Not only are Swedish meatballs beyond delicious with their combination of beef and pork in a rich roux-based cream sauce, they’re also – like so many things in the food world – misnamed.
Don’t tell the Swedish Chef from Sesame Street this, but they’re actually Turkish. Or at least Swedish-by-way-of-Turkey.
“Gue der bork!”
However, that doesn’t change the pure joy we feel when the cook in the kitchen yells, “The Swedish meatballs are done!”
When we think of Swedish meatballs, we inherently think of the cream sauce as being the differentiating element that separates them from Italian meatballs.
But, au contraire. There are vast differences between the two.
The American version of Italian meatballs can range in size from tennis balls to even larger.
However, Swedish meatballs are more the size of golf balls. And with good cause. The smaller size is just easier, especially when you’re eating one off a little faux sword at a cocktail party.
With Swedish meatballs, smaller is better.
Also, the seasonings are quite different. The Italian meatballs tend toward savory herbs like basil and oregano and contain cheese like parmesan.
Whereas Swedish meatballs are loaded with warming spices like allspice, nutmeg, and even ginger.
Mmm. Warming spices.
And those flavors along with that creamy gravy make all the difference when choosing what to serve with Swedish meatballs.
Traditionally, many love their Swedish meatballs served with a side of tart and slightly sweet lingonberry jam, but there are so many other options for side dishes here.
And we have a host of ideas for you to consider.
What Goes with Swedish Meatballs: A List of Our Favorite Sides
So, gather up those ground meats and spices, and let’s get into rolling some bite-sized meatballs. And then delve into our list of sides for this amazing dish and its velvety cream sauce.
1. Mashed Potatoes with Heavy Cream
We could daydream all day long about what to eat with Swedish meatballs.
And rich decadent mashed potatoes top our list of ruminations.
Heavy cream, butter, garlic, and sour cream combined with airy perfectly boiled potatoes are just the thing to sop up all that Swedish meatball cream sauce.
We really love Nicole’s recipe for the dreamiest mashed potatoes around. Grab the recipe over at Cooking for Keeps.
2. Lemon Rice Pilaf
Although Swedish meatballs have warming spices in them, that doesn’t mean they don’t love traditional Italian spices in their side dishes.
A little dried basil. A little dried oregano.
And a lot of lemon.
And that’s what we went looking for in a pilaf recipe to go with our main dish.
We found a great recipe from Denise at Sweet Peas and Saffron.
Your Swedish meatballs want to be plated with this rice.
3. Amish Egg Noodles
Traditionally Swedish meatballs are served with egg noodles. But, wait! Don’t reach for that bag! If you have a few minutes and a few eggs why not make your own?
Mmm. Homemade egg noodles under meatballs with a rich and creamy sauce.
That’s what we’re talking about.
Yes, this is what to serve with Swedish meatballs.
We like Courtney’s egg noodle recipe at Neighbor Food Blog.
They’re hearty and full of flavor, just the way we like our pasta.
4. Green Beans Almondine
Don’t let the parsley in the Swedish meatball cream sauce be the only good green thing on the plate.
How about some green beans coated in butter and a little lemon tossed with crunchy toasted almonds? They’re bright and fresh, and they provide a satisfying pop of flavor.
Mmm. Green beans and almonds.
We like the recipe that we found at A Beautiful Plate. Laura’s recipe will really shine on the plate along with the meatballs.
5. Big Green Salad
When we say, “big green,” you say “salad!”
When we say, “big green,” you say “salad!”
We do like a big green salad on the plate with our Swedish meatballs and cream sauce.
And we love them full of unexpected and delicious ingredients. Zucchini? Green tomatoes? A mint vinaigrette? Oh, my.
That’s what we’re craving.
And we found a fabulous recipe from Meseidy over at The Noshery that makes our hearts sing and dance and our stomach grumble in anticipation.
6. Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Parmesan
We’re absolutely besotted with broccoli.
And it seems like it’s finally, finally, finally getting the adoration that it deserves. Sure, it’s not “officially” the hippest ingredient in the produce aisle – but it’s getting there.
And we love our broccoli bright with lemon and salty from parmesan.
So, when we found this recipe, we wanted to shout it from the rooftops.
Broccoli with lemon and parmesan! Broccoli with lemon and parmesan!
It’s astoundingly good with Swedish meatballs.
Grab the recipe from Amy over at House of Nash Eats.
7. Glazed Pearl Onions
When we we’re choosing a side dish for Swedish meatballs, we like to look for dishes that are complimentary in terms of flavors and textures.
But it’s also fun to have them mimic the size of the little meatballs themselves.
That’s how we landed on pearl onions.
And we love them braised with a little sugar, a lot of butter, salt, and pepper.
That’s when we stumbled on this recipe.
Oooh, la, la, it’s pretty fabulous!
See QKatie’s recipe, and then grab that parchment and pan.
8. Microwave Steamed Asparagus
When it comes to Swedish meatballs, we love to get them on the plate as soon as possible. They’re begging to be devoured, and we’re not going to argue with that!
Also, we try to be mindful of the fact that the creamy sauce loves to be combined with a crisp crunchy vegetable. Asparagus and sauce? Oh yeah.
And our vote is for asparagus tossed with a bit of butter and lemon.
Did we mention that we want to get down to the serious business of eating our meatballs? So, we thought we’d get the asparagus from the cutting board to the table ASAP.
Which is why we love this microwaveable asparagus recipe.
(Your microwave actually excels at steaming vegetables, so don’t feel like you’re cutting corners here.)
We found Wendi’s recipe at Loaves and Dishes.
9. Crispy Oven-Roasted Broccolini
♪Broccolini, broccolini, broccolini.♪ It sounds like singing, doesn’t it?
And it makes us hum a little tune when we serve it with our Swedish meatballs.
We really embrace the flavor of this delicate green veggie when it’s charred and tossed with a burst of umami.
And that’s why we were so psyched to find this recipe from Lindsay over at Love and Olive Oil.
We think you’ll love it too.
10. Oven-Roasted Baby Potatoes
Roly poly baby potatoes tossed in oil, herbs, and garlic are a fantastic side dish.
And they’re really a fantastic side for Swedish meatballs. The crunchy exterior of the potatoes is the perfect foil for the meatballs and cream sauce.
Bite after perfect bite of the potatoes with the sauce is swoon worthy. And then when you spear a meatball with a piece of potato on your fork? Pure bliss.
Check out the recipe from Julie over at Running in a Skirt.
11. Sautéed Turnip Greens
We love hearty and peppery turnip greens. And they’re even better with a kick of spice. They cook in the blink of an eye, and are stunning in your stainless steel frying pan.
And on the plate next to Swedish meatballs.
Just ruminate on their beauty for a moment. Aaaaaah. So beautiful.
And then grab the recipe from Robyn at Add a Pinch and jump into the kitchen.
12. Easy Cranberry Sauce
We love contrasting flavors when we pair a side dish with a main dish.
In this case, because the spices in the Swedish meatballs are warm, we like a little tang.
Because the sauce is creamy, we love some acidity.
Because the meatballs are savory, we love a little citrus.
Well, hellooo cranberry sauce!
We like Sam’s recipe. It’s simple to pull together, and fun to watch.
13. Best Tossed Salad
When it comes to what goes with Swedish meatballs, sometimes a classic is just the thing we want.
A little crispness. A lot of texture. Some sweetness. A little bite of heat. A kiss of tartness.
Yes. Sometimes a salad is just the thing to have on the plate to contrast the richness of the cream sauce.
We like Holly’s recipe from Spend with Pennies because the salad is loaded with colors and the dressing is tangy and bright.
What to Serve with Swedish Meatballs: Let’s Get the Party Started!
So, we’ve just done a deep dive into side dishes for Swedish meatballs when they’re the center of your meal, but these meatballs are so much more flexible than that.
Not only are Swedish meatballs good as a main dish, they’re fabulous as an appetizer.
Get those mini plastic skewers ready and you’ve got the perfect party finger food! Make sure you have lots of chopped parsley ready to garnish them with.
Why? Because it’s so pretty.
There. We admit it. We love parsley as a garnish. #noshamehere
Apps are Happs
Now, let’s talk about appetizers before Swedish meatballs for dinner. As always, we’re a big fan of contrasting textures.
So, because the meatballs are in a cream sauce, we like to start the first course with things that are a little crunchy.
Think, oven-fried zucchini or crudité with lightly blanched asparagus and broccoli. Then shock those in cold water and pair them on a platter with radishes, celery, and Belgian endive. For a dip you can’t go wrong with a multi-herb puree.
And don’t forget to pull out your favorite wooden cutting board as a base for an appetizer of charcuterie! There’s a reason it’s so hip right now – it’s rustic and beautiful.
So, grab your favorite toasted bread, pretzels, crackers, and breadsticks and then nestle smoked and/or cured meats between the bread product.
And then snuggle in sliced fruit or fresh berries, along with dried fruits and a multitude of cheeses.
Nothing says, “we’re getting ready for a gourmet dinner of Swedish meatballs and sides” more than a truly elegant appetizer.
Speaking of elegant appetizers, don’t forget to pull out your favorite aunt’s recipe for crab-stuffed mushrooms. They also start the evening off with a bang, not a whimper.
Or you can lean into the curve by starting the evening off with a little slight-of-hand with sausage balls. “Whoa, I thought we were having meatballs for dinner? Oh, hey. I see what you did there!”
Vino is Good
When pairing wine with Swedish meatballs, decide if you’d like lightly cooled reds or very chilled whites. (Or both!)
For reds, try a light pinot noir from France or Burgundy. And of course, a dry merlot, or a dolcetto. For white’s, you can’t go wrong with an oaky chardonnay or a Riesling.
And in our opinion a perky and dry prosecco is the perfect pairing for creamy meals. However, that might just be us – but, c’mon. It’s prosecco. It makes everything festive and bright.
End on a High Note, Nay, a Crescendo!
At the end of the night when you’re pouring coffee and serving dessert, what should the end of the meal look like?
How about a Swedish rice pudding, or an apple strudel?
We’re also big fans of simple desserts like braised pears with warming spices like star anise, ginger, and cinnamon.
And don’t forget that cheese platters are a fantastic last course. A couple of soft cheeses, some crumbly pungent blue cheese, and an assertive sharp cheddar on a platter with fruit is the perfect way to end the evening.
It’s light, and people just get to nibble – which may be all they need after such a fantastic main course and side dishes.
So, don’t let uncertainty about what to serve with Swedish meatballs keep you from serving up an amazing dinner.
What to Serve with Swedish Meatballs
- Mashed Potatoes
- Lemon Rice Pilaf
- Egg Noodles
- Green Beans
- Green Salad
- Roasted Broccoli
- Pearl Onions
- Steamed Asparagus
- Oven-Roasted Broccolini
- Baby Potatoes
- Turnip Greens
- Cranberry Sauce
- Tossed Salad
- Choose your desired Swedish Meatballs side dish recipe.
- Gather and organize needed ingredients.
- Create a tasty Swedish Meatballs side to complete your meal!