Paleo Swedish Meatballs and Gravy


Watch out, IKEA.

I’m still on my mission to make millions of meatballs for Worthy Pause, and this was the latest experiment.

As a Minnesotan, I’m sort of ashamed about the infrequency I’ve eaten Swedish meatballs in my lifetime… once at a wedding, once at IKEA and once at Fika, the most wonderfully delicious cafe at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis. Seriously, just get your buns over there and eat the salmon smorgas and the cardamom bread pudding.

Anyway, I’m not trying to replace anyone’s grandma’s recipe with these and I’m positive they are inauthentic, but they hit the spot the other night when I was tooling around in the kitchen.

Before we get to the recipe, I should also mention that the jam on my plate is the furthest thing from paleo—it’s rhubarb-vodka jam. It was this ridiculously generous take-home gift from the Prairie Made dinner last year with Heartland and Prairie Organic Vodka. That dinner. Mmmm.

Swedish Meatballs

Paleo + Whole30 Approved (except the jam, in this case!)

  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion, blended
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar (mix with a touch of warm water before adding)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp celery salt (because real celery is the absolute worst)
  • Butter or ghee for frying

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Mix all the ingredients up (I actually used a food processor for this to give them that weird, IKEA-like smoothness). Roll meat mixture into balls. Fry in batches in a large pan over medium heat. Roll around the pan until they are evenly crisped on the outside and cooked on the inside (about 6-10 minutes). As you finish batches on the stove, keep them warm on a baking sheet in the oven.


  • Meatball pan bits and drippings
  • 2-3 mushrooms, totally pulverized in a processor (your could use dried as well)
  • 1-2 T of butter, optional if you think need more fat in the pan
  • 1.5 cups beef stock or broth
  • 1.5 T arrowroot powder (mix with a little warm water first to avoid chunks)
  • Salt, pepper and cayenne to taste

Using the same pan that you cooked the meatballs, fry your mushroom mixture for a hot minute on medium heat, adding butter or ghee if your pan is very dry. Then slowly add beef broth and whisk up the bits. Bring to a simmer. Whisk in the arrowroot powder/water slowly and allow the gravy to thicken to your desired consistency. You may not have to use all your arrowroot powder or maybe you want to add more. You are the conductor on this gravy train. Season to taste (I was quite liberal with the pepper), pour on your meatballs and EAT.

You’re on your own for this one, but DO NOT SKIP THE JAM, I SAY. Lingonberry, cranberry, currant, whatever. You can easily cook up a naturally sweet and tart sauce that’ll pair with this.

Thoughts, ideas and other uses:

  • Serve with mashed cauliflower or cauliflower rice. I have spilled the secrets of fluffy mashed cauliflower here and roasty-toasty cauliflower rice here, pets.
  • You could also bake the meatballs. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees F.
  • The mushrooms in the gravy add that umami kick. They are optional, but I found the gravy rather MEH without ’em.
  • Cardamom creme brulee or spiced apple crumble would be the most perfect ending to this meal, obviously.

Do these stand (or at least sit) up to IKEA’s? Let me know in the comments!



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  1. says

    I tried these tonight. I'm Whole 30 right now, so no jam for me. Boo! I think the meatballs are good, though a little salty for my taste. The gravy is amazing! I used mushroom broth instead of beef broth because it's what I had and it's soooo good! Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. Kari H. says

    This recipe looks super yum, but I have a no-egg kiddo. Can I just omit the egg or will a chia substitute work? Thanks!

  3. Anonymous says

    Could I omit the egg or substitue? Maybe flax or chia? These looks scrumptious, and I about fell over laughing reading your article!! IKEA fan here, would love to have some of their lingonberry preserves to eat these with.

  4. Kari H. says

    SUPER yummy, thanks for the recipe! These were a bit salty, so I'll cut the salt back to 1/2 tsp next time. Made 14 meatballs and they took about 10 min. on medium heat, if any other cooks are curious.