Paleo & Primal Swedish Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy

Update 1/3/2018: I refreshed this recipe with new photography, and have also updated the recipe a tiny bit to give you the option of making dairy-free gravy or gravy made with milk/cream. It is fabulous with cream, though the original recipe called for almond milk.

Paleo & Primal Swedish Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy

After a couple of thunder and hail storms, it has finally cooled off here. We escaped to Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday, and I found myself wishing for a sweater and a mug of hot coffee. We were lucky enough to get up close and personal with an Elk! But, these cooler temperatures mean that I am finally in the mood to talk about warm food again. So here we go: Paleo Swedish Meatballs.

When you Google the origins of Swedish Meatballs, you don't find much in the way of answers. What you do find is a lot of people talking about IKEA, and how they've discovered the furniture store's famous recipe. In truth, I've never stepped foot into an IKEA, and so when I hear this I furrow my brow and wonder how a furniture store ended up so famous for beef and gravy. Anyone with me? (Update, 6/28/2017: I have now visited IKEA once. I love it and hate it at the same time. I hate it because I hate shopping. I love it because there are so many solutions in once place!)

Since I haven't tried IKEA's meatballs, I can't weigh in on their flavor. My own memories of Swedish Meatballs don't make much more sense, anyways: they include a lot of Costco and have nothing to do with Sweden. This is why I found myself searching for answers. Why are they Swedish? While I consider myself a perfectly competent Google-maneuverer, I can't say I came back with many answers. It does seem that in some parts of Sweden, some meatballs are served in gravy. Unlike French Fries, maybe Swedish Meatballs do have an origin-appropriate name. I never really got to the bottom of the issue, because at that point I just gave in and decided it was time to eat. Maybe that's what French Fries and Swedish Meatballs have in common: they're just too dang delicious for anyone to really care what they're named. 

Serve them over a pile of spaghetti squash or on toothpicks as an appetizer. Swedish or not, there's something about gravy that just hits the spot.  

Paleo Swedish Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy

Paleo, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free   |       |    Print Friendly and PDF

Better than IKEA.

Yields: 25 meatballs   |    Total Time:


    For the meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 white onion, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoon parsley, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil

  • For the gravy:
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (corn starch will also work)
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 cup almond milk, coconut milk, OR whole milk (Pro tip: for extra creamy gravy, try 1/2 cup half-and-half, 1/2 cup whole milk)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Parsley for garnish


  1. Place the ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl, aside from the coconut oil. Thoroughly mix the meat until all of the ingredients are combined.
  2. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Form 1-inch balls with the meat mixture, and when the oil is hot, placing the meatballs in the skillet. (I did this in two batches). Cook the meatballs until they are a deep brown on the bottom, and turn them, cooking the opposite side until brown. Remove cooked meatballs from skillet and set aside.
  3. For gravy: Using the same skillet that had the meatballs (the meatball drippings should still be in the skillet), sauteé the mushrooms, stirring occassionally.
  4. Once the mushroom have a nice sear, turn the heat to medium and pour the broth into the pan. Scrape the pan to get the flavor of the meatballs incorporated into the gravy. The broth should begin to simmer.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the arrowroot powder into 1 tablespoon cold water. Add the mixture to the skillet. Pour in milk or choice, and add the salt and pepper. Allow the gravy to simmer for at least 5 more minutes, until it begins to thicken. Add the meatballs back in. Cook for 1-2 more minutes, coaking each meatball in gravy.
  6. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot. Great on their own as an appetizer but a good main dish when served also good over spaghetti squash.