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.

Lighter Swedish Meatballs

Lighter Swedish Meatballs

Yield: 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


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a large baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.
  4. Serve on top of warm, cooked pasta, egg noodles or rice.
  5. Enjoy!

Did you make this recipe?

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Join the Conversation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  19. 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. 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. Oh my goodness have mercy.. this looks insane.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  33. Yes, these need to make a comeback!

  34. 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. 5 stars
    You have no idea how much I love this type of meatball!

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

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

  38. 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. I love swedish meatballs! This looks delicious!!

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

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

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

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

  45. 5 stars
    These are a must try-yum!

  46. 5 stars
    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. You can’t beat a comfort food recipe made healthier. It looks amazing.

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

  49. 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. 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 ;)

  51. 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. 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!

  53. 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!

  54. Swedish meatballs looks like a great summery meal :)

  55. 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!

  56. 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.

  57. 5 stars
    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

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

  59. 5 stars
    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. They look amazing,but form a real swede,here the meatballs are served with potatoes/mash and lingonberryjam instead of pasta.Try it!:)

  61. 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!

  62. 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 :)

  63. 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. :)

  64. 5 stars
    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!

  65. 5 stars
    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…?

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

  67. 5 stars
    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.

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

  69. You can look up the nutritional values by copying and pasting the ingredients here:

  70. 5 stars
    Wonderful delicious recipe!! Make them now!!

  71. 5 stars
    we tried these out and if you’re looking for a fast and quick recipe to make swedish meatballs without compromising the taste, texture and overall delight, this one is it. I loved that we could bake them and not have to fiddle with the frying pan; the outside has a little crisp but not as much as pan frying makes.

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