Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs braised in a rich and flavorful cream sauce. A combination of ground beef, pork, and warm spices make for a comforting and satisfying dish. Serve as an easy appetizer or heartier meal paired with mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
Hi there! It’s Jessica Gavin, Certified Culinary Scientist and I’m delighted to share this comforting slow cooker Swedish meatballs recipe with you. There are three key elements to tender and juicy meatballs. This includes selecting the right combination of meat, adding a panade, and simmering over a long period of time under controlled heat. I’ve tested out numerous batches so that you have just the right texture and flavor each time you make the dish.
Using an electric slow cooker is the perfect vessel for braising meat over a long period of time. Compared to a stove top, the heating is more consistent and never gets above the boiling point to prevent overcooking. The spiced meatballs simmer in a lightly thickened beef broth, then cream is added at the end of cooking to provide extra richness. Each fork-tender meatball bursts with a hint of nutmeg and allspice. It’s a satisfying meal that requires minimal preparation with virtually hands-off cooking.
Key Ingredients for Swedish Meatballs
To create meatballs that could easily be cut with a spoon, but have a nice chew, equal amounts of lean ground beef and pork are used. The pork adds a rich sausage flavor and springy texture. Adding a panade, a starchy mixture of panko bread crumbs, eggs, and cream to the meat mixture helps to bind and lock the flavorful juices in each meatball. Grated onions add savory notes without the crunch you would experience from roughly chopped pieces.
What makes this version unique compared to traditional Italian meatballs is the addition of warm spices typically used in baking. The grated nutmeg and allspice complement the creamy sauce, so when you eat them together, the flavors meld and infuse to create a bechamel sauce taste. It’s an unexpectedly appetizing combination, highlighting the flavors of fall and winter.
How to Make Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs
- Brown the meat first to develop a more sturdy texture, attractive color, and add flavor.
- Make a stove top gravy to ensure that it’s properly thickened, then add to slow cooker.
- Stir in cream at the end of cooking to prevent curdling of the sauce.
Gradually cooking the meatballs for about 2 hours on the high setting, or 4 to 5 hours on low, then its ready to devour! You can keep the meatballs in the pot on the warm setting until ready to serve. The slow cooker method of Swedish meatballs is super convenient for making it ahead of time for dinner or parties.
I like to serve this dish with homemade mashed potatoes or wide egg noodle pasta. Trust me, you’re going to want to pour the sauce over everything, and I’ve designed the recipe to make a generous amount. Once you make this once, it will be on the weekly dinner menu that will be a breeze to whip up!
- ¾ cup heavy whipping cream divided
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 8 ounces lean ground pork
- ¼ cup grated yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 ounces lean ground beef, 85% percent lean ground beef recommended
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoon flour
- 3 cups unsalted beef broth
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- In a medium-sized bowl whisk together ¼ cup heavy cream and egg.
- Add in breadcrumbs and stir to combine, set aside.
- In a large bowl add pork, grated onion, garlic, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, allspice, and black pepper.
- Use your hand to mix and combine the mixture until consistent in appearance, 1 minute.
- Add in the breadcrumb mixture (panade) and mix with hand to combine until smooth, 1 minute.
- Add in ground beef and mix with hand until combined, 45 seconds.
- Roll meatball mixture into 2 tablespoon-sized balls, about 17 total.
- Heat a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, once hot, add the meatball.
- Brown the meatballs for about 4 to 6 minutes. Turn heat down to medium and flip over and cook 3 minutes.
- Transfer meatballs to the slow cooker, do not discard pan.
- Heat pan over medium-high heat, add butter and flour, whisk to combine, cook for 30 seconds.
- Gradually whisk in the beef broth, scraping and breaking up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Bring broth to a boil, whisking until sauce thickens, about 1 minute.
- Turn off heat and whisk in 1 ½ teaspoons salt, add sauce to slow cooker.
- Cover and cook meatballs for 2 hours on “High”, or “Low” for 4 to 5 hours.
- Stir in ½ cup heavy cream and lemon juice.
- Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Garnish Swedish meatballs with parsley, and serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles.