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. The spot being that creamy, gravy-covered comfort food. 

Before we get to the recipe, I should also mention that the jam-sauce on my plate is the furthest thing from paleo — it's rhubarb-vodka jam that I cooked with a bit of water to sauce it up. It was this amazing take-home gift from the Prairie Made dinner with Heartland and Prairie Organic Vodka. (P.S. That dinner. Mmmm.)

Paleo Swedish Meatballs & Gravy

paleo, gluten-free and whole30-friendly | serves 2-4

Meatball Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp celery salt (because real celery is the absolute worst)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Gravy Ingredients

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1-2 T ghee or olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 cups beef stock or broth
  • 2 T arrowroot powder + 1 T warm water (optional)
  • salt and black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 275 F.
  2. Mix all the meatball ingredients up (I actually used a food processor for this to give them that weird, IKEA-like smoothness, but you don't need to follow suit if you don't want that).
  3. Roll meat mixture into balls about 1.5 inches in diameter.
  4. Heat a bit of olive oil or ghee in a skillet on medium heat and then cook the meatballs, turning them regularly and making sure they brown but don't burn. You'll need to do it in multiple batches because you don't want to crowd the pan. As each batch of meatballs is finished, keep them warm on a baking sheet in a 275 F oven.

  5. Once the meatballs are done, start making the gravy. Use the same skillet to fry the sliced onions on medium heat with butter or ghee until translucent.
  6. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes.
  7. Then slowly add beef broth to deglaze the pan, stirring the bottom to get all the meaty flavor in there. Bring to a simmer.
  8. Using a blender, immersion blender or food processor, puree this mixture. 
  9. If your gravy isn't creamy enough (the onions actually make it creamy!), 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 could also add sour cream instead, if you are not a paleo person. You are the conductor on this gravy train. 
  10. Season to taste (I was quite liberal with the black pepper), pour on your meatballs and eat on top of a pile of mashed potatoes with a side of lingonberry sauce.


  • About that lingonberry sauce. I don't have a recipe for you because I do not have access to fresh lingonberries, but DO NOT SKIP THE SAUCE, I SAY. Lingonberry sauce is most authentically Swedish, but you could substitute a cranberry sauce as well if you want to make something paleo (like Nom Nom's Paleo Cran-Cherry Sauce?). You just want something sweet and tart.
  • Serve with mashed cauliflower! I have spilled the secrets of fluffy mashed cauliflower here and roasty-toasty cauliflower rice here, pets.
  • Cardamom creme brulee or a Paleo Blueberry Almond Crisp would be the most perfect ending to this Scandinavian meal, obviously.

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