I Used Beyond Beef to Make My Grandma’s Swedish Meatballs and It Was Almost Exactly Like the Real Thing

published Jan 15, 2020
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Credit: Kendall Wenaas

My grandma would never make her Swedish meatball recipe using anything but real meat. But me? I haven’t had a real meatball in more than a year (I’m more vegetarian than carnivore), so I was pretty excited to try my hand at making my grandma’s recipe using Beyond Beef, a plant-based version of ground beef.

Before I dive in, though, a quick side story: Originally, my editor asked me to make my grandma’s bolognese recipe using Beyond Beef, but my very Scandinavian grandma from North Dakota doesn’t have a bolognese recipe. She’s never even tried bolognese, she told me. And despite writing about food for many years, I don’t believe I have either (hey, I’m also a very Scandinavian woman from North Dakota!). Which is why I — half-jokingly — suggested Swedish meatballs instead. 

Buy: Beyond Beef, $9 for one pound at Target

Here’s how it went.

My Grandma’s Recipe

The recipe is super simple. Combine ground beef, eggs, milk, breadcrumbs, onion, allspice, salt, and pepper, and make, well, meatballs. Brown the balls in butter. Then remove the meatballs and add consommé to the pan drippings. Stir. Add half and half. Stir in flour until it’s smooth, thickened, and then boil a bit. Add Worcestershire sauce. Add sour cream. Return meatballs to the pan and simmer. Done.

Credit: Kendall Wenaas

The Beyond Beef Version

When I made my meatballs, I cut the recipe in half, and substituted Beyond Beef for the ground beef and vegetable broth for the beef consommé. (I figured it’d be cheating if the plant-based meat got a boost from real beef flavor.) Before combining with the other ingredients, you can tell the not-beef is, well, not beef. It’s smoother overall with hard flecks throughout, presumably to give it some texture. The color is just slightly more brown than ground beef, and it doesn’t smell like raw ground beef. But once I combined it with the other 7 ingredients, the raw meatballs could totally pass for the real meaty kind, thanks to the onion and breadcrumbs.

Credit: Kendall Wenaas

The meatballs browned easily in the butter (technically I used ghee because that’s what I had on hand), and at this point totally resembled your typical meatballs. I simmered everything for probably 25 minutes, but wish I would have simmered them for longer (the back of the Beyond Beef package says to simmer them for at least 30 minutes) because they were slightly softer than regular meatballs and a longer simmer time may have made them more firm. 

Credit: Kendall Wenaas

At first bite, they tasted just like real meatballs. Like if I would have gotten these at a potluck dinner, I would have thought “Hmm slightly soft, but delicious Swedish meatballs,” and then moved onto whatever hotdish (you say casserole, I say… ) was on my plate. But I was really trying to review my experience, so I’d say that because Beyond Beef doesn’t have the typical drippings that ground beef does, the sauce was a bit less flavorful and more dairy-forward. After my first meatball, I stirred in more Worcestershire, salt, and pepper to the skillet, and the second was more flavorful (but still not super meaty). I imagine if you used the beef consommé, but still subbed in Beyond Beef, you’d barely be able to notice a difference. And like I said, had I not been laser-focused on tasting the differences between these meatballs and the OG, I would have just pleasantly enjoyed my meal — as, I believe, would my grandma.

Have you tried Beyond Beef in bolognese OR meatballs? Tell us how it went in the comments below!