These dairy free Swedish meatballs are a comforting weeknight dinner the whole family will love! Delicious gluten free meatballs are made with ground beef and simmered in a creamy sauce that’s low carb, dairy free and Whole30 compliant.
Move over Ikea. There’s a new meatball in town, and it’s fulfilling all of the Ikea Swedish meatball cravings (and that’s not exactly an easy feat). The beloved Ikea Swedish meatball is a combination of pork, beef, onion, breadcrumbs, egg, water salt and pepper. Traditionally, Swedish meatballs are served with a side of cucumbers and sweetened lingonberries.
With a few dairy free and grain free substitutions, these Swedish meatballs aren’t exactly the real deal, but nevertheless, they’re just as delicious and healthy!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Dairy free Swedish meatballs are easy to throw together! Make the meatballs. Bathe them in sauce. EAT!
- Not long ago “healthy food” tasted a lot like lettuce. NOT ANYMORE! These meatballs are JUICY, flavorful and comforting!
- Swedish meatballs are not traditionally served in a creamy sauce, but the sauce is what takes these meatballs next level.
- THE LEFTOVERS. The more time the meatballs mingle with the sauce, THE BETTER. The second helping is just as good (if not better) than the first.
- There aren’t any visible veggies in the final dish, so if you happen to have a vegetable hater in your household, you’re probably safe feeding them this.
- They’re bite size and easy to snack on! Great for gatherings and cocktail parties!
- Easy to freeze and reheat later!
Ingredients You’ll Need
For the Meatballs
- Ground Beef – 80 to 85 % lean ground chuck is ideal. You could also use all pork or a combo of the two.
- Minced White Onion – Finely mincing the white onion is key. Traditional Swedish meatballs do not have any noticeable bites of onion. Mincing the onion adds all of the flavor without adding any undesirable texture.
- Almond Flour – Almond flour takes stage as the “breadcrumbs” in this Whole30-friendly variation.
- Almond Milk – Almond milk adds moisture to these meatballs making incredible juicy meatballs.
- Egg – The incredible egg holds everything together.
- Salt & Pepper – balances out the flavor of the dish.
- Nutmeg – to give them that authentic flavor! You can also use allspice.
- Avocado Oil – This heart-healthy oil is loaded with Vitamin E, which helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
For The Sauce:
- Avocado Oil – Avocado oil is great for high heat cooking. It’s harder to burn, so I love using it in recipes, especially when I’m using non-stick pans.
- Arrowroot Starch – This is a great grain free paleo substitution for cornstarch, a common ingredient used to thicken sauces.
- Coconut Aminos – Coconut aminos are the next best thing to soy sauce that isn’t soy sauce at all. It adds a lovely depth of color and subtle sweetness to the sauce.
- Coarse Grain Mustard – also known as stone ground mustard is milder in flavor. It offers just enough tang to the sauce without overpowering it. Do you have any Grey Poupon?
- Beef Broth – You can use store-bought (Whole30ers – don’t forget to check those labels!) or homemade.
- Coconut Cream – If you’re using a can of full-fat coconut milk, the chunk of solidified coconut milk that rises to the top of the can is coconut cream.
How To Make Dairy Free Swedish Meatballs
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together almond flour and almond milk. Set it aside for 5 minutes or until the liquid fully absorbs. Then, whisk in egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Add ground beef to the bowl along with the minced onion. Mix by hand until ingredients are incorporated without overmixing. Gently roll mixture between hands forming 1” meatballs.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon avocado oil over medium high heat until hot but smoking. Then, gently place meatballs into the hot pan. Brown meatballs evenly on all sides by occasionally flipping them. Continue cooking the meatballs until they are cooked evenly (about 10 minutes depending on the size of your meatballs). Once the meatballs are cooked through, remove them from the skillet and set aside on a clean plate. Don’t clean the pan.
- In the same pan, add more avocado oil and lower the heat to medium. Gradually whisk in the arrowroot starch until a paste is formed similar to a roux. Once the paste becomes brown and bubbly, slowly whisk in beef broth until smooth. There shouldn’t be any weird lumps! Next, whisk in coconut aminos and mustard. Continue whisking until smooth and well-combined.
- Lastly, add the coconut cream (the cream only) by whisking it into the simmering sauce. Turn the heat down to low and continue simmering until the sauce begins to thicken (10 to 15 minutes).
- Return the meatballs to the pan and gently toss in the sauce to coat and warm through. The sauce will continue to thicken as it stands.
Whole30 Swedish Meatballs
These Swedish meatballs check off all of the Whole30 and paleo boxes! They’re made with all gluten free, dairy free and grain free ingredients, including almond flour (in place of breadcrumbs), arrowroot starch (in place of cornstarch) and coconut cream (in place of heavy whipping cream).
For Whole30 purposes, you can absolutely use ghee (clarified butter) in place of avocado oil in most recipes. Ghee will add a layer of roasted nutty flavor to this dish.
Keto Swedish Meatballs
Dairy free Swedish meatballs are also inherently low carb and keto! To up the protein in this recipe, you could use crushed pork rinds in place of almond flour. To up the fat-content, use heavy whipping cream in place of coconut cream (keeping in mind heavy whipping cream is not dairy free).
- Pre-packaged Frozen Meatballs – I won’t encourage you to skip making the meatballs from scratch, but if you must, look for 1” frozen meatballs. Better yet, use Ikea’s frozen Swedish meatballs.
- The nutmeg can be used interchangeably with allspice, or you can use a little bit of both.
- The secret to juicy meatballs is moisture. Soaking the almond flour in almond milk creates a binder and adds moisture. It helps prevent the ground beef from drying out and becoming tough and chewy.
- Keep your ingredients cold! It’s easier to mold the meatballs if the mixture is cold. Simply place the mixture in the fridge for 20 minutes before making the meatballs.
- Be gentle when forming meatballs. Quickly roll mixture between hands or use an ice cream scoop. An overly compacted meatball will turn out rubbery.
- Coconut cream usually naturally separates from the coconut milk in the can. The top solidified layer that rises to the top of the can is what you’ll be using. You can also chill canned coconut milk in the refrigerator for a few hours. That will ensure the cream has solidified at the top of the can.
- Make an extra batch to freeze for later.
How To Serve Swedish Meatballs
- To keep things traditional and serve this meal like the Swedes, serve meatballs with a side of mashed potatoes, cucumber salad and a scoop of lingonberries.
- For Keto and Whole30 purposes, these meatballs pair perfectly with spaghetti squash, creamy mashed cauliflower or your favorite spiralized vegetable.
- Skip the lingonberries if you’re on a Whole30 reset and use a sugar-free compliant fruit spread. It won’t be exactly the same, but it’ll deliver the full authentic effect.
Dairy-free Swedish meatballs are also great served over:
- Rice Pilaf
- Egg Noodles
- Linguini Pasta
- Oven-Roasted Potatoes
Storing, Freezing & Reheating:
- Storing: Store meatballs in sauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days. To reheat leftovers, simply microwave or reheat over the stove.
- Freezing: To freeze, prepare meatballs (without the sauce) as instructed and then let them cool to room temperature. Place the meatballs in a single layer on a baking sheet (or something that will fit in your freezer) and leave them be until just frozen solid. Immediately transfer the frozen meatballs to a freezer-safe container. Keep frozen until ready to use.
- Reheating from frozen: You can either thaw the meatballs overnight in the fridge and then add them to the sauce, or you can add frozen meatballs right into the sauce and simmer until they are thawed and heated through.
- What do Swedish meatballs taste like? While Italian meatballs rely on savory herbs like oregano and basil, the Swedes like the flavor of their meatballs a bit warmer. That’s where the nutmeg (or allspice) comes in! The final product is warming meatballs smothered in a rich tangy cream sauce.
- Is beef stroganoff the same as Swedish meatballs? No, but they are very similar. While the sauces taste very similar, the big difference is beef stroganoff is made with tender sliced beef and mushrooms rather than ground beef and pork.
- Can I substitute ground beef for something else? Fattier ground meats work best in meatballs. In place of beef, you could use ground pork, ground veal or a mixture of two or three.
- Can I substitute ground beef for ground turkey or ground chicken? Meatballs need fat to retain moisture and hold together. Ground turkey and chicken are both pretty lean, so they tend to dry out. Use equal parts of beef pork turkey or chicken to keep them moist and juicy.
- Can I freeze the meatballs in the sauce? I wouldn’t recommend it. Cream-based sauces tend to separate when frozen.
Dairy Free Dinners You’ll Love
Dairy Free Swedish Meatballs
For The Meatballs
- 1 lb Ground Beef 75-85% fat
- ½ cup White Onion minced
- ¼ cup Almond Flour
- ¼ cup Almond Milk
- 1 Egg
- 1 tbsp Avocado Oil
- ½ tsp Salt
- ¼ tsp Black Pepper
- ⅛ tsp Ground Nutmeg
For The Sauce
- 2 tbsp Avocado Oil or ghee if Whole30
- 2 tbsp Arrowroot Starch
- 2 tbsp Coconut Aminos
- 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard coarse grain
- 2 cups Beef Broth
- 1 cup Coconut Cream
- To a medium sized bowl whisk together almond flour and almond milk. Let sit for 5 minutes to fully absorb. Whisk in egg, salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Add ground beef to the bowl along with the minced onion. Mix by hand until ingredients are incorporated without overmixing. Form into 1” meatballs.
- In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp avocado oil over medium high heat then add in the meatballs. Let them cook while occasionally flipping them over to make sure they cook evenly. This should take about 10 minutes or longer depending on the size of the meatball. Remove cooked meatballs from the skillet and set aside.
- Add the ghee or avocado oil to the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Add in the arrowroot starch and whisk together until a paste is formed similar to a roux. Once the paste becomes brown and bubbly, whisk in 2 cups of beef broth slowly to make sure no lumps form. Whisk in coconut aminos and mustard until fully combined.
- Next add 1cup of coconut cream (the cream only) by whisking into the sauce to make it creamy. Turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. Return the meatballs to the pan and coat with the sauce before serving. Sauce will thicken as it cools.