Full of flavour and oh-so-comforting, these vegetarian Swedish meatballs are super easy to make. Coat them in a traditional gravy for Swedish meatballs and you have a meal even the meat lovers in your family will appreciate.
If you’ve ever been to IKEA, it’s impossible not to have noticed their overhaul of traditional Swedish meatballs, in the form of vegetarian Swedish meatballs. They look just like the real deal, but they’re good for you (and the planet).
But what’s even better is making Swedish meatballs at home. This vegetarian recipe for meatballs mixes shiitake mushrooms and chickpeas with bulgur wheat to create the ultimate comfort food smothered in a sauce that’s out of this world.
What I like best about this recipe for Swedish meatballs is the fact that you can adjust the consistency of the roux-based sauce to suit your taste (I’m team thick sauce, as you can see from the photos, but you can go for a thinner consistency if you like). Plus, have I mentioned how great the meatballs themselves taste? My husband asked if they were really vegetarian, so there’s that.
This bulgur and chickpea version of Swedish meatballs is the result of several tests I made with different ingredients and is definitely my favourite. The meatballs are moist thanks to the bulgur and have a great consistency, so you won’t have to deal with meatballs that disintegrate in the oven, or worse, when you put them in the sauce.
You can also freeze them for up to a month if you’d like to have a batch at the ready for those super busy weeknights.
What ingredients do you need to make the meatballs?
Here’s what goes in these homemade vegetarian Swedish meatballs:
- Bulgur wheat (you’ll need to prepare it and allow it to cool before making the meatballs)
- Shiitake mushrooms (or you can substitute with chestnut mushrooms)
- Chickpeas (use the tinned variety)
- Sour cream for the liquid elements
- Egg to hold everything together
- Spices to give the meatballs a bit of a kick: onion powder, garlic powder, nutmeg, black pepper, chilli flakes
How to make Swedish meatballs sauce?
The gravy for Swedish meatballs is highly versatile, with the most controversial ingredient being the mustard. Some like the taste, some don’t so feel free to skip it if you like — it will still taste amazing. I like this roux-based gravy to be on the thicker side, but you can add more stock at any point if you want it to be thinner.
To make the sauce for Swedish meatballs you need the following:
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Vegetable (or mushroom) stock
- Sour cream
- Onion powder
- Dijon mustard (optional)
- Himalayan salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped parsley
What to serve veggie Swedish meatballs with?
I love some creamy mashed potatoes with these meatballs, but you can also serve them over pasta or even rice. If you’re particularly craving carbs, you can also serve them with crusty bread that you can dip in the gravy (maybe make it on the thinner side if you decide to go the bread way).
If you liked this easy seafood and chicken paella recipe, have a look at some of my other vegetarian/vegan recipes:
For the meatballs
- 75g (1/2 cup) dry bulgur wheat (cooked and cooled, excess water removed)
- 125 g (4.5 oz.) shiitake mushrooms
- 1 (400 g/15-ounce) can chickpeas
- 50 g (1/3 cup) breadcrumbs
- 60ml (1/4 cup) sour cream
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
For the sauce
- 30 g (2tbsp) unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 350 ml (1 1/2 cup) vegetable stock (or mushroom stock)
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
Make the meatballs
- Heat the oven to 190C/375F.
- In a food processor, pulse the mushrooms until finely chopped, but not pureed. Remove them from the food processor into a large bowl. Do the same with the chickpeas.
- Add all the remaining ingredients into the bowl over the mushrooms and chickpeas and mix well with a spatula until blended.
- Form into meatballs, arrange them on a baking sheet lined with baking paper and bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden brown. You can spray them with a bit of oil if you want and turn them halfway so they bake evenly.
Make the sauce
- Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large saucepan and add the flour when it's melted. Whish constantly for 1-2 minutes until it thickens and starts to change color.
- Add the vegetable stock, and simmer for 2-3 minutes until it thickens. Add more stock if you want the gravy thinner.
- When the sauce reaches the desired consistency, add the sour cream, Dijon mustard (if using) and onion powder. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce and make sure they are coated by gently spooning the gravy over them. Serve immediately over mashed potatoes, pasta, or rice.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 277Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 713mgCarbohydrates: 32gFiber: 6gSugar: 5gProtein: 9g
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator.