These cozy vegan Swedish meatballs are made with protein-rich tempeh and simmered in a creamy sauce. Served over mashed potatoes, noodles, or rice, they’re a perfect comfort food!

A close-up image of creamy mashed potatoes, which are topped with sauce and plant-based Swedish meatballs.

Oh, how I love a classic comfort food meal.

I’m half Greek, and the home cooks in my life when I was growing up were my mother and grandmother.

They did prepare some Mediterranean and traditional Greek dishes. But they both had a real soft spot for classic comfort foods, and they passed that love on to me.

My passion for veganized comfort food extends to vegan salisbury steak with mushroom gravy, mac and cheese, skillet lasagna, chickpeas à la king, and sweet potato black bean burgers.

Today, vegan Swedish meatballs are joining that list of beloved meals.

What are Swedish meatballs?

If you’ve never had Swedish meatballs before, then you’re in for a treat.

Swedish meatballs are similar to regular meatballs, but with a few distinctive details.

First, Swedish meatballs are often a little smaller than regular meatballs.

Second—and more importantly—they’re simmered in a creamy, gravy-like sauce.

Finally, these meatballs can be served over pasta or noodles, but they’re often served over mashed potatoes instead.

Many people become introduced to Swedish meatballs by having them at an Ikea cafeteria. At Ikea, the meatballs are generally served with mashed potatoes, peas, and—a nod to tradition—lingonberry jam.

When I make my vegan Swedish meatballs at home, I generally like to serve them over my fluffy vegan mashed potatoes.

A round white bowl is filled with fluffy, smooth, and creamy vegan mashed potatoes.

However, I love them over noodles as well, and I’ve found that cooked quinoa, rice, and farro can be nice “beds” for the meatballs and creamy gravy.

Protein-packed, versatile tempeh meatballs

In my book The Vegan Week, I wrote,

There have never been more vegan meat options in grocery stores. I’m so glad that these products exist, but I also love the economy and satisfaction of making plant proteins from scratch.

I continue to feel this way, and I’ve posted a lot of my favorite homemade vegan proteins on this blog.

They include baked smoky tofu, 20-minute air fryer tempeh nuggets, BBQ soy curls, baked, crispy tempeh bacon, baked balsamic tofu, and easy BBQ lentils.

One of my favorite homemade vegan proteins—and a favorite among my readers, too—are my simple tempeh meatballs.

A parchment lined, silver, rimmed baking sheet holds a vegan protein dish that's just come out of the oven.

There was a time when I bought the Gardein brand meatballs all the time.

I still often store a bag of them in my freezer. But for the sake of frugality and diversity, I spend a lot of time figuring out a homemade vegan meatball that I liked every bit as much as my store-bought favorite.

Tempeh meatballs have been a game changer. They’re firm, earthy, deeply savory, and super versatile.

I use the meatballs in meatball subs, with spaghetti and marinara sauce, and now, as part of a cozy dish of vegan Swedish meatballs.

A round, gray white plate is topped with mashed potatoes, vegan Swedish meatballs, and chopped parsley.

How to make vegan Swedish meatballs

Step 1: Prepare and bake the tempeh meatballs

The most time-consuming part of this recipe will be actually preparing the tempeh meatballs.

The good news is that those meatballs are a very easy component to meal prep. So, you can prepare them on the same day that you bring the entire vegan Swedish meatball dish together, or you can make them ahead of time.

The Vegan Week

Embrace the joy of eating homemade food every day with the hearty and wholesome recipes in The Vegan Week.

Whether you have three, two, or even just one hour of time to spare, The Vegan Week will show you how to batch cook varied, colorful, and comforting dishes over the weekend.

Once the meatballs are ready, the rest of this recipe is a snap.

A creamy mixture is pictured in a personal blender.
The creamy gravy for these vegan tempeh meatballs is a simple mixture of broth, vegan sour cream, seasonings, Dijon mustard, and soy sauce.

Step 2: Blend the sauce

The sauce for the Swedish meatballs is quite simple. It’s a mixture of broth, sour cream, soy sauce, sweet paprika, flour, Dijon mustard, and a tiny pinch—seriously, tiny!—of nutmeg.

For the sour cream, you have a couple options. You can certainly use any commercial vegan sour cream that you like; I’m a big fan of the Tofutti brand sour cream myself.

You can also use my 4-ingredient vegan sour cream, which has a cashew base. It’s easy-to-make, ultra rich and creamy, and quite wholesome.

Step 3: Thicken the sauce on the stovetop

Next, you’ll warm the sauce on the stovetop. The sauce contains a couple tablespoons of flour, so it will thicken as it heats.

Be sure to stir the sauce constantly as you warm it. When it’s ready, the sauce will coat the back of a spoon.

A small, silver sauce pan is pictured from above. It's filled with a creamy sauce and plant-based meatballs.
The final step before plating this dish is to warm the tempeh meatballs with the creamy sauce.

Step 4: Add the meatballs to the sauce

Next, you’ll add the tempeh meatballs to the sauce pot or skillet (whichever type of cooking vessel you’re using).

The goal here is to warm the meatballs gently and evenly. I recommend using a large, heatproof spoon to gently turn and stir the meatballs in the sauce.

The meatballs aren’t as chewy and sturdy as commercial vegan meatballs, so you don’t want to boil them or allow them to simmer for too long. The goal is just to coat them and heat them through.

A round, gray white plate is topped with mashed potatoes, vegan Swedish meatballs, and chopped parsley.
The meatballs can be served over mashed potatoes, noodles, or a cooked whole grain.

Step 5: Serve

Now, it’s time to serve the vegan Swedish meatballs.

You can go ahead and serve them over mashed potatoes, your favorite pasta shape, or a cooked whole grain.

If you like, you can also pile them over a hot, split baked potato!

A garnish of chopped fresh parsley leaves makes for a very nice garnish.

Can I substitute the tempeh meatballs?

If you have a soy allergy or don’t care for tempeh, it’s totally OK to substitute the tempeh meatballs.

One option would be to use a store-bought vegan meatball that you’re a fan of. The Gardein meatballs are my favorite, obviously, but I also like Impossible meatballs and 365 brand plant-based meatballs.

You could also use my tofu bulgur meatballs, which have a great texture, or my white bean balls, which is a favorite of mine to serve with pasta.

Finally, I have a recipe for chickpea oat balls that will work in the recipe. I’d omit the oregano for a less overtly Mediterranean flavor profile.

What type of broth should I use?

While vegetable broth can be used in the recipe, I prefer to use a vegan beef-style or chick’n-style broth here.

My favorites: born simple beef-style broth concentrate, better than bouillon vegan beef broth base, or Imagine organic vegetarian no-chicken broth.

Make ahead options

The vegan Swedish meatballs can be easily prepared in stages or made ahead. Some options:

  • The meatballs can be prepared up to five days in advance and frozen for up to 6 weeks
  • The sauce can be blended and stored overnight in the fridge before heating and thickening
  • Mashed potatoes can be prepared a couple days in advance, and pasta can be cooked ahead of time and stored for up to 2-3 days in an airtight container in the fridge

More cozy comfort classics

If you love the coziness and nostalgia of this dish, then you might also take comfort in some of these others:

But first, some vegan Swedish meatballs for the soul.

A close-up image of creamy mashed potatoes, which are topped with sauce and plant-based Swedish meatballs.
4.43 from 7 votes

Vegan Swedish Meatballs (Made with Tempeh)

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yields: 4 servings



  • Prepare the tempeh meatballs as instructed. This can be done up to three days in advance of making the Swedish meatballs. You can also freeze prepared tempeh meatballs for up to six weeks.
  • Transfer the broth, vegan sour cream, soy sauce, paprika, flour, mustard, and nutmeg to a standing blender and blend till smooth.
  • Transfer the sauce to a large, deep skillet. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Taste the sauce. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste and adjust the soy sauce as needed.
  • Add the tempeh meatballs to the skillet. Use a large, heatproof spoon to gently turn and stir the meatballs in the sauce, coating them all evenly.
  • Once the meatballs are fully coated and submerged in the sauce and warmed through, serve them over mashed potatoes or noodles. Garnish with fresh, chopped parsley leaves, if desired.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’m taking this coming weekend off from weekend reading so that I can celebrate Christmas eve.

I wish everyone who celebrates a merry and bright Christmas. I’ll be back next week with another recipe for you.


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Categories: Main Dishes
Method: Oven, Stovetop
Ingredients: Tempeh
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, No Oil, Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep

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Recipe Rating

  1. 5 stars
    Gena, happy new year and thanks for this recipe. I made it tonight using store-bought meatballs because it was a long day after the holiday weekend, and air-fried/”baked” a potato to split and stuff with the sauce, meatballs, and some peas. Wonderful comfort food.

    I also picked up “The Vegan Week,” and I’m looking forward to getting some wholesome meal prep going. I’m not vegan or even vegetarian, but I have enjoyed your blog, your writing, and your recipes for years, and they have helped me add more plant food to my life in such a positive, sustainable way. I wish you all the very best this year.

    • This is such a kind message, Rachel, and it heartened me as we begin this new year. Thanks for sharing. Your comfort food meal sounds wonderful!