If you’re looking for vegan comfort food, look no further! These vegan Swedish meatballs are meaty and flavorful. The dairy-free gravy is creamy and rich. Serve over a bed of whipped mashed potatoes or noodles for a plant-based meal that is loved by kids and grown-ups alike.
What are Swedish Meatballs and Gravy?
After doing some reading, it turns out that Swedish meatballs aren’t all that, well…Swedish. In any case, I’m going for what we’re familiar with when we think of Swedish meatballs and gravy. If you haven’t tried this type of comfort dish, the meatballs differ from Italian ones in a couple of ways:
1) The seasonings are different – Swedish meatballs have a warm spice flavor to them, usually from allspice.
2) Swedish meatballs are often smaller than Italian ones (more surface area for that creamy gravy!)
Swedish gravy is often made by adding beef broth and sour cream to a roux (flour and butter paste). For this vegan recipe, I used a vegan beef stock and instead of using flour and sour cream, I opted for cashews. Cashews impart a lovely buttery flavor once blended and make the sauce so velvety and rich. Vegan Worcestershire sauce provides the allspice and deep umami flavors.
Tips for Perfect Vegan Swedish Meatballs and Gravy:
- When dicing the mushrooms, make sure they are small and equal in size. Later, when adding them to the bean and onion mixture in the food processor, pulse only until they are incorporated and you can still see them. The mushrooms contribute flavor and but also texture.
- Blending and them kneading the vegan meatball mixture works the gluten which is partly responsible for the balls structure.
- When rolling your veggie meatballs, use a 1.5 tbsp scoop if you have one. This makes the work easier, and the balls uniform in size.
- Roll the balls tightly so they don’t fall apart.
- Let the balls sit for a few minutes once they come out of the oven. They will be delicate at first, but will firm up once they rest.
- Don’t let the meatballs hang out in the gravy because they will absorb the moisture and fall apart. They’ll taste amazing but no longer be pretty. Ladle the gravy over the meatballs just before serving, and store leftover meatballs and gravy in separate containers.
Vegan Swedish Meatballs & Gravy
For the Meatballs:
- 5 tbsp olive oil, divided plus more for coating
- 1 small onion, diced
- 12 oz crimini mushrooms, diced small
- 15 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/3 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, optional
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 cups veggie ground*, thawed if frozen
For the Gravy:
- 1/2 cup raw cashew pieces**
- 2 1/2 cups vegan beef flavored soup stock
- 1 tbsp miso paste
- 2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp vegan butter
- 1 tsp prepared mustard
- fresh dill or parsley to serve, if desired
For the Meatballs:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large cast iron or non-stick skillet, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the diced onions, and cook until translucent and soft, about 5-6 minutes.
- Place the cooked onions in the food processor with the black beans. Blend on high until a paste has formed. Add in the gluten and blend on high for a few minutes. A ball may form – stop the machine occasionally and break it up. Add in the nutritional yeast, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, thyme, oregano and black pepper. Blend again for a few minutes to work the gluten. Leave the mixture in the food processor to rest while you cook the mushrooms.
- Return the skillet to the stove and add in 3 tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in the diced mushrooms, and cook until soft with some golden edges. This should take 8-10 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms to the food processor and pulse a few times to blend the mushrooms in. Don't over process – you want the little pieces of mushrooms in tact for texture.
- Place the mixture in a large bowl, and add the veggie ground. Mix well with a spatula or your hands. Knead/squeeze the mixture for 2 minutes to work the gluten. Using a 1.5 tbsp scoop, roll the mixture into balls and place on the baking sheet. You should get about 60 balls. Leave about an inch between the balls. Brush gently with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Flip the balls, brush with oil and bake another 12 minutes. Let the meatballs rest on the baking sheet for a few minutes before serving.
For the Gravy:
- Combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT for the vegan butter and prepared mustard in a high-powered blender. Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and silky when rubbed between your fingers.
- Pour the gravy into a medium sized pot. Over medium heat, bring the gravy to a simmer. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't boil over. Simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until the gravy has thickened enough to coat a spoon. Turn off the heat and whisk in the vegan butter and prepared mustard.
- Serve the meatballs warm over mashed potatoes and top with gravy. Garnish with fresh dill or parsley, as desired.