Are the Swedish meatballs at IKEA gluten-free?

Swedish meatballs are one of the most iconic dishes at IKEA. The popular furniture store serves over 150 million meatballs globally each year! With the rising popularity of gluten-free diets in recent years, many customers wonder – are IKEA’s famous meatballs gluten-free?

The Short Answer

No, IKEA’s traditional Swedish meatballs contain wheat and barley flour, making them not gluten-free. However, some IKEA locations offer gluten-free Swedish meatball options using alternative flours and bindings. Check with your local store to see if they offer a certified gluten-free meatball version.

Examining the Ingredients in IKEA’s Meatballs

Here are the primary ingredients found in IKEA’s traditional Swedish meatball recipe:

  • Beef and pork
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Wheat flour
  • Barley flour
  • Onion
  • Egg
  • Milk
  • Spices and seasonings

The main culprits that make IKEA’s meatballs not gluten-free are the wheat and barley flours used as binders in the recipe. Both wheat and barley contain gluten proteins. This means those who need to follow gluten-free diets for medical reasons, such as Celiac disease or non-Celiac gluten sensitivity, need to avoid IKEA’s traditional meatballs.

Why Wheat and Barley Are Used in IKEA’s Recipe

Wheat and barley flours are binders that help hold the meatballs together and provide a light, tender texture. Using a gluten-free flour like rice flour or tapioca flour would significantly change the consistency and flavor of the dish from the original recipe.

In traditional Swedish cooking, breadcrumbs and wheat or barley flours are common binders used in meatballs and other dishes like pancakes or savory pies. So IKEA has stayed true to using typical Swedish ingredients to maintain authentic flavor.

Gluten-Free Options at Some IKEA Locations

While IKEA’s traditional meatballs are not gluten-free, some IKEA locations globally have started offering alternative gluten-free meatball options. For example, IKEA stores in Australia began serving gluten-free meatballs in 2020 after customer demand.

The gluten-free recipe replaces wheat and barley flours with a blend of potato flakes, rice flour, pea starch, and corn flour. All other ingredients remain the same. The gluten-free meatballs are cooked in a separate fryer to avoid cross-contamination.

Whether a particular IKEA store offers certified gluten-free meatballs comes down to local menu options. Some additional countries like the UK and UAE also offer gluten-free meatballs. Be sure to check with your closest IKEA location to see if they have a gluten-free version available.

Tips for Ordering at IKEA

If you need to avoid gluten, here are some tips for ordering Swedish meatballs safely at IKEA:

  • Ask the staff at the store if they offer certified gluten-free meatballs. Get confirmation that they use an approved gluten-free recipe.
  • Verify that the gluten-free meatballs are cooked separately from regular meatballs to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Double check packaging labels to ensure meatballs marked “gluten-free” do not contain wheat, barley, rye or contaminated oats.
  • Avoid accompanying items like cream sauce or mashed potatoes, as the recipes likely contain gluten.
  • Use caution with lingonberry jam, as some versions contain wheat flour.
  • Consider bringing your own gluten-free side dishes and sauces to pair with meatballs.

Cross-contamination is a concern when ordering at restaurants, so proceed with caution even when gluten-free items are offered. Consulting with staff about food prep and contacting corporate offices directly about allergen procedures can provide added assurance.

Gluten-Free Meatball Options Beyond IKEA

If IKEA’s menu doesn’t meet your gluten-free needs, you have plenty of options for enjoying Swedish-style meatballs without gluten:

  • Make your own gluten-free meatballs at home using substitutes like almond flour, tapioca flour or psyllium husk in place of breadcrumbs.
  • Search for gluten-free frozen meatballs at grocery stores, which often include brands clearly labeled “gluten-free.”
  • Order meatballs at gluten-free restaurant chains or verify gluten-free preparations at standard restaurants.
  • Try ethnic variations like Italian-style beef and pork meatballs simmered in tomato sauce.

With some creative substitutions and careful ordering, you can enjoy tasty meatballs on a gluten-free diet. And you may even find you like homemade or restaurant variations just as much as the iconic IKEA original!

Nutrition Facts of IKEA’s Meatballs

If you don’t have dietary restrictions, IKEA’s traditional meatballs can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Here are the nutrition facts for 5 IKEA Swedish meatballs (about 147g):

Calories Total Fat Carbs Protein
220 12g 12g 12g

The meatballs offer a decent protein punch with 12g per serving. They are also relatively low in calories for the portion size, making them a filling choice. However, they are higher in saturated fat, providing over 15% of the daily value.

Tips for Healthier Eating at IKEA

You can enjoy IKEA meatballs as part of a healthy diet by following some best practices:

  • Watch your portion sizes. Meatballs are dense in calories, so stick to the serving size.
  • Pair with vegetable sides like salad or steamed veggies to balance your meal.
  • Avoid dunking meatballs in cream sauce, or use very small amounts for dipping.
  • Quench your thirst with water or unsweetened iced tea instead of soda.
  • Split a serving of meatballs as an appetizer portion or add to a veggie bowl.
  • Balance out your total daily diet to keep saturated fat in check.

IKEA meatballs can be worked into a nutritious lifestyle without sabotaging your health goals. Just be mindful of portions and what you pair them with!

The History of the IKEA Meatball

IKEA’s iconic meatball wasn’t always a staple of the brand. The tasty sphere has an origin story decades in the making. Here’s a quick history of how the IKEA meatball came to be:

  • 1960s – IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad decides to add a café serving traditional Swedish food to make customers feel at home. The first IKEA restaurant opens in Örebro, Sweden in 1960.
  • 1970s – The now-famous IKEA meatball is developed to be the perfect menu item for the restaurant. Based on a traditional Swedish recipe using beef and pork.
  • 1980s – As IKEA expands across Europe and enters North America, the meatball gains international appeal as an emblem of Swedish culture.
  • 2010s – Meatball mania is in full swing. IKEA rolls out meatballs in the frozen foods section after years of customer requests.
  • Today – IKEA diners consume over a billion meatballs globally per year. New variations like chicken and veggie meatballs join the menu.

While tastes have changed over the decades, the IKEA meatball has stood the test of time. Over 50 years since its debut, it remains a staple highlight of the IKEA in-store experience.

Common Questions about IKEA’s Meatballs

Why are IKEA’s meatballs so popular?

IKEA’s meatballs have achieved global popularity for several reasons:

  • They provide a tasty, filling meal at an affordable price.
  • The recipe carefully blends spices and meat for flavorful, tender meatballs.
  • As a symbol of Sweden, they offer a culturally comforting experience.
  • They have been a staple on the IKEA menu for over 50 years.
  • Meatballs appeal to many palates and can be paired with various sides.

How can I make IKEA meatballs at home?

You can recreate IKEA’s meatballs using this homemade copycat recipe:

  • Combine beef and pork mince with breadcrumbs, egg, onion, and seasonings.
  • Form mixture into small, round meatballs.
  • Fry meatballs in a skillet on the stovetop until browned and cooked through.
  • For added flavor, simmer in a creamy gravy or Swedish lingonberry sauce.

Getting the seasoning blend just right and using a 50/50 beef pork ratio helps mimic IKEA’s signature flavor.

Are IKEA meatball recipes customised for local tastes?

Yes, IKEA does tailor its traditional meatball recipe slightly based on regional tastes. For example:

  • More pork is used in the recipe for the Japan market.
  • Spicier seasonings like garlic and paprika are added for eastern European countries.
  • The Middle Eastern recipe uses chicken instead of pork.

But the core ingredients and cooking method remain largely consistent worldwide. IKEA strives to balance localizing its dishes while preserving the meatball’s universal appeal.


While IKEA’s classic meatballs are not gluten-free due to containing wheat and barley, some stores offer alternative recipes without gluten. Checking labels carefully, verifying prep procedures, and calling ahead can help those with food allergies stay safe. For an authentic Swedish meatball experience without the gluten, home cooks can get creative with substitutions like almond or chickpea flour. Regardless of dietary needs, IKEA meatballs will likely continue satisfying loyal fans around the world for decades to come.

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