The Unexpected Ingredient You Should Add To Swedish Meatballs

As the birthplace of the sparkling and influential band ABBA, and a behemoth business that Insider notes is known for its affordable furniture, it's not hard to see why some people are fans of anything with Sweden's name attached to it. That includes Swedish meatballs. Even if Swedes didn't invent the recipe – the BBC reported that Sweden is such a trustworthy country it readily admitted that Swedish meatballs were originally a Turkish treat on Twitter — they've certainly made it their own.

People familiar with Italian meatballs may be surprised to find that Swedish meatballs are made in a completely different way. Italian meatballs are often prepared with only beef or veal and typically come with a tomato-based sauce. Swedish meatballs, however, are created with a mixture of pork and beef topped with a velvety gravy (via Where Italian meatballs are typically served over pasta, Swedish meatballs are a creamy treat that pair well with potatoes.

While you can't go wrong with the original Swedish meatballs recipe, there is a trick that has the potential to make this traditional meal even more enticing. The secret to a new and improved Swedish meatball feast lies in one small ingredient.

Mix fennel seeds into your Swedish meatballs

Fennel seeds come from the fennel plant. Most often used as a spice, Kitchn notes that they can be found in teas like chai and are typically used to add a sugared touch to all kinds of recipes. According to, fennel seeds' licorice notes and candy-like sweetness also act as the perfect complement to your Swedish meatballs.

Adding fennel seeds into your meat is the only alteration you'll need to make to the way you prepare your Swedish meatballs. Leave them whole if you want a more toothsome texture. Beach Hut Cook recommends grinding the seeds before mixing them in and suggests loosely forming your meatballs — just make sure they're not so loose that they break apart during cooking.

According to MyRecipes, pairing your fennel seeds with a teaspoon of black pepper can add another kick to your Swedish meatballs by combining spicy and sugary flavors. MyRecipe's advice for creating the perfect fennel-pepper Swedish meatballs is to bake them in a sheet pan. Once you have finished your decadent sauce and fully cooked your meat, assemble your meal as normal. Then serve it to guests to find out just how much using fennel seeds in your Swedish meatballs can be the recipe for an unforgettable dinner.