IKEA cooking up plant-based Swedish meatballs

IKEA is currently testing out a meatless version of their iconic Swedish meatballs: They’ll taste like meat, but they’re going to be made out of a plant-based alternative protein.

The Swedish retail giant hopes to serve the plant-based meatball at its restaurants all over the world. But until then, the company is testing out different versions of the meat-alternative creation. The first customers who will get a chance to taste test the meatless meatballs won’t be until early 2020.

In the interim, IKEA is collaborating with leading suppliers in the alternative meat industry and conducting internal tests and tastings of the product.

For 35 years, IKEA has served up the Swedish meatball, which is traditionally paired with mashed potatoes, a cream sauce and lingonberry jam.

“We know that the IKEA meatballs are loved by many people and for years, the meatballs have been the most popular dish in our restaurants,” said Michael La Cour, managing director at IKEA Food Services AB. “We see a growing demand from our customers to have access to more sustainable food options and we want to meet that need.”

The plant-based meatballs would be the fifth addition to the meatball family, according to IKEA. In 2015, the company added veggie and chicken balls to its menu, and then salmon and cod balls in 2018. 

At IKEA's U.S. locations, the veggie balls and veggie dogs are considered plant-based alternatives for customers.