These Vegan Swedish Meatballs Are Unbelievably Good
It’s the ultimate comfort food: tender Swedish meatballs swimming in creamy sauce next to a mound of mashed or boiled potatoes, with some lingonberry preserves for sweet-tart bite. Turning this classic dish vegan — yes, we said vegan — just takes a couple pantry staples, one of them a true powerhouse: California walnuts. Yep, they’re way more versatile than baking and snacking: When walnuts are blended into vegan “meatballs” — and also into the creamy sauce — you get a delicious plant-forward twist on the cozy Swedish classic.
The meatballs starts with canned white beans, which are dried out briefly in the oven and then blended into a base with walnuts, onions, oats, allspice, and nutmeg in a food processor. The walnuts help to add a chewy texture to the vegan meatballs and pack a punch of extra protein.
Once shaped, the meatballs are browned on the stovetop to help develop the flavors and a nice crust. Then they’re quickly simmered in a creamy vegan sauce that starts with, yes, more California walnuts. With garlic, spices, and Dijon mustard, the walnuts blend up beautifully into a flavorful, creamy sauce — in the same food processor that you don’t even have to wash out first. (You’re welcome.)
All this comforting meal needs is some lingonberry or cranberry preserves for a bright pop of color and sweetness, and some mashed potatoes (or cooked pasta) to soak up all that tasty sauce.
Recipe developer’s note: Our recipe developer shared some extra tips to fine tune this recipe to your liking. First, your dough has been processed enough when it has a smooth texture without chunks of walnuts or beans showing and holds together on its own without being gummy. If it feels crumbly, you can process for 1–2 more pulses. Second, when making the walnut cream, start with 1 3/4 cups of water and adjust to reach desired consistency. If you prefer a thinner sauce, add up to an additional 1/4 cup of water.
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Serves4 to 5
- 1 (15-ounce) can
white beans, such as cannellini or Great Northern
small yellow onion
- 2 cloves
- 2 1/2 cups
California walnuts (10 ounces), divided
- 1/2 cup
old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 1/4 teaspoons
kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon
- 1/2 teaspoon
ground nutmeg, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon
freshly ground white or black pepper
- 2 tablespoons
- 1 3/4 cups
- 3 tablespoons
fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon
Serving options: mashed potatoes or cooked pasta, lingonberry preserves, whole berry cranberry sauce
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Drain and rinse 1 can white beans. Spread the beans in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake until dry to the touch and beginning to crack, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside to cool, about 5 minutes.
Peel and quarter 1 small yellow onion, then place in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of the California walnuts, 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats, 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/4 teaspoon of the ground nutmeg, and 1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper. Pulse until finely chopped, 6 to 8 pulses.
Add the beans and pulse until finely chopped into a textured and tacky dough, 4 to 5 pulses. Do not over-process or the walnut meatballs will be mushy. Scoop into 1 tablespoon (about 1-inch wide) portions, and roll into balls. Place on a plate or baking sheet.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the meatballs in a single layer and cook until golden-brown on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes total. Meanwhile, place the remaining 2 cups California walnuts, 1 3/4 cups water, 3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, remaining 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg in the food processor (no need to wash). Process until very smooth and creamy.
Wipe the skillet out and add the walnut cream and walnut meatballs. Heat over medium heat until warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve over mashed potatoes or buttered noodles with lingonberry preserves or whole berry cranberry sauce if desired. Garnish with fresh parsley leaves.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
California walnuts are a simple and delicious way to add flavor, texture, and nutrition to all your favorite meals and snacks. Discover hundreds of recipes at walnuts.org.