Made these meatballs and while they were tasty, they did not bind together at all! I assume that in this recipe the zucchini was the binder? I wondered before I tried, but thought I would give it a go....
I love Swedish meatballs! This sounds like a really great way to eat it too!
I tried these out! I LOVE adding the zucchini! It's not overpowering but gives me that happy feeling that I've added something healthy to my meat😀.
I did the spices a little differently. Grew up with many swedish traditions and a smorgasbord every Christmas. The authentic swedish meatball flavor needs to have nutmeg and allspice. I do add a little onion too.
These are just WOW! Im very picky when it comes to Keto food, I won't just eat anything, I want my food to be healthy AND delicious, this recipe hit the spot! I used ground pork+ ground turkey and it made a perfect flavor combo! Also, I added a little bit of parmesan cheese to the sauce to help it thicken a little. So, so good! Thank you so much for the recipe , will totally make it again!
Did you drain the fat before added the cream?
Ok I just made these the fourth recipe from this site and I have to say they were easy to put together and basically a one pan meal.
The only thing I would have done differently is drain some of the fat out of the pan before I added the stock mustard and cream mixture. It didn’t really thicken much and broke a bit from the excess fat, but let me tell you the flavor is ALL there! Very filling too and I made the fifth recipe from this site the cauliflower rice! EXCELLENT! I have enough leftovers for a few more meals it’s great stuff!
Also, it’s “chock full” not chalk full.
Unless they put chalk in their meatballs. In that case, never mind.
My rating isn't for the meatballs themselves. I rated this five stars for the sauce! I used "Better than Bouillon" Roasted Chicken flavor with one cup of water, and followed the remainder of the sauce recipe, and it was FANTASTIC!! Use any meatball you want, because the sauce is the key!! Great recipe!!
Tasha Metcalf says
Love the tip, I think it will be super helpful to other readers. Thanks for the feedback, you're awesome!
My whole family loved! I had over cauliflower rice and they had over egg noodles! They fought over the leftovers. I posted to my Instagram @ketolifestylewithjess
Tasha Metcalf says
Happy dances! I love when the whole family can enjoy the recipes, makes life so much easier. Thanks for the positive feedback and sharing your IG! 🙂
This was delicious! I did alter the spices to be in line with swedish meatballs:
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp pepper
Subbed the all purpose seasoning with 1/2 tsp garlic powder
Also added an extra egg for binding and some salt to the sauce. I ended up with 21 meatballs. So good!!