This recipe for Turkey Swedish Meatballs is a lightened-up, yet just as delicious, version of classic Swedish Meatballs. Served in a simple, creamy sauce, these Swedish Meatballs made with ground turkey make an easy, wholesome family meal that is perfect for any night of the week.
My recipe for Swedish Meatballs is better than Ikea's. There I said it and I am not afraid to own it! Inspired by my mom's recipe, this recipe for Turkey Swedish Meatballs is lower in fat and cholesterol than traditional Swedish Meatballs, but every bit as delicious thanks to a few key steps!
Paired with homemade mashed potatoes or egg noodles, these Turkey Swedish Meatballs make for a delicious, wholesome dinner perfect for any night of the week.
What Makes These Turkey Swedish Meatballs the Best
- Seasoned Right. Lean ground turkey has the reputation of being dry and flavorless. This recipe, just like my recipe for Turkey Taco Skillet, proves that it does not need to be the case. Sauteed onion, soaked bread, and herbs are mixed into the ground turkey adding flavor and moisture, creating the best-tasting turkey meatball ever!
- Baked with a Special Technique. Just like my Italian meatballs, these turkey Swedish meatballs are baked with a bit of broth at a high temperature. This keeps the exterior crispy, as though they were fried, but the interior stays tender and moist. It is truly magical!
- Homemade Gravy. The from-scratch gravy is incredibly simple to make but features wholesome ingredients. No canned condensed soups here! It is creamy and flavorful and just simply the perfect accompaniment to these Swedish meatballs.
Notes on Ingredients
- Ground Turkey: Because Swedish Meatballs are so packed with flavor, this is a great time to use lean ground turkey, even ground turkey breast. However, if desired, you can use pork or beef (or a combination of the two) in place of the ground turkey for a more traditional Swedish Meatball.
- Bread: You need a couple of slices of sliced bread to make the meatballs. Avoid using seeded or multigrain bread, as that can impact the texture of the Swedish meatballs. Use plain white bread, plain wheat bread, or plain gluten-free bread.
- Milk: Both the meatballs and gravy use milk. Use any fat percentage of milk you like.
- Onion: Use a minced yellow onion which will add a nice savory flavor to the meatballs.
- Thyme: Use fresh thyme leaves or dried thyme leaves, not ground thyme as it can easily overwhelm the dish.
- Allspice: A small amount of allspice will give the meatballs a warming flavor and is a traditional addition to Swedish meatballs.
- Nutmeg: I love to add nutmeg to cream sauces, but it is always better in terms of flavor to grate whole nutmeg using a Microplane instead of using ground nutmeg.
- Stock: You will need stock for both cooking the meatballs and preparing the sauce. Use low-sodium storebought or homemade chicken stock or turkey stock to control the sodium.
- Flour: Use all-purpose flour to create the roux for the sauce.
- Worcestershire sauce: Will add amazing depth to the Swedish meatball sauce, making it taste like it has been simmered for hours.
- Gluten-Free Swedish Meatballs: Use gluten-free bread in place of regular bread in the meatball mixture and use a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend and gluten-free Worcestershire sauce for the sauce.
- Egg-Free Swedish Meatballs: Instead of using an egg in this recipe, use an additional 1 slice of bread and 2 tablespoons of milk. The extra bread will work as a binder for the meatballs.
- Replace the bread with stuffing. Swedish Meatballs are a great recipe to use leftover stuffing. In place of the bread slices, use leftover stuffing. In fact, the stuffing is packed with tremendous flavor, making the meatballs some of the best you have ever had.
Tips for Making Swedish Meatballs
The following tips are provided to help you achieve perfect results. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Soak the bread in milk. This recipe uses bread instead of breadcrumbs to help bind the meatball together. The bread keeps the meatballs really moist and tender.
Saute the onion and thyme. Using the time to saute the onion and thyme in a bit of butter while the bread is soaking in the milk, will help to remove the pungent flavor of the raw onion and develop the thyme's natural flavor.
Wait to add the ground turkey. It is best to first mix together the soaked bread, egg, and onions until well combined, before adding the turkey. This will help prevent overmixing the meatballs, which can result in tough meatballs.
Use a medium cookie scoop to form meatballs. This will help to ensure all your meatballs are even in size and bake evenly.
Bake the meatballs with a bit of stock. Pouring 1 cup of chicken or turkey stock around the meatballs is the secret to baking really moist and tender meatballs.
Prepare the gravy while the meatballs bake. While the Swedish meatballs are baking, use that time to prepare the cream sauce that is the classic accompaniment with Swedish meatballs.
Swedish meatballs are classically served over buttered egg noodles but are also delicious when served over mashed potatoes. Round out your meal by adding a side of Green Beans Almondine or Roasted Broccoli.
Storage & Reheating Instructions
Leftover Swedish Meatballs can be stored in an airtight container along with the sauce for up to 3 days. Reheat the sauce and meatballs in 1-minute intervals in the microwave until warmed through. While the meatballs freeze well, the sauce does not, so this is not a recipe I recommend freezing.
More Delicious Meatball Recipes
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Easy Turkey Swedish Meatballs
- 2 slices sandwich bread
- ¼ cup milk or half and half
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ¼ cup yellow onion diced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves optional
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 large egg
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
Swedish Meatball Sauce
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 cup half and half or milk/cream
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon grated whole nutmeg
- ½ tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- Preheat oven to 425℉. Spray a rimmed sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, soak 2 slices of bread in ¼ cup milk.
- While the bread is soaking, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Once the butter has melted, saute the onions and thyme leaves until the onion has just softened.
- Add the sauteed onions and thyme to the bowl with bread, along with the salt, pepper, allspice, and egg. Whisk or mix together until the bread falls apart and the ingredients are well combined. Add the ground turkey to the mixture and using your hands, gently mix together until the seasonings are well distributed throughout the meat. Be careful to not overwork your meatballs, to prevent tough meatballs.
- Scoop out about 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture, using a tablespoon measuring spoon or medium cookie scoop, and then gently shape into 1-inch meatballs. Place the meatballs onto the prepared baking sheet. Slowly pour 1 cup of chicken stock around the meatballs.
- Bake the turkey meatballs for 25 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 162-165 degrees F. (They will continue to rise a few degrees as they rest after baking.)
Swedish Meatball Sauce
- While the meatballs are baking, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Once the butter has melted, slowly whisk in the flour, until a thick paste forms. Cook for 1-2 minutes to remove the raw flour taste from the sauce.
- Slowly add in chicken stock, whisking to incorporate. Season with salt, pepper, freshly grated nutmeg, and 2 sprigs of fresh thyme. Bring gravy to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Add in half and half and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until sauce is thick, whisking often.
- Remove the gravy from the heat, remove the thyme sprigs, and stir in the Worcestershire Sauce. Serve the sauce over the baked meatballs with noodles or mashed potatoes, as desired.