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Swedish meatballs
What could be more Swedish than our meatballs? Swedish meatballs, perhaps the country’s most famous culinary item, are actually based on a recipe brought back from Turkey in the early 18th century by King Charles XII of Sweden.They are a part of both traditional holiday meals and a staple in everyday home cooking.
Photo credit: Daniel Herzell/Folio/

The best Swedish meatballs and where to get them

No dish is more typically Swedish than Swedish meatballs. We take a look at the meatball phenomenon and where to get the best Swedish meatballs in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

Meatballs are as quintessentially Swedish as it gets. In their most traditional form Swedish meatballs (köttbullar) are made of ground pork and beef, cream, egg and onion, and are served with creamy mashed potatoes, a thick, brown gravy, lingonberry jam and pickled cucumber. The latter adds bitter sweetness as a perfect complement to the savoury meatball.

While this style of meatballs may be hearty, filling and delightfully decadent, modern chefs are redefining Swedish comfort food, or husmanskost, as it is better known in Sweden, making it lighter and more healthy. Restaurant Tradition in Stockholm’s Old Town, has famously removed the lactose from the recipe. Another chef who is creating more modern, less heavy versions of the Swedish classics is Fredrik Eriksson at Långbro Värdshus outside Stockholm.

Grandma’s Swedish meatballs

If you ask a Swede where to get the best meatballs, the answer will probably be his or her grandmother’s house. If you don’t have a Swedish grandma of your own, there are some very respectable restaurant options out there too. The following are the best restaurants serving Swedish meatballs in Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö:

Best Swedish meatballs in Stockholm: Meatballs for the People

For some unique takes on the classic Swedish meatball, check out Meatballs for the People in trendy Södermalm. “The city’s first meatball boutique” serves up 14 different varieties of organic meatballs, ranging from rooster, to moose, ox, wild boar, pig, salmon, reindeer, turkey and vegetable. All the meatballs are handmade from organic, locally sourced produce, and are a sustainable treat for the taste buds.

Meatballs for the People
Meatballs for the People is a restaurant in Stockholm aiming to serve the world's best meatballs. Photo: Tina Stafrén

Best Gothenburg restaurants for meatballs: Smaka

Smaka in Gothenburg’s Vasastan may not look like much from the outside, but, once inside this cose eatery, you will soon find yourself tucking into the most famous plate of meatballs in Sweden’s second city. Served with plenty of mashed potato, lingonberry jam and pickled cucumber, they may not be the healthiest option on the menu, but what does it matter when they taste so good?

Meatball restaurant in Malmö: Bullen

Malmö offers a rich diversity of different food cultures, but fear not, you can still find some good, old-fashioned husmanskost if you look hard enough. For the best meatballs in town, head to Bullen. This historic pub and restaurant looks more like an English or Irish pub but is known to serve the city’s tastiest köttbullar with boiled potatoes and gravy.