How many calories are in 6 Swedish meatballs?

Swedish meatballs are a beloved dish that originated in Sweden but have become popular worldwide. They typically consist of a mix of ground beef and pork, breadcrumbs, milk, onions, and seasonings formed into small balls and served with a creamy gravy. But with their rich ingredients, many people wonder just how many calories are packed into those tasty little meatballs.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the calorie count of traditional Swedish meatballs. We’ll consider the calories in 6 average-sized meatballs on their own and with common accompaniments like gravy and mashed potatoes. We’ll also look at how the calorie count can vary between different recipes and cooking methods. By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding of the calorie content of this Scandinavian favorite.

Calories in Swedish Meatballs

To determine how many calories are in 6 Swedish meatballs, we first have to establish an average serving size for a single meatball. Traditional Swedish meatballs are often around 1–1.5 inches in diameter. For our calculations, we’ll assume each meatball is 1.25 inches wide and weighs approximately 1 ounce or 28 grams before cooking.

With that baseline serving size, we can analyze the calories by looking at common recipe components:

Ground beef

Most Swedish meatball recipes call for a mix of ground beef and pork. On average, ground beef contains about 110 calories per 100 grams. So a 28 gram raw meatball made of just ground beef would contain about 31 calories.


Pork is also very calorie-dense at 145 calories per 100 grams. If our meatball is 50% pork, that adds about 10 more calories.


A key binding ingredient in meatballs is breadcrumbs, which soak up excess moisture and add texture. About 1 tablespoon or 8 grams of plain dry breadcrumbs adds 36 calories.


Onions are low in calories at around 40 calories per 100 grams. Even a couple teaspoons of minced onion only adds trace amounts of calories.


A small egg yolk contains about 17 calories, while the white contains fewer than 5 calories. Altogether an egg adds about 23 calories to a meatball recipe.


A couple tablespoons of milk to moisten the ingredients adds about 10-15 calories.


The calories from seasoning blends containing salt, black pepper, nutmeg and allspice are negligible.

Total per meatball

Adding up those rough estimates, a single 1.25-inch Swedish meatball made from a typical recipe contains around 110 calories before cooking.

Calories in 6 meatballs

So for a six meatball serving, the total calories come out to:

* 110 calories per meatball
* 6 meatballs
* Total = 110 x 6 = 660 calories

So six uncooked 1.25-inch Swedish meatballs contain approximately 660 calories total. This is a rough baseline number that can vary between recipes.

Factors affecting calorie count

While traditional Swedish meatball recipes hover around 110 calories per meatball, the exact count can range higher or lower depending on:

Meat ratios

* More beef will increase calories
* More pork adds more fat and calories
* Substituting turkey will lower calories

Meatball size

* Smaller meatballs means less calories per serving
* Bigger meatballs packs more calories

Binding ingredients

* Breadcrumbs add carbohydrates and calories
* Substituting oats or panko breading changes nutritional profile
* More egg yolk increases fat and calories

Cooking method

* Frying in oil increases calorie absorption
* Baking or boiling meatballs reduces oil content

Added gravy

* Gravy can contribute significant calories
* Thick cream-based gravy packs more fat and calories
* A thinner broth-based gravy has fewer calories

So the calorie content in 6 meatballs can range from 500 for small baked turkey meatballs with broth up to 800+ for large pan-fried all-beef meatballs with rich cream gravy.

Full meal calories

Looking beyond just the meatballs themselves, a whole Swedish meatball meal also typically includes:

* Gravy – Can add 200-400 calories depending on amount and recipe
* Mashed potatoes – Around 100 calories in 1/2 cup portion
* Lingonberry jam – Trace amounts of calories
* Dinner roll – Around 100 calories for a medium roll

So for a full plate of 6 traditional meatballs with gravy, mashed potatoes and a side of lingonberry jam with a roll, the total calorie count comes out to roughly:

* Meatballs: 660 calories
* Gravy: 300 calories
* Mashed potatoes: 100 calories
* Roll: 100 calories
* Total: Around 1160 calories

The exact total will depend on serving sizes and preparation methods, but a full Swedish meatball dinner often falls in the 1000 to 1200 calorie range.

Nutritional breakdown

In addition to calories, let’s look at some of the key nutritional contents in 6 Swedish meatballs:


Swedish meatballs are relatively high in saturated fat. 6 meatballs with gravy can contain around 60-70g total fat. Reducing cream in the gravy helps lower fat content.


With all that beef and pork, 6 meatballs pack in around 30-40g of protein. Protein helps you feel full.


Much of the carb content comes from the breadcrumbs and any potatoes on the side. A serving of 6 meatballs with potatoes may have around 60-70g total carbs.


Salt is added to the meatball mix and gravy, contributing 500-800mg sodium for 6 meatballs with gravy. Watch intake levels if restricting sodium.

Nutrient Amount
Calories ~1100
Fat 60-70g
Protein 30-40g
Carbs 60-70g
Sodium 500-800mg

This table summarizes the key nutritional contents in 6 Swedish meatballs with gravy and side dishes. Values are approximate and can vary based on specific recipes and portion sizes. The meal is high in protein and fat, while providing substantial calories and carbs.

Portion control tips

Swedish meatballs are typically served family-style, which can make it easy to overeat. Here are some tips to keep portions under control:

Measure meatballs

Use a measuring spoon to portion out meatball mix rather than eyeballing servings. This ensures consistent sizing.

Limit meatball number

Stick to around 3-4 meatballs per person, depending on appetite and other dishes served.

Moderate gravy

Pour gravy over meatballs or onto the side rather than drowning the whole plate, which can encourage overeating.

Fill up on veggies

Balance the rich meatballs by filling half your plate with lower calorie vegetable sides.

Halve starch servings

Limit mashed potatoes or rolls to modest 1/2 cup or one small roll per person.

Pre-portion leftovers

Divide leftovers into individual storage containers instead of keeping in large pots.

With small planning tweaks, you can still enjoy meatballs without overdoing the indulgence.

Healthier preparations

If you love Swedish meatballs but want to lighten them up, here are some easy recipe swaps:

Use leaner meats

Choose 90/10 ground beef, ground turkey, or chicken. Avoid fattier meats like pork or lamb.

Reduce breadcrumbs

Cut down to 2-3 tablespoons breadcrumbs per pound of meat. Or try substituting oats or panko crumbs.

Skip frying

Baking meatballs uses no added fat. Or gently boil in broth before saucing.

Choose veggie sides

Serve meatballs with cauliflower mash instead of potatoes or a salad over mashed potatoes.

Make leaner gravy

Use low-fat milk or broth instead of heavy cream for lighter gravy.

Boost flavor with herbs

Use fresh or dried herbs to add savory depth without calories.

With simple subs like these, you can give this comforting dish a healthier twist.

Comparable dishes

Swedish meatballs have a similar calorie density to many other ethnic comfort foods. Here’s how they compare to some similar hearty dishes:

Swedish meatballs

* 6 meatballs with gravy: Around 1100 calories


* 1 slice (140g): 380 calories
* Full 9×13 pan: Over 4000 calories

Spaghetti and meatballs

* 2 cups spaghetti and 4 meatballs in sauce: Around 1000 calories

Beef stroganoff

* 1.5 cups serving: 650 calories

Shepherd’s pie

* 1 cup serving: 340 calories

Taco night

* 2 soft tacos with fillings: 500-600 calories

While Swedish meatballs are high in calories, so are many other satisfying ethnic dishes. Practicing portion control is key with most hearty comfort food meals.

Cost per serving

Let’s also consider the cost of making a batch of Swedish meatballs. Pricing out ingredients at a typical grocery store, the approximate cost per 6-meatball serving is:

* Ground beef (6 oz): $1.50
* Pork (3 oz): $1.00
* Breadcrumbs (1 Tbsp): $0.05
* Onion (2 tsp): $0.10
* Egg (1): $0.25
* Milk (2 Tbsp): $0.10
* Seasonings: $0.30
* Gravy (1/4 cup): $0.60
* Side dishes: $1.00

Total cost per serving: Approximately $4.90

This will vary based on the number of servings prepared, with bulk batches lowering the per-serving cost. But a single serving of 6 Swedish meatballs with gravy can be made for around $5 total.

Compared to ordering Swedish meatballs at a restaurant, homemade has the advantage of controlling portions for a lower calorie count while also saving on cost. With an average restaurant price of $15 for a similar dish, preparing it at home cuts nearly 70% off the price.

Swedish vs. Italian meatballs

Swedish meatballs are sometimes confused with Italian-style meatballs served with pasta. But while they may look alike, there are some key differences:


* Swedish: Ground pork + beef or veal, breadcrumbs, cream
* Italian: Ground beef or turkey, breadcrumbs or cheese, tomatoes


* Swedish: Allspice, nutmeg, white pepper
* Italian: Oregano, basil, parsley, garlic

Serving style

* Swedish: With creamy gravy
* Italian: With tomato sauce and pasta

Flavor profile

* Swedish: Savory, mildly sweet, creamy
* Italian: Robust herby tomato flavor

Both types pack in protein, but Swedish meatballs have more calories and saturated fat from ingredients like cream-based gravy.

Meatball popularity

Meatballs are beloved globally, with many cultures having their own style:

Sweden: Creamy, allspice-seasoned

Italy: Herby tomato sauce

Turkey: Served in broth

Greece: Baked with mint and oregano

Morocco: Spiced with cumin and paprika

Vietnam: Fish or shrimp based

Japan: Steamed like tsukune chicken meatballs

Regardless of calories, meatballs satisfy a universal craving for hearty, protein-packed comfort food. Carefully portioning meatballs allows enjoying their rich flavor while still watching your diet.

Nutrition tips

To make the most nutritious meatballs:

  • Use lean ground beef or turkey
  • Load up on fresh herbs and spices
  • Bind with quick oats instead of breadcrumbs
  • Skip large amounts of oil or cream
  • Serve with colorful vegetable sides

This pumps up vitamin content while scaling back on saturated fat, carbs, and calories.

Following basic healthy cooking techniques lets you feel good about enjoying this beloved dish.


Swedish meatballs are a deliciously comforting classic with around 110 calories per meatball. A typical six meatball serving contains approximately 660 calories before additions like gravy or sides. This can rise to 1000-1200 calories for a full plated Swedish meatball dinner with all the fixings. Exact counts vary based on meat ratios, sizes, cooking method, and side pairings. Portion control and recipe adjustments like using leaner meats, reducing cream, and baking instead of frying can help lighten up this hearty dish. In moderation, homemade Swedish meatballs can be a tasty traditional meal that doesn’t derail your healthy diet when served with balance and restraint.

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