5 Great Things To Serve With Swedish Meatballs

Since IKEA introduced Swedish meatballs to the world, many have become obsessed. These tasty and meaty balls are fantastic, but their popularity significantly grew because they go well with many other dishes.  

Lingonberry sauce and mashed potatoes are great things to serve with Swedish meatballs.

They elevate the culinary experience by providing sweetness, creaminess, and other textures and flavors.

Besides these dishes, meatballs may also be eaten with pressed cucumber, egg noodles, and rice pilaf. 

Meatballs drenched in brown gravy look dull or sad on their own, but when surrounded by red berries, green cucumber, yellow potatoes, and other colorful dishes, they look much more festive.

Learn how to make fantastic meatball side dishes in this article. 

Also, see What Do Swedes Think of Midsommar? to learn more.

1. Lingonberry Sauce/Jam 

Swedish meatballs are traditionally served with fresh and bright red lingonberries. [1] These berries are also known as cowberries, Alaskan lowbush cranberries, and many other berry names. [2]

They’re popular in the Scandinavian region, which explains why they’re essential in dishes like Swedish meatballs. 

While fresh and whole berries work well with meatballs, some prefer to eat them as a sauce or jam.

Lingonberry jam strikes a balance between sweetness and tartness, so the flavors are harmonious when combined with Swedish meatballs. It’s the perfect blend of salt, sweet, and tart. 

AllRecipes has an excellent recipe for making lingonberry jam. [3] The ingredients for the recipe include the following: 

  • Fresh lingonberries
  • Water 
  • Sugar  

Once the jam is ready, chefs will then pack it in jars or serve it with their meatballs and other dishes, like herring. 

Besides the sweet and tart flavors, lingonberries stand out for their nutritional benefits. [4] They are rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, polyphenols, and omega-3.

These nutrients are beneficial for the kidneys and heart. 

2. Mashed Potatoes 

A plate of Swedish meatballs is rarely without a generous serving of warm, creamy, and fluffy mashed potatoes.

They provide carbs to a protein-loaded meal and perfectly complement the rich flavors of the meatballs and lingonberry jam. 

Making mashed potatoes is really easy, and requires only a few ingredients: 

  • Salt 
  • Potatoes 
  • Butter 
  • Whole milk

Other recipes include sour cream and other add-ins. But this recipe from NYT Cooking keeps it simple. [5] It achieves the classic fluffy texture and creamy flavor people love about mashed potatoes.  

Also, the kind of potatoes one uses affects the quality of the mashed potatoes. Thus, Yukon Golds are recommended for the best flavors and textures. 

For something lighter than mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes are also perfect with Swedish meatballs.

Other roasted vegetables can be fantastic alternative side dishes, like asparagus, green beans, broccoli, and turnips. 

3. Egg Noodles in Cream Sauce

Egg noodles or pasta is another excellent carb source to serve with Swedish meatballs. Its special cream sauce provides the rich and savory flavors that make this pairing impeccable. 

Also, when paired with egg noodles in cream sauce, the meatballs don’t need the classic brown gravy that usually comes with them.

Light side dishes, like salads, also pair well with this combination.

If one includes a salad, they’ll have a well-rounded meal complete with protein (meatballs), carbs (pasta), and vegetables (salad). 

The Recipe Critic has an excellent recipe for making egg noodles, cream sauce, and Swedish meatballs. [6]

The chef is free to choose any pasta they like. As for the cream sauce, they’ll need the following:

  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Beef broth
  • Heavy cream 
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Dijon mustard 
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 

It’s best to enjoy it warm.

4. Cucumber 

For those avoiding carbs who want fresher and lighter flavors, cucumber side dishes are perfect for Swedish meatballs.

Alternatively, one could have a packed meal with mashed potatoes, lingonberries, cucumbers, and meatballs.

There are two ways to serve cucumbers with Swedish meatballs:

  • Pressgurka (Swedish pressed cucumber)
  • Agurkesalat (Danish cucumber salad)  

Pressgurka is a pickled cucumber salad known for its sweet and sour flavors. [7][8]

In preparation, the cucumbers are thinly sliced and pressed before pickling, hence the name pressgurka. Doing so releases water, making it easier for the slices to absorb the pickling juice. 

These are the typical ingredients of most pressgurka recipes: 

  • Cucumber
  • Salt
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Sugar 

For variation, some may add the following for extra flavor or texture:

  • Parsley 
  • Caraway seeds 
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh dill 

Attika or pickling vinegar works better than white vinegar for a more authentic dish. It’s much more acidic, making the pickled cucumbers more potent and flavorful. 

Meanwhile, agurkesalat is similar to pressgurka regarding ingredients, except it involves many more spices. [9]

Also, the cucumbers aren’t pressed. Instead, the chef will slice it and let it soak in a prepared layer or marinade. 

An agurkesalat recipe requires the following ingredients: 

  • Coriander seeds
  • Bay leaf
  • Whole cloves
  • Peppercorns
  • Vinegar
  • Water 
  • Sugar
  • Cucumber 
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh dill

Also, most people use a tea bag or tea egg to contain the spices. The filled tea bag is steeped in water and vinegar to make the marinade or pickling juice. 

Those opting for a cucumber side dish also make their meals more nutritious. [10] A cucumber typically has these nutrients: 

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Manganese
  • Fiber 
  • Carbs 

5. Rice Pilaf 

Plain rice goes well with Swedish meatballs. But why go for plain-cooked rice when there’s rice pilaf?

This dish is exceptionally flavorful but well-balanced, taking in tastes from broths, vegetables, and meat. [11]

Rice pilaf is similar to paella and biryani, popular rice dishes from Spain and India.

While serving it with Swedish meatballs is quite unconventional, it works perfectly, ensuring its rich flavors complement those of the meatballs and gravy

To make rice pilaf, one can follow this simple recipe from AllRecipes. [12] It calls for the following ingredients: 

  • Butter
  • Orzo pasta
  • Onion
  • Garlic 
  • Uncooked white rice
  • Chicken broth 

Rice pilaf takes less than an hour to make, and most people have had some version of it before.

There are several rice pilaf varieties worldwide featuring unique ingredient additions. That means there are several options to experiment with and see which works best with Swedish meatballs.

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Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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