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My Signature Swedish Meatballs (no gluten, dairy, or eggs)

Recipe by Daytona Strong (www.outside-oslo.com)
This recipe uses higher-fat beef than I would otherwise use, as it has no eggs or breadcrumbs as typical binders. Also note that this “dairy-free” recipe calls for butter. Not all dairy-free diets restrict butter, but if yours does, feel free to swap it out as indicated in the ingredient list.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Swedish
Servings 6 people


For the meatballs

  • 1/4-1/3 cup dried porcini mushrooms *
  • 3/4 cup water room temperature
  • butter or oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef 85%, 15% fat
  • 1 pound ground pork 80%, 20% fat
  • 1/2 pound ground veal 90%, 10%; substitute chicken for veal if desired
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch ground white pepper

For the brown sauce/gravy

  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 3 tablespoons butter or dairy-free butter substitute
  • 3 tablespoons potato starch
  • a few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste


  • Prepare the dried mushrooms: rinse then soak in a shallow dish with the room temperature water for about 30 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon; reserving both mushrooms and broth. Chop mushrooms finely and set aside.
  • Heat butter or oil in a large pan and sauté onion until just beginning to color. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine onions, mushrooms, and remaining meatball ingredients (saving the mushroom liquid for the sauce), mixing gently to incorporate everything without overworking. Chill for about 30 minutes.
  • When it’s time to form the meatballs, wet your hands and shape them into balls about an inch and a half in diameter.
  • Heat more butter in the pan over medium heat and pan fry the meatballs in a single layer, working in batches if necessary, until they’re brown on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and cover to keep warm while you make the sauce.
  • Deglaze pan with the wine, scraping the brown bits. Simmer for a minute, then add the beef stock, reserved mushroom water, and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium pot, melt butter. Add potato starch a tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly, until smooth. Add the heated stock a little at a time, whisking all the while, until the sauce has the consistency of a good gravy and is still thick enough to coat the spoon. (It should be thin enough to consider a sauce but still have some viscosity left. Reserve any remaining broth, as it will come in handy when reheating leftovers.)
  • Season with salt, to taste.
  • Wipe out the pan you initially used to cook the meatballs and return the meatballs to the pan. Pour the sauce over them, stir gently to coat, then simmer until cooked through.
  • Serve with lingonberry jam, quick cucumbers, and dill-and-butter potatoes.


* The dried mushrooms (and 3⁄4 cup water) are optional, but I hope you’ll try them. While not exactly “traditional,” Magnus Nilsson writes in The Nordic Cookbook that people in Sweden sometimes add Chinese mushroom soy sauce, so my addition isn’t entirely unorthodox.
Keyword dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, Swedish