Really Good Vegetarian Swedish Meatballs

Vegetarian meatballs and cream sauce in a pan

5 from 2 reviews

A delicious plant-based version of traditional Swedish meatballs featuring lentils, mushrooms, and just the right spices.


For the Meatballs:

1 cup brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed

2 cups water

1 bay leaf

8 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

½ cup rolled oats

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon fine salt

½ teaspoon packed brown sugar

⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

⅛ teaspoon ground pepper

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 onion, chopped fine

½ cup dry white wine

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon soy sauce


For the Gravy:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 tablespoon soy sauce

½ cup heavy whipping cream

1-2 pinches of ground nutmeg (more to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

Chopped fresh parsley or chives


To Serve:

Stirred Lingonberries or store bought lingonberry preserves

Fresh Pickled Cucumbers


  1. Transfer mushrooms to the work bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Add lentils, oats, parsley, salt, brown sugar, nutmeg, allspice and pepper.  Process until mixture is very finely chopped, about 7 or 8 pulses.

  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add lentil and mushroom mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to dry out and is begins to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add white wine and soy sauce and cook until the liquid is nearly evaporated, about 1 minute more.  Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Set aside until it is just warm to the touch. 

  3. Add eggs.  Mix until fully combined.  

  4. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a tablespoon measure, transfer spoonfuls of the mixture to the prepared sheet pans.  Roll each spoonful into a smooth ball, dampening your hands if necessary to prevent sticking.

  5. Transfer the sheet pans to the oven and bake until the meatballs are browned and firm to the touch, about 25 minutes, switching and rotating the pans halfway through.  Set meatballs aside.

  6. Make the Gravy:  Melt butter in a 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and cook for one minute.  Add broth and soy sauce, whisking constantly.  Simmer until reduced slightly.  Add cream and nutmeg and return to a simmer.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  

  7. Add meatballs to gravy and simmer briefly to reheat.  Garnish with chopped parsley or chives if desired.  Serve with Stirred Lingonberries (or store bought lingonberry preserves) and Fresh Pickled Cucumbers.


Make it vegan:

Substitute flax eggs for the large eggs (For one flax egg:  Combine 1 tablespoon ground flax seed and 2 1/2 tablespoons water.  Stir to combine.  Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes to thicken).

Substitute vegan butter or olive oil for the unsalted butter.

Substitute an unsweetened vegan half-and-half (Such as the Califia Farms Unsweetened Better Half Coffee Creamer) for the cream. 

Make ahead:  Skip the sauce for now and store the baked meatballs in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for up to a month.

Adapted from Cookie and Kate

Keywords: vegetarian, vegan, Swedish, meatballs, mushrooms, lentils, Scandinavian, Nordic