The Shocking Truth About Swedish Meatballs

Here's the true story of these tasty meatballs.

It was recently confirmed by Sweden that Swedish meatballs you know and love actually aren’t Swedish after all. (Be that as it may, we’ll always love this meatball recipe!) While it’s unclear what triggered the recent fact-check, it was recently revealed that the meatballs—the traditional holiday meal served in IKEA’s worldwide actually aren’t Swedish after all. The Twitter confirmation was met by confusion from Swedes and fans of the meatballs alike, who were always under the impression that they were in fact Swedish.

So what’s the story behind the meatballs?

Charles XII (known as “the Lion of the North” and the “Swedish Meteor”) reigned as King of Sweden from 1697 to 1718, and lived in Turkey from 1709 to 1714 during the Great Northern War. When he returned home after the war, he brought köfte, the meatballs home with them, and adapted them to the Swedish way of life as köttbullars.

Now, 2 million meatballs are eaten daily between IKEA’s 340 worldwide stores. We bet the King never thought they would turn out so popular!

Don’t worry about the lingonberries

After the initial tweet from Sweden’s official Twitter, they confirmed a few days later that Sweden added an important component of the dish we know today: lingonberry jam.

These wild berries are abundant in Sweden, and play an important role in many Swedish dish. Much like cranberries, lingonberries have that sweet, sour and tart flavor that pairs well with sweet and savory dishes.

Meatballs for all

No matter the origin, these meatballs sure are tasty! You can get the classic IKEA meatballs served hot while you shop, or buy them frozen to have at home. If you’re feeling up to the challenge, you can make them at home too, to be served with a creamy sauce, lingonberries, and a side of mashed potatoes.

Craving more meatballs? Here are some of our favorites.
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Jacqueline Weiss
Jacqueline is a blogger and writer, passionate about sharing the latest in helpful tips and trends in food and cooking. In her spare time, you’ll find her trying new restaurants and experimenting in the kitchen.