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What are the Swedish Meatballs called at Ikea?

Ikea’s Swedish meatballs are one of the most iconic items on their menu. The spherical beef and pork delicacies swimming in a rich cream sauce are beloved around the world. But what exactly are these savory bites called on Ikea’s menus? The Swedish meatballs sold at Ikea are officially called Köttbullar.

What Does Köttbullar Mean?

Köttbullar is Swedish for “meatballs.” The word breaks down into two parts:

– Kött – Meat
– Bullar – Balls

So Köttbullar literally translates to “meat balls” in English. This simple Swedish name accurately describes the food.

Reasons for the Köttbullar Name

Ikea had several logical reasons for naming their meatballs Köttbullar:

It’s Authentic

Swedish meatballs have their origins in traditional Swedish cuisine. Calling them by the Swedish name Köttbullar gives a sense of authenticity. It conveys that these are classic, genuine Swedish meatballs.

It Aligns With the Company’s Heritage

Ikea was founded in Sweden in 1943. Although the company now has locations worldwide, Sweden remains central to Ikea’s brand identity. Using a Swedish name for their iconic meatballs allows Ikea to celebrate its national heritage.

It’s Recognizable to Customers

The name Köttbullar looks and sounds distinctly Swedish. This signals to customers that they are getting a culturally authentic food. Even customers unfamiliar with the exact meaning of Köttbullar can recognize it as a Scandinavian name.

It’s Concise

Köttbullar is a nicely concise name. It’s much snappier than saying “Swedish meatballs” every time. The single word Köttbullar rolls off the tongue easily compared to the two-word English equivalent.

What About the Translated Menu Names?

While Köttbullar is the official name, Ikea translates the name to suit different markets:

English Menus

On menus for English-speaking countries like the United States, the meatballs are called “Swedish meatballs.” This anglicized name makes sense for American, British, and other Anglophone customers.

Localized Menus

For non-English speaking countries, Ikea translates Köttbullar into the local language. Some examples:

  • Germany – Köttbullar
  • France – Boulettes de viande suédoises
  • Japan – スウェーデンのミートボール (Su~ēden no mītobōru)

This translation helps customers abroad understand what the dish is. But the menus often still include the Swedish name too.

History of the Köttbullar Name

Surprisingly, Ikea’s famous meatballs were not called Köttbullar originally. That name came later.

Early Years

In the first Ikea restaurant in Älmhult, Sweden in 1958, the menu listed “meatballs” without specifyingSwedish or Köttbullar.

US Introduction

When Ikea opened its first US store in Philadelphia in 1985, the restaurant menu offered “Swedish meat balls.”

Köttbullar Official Name

It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that Ikea documentation started referring to Köttbullar as the official name. The simple Swedish term has stuck for over 25 years.

Number of Köttbullar Sold Per Year

Ikea sells an enormous quantity of Köttbullar every year across its475 stores in 57 countries. But just how many meatballs get served annually?

Staggering Statistics

Year Köttbullar Sold
2020 1 billion
2021 1.12 billion

That’s over a billion Köttbullar devoured by Ikea customers in 2021 alone! The popularity of these Swedish treats continues growing.

By Weight

Breaking down the numbers further:

  • 1 billion Köttbullar = 64,000,000 kg of meatballs
  • That’s 141,096,003 pounds

Any way you slice it, Ikea sells a mind-boggling mountain of meatballs every year.

Ingredients in Köttbullar

While the recipe has evolved somewhat over the decades, the core Köttbullar ingredients have remained:

Ground Beef and Pork

A mix of ground beef and pork makes up the meat base. Beef dominates, with pork mixed in for enhanced flavor. The exact ratio of the meats can vary.


Dry breadcrumbs help bind the meat mixture and add texture. Regular white breadcrumbs are commonly used.


Finely diced onion gets blended into the meatball mix. Onions add moisture and savoriness.


Beaten egg functions as a binding agent to hold the meatballs together.


Spices like black pepper, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger add essential seasoning.

Cream Sauce

The creamy white sauce flavored with beef stock complements the spices in the meat.

Köttbullar Cooking Process

Ikea has honed the process of cooking foolproof, tender Köttbullar in high volumes:


The ingredients get thoroughly mixed together into a consistent meatball mix. Good blending is key.


The mix is rolled into small round balls, about 1 inch in diameter. Shaping while the mix is still cold prevents meatballs from falling apart.


The Köttbullar bake at precisely 400°F until they reach an internal temperature of 180°F. Baking ensures they are cooked through.


After baking, the meatballs simmer in a mix of beef broth, cream, and spices for extra tenderness.


The creamy Köttbullar are served hot along with lingonberry jam, potatoes, and lingonberry drink.

Why are Köttbullar so Popular?

What makes Ikea’s Köttbullar so crave-worthy that a billion get eaten every year? Their popularity stems from several factors:

They Taste Great

The blend of beef and pork seasoned with spices and onion delivers a mouthwatering flavor. The cream sauce complements the meatballs perfectly.

They’re Comforting

Warm, pillowy-soft meatballs and rich sauce make Köttbullar the ultimate comforting dish. This satisfying food is welcome after time spent shopping.

They’re Consistent

Ikea’s meticulous production methods ensure every batch of Köttbullar turns out just right. Customers can rely on uniform quality.

They’re Affordable

At only $7.99 for a full meal with sides in the US, Köttbullar are a bargain. Feeding a family here costs far less than at a restaurant.

They’re Part of the Ikea Experience

Visiting Ikea isn’t complete without loading up on Swedish meatballs. Their popularity is intertwined with the brand.

Fun Facts About Köttbullar

After decades on the menu, intriguing trivia about Ikea’s famous meatballs has accumulated:

  • In 2021, an individual Krottbullar sold for $46 on eBay.
  • Thursday is the busiest day for meatball sales in Ikea restaurants.
  • Original recipe had a mix of beef, pork, and chicken.
  • The average number of meatballs served per second is 2,416.
  • Japan is the #1 meatball market with 116 million sold annually.


Köttbullar has become synonymous with Ikea due to the brand’s phenomenal popularity. Swedish for “meatballs,” the name represents tradition and quality. Customers worldwide have fallen for the irresistible taste of these quintessential Swedish meatballs, propelling over a billion sales annually. With their reasonable prices, comforting flavors, and cultural ties, Köttbullar are sure to remain an Ikea cornerstone.