Kid-friendly Super Swedish “Meat”balls on a Stick Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
over 1,000 kid-approved recipes coming soon! save your flavorites
Recipe: Super Swedish “Meat”balls on a Stick

Recipe: Super Swedish “Meat”balls on a Stick

Super Swedish “Meat”balls on a Stick

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Alessandro de Leo/
prep time
40 minutes
cook time
15 minutes
4-6 servings

Fun Food Story

Skip to recipe

Super Swedish “Meat”balls on a Stick

We love to substitute beans for popular meat recipes. In this recipe, we're using white beans and mixing them with mushrooms and a few other ingredients and rolling them into "meat"balls. Swedish Meatballs! Something interesting about Swedish Meatball history: the dish is known worldwide largely in part to IKEA's popularity (Swedish Meatballs are served in EVERY single 403 IKEA cafes across the globe). But just last year, Sweden's official Twitter account announced that the dish is originally from Turkey. King Charles XII brought the recipe back from his 5-year exile in Moldova, along with coffee and stuffed cabbages, two more beloved staples in modern-day Sweden (and Turkey). There doesn't seem to be any "beef" between the two nations about the origin of the popularized Swedish Meatball; anyway, the Swedish version is pretty different from the Turkish version, known as "kofte." Swedes serve theirs with lingonberry jam, while Turkish eat kofte often with rice or bread and on a stick (like we're doing this week!). The rest, as we like to say, is just gravy.

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • mash :

    to reduce food, like potatoes or bananas, to a soft, pulpy state by beating or pressure.

  • mix :

    to thoroughly combine two or more ingredients until uniform in texture.

  • roll :

    to use a rolling pin to flatten dough; use your hands to form a roll or ball shape; or move a round food, like a grape or a meatball, through another food, like sugar or breadcrumbs, to coat it.

Equipment Checklist

  • Strainer or colander
  • Cutting board + kid-safe knife
  • Can opener
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Potato masher
  • Measuring spoons
  • Dry measuring cup
  • Wooden spoon
  • Large skillet
  • Heat-resistant spatula


Super Swedish “Meat”balls on a Stick

  • 4 oz cremini mushrooms
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 green onions
  • 1} 15-oz can white beans (Cannellini or Great Northern)
  • 1 T soy sauce **(for SOY ALLERGY sub tamari/coconut aminos)**
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 C panko breadcrumbs **(for GLUTEN/WHEAT ALLERGY sub gluten-free Italian breadcrumbs)**
  • 3 T olive oil

Food Allergen Substitutions

Super Swedish “Meat”balls on a Stick

  • Gluten/Wheat: Substitute gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos for soy sauce. Substitute gluten-free Italian breadcrumbs for panko breadcrumbs. 
  • Soy: Substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce.


Super Swedish “Meat”balls on a Stick

wash + twist + chop

Wash 4 ounces of cremini mushrooms in a strainer and shake off the excess water. Twist stems off the mushrooms and chop both stems and caps into very tiny pieces!

mince + drain + combine + mash

Mince 1 garlic clove and 2 green onions. Drain 1 can of cannellini beans. Add beans, garlic, green onions, and chopped mushrooms to a large mixing bowl, and use a potato masher to mash all the ingredients together!

season + mix + roll

Season the mashed mixture with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 pinch of nutmeg. Add 1 cup panko breadcrumbs. Mix until well combined. Have kids dip their hands into a bowl of water and then roll the mixture into 1-inch “meat”balls.

sauté + pour + simmer + thicken

Coat the bottom of a large skillet with **3 tablespoons of olive oil.** Add “meat”balls and brown on all sides. Then pour in blended Creamy Dreamy Gravy (see recipe) or another gravy, bring to a simmer, and allow the sauce to thicken. Spear “meat”balls with toothpicks and serve with a spoonful of gravy over them! Enjoy!

Surprise Ingredient: Beans!

back to recipe
Photo by Steven Giles/

Hi! I’m a Bean!

"Hey! How've you bean … I mean, been? My name is Cannellini, and I'm a white bean! We beans go back a long, long time. A couple of my cousins are the Navy bean and the Great Northern bean. You can add us to soups, stews, and chili, or eat us all by ourselves! We sometimes cause tummies to inflate (you know, get gassy?), but soaking, draining, and rinsing dried beans really well might help prevent that from happening. Did you know that Senate Bean Soup is on the menu at the US Senate's Dirksen Café every single day?! I'm inflating with pride just thinking about that!"


  • Globally, there are 13,000 known varieties of beans. They include the white bean, like the Italian Cannelini, Great Northern, and Navy Bean; the black turtle bean (usually shortened to black bean); and the pinto bean. What kind of beans are you using today?
  • Beans were one of the first foods gathered, according to archaeologists. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors used beans as food tens of thousands of years ago. They were grown around 7,000 years ago in the Middle East. 
  • In ancient Greece, public officials were elected if they picked the single white bean from a bunch of black beans. 
  • In the 15th century, Spanish explorers brought beans to Europe when they returned from voyages to the New World. Then, Spanish and Portuguese traders took them to Africa and Asia to sell. 
  • Beans are now prevalent worldwide, primarily due to their use as an inexpensive, plant-based protein.
  • Today, the largest commercial producers of common dried beans are India, China, Indonesia, Brazil, and the United States. 
  • North Dakota grows forty percent of the beans in the US, more than any other state!
  • Brazil grows the most beans in the world. 
  • In Nicaragua, newlyweds are given a bowl of beans for good luck.

Anatomy & Etymology

  • Did you know: Beans are technically a fruit! 
  • Beans are legumes, so they have seeds that dry in the seed pod. Other legumes include lentils, peas, peanuts, and soybeans.
  • Beans plants leave the soil better and healthier than before they were planted. Most plants deplete the soil, but not beans. This is because they have nodules on their roots that add nitrogen, which the soil needs. 
  • The world's tallest bean plant was over 45 feet tall! That's the equivalent of three average-sized giraffes stacked on top of one another. The plant was grown in the USA in 2003.
  • The word "bean" was first used before the 12th century. It comes from the Old English "bēan," from the Proto-Germanic "bauno," and is related to the Dutch "boon" and German "Bohne."

How to Pick, Buy, & Eat

  • Beans are harvested at full maturity when their pod reaches about six inches long, and the leaves turn brown and fall off about 75 days after the beans are planted.
  • When harvested, the shells are broken open, and the beans are collected as long as they are dry. If they're not thoroughly dried, they can be hung up to finish drying before they're popped from their shells. 
  • We can't eat raw, uncooked beans. Why? Because beans have something called lectins that are poisonous, and the only way to remove most of these lectins is to cook the beans.
  • If you're using dried beans, soak them before cooking to remove "antinutrients," compounds that block the absorption of nutrients. 
  • Dried beans are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins; both canned and dried beans are available throughout the year. 
  • Canned beans can stay fresh for years! 
  • Combine the creamy texture of beans with a whole grain such as brown rice, and you have a virtually fat-free high-quality protein meal. 
  • Beans are made into burgers, dips, brownies, cakes, dips, fudge, muffins, pies, and drinks (coffee and cocoa beans). They can also be used in jewelry, toys, and musical instruments. "Bean bag chairs" are made with polystyrene "beans," but the small bean bags for play are sometimes made with real dried beans. 


  • Beans are complex carbohydrates and high in fiber, which keeps our digestion strong and smooth and our tummies happy. 
  • Beans are excellent sources of iron, magnesium, and potassium. The body needs these minerals to grow, develop, and stay healthy.
  • Beans supply several B vitamins to our diet, especially folate (B-9). These vitamins contribute to healthy brain function, formation of red blood cells, increased energy, and decreased cancer and cardiovascular disease risk.  
  • The fiber and protein in beans are good for stabilizing blood sugar. They are popular with vegans and vegetarians because they replace some of the nutrients found in meat.

Beany Expressions:

  • Bean counter = an accountant
  • Bean feast = a party with food and drink
  • Bean pole = describing someone tall and thin
  • Cool beans = when something is cool
  • It doesn't amount to a hill of beans = when something doesn't add up to much
  • Full of beans = full of energy, enthusiasm
  • ​Hasn't got a bean = doesn't have any money
  • Has-been = once was something, maybe famous or rich, and now those days are gone
  • Not worth a bean = not worth anything
  • ​Spill the beans = dish the dirt, tell the truth

History of Swedish Meatballs!

Photo by Oliver Hoffmann/
  • The origin of Swedish meatballs may not be Swedish at all, but Turkish! In a tweet sent out early last year by Sweden’s official Twitter account, the country stated that the recipe was brought home from Turkey by King Charles XII in the early 18th century.
  • King Charles spent several years in what is now Moldova, which was under Turkish rule at the time. After an unsuccessful attempt to conquer Russia with his troops, the king was exiled to Moldova, a territory of the Ottoman Empire, then an enemy of Russia. During his five years in exile, he apparently gained a fondness for Turkish cuisine. He returned in 1715 with the recipe for the meatballs. King Charles also brought coffee and stuffed cabbages to Sweden from Moldova.
  • The first Swedish Meatball (called kötbullar) recipe appeared in print in the late 18th century in the book Housekeeping for Young Women
  • Swedish meatballs are considered comfort food in Sweden and throughout the world, even though their roots are found in war and exile.
  • Today, the popular way to enjoy Swedish Meatballs is with creamy gravy and lingonberry jam. In Sweden, it is popular to have vegetarian versions of the meatballs on restaurant menus, too.

Let's Learn About Sweden!

Photo by Lucky Business/
  • Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, and its official name is the Kingdom of Sweden.
  • Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, encompasses 14 islands and more than 50 bridges. Half of Sweden is covered with forests, and it contains around 100,000 lakes and 24,000 islands. 
  • Sweden has one of the highest life expectancies in the world!
  • Sweden has remained neutral in all wars since 1814, including World Wars I and II.
  • Though Sweden is a member of the European Union, they use their own currency, the Swedish krona, rather than the euro.
  • Sweden publishes every adult's yearly tax returns. This demonstrates the Swedish tradition of "jantelagen," or the "law of Jante," which is the belief that "no one is better than anyone else." Followed in Sweden and Norway, it is praised as a reason for harmony in society.
  • Swedish blood donors get a thank you note when they donate blood and a text message when patients receive their blood!
  • Ice hockey and football (soccer) are Sweden’s major sports.
  • There are so many moose roaming around in forests in Sweden that they could form a very large city if they all gathered together!  
  • Sweden has one of the most sophisticated recycling systems in the world. They even import waste from Norway to recycle it.   
  • IKEA is a Swedish-founded company and has been the world’s largest furniture retailer since 2008.
  • A common Swedish tradition is "fika" (fee-kuh), where Swedes enjoy a relaxed coffee break with friends. "Fika" is the word for the noun "coffee" and the verb "have coffee." The emphasis in the custom, though, is spending time with friends.
  • Besides Kladdkaka, a popular Swedish chocolate cake, another well-known Swedish dish is Swedish meatballs, which is served with gravy, boiled potatoes, and lingonberry jam.
  • Sweden is one of the biggest consumers of Mexican food in Europe!
  • Swedish for, "It was delicious," is “Det var utsökt!” (DET-Var-OOT-Sik).

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Sweden?

  • Swedish kids go to daycare (dagis), which feed into schools, so they often make at least one or two friends they will keep for the rest of their lives. 
  • At the end of February, schools have a week-long holiday across the country. It's called "sportlov" or "sports law," designed to engage families in sports during the winter.
  • Kids get a second yearly celebration in addition to their birthdays. What do they celebrate? It's called "Namnsdag" or "Name Day." A Name Day calendar lists one or two names on almost every date, and a child might get cake and a present or money to celebrate their name day.
  • Swedish kids love books by Astrid Lindgren, a Swedish author. You might have read some of them, too, since she wrote the Pippi Longstocking books.
  • On most Fridays, families stay home together to watch TV or movies and eat food that's easy to prepare, like tacos, pizza, chips, and other snack foods. Swedes call this "fredagsmys," which means "Friday coziness."

THYME for a Laugh

What kinds of beans can’t grow in a garden? 

Jelly Beans!

The Yolk's On You

What bean is the most intelligent? 

The Human Bean!

Lettuce Joke Around

"Knock, knock!"

"Who's there?"


"Bean who?"

"It’s Bean a while since I last had a brownie!"

Shop Our Cookbooks

Now available on Amazon! Our cookbooks feature kid-tested recipes that build confidence in the kitchen. Expand your child's palate and spark a love of healthy foods with a Sticky Fingers Cooking cookbook.

Subscribe to the Sticky Fingers Cooking mailing list

Subscribe to our newsletter, The Turnip, to receive exclusive discounts and updates, insider tips + tricks from our awesome team, and instant access to the Sticky Fingers Cooking Starter Kit for free!

Souper popular!
25 people registered for a session in the last 24 hours