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!
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.
Today, vegan Swedish meatballs are joining that list of beloved meals.
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.
When I make my vegan Swedish meatballs at home, I generally like to serve them over my fluffy 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.
In my book The Vegan Week, I wrote,
I continue to feel this way, and I’ve posted a lot of my favorite homemade vegan proteins on this blog.
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.
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.
Embrace the joy of eating homemade food every day with the hearty and wholesome recipes in The Vegan Week.
Once the meatballs are ready, the rest of this recipe is a snap.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While vegetable broth can be used in the recipe, I prefer to use a vegan beef-style or chick’n-style broth here.
The vegan Swedish meatballs can be easily prepared in stages or made ahead. Some options:
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.
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.