Lighter Crockpot Swedish Meatballs (From Scratch!)
These Crockpot Swedish Meatballs are made lighter using half the heavy cream and extra-lean ground beef meatballs made from scratch. Serve with a side of egg noodles and broccoli for a full meal! Jump to Recipe
How to Make Crockpot Swedish Meatballs (step-by-step)
Here's exactly how to make this slow cooker Swedish meatballs recipe below:
- Mix ingredients together for meatballs, then cook meatballs in a skillet for 3-4 minutes until lightly browned and meatballs hold their shape.
- Grease slow cooker, then add butter, mushrooms, beef broth, garlic and Worcestershire.
- Add meatballs, then cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 6 hours.
- While everything is cooking, mix cornstarch and water to create a slurry, and cook any applicable sides like egg noodles and/or broccoli.
- Add the cornstarch slurry and heavy cream to meatballs, then serve and enjoy!
What makes a meatball Swedish?
Italian meatballs are typically cooked in a tangy marinara sauce with chunks of tomatoes. The meatballs themselves are larger and traditionally made with a combination of beef, pork and veal.
Swedish meatballs are cooked in a gravy made of broth and cream. They are smaller, intended to be the perfect appetizer size. They are usually made from a 50/50 mix of ground beef and pork. My recipe uses ground beef only for simplicity and to keep costs down.
These slow cooker Swedish meatballs are similar to my recipe for Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff in terms of the sauce and ingredients. Both recipes are comfort food favourites that can be made in the slow cooker. As a result, you can come home looking forward to a delicious meal that has cooked while you are out all day!
How can you thicken Swedish meatball sauce?
A slurry of cornstarch and water will thicken anything it’s added to. This important step prevents your broth from running right off the plate. Instead, you’ll have a thick creamy sauce that sticks to the noodles.
The heavy cream also helps the sauce keep its structure, but you can sub in sour cream if that's all you have on hand.
How do you keep meatballs round?
Here are a few simple things that will help you make perfect meatballs:
- Refrigeration – After forming the meatballs, allow them to chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
- Browning them also helps them maintain their shape. If the outside is cooked, it will keep the insides from collapsing.
- Binding – The egg plays an important part in helping meatballs keep their shape. Eggs are what binds the meat with the other ingredients. Adding more bread crumbs will make them lose their shape as the binding ratio of the egg will be different.
- Be gentle when you make meatballs. If they are packed too tightly, they will be rubbery after cooking.
Everything in this amazing dish is made using simple pantry staples. But you can make some substitutions if you are out of ingredients or prefer something else.
- Heavy Cream – I use heavy cream to make the best sauce. They taste just like the Ikea Swedish meatballs if you follow the recipe. If you prefer something lighter, you can substitute half and half or sour cream.
- Ground Beef – To make a traditional meal, I use ground beef. You can certainly use any kind of ground meat. Experiment with ground turkey, chicken or pork to see what you prefer. Ikea Swedish meatballs offer a choice of beef, chicken or even vegan, filled with chickpeas and vegetables.
What other ingredients can you add?
I love adding veggies to this dish to make it healthier. Though Swedish Meatballs are typically served with egg noodles or mashed potatoes, you can just serve the meatballs with a side of vegetables.
Here are some suggestions of what you can add to this recipe:
- Steamed broccoli or cauliflower
- Mashed cauliflower
- Leafy greens such as spinach, kale or Swiss chard
- Steamed or roasted carrots
- Diced up bell peppers or zucchini – stir them in towards the end of cook time
One of the things I love about this crockpot Swedish meatballs recipe is the ease of putting everything into the slow cooker. As a result, I don’t have to babysit the cooking and the meal is ready when I’m ready to eat.
If you don’t have a crock pot or want to make them on the stove top, you certainly can. It will take a few more pots though.
- Cook the meatballs either in a pan or on a baking sheet in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
- While the meatballs cook, use a saucepan to saute the mushrooms and garlic with butter.
- Add the broth, Worcheshire and salt and pepper to the mushrooms and boil for ten minutes. After that, add the cornstarch slurry and the cream. Then you can add the meatballs to the sauce.
It is also possible to cook raw meatballs right in the sauce. However, browning them produces the dark color people expect of meatballs, and it helps them keep their perfectly round shape.
Can you freeze Swedish meatballs?
Crockpot Swedish meatballs can be made ahead! You can refrigerate them for up to five days or freeze for three or four months. Take them out of the freezer 24 hours prior to serving them so they are thawed (defrost in the fridge). Reheat them in a pan on the stovetop by simmering them in in the sauce, or reheat in the slow cooker for 2 hours on low.
Storing and reheating this recipe
This recipe is great for leftovers – if you don't decide to freeze it, you can pack it up and store it in the fridge in glass containers for up to 5 days. When ready to reheat, sprinkle 1 tbsp water overtop, add a little bit of extra salt & pepper, then reheat for 2-3 minutes in the microwave. Make sure to stir halfway through to get an even heat throughout.
What goes best with Crockpot Swedish meatballs?
I think this meatball recipe is perfect to serve with Swedish meatball sauce, or any other sauce! You can also add them to any dish, or switch the side dishes.
I prefer a traditional Swedish meatball recipe, so I serve my meatballs with egg noodles and broccoli. But feel free to expand your choices! Plenty of other foods taste fantastic with these meatballs, including:
- Steamed veggies or a side salad
- Boiled or mashed potatoes
- Lingonberry jam (just like the Ikea Swedish meatballs!)
- Sweet and sour cabbage
More hearty crockpot recipes
If you're looking for more delicious crockpot recipes I have this round up of healthy Slow Cooker Recipes that you can use for your weekly meal prep or even just a last minute dump dinner idea!
Here are a couple other crockpot recipes below for easy dinners:
Meal prep tools for this recipe
- Grab some glass meal prep bowls if you plan on refrigerating the leftovers
- I get all my grass-fed beef from Butcher Box, conveniently delivered to me frozen.
- Grab some slow cooker liners to reduce clean up
- Freeze this recipe in glass microwave-safe bowls up to 3 months
Meal prep challenge
If you'd like some more help with meal planning, then you'll love my free 5-day meal prep challenge! It's basically a free course that will teach you how to meal prep and cook healthy meals at home with some PDF bonus materials. Sign up for free below:
Crockpot Swedish Meatballs
- Cooking spray
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 (254g) package mushrooms, sliced
- 1.5 cups beef broth
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- 1 (354g) package egg noodles
- 1 head broccoli, chopped into florets
- 1 lb extra-lean ground beef
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 yellow onion, grated
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- Mix together ingredients for meatballs in a large bowl, then roll into 2-inch balls. Spray a very large skillet with cooking spray then heat on med-high. Cook meatballs for 3-4 minutes per side (they should all be lightly browned but not cooked through - you may need to do them in batches depending on the size skillet you have).
- Grease slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray (or just extra butter), then add butter, mushrooms, beef broth, garlic, Worcestershire and salt & pepper. Add meatballs and drippings, then cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 6 hours.
- Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and water together in a small bowl to create a slurry. Boil egg noodles for 3-4 minutes, adding broccoli florets in during the last 2 minutes of cook time. Drain and set aside.
- Once meatballs are done, add cornstarch slurry and heavy cream, tossing meatballs gently to combine sauce. Serve over egg noodles and broccoli, garnishing with fresh parsley if desired. Enjoy!
- NOTE: These Swedish Meatballs are also great to serve at a party! Leave out the egg noodles and broccoli and just serve out of the crockpot with toothpicks.