Vegetarian Swedish meatballs (that carnivores also love)

by | Oct 17, 2019

Vegetarian Swedish meatballs—vegetariska köttbullar

Whenever these vegetarian Swedish meatballs come out, even the most dedicated meat-eaters seem to become addicted. At home, they are a must-have at the smörgåsbord at Christmas.

Vegetarian Swedish meatballs—a new invention?

Faithful to habit, I had to take a quick look at how the vegetarian version of this national dish has developed.

Long-time vegetarians might sigh at the thought of bland nut loafs. And the nut loaf that Jenny Bergqvist-Hansson recommend in 1910 will probably not change their impressions. It contains nuts, eggs, breadcrumbs, milk, cornstarch, butter, and some salt. The authors suggest that you also can turn the mixture into vego-balls.

The first recipe I found in Svenska Dagbladet is from 1922, where an article on mushrooms suggests hedgehog mushrooms with boiled rice to make vego-balls. During 30s and 40s, a recipe that returns several times includes rice, potato, and desiccated coconut.

vegetariska köttbullar - vegetarian swedish meatballs

How to make vegetarian Swedish meatballs

Technically, these are fricadelles, as they are boiled. The original recipe comes from a magazine from Coop, but through the years, the family has made a few tweaks. Feel free to skip or substitute the herbs for anything else you prefer. If vegetarian cheese isn’t necessary, a flavorful cheese such as cheddar or Västerbottenost is nice, or substitute some of the cheese for parmesan.

They have a distinct advantage to normal meatballs as they pretty much always keep a smooth and appealing round shape. And, as they are already pre-cooked when you fry the, you don’t have to worry about them sticking to the pan.

1,5 dl (0,6 cups) almonds
1,5 dl (0,6 cups) breadcrumbs
1,5 dl (0,6 cups) finely grated cheese, such as cheddar
2 tbsp chopped onion
3 eggs
2 tbsp vegetable stock (below)
2 tbsp chopped parsley or chives (can be omitted)
A touch of salt and about 0,5 tsp black pepper

For boiling: 1 liter (4 cups) of water and two vegetable stock cubes (or corresponding amount stock powder)

For frying: 1-2 tbsp butter or oil

  1. Bring the water (“for boiling”) to a boil and add the stock cubes. Remove it from the heat. Put two tablespoons of the stock aside to include in step 3.
  2. Mix the almonds in a mixer to fine almond flour.
  3. Put the mixed almonds, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, chopped onion, eggs, 2 tbsp of stock, and seasoning (herbs, salt, pepper) in a bowl. Stir until you get a smooth paste.
  4. in a bowl and mix until you get a smooth paste.
  5. Form the dough into small balls. One teaspoon is usually enough as they will swell.
  6. Let the stock come to a boil. Gently boil the vego-balls in the stock for about six minutes. You might need to do two batches—then fry the first batch as the second boils.
  7. As the vego-balls boil, heat a saucepan with the butter or oil. Take the vego-balls out of the stock, let them drain, and fry them in the saucepan until they are golden. Again, you might need to do two batches.
  8. Enjoy!


The vego-balls are great just as they are or served any way you like. The traditional way to serve Swedish meatballs is with mashed potato, lingonberry jam, and a gravy sauce. If you want, you can reduce some of the stock and mix it with some soy sauce and cream to get a vegetarian gravy.

Experiment with the seasoning! For a Christmas-version, why not skip the herbs and add a touch of allspice instead?


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Hej och välkommen!

My name is Isabelle. Here at Swedish Spoon, you’ll find Swedish food history, tried-and-tested recipes, and a lot of obsessing over great butter. You can also expect some travel tips.