Lighter Swedish Meatballs

A forgotten favorite gets a delicious, skinnier twist! You’ll love these saucy Swedish meatballs… total comfort food with fewer calories!

Lighter Swedish Meatballs – A forgotten favorite gets a delicious, skinnier twist! You'll love these saucy Swedish meatballs... total comfort food with fewer calories! |

When I say this dish is a forgotten favorite, I mean forgotten. Buried under years of trying adventurous new meals and always seeking out something new, Swedish meatballs just got lost in the sauce!

See what I did there? Har har.

But, let me break it down for ya. This is something my mom used to make pretty often, and the savory, oniony aroma would fill every crack and crevice of our home. I couldn’t wait to stab a fork into a saucy meatball, mop up the sauce with the noodles, and fill my belly! It’s just one of my favorite comfort food memories, and last week, one after another forkful transported me back to that farmhouse. Made for the first time in my own home, this skinnier take on scrumptious Swedish meatballs was just as satisfying, and let me tell you, we couldn’t get enough of it!

As much as I was looking forward to the leftovers for lunch the next day… alas, there were none. The trials and tribulations of living with a big, hungry manivore!

Lighter Swedish Meatballs – A forgotten favorite gets a delicious, skinnier twist! You'll love these saucy Swedish meatballs... total comfort food with fewer calories! |

Served on top of warm whole wheat pasta and smothered in a creamy sauce made with skim milk, these Swedish meatballs were mouthwatering. The milk makes a surprisingly rich-tasting sauce without the calories, so trust me and try it for yourself!

This is one scrumptious rediscovered meal I’ll be adding back to my rotation, and I know you’ll love it, too! It’s like a big hug in a bowl, I tell ya.

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PrintPrint Recipe

Lighter Swedish Meatballs

Yield: Makes 30 meatballs (4 servings)


For the meatballs:

1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey

1 large egg

1/4 cup fat-free milk

1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs

2 teaspoons minced onions, dry (recommended) or fresh

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

For the sauce and serving:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 cups fat-free milk

2 cups cooked pasta, egg noodles or rice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a large baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well with your hands. Shape into about 30 (1-inch) meatballs. Arrange meatballs on baking sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from oven and pat dry with paper towels (this helps the sauce stick better).

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Stir in flour, bouillon granules and pepper. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly as you pour. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer, stirring frequently. Simmer 6-7 minutes, or until sauce has significantly thickened. Add meatballs to skillet, cooking until heated through.

Serve on top of warm, cooked pasta, egg noodles or rice.


Adapted from McCormick


71 Responses to “Lighter Swedish Meatballs”

  1. #
    Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious — June 26, 2013 @ 12:46 am

    Oh goodness – swedish meatballs has been on my bucket list for years! I think this post finally gave me the final push – I am making this over the weekend and devouring every last meatball.

  2. #
    Laura (Tutti Dolci) — June 26, 2013 @ 12:48 am

    These are always a party hit! Love your lightened up version.

  3. #
    Anne ~ Uni Homemaker — June 26, 2013 @ 1:43 am

    Oh I love swedish meatballs! And you’re right, it is a forgotten favorite. This looks crazy good, it’s going on my to-make list! Thanks Georgia for the recipe. Pinning!

  4. #
    Kathryn — June 26, 2013 @ 6:01 am

    Oh, this sounds so tasty! Such a great dinner idea.

  5. #
    Marie @ Little Kitchie — June 26, 2013 @ 6:47 am

    This looks fabulous, Georgia! I love that it’s a lighter version – perfect for summer months!

  6. #
    Jennie @themessybakerblog — June 26, 2013 @ 7:07 am

    Your photos have me wanting to dig in. This dish is a classic that will never go out of style. Yum!

  7. #
    Monica — June 26, 2013 @ 7:34 am

    This is like a terrific balance of hearty yet light for summer. I love the lightened version; it looks amazing!

  8. #
    Mandy - The Complete Cook Book — June 26, 2013 @ 7:35 am

    Meatballs is not something I make very often (hubby not too partial too them). I love the idea of the sauce over the top – sounds fabulous.
    :-) Mandy xo

  9. #
    Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen — June 26, 2013 @ 8:05 am

    Love this post, Georgia! It’s always a good thing when an old classic gets revamped to become a favorite renewed! A “hug in a bowl” indeed! Thanks for sharing!

  10. #
    Eileen — June 26, 2013 @ 8:09 am

    One of my (forgotten) favorites Georgia. Thanks for the reminder!

  11. #
    Natalie — June 26, 2013 @ 8:18 am

    These look so delicious, I love swedish meatballs and especially a lighter version!

  12. #
    Laura @ The Rookie Cook — June 26, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    These look aaa-mazing – I am definitely going to have to try them out! For some reason, I never do meatballs around here, but that is going to have to change.

  13. #
    Mom — June 26, 2013 @ 9:08 am

    And your grandmother used to make this, too. This is how we make the “Comfort” part of the Cooking. The memories are in the taste buds. I’m so proud of you for carrying on the tradition!

  14. #
    Nami | Just One Cookbook — June 26, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    Glad you remember your favorite meal and shared with us! Meatballs and pasta! Love that it’s not typical red sauce. Something different to give it a try on our meatball night!

  15. #
    Kayle (The Cooking Actress) — June 26, 2013 @ 9:15 am

    Oooh the boyfriend loves swedish meatballs and I actually haven’t had them in awhile, I think it’s time to remedy that!

  16. #
    Eat Good 4 Life — June 26, 2013 @ 9:37 am

    Oh boy, I know who will love this dish, all my family members :-) It looks delish and simply to put together!

  17. #
    Tieghan — June 26, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    Oh my! Seriously, these look nothing like light, but that is what makes them awesome!! They look killer!! If I had the ingredients I would make them for dinner tonight even though it is like 1000 degrees here in South Carolina!

  18. #
    Monica — June 26, 2013 @ 10:14 am

    I appreciate the pun “lost in the sauce” haha. The Swedish meatballs look so light and delicious! A perfect pairing with yummy pasta (:

  19. #
    19 — June 26, 2013 @ 10:16 am

    This is too funny because I just bookmarked a swedish meatball recipe yesterday because they are one of my favorites!! That one wasn’t lightened up though so I would rather try this one!

  20. #
    Mr. & Mrs. P — June 26, 2013 @ 10:17 am

    What a great way to lighten up a dish… Sometime dishes are just too loaded with stuff, you wont even miss omitting or cutting some corners

  21. #
    Erika — June 26, 2013 @ 10:24 am

    Oh my goodness have mercy.. this looks insane.

  22. #
    marla — June 26, 2013 @ 10:26 am

    This is the perfect meal….love that you lightened up the meatballs!

  23. #
    steph@stephsbitebybite — June 26, 2013 @ 10:27 am

    Oh my word!! This looks so incredible! I just had breakfast, but I could totally go for a BIG bowl of this!

  24. #
    Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain — June 26, 2013 @ 10:27 am

    Manivore….I die! As for these meatballs, I’ll take 27, please?!! Holy yum!

  25. #
    marcie@flavorthemoments — June 26, 2013 @ 10:49 am

    This is one beautiful plate of comfort food! I love meals like this, and I’m glad you brought it back to life. I’m pinning it — I need to make this!

  26. #
    Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts — June 26, 2013 @ 11:15 am

    Definitely making these soon!! I love meatballs, but have never actually made Swedish meatballs at home – time to change that!

  27. #
    Angie@Angie's Recipes — June 26, 2013 @ 11:20 am

    A delicious and satisfying weekday meal. I like creamy sauce.

  28. #
    john@kitchenriffs — June 26, 2013 @ 11:49 am

    Gosh, I know what it’s like to forget a dish – I do it all the time. This one is a keeper, though, and shouldn’t be forgotten. I like how you’ve made this lighter. Really good stuff – thanks so much.

  29. #
    amy @ fearless homemaker — June 26, 2013 @ 11:50 am

    I used to love swedish meatballs, too, but haven’t had them in years. Must work them back into the dinner rotation soon! =)

  30. #
    Katherines Corner — June 26, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

    its’ almost lunchtime, now I am really hungry. Yum xo

  31. #
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough — June 26, 2013 @ 12:17 pm

    You make meatballs look GOOD! My husband will love you for these — he’s obsessed with Swedish meatballs and a lighter version will just give him good reason to eat more of them! ;)

  32. #
    Carla @ Carlas Confections — June 26, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

    Oh wow that looks delicious!! I want that entire plate full!

  33. #
    DessertForTwo — June 26, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

    Yes, these need to make a comeback!

  34. #
    ashley - baker by nature — June 26, 2013 @ 2:13 pm

    Too funny – I just made this dish last week! And omg, looking at yours I need to make it again asap!!! Such comfort food.

  35. #
    Leah | So, How's It Taste? — June 26, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

    Love love Swedish meatballs! I must try this light version. They look so good with that pasta!

  36. #
    Judit + Corina @WineDineDaily — June 26, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

    Oh yes…we both love Swedish meatballs and this looks so light, creamy and just delicious!

  37. #
    Noble Pig - Cathy — June 26, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

    You have no idea how much I love this type of meatball! I have never made them before but that needs to change!

  38. #
    The Café Sucre Farine — June 26, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

    Yum Georgia, these look so good and I love that you lightened them. To me it’s so fun how one taste can transport you back in time in an instant!

  39. #
    Aimee @ ShugarySweets — June 26, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

    I love swedish meatballs! This looks delicious!!

  40. #
    Shannon — June 26, 2013 @ 7:38 pm

    So funny. I was just looking on the internet today for swedish meatball recipes. I’m definitely trying this lightened up version!

  41. #
    Deborah — June 26, 2013 @ 11:43 pm

    I was seriously just thinking about Swedish meatballs and how I’ve never made them before. Definitely saving this recipe!

  42. #
    Ramona — June 27, 2013 @ 5:15 am

    I am all for lighter versions of comfort food and this is definitely comfort food!! I would love to stab a meatball and eat one right now too. :)

  43. #
    angela @ another bite please — June 27, 2013 @ 7:50 am

    i love those classic type recipes. my hubby and boys would love this…can never get enough of that sauce!

  44. #
    Rachel @ Baked by Rachel — June 27, 2013 @ 8:02 am

    I’ve had meatballs on the brain all morning and then I see this!! lol too funny.

  45. #
    Bree (Skinny Mommy) — June 27, 2013 @ 11:03 am

    These are a must try-yum!

  46. #
    Jaclyn — June 27, 2013 @ 11:21 am

    These look so good, I’ve been wanting to try swedish meatballs forever…and then I always forget :). Yours look delicious and I love that they are lighter!

  47. #
    Pam — June 27, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

    You can’t beat a comfort food recipe made healthier. It looks amazing.

  48. #
    Tracy | Peanut Butter and Onion — June 27, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

    I love swedish meatballs!! and I love that these are ligther!

  49. #
    Jeanette — June 27, 2013 @ 7:22 pm

    I used to like Swedish Meatballs, but it’s usually served in such a rich sauce – haven’t had them in years, so I’m so happy to find a lightened up recipe, both the meatballs and sauce – thanks Georgia!

  50. #
    Setjay — June 28, 2013 @ 3:20 am

    Actually “la sauce béchamel” is not light… But better than sour cream for sure !
    Sounds good but heavy for this part of the year. I’m doing your herb and citrus chicken for lunch today ;)

    • Georgia — June 28th, 2013 @ 8:18 am

      I agree, but this is not a “light” recipe – simply a lighter take on the traditional method and ingredients. Hope you enjoy the herb and citrus chicken!

  51. #
    Orchid — June 28, 2013 @ 7:06 am

    Hi, I live in Sweden and I like Swedish meatballs, they are very different from the Italian ones and they are really nice. I like that you used milk instead of cream as they usually would do here in Sweden!

  52. #
    Kelly — June 28, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

    My hubby loves Swedish meatballs but I haven’t tried making this dish for him. This lighter take on them sounds like the perfect recipe to try for my first attempt. This looks so creamy and delicious! Thanks so much for sharing this dish that you grew up eating Georgia!

  53. #
    Kiran @ — June 29, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

    Swedish meatballs looks like a great summery meal :)

  54. #
    Jen L | Tartine and Apron Strings — June 29, 2013 @ 11:38 pm

    I like that this is the lighter version – made with turkey and no sour cream. Although the full fat version is quite good, I must say! Thanks for sharing the recipe. Will try this very soon!

  55. #
    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef — June 30, 2013 @ 6:06 am

    Swedish meatballs are a forgotten favorite of mine as well. I used to make them all the time but I haven’t for years. Yum.

  56. #
    Vanessa — July 1, 2013 @ 2:17 am

    My mom and I made these together tonight and I am sitting here right now trying to stuff them all in my face and savor the taste at the same time. They are so delicious! Definitely one of my new favorite foods :) Thanks for the recipe! <3

  57. #
    Jeremy Norton — July 3, 2013 @ 11:12 pm

    I have always been a fan of meatballs and I especially love it with special sauces. This is a new one to try on.

  58. #
    Sally Dennison — July 12, 2013 @ 11:19 am

    Would it be possible to have a picture on the recipe to correspond with what we are making?? I noticed there was a small pic up in the right corner of the Swedish Meat Balls but when I clicked on “print” it wasn’t on the page that printed out!!!
    I like to have a picture to show me what the recipe should look like when I make it.
    Hoping it won’t be a problem to add a small picture to all of your wonderful recipes you share with us.
    Thank you from Sally.

    • Georgia — July 12th, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

      I can inquire with my web designer to see if this is something that can be implemented.

  59. #
    Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl — July 19, 2013 @ 12:08 pm

    I really love your version of the Swedish meatball, and that picture with the pasta at the bottom – oh my! Does it get any more perfect than that?

  60. #
    Elsa — July 22, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

    They look amazing,but form a real swede,here the meatballs are served with potatoes/mash and lingonberryjam instead of pasta.Try it!:)

    • Georgia — July 22nd, 2013 @ 3:14 pm

      Good to know! This is just the way my family always served them, but I’ll definitely have to give your way a try – sounds delicious!

  61. #
    Maggie — August 6, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

    Wanted to let you know I made these tonight, so delicious! Very simple to prepare as well. One I will definitely make again. Thank you :)

  62. #
    Pumpkin Spice cake Recipe — November 15, 2013 @ 6:22 am

    I am all for lighter versions of comfort food and this is definitely comfort food!! I would love to stab a meatball and eat one right now too. :)

  63. #
    Laura — February 25, 2014 @ 6:30 pm

    Made this tonight, and it was amazing. I used ground turkey for the meatballs, and added some sliced mushrooms to the sauce as it was simmering. Our 10 year old asked for seconds… and then thirds. Thanks for sharing!

  64. #
    Sofie — May 30, 2014 @ 12:20 am

    Looks yum! Despite being Swedish I rarely make swedish meatballs… I’ll have to try these! I’m just wondering what the beef bouillon granules would equate to in Sweden…?

    • Georgia — May 31st, 2014 @ 9:23 am

      If not using beef bouillon granules, I would substitute beef broth. Use 1/2 cup broth and reduce milk by 1/2 cup.

  65. #
    Angela — June 5, 2014 @ 9:34 am

    Hi Georgia: I’ve recently ‘re-discovered’ Sweedish Meatballs. Yes, we all seem to (unfortunately) have forgotten about that delicious dish over the years. I’m always attempting to ‘lighten-up’ everything which I cook to some degree, so I was very happy to come across your recipe. The only thing that I added was a clove of crushed garlic to the meat mixture. This recipe is a true keeper, and I’ll make my Sweedish Meatballs this way from now on. I served them over a bed of whole wheat pasta, and our dinner couldn’t have been any tastier (along with a nice side- salad).. I love your Blog, and I’ve now signed up ro receive new posts. Hey, remember Salisbury Steaks? Lets bring that dish back, as well! Old recipes are great, and they bring us right back to our childhood. Lets pass them on to our kids.

  66. #
    Kristine — January 10, 2015 @ 11:36 am

    Anyone happen to know the calories for this recipe? Much appreciated, thanks! Can’t wait to try it :)

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