Recipe: Easy Meatball Stroganoff

Creamy, protein-filled sauce poured over noodles or rice? It’s a universal favorite at our house. And this is hands down the easiest version ever, because it’s made with frozen meatballs instead of stew meat or hamburger. Even your pickiest eaters will want to gobble this right up. (Even if there are a few mushrooms pushed to the side — you can’t win them all.) I’m confident you’ll declare this recipe a winner.

Usually stroganoff includes buttered noodles or homemade spaetzle or even rice. And a perfect side dish to pair it with is braised red cabbage — find the simple recipe in the notes below in case you want to make it too.

Okay, so let’s get into how easy it is to make this meatball stroganoff!

Easy Meatball Stroganoff
Creamy, delicious Meatball Stroganoff |
Buttered homemade spaetzle
Braised Red Cabbage
Ingredients for Meatball Stroganoff
mushrooms and onions
white button and cremini mushrooms for stroganoff

If you can make gravy, you can make this. It’s nothing more than cooking onions and mushrooms in butter until they’re nice and brown, removing them temporarily, making a simple roux (butter and flour), whisking in some beef broth, and adding everything back into the pot. It takes maybe 20-25 minutes tops.

A combo of white and cremini mushrooms is great for stroganoff. Or you could use the big portobellos. It’s kind of whatever you have or looks good at the market. It would also be excellent with some wild mushrooms added in.

Mushrooms have a lot of water in them. The key to get them to brown nicely is to help them release that liquid by seasoning them with a little salt as they cook. The liquid will then evaporate and you’ll end up with that delicious dark brown fond on the bottom of the pan. Fond = mega flavor.

Don’t worry, all that brown stuff will melt into the gravy once the broth is added.

perfectly browned mushrooms and onions
making a roux for gravy
meatballs with mushroom gravy

The meatballs cook in the gravy and kind of absorb those yummy mushroom and onion flavors as they simmer. You can add fresh thyme too. Oh, it just makes the whole house smell amazing!

Probably the best part is the sour cream. It adds a wonderful tang and creaminess. You can add as little or as much as you like. 1/2 to 3/4 cup is a good amount, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little extra dollop on top.


And that’s it! In a fraction of the time you can have stroganoff, albeit not very traditional, but just as tasty.

Ultra creamy and flavorful meatball stroganoff |

Meatball Stroganoff with Egg Noodles — Easy Recipe

5 tablespoons butter, divided
1 large onion, diced
1 pound mushrooms (white button or cremini), sliced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups beef broth
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
One (24 ounce) package frozen meatballs
1 cup sour cream, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste
For serving:
Hot, buttered egg noodles, spaetzle, or rice
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

1. In a Dutch oven or large 5-6 quart saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add the onion and let cook, stirring often, until it starts to soften, about 3-5 minutes.
2. Add the mushrooms and season with a little salt. Saute, stirring often, allowing the mushrooms and onions to brown nicely. Remove the onions and mushrooms from the pan. Set aside and keep warm.
3. To the pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and melt. When foaming subsides, add the flour and stir well. Cook the flour, stirring constantly, for 30-60 seconds. Add beef broth. Whisk well to remove any lumps.
4. Bring gravy to a simmer. Add the thyme sprigs to the pan along with the reserved onions and mushrooms.
5. Add the frozen meatballs to the pan. Stir to coat with the sauce. Cover and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until meatballs are heated through. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning on the bottom of the pan.
6. Once meatballs have cooked through, stir in 1/2 to 3/4 sour cream, depending on preference. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Spoon the meatballs and sauce over hot noodles, spaetzle, or rice, with remaining sour cream on the side.

Yield: 4-6 servings

– For a richer flavor, substitute 1/4 to 1/2 cup red wine for some of the beef broth and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes before adding the meatballs.

– Try the mini meatballs from Trader Joe’s or the ones from IKEA. They tend to have a milder flavor than the frozen Italian meatballs, and work better for this recipe.

– To make braised red cabbage: cut a large red cabbage into quarters and remove the hard white core. Slice each quarter into thin ribbons. Melt 2-4 tablespoons butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan. Add the cabbage along with 2-3 tablespoons sugar (white or brown), 3 tablespoons apple cider or red wine vinegar, a pinch of ground cloves, a good sprinkle of salt, and a pinch of caraway seeds. Cover and let it cook over medium-low heat for at least 30 minutes, preferably 1 1/2 hours until the cabbage is very tender.

Dinnertime hack: stroganoff made with frozen meatballs |

Credits: Recipe and photos by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.

43 thoughts on “Recipe: Easy Meatball Stroganoff”

  1. Oh, you don’t know how all over this post I am! Can’t wait to try!
    1. Love stroganoff, but rarely make it- other versions were more complicated and I was never very happy with the results. Meatballs are a great idea. Purists could easy brown beef then remove from the pan before going on to the sauté-veggies step.
    2. My husband buys this awful red cabbage in a jar that is so over-vinegary I can’t stand it. Love the idea of a fresh-cooked version.
    3. And spaetzle would be an awesome accompaniment to stroganoff. I’ve heard Germans make it without the special spaetzle maker. They just grate the dough through big holes of a grater or colander.

    1. I’m glad you love stroganoff too, Laurie.! My MIL uses a colander and it works great. And I’m with you on too-vinegary cabbage. I like vinegar a lot, but for some reason I can’t stand too much with the red cabbage. A little goes a long way for me. This recipe has a pretty good balance, but you can certainly add less too.

          1. Coconut cream with some lemon juice would probably work. I’m actually vegan, but my family is not. So I can trouble shoot or brainstorm with you if you’d like. Can they have soy? I’m not a huge fan of vegan cream cheese or sour cream, but it could work here too.

            My other thought is a non-dairy yogurt. Plain and unsweetened, which I know is almost impossible to find.

            I have made a creamy mushroom soup before using rice as the creamy base. I don’t know if that will help you here. Also, you can leave out the sour cream and it will still taste great. I’m sure you check labels like crazy, but I haven’t found any dairy-free meatballs, so you may have to make your own for that part. Good luck and let me know how it goes!

        1. Lindsey, thanks so much for your reply below. (for some reason I couldn’t hit reply to it). I like the idea of adding lemon juice to coconut cream. I have never tried a diary-free cream cheese or sour cream, but I’m open to that too. My kids can have soy although I don’t like to use a lot of it. I’ve seen unsweetened vanilla coconut yogurt at the store, but not plain, so I don’t know about that.

          I was figuring I would just use ground beef in place of meatballs for this dish. I have somewhat successfully made safe meatballs before, but it was a big pain and they didn’t hold together too well (we also have an egg allergy and a gluten intolerance, so they had to be egg-, gluten-, and dairy-free. Fun times.).

          Thanks so much for brainstorming this with me!

  2. Oh, I love stroganoff. Growing up my mom always made it from scratch. I make it that way too and my kids love it. I love that pure from scratch method. Hubby is on a low sodium diet, so the normal cream of mushroom soup and dry French onion soup are big no-no’s.
    We eat red cabbage too but a little differently. We only eat it on thanksgiving and it cooks all day long. It smells divine. Its definitely an aquired taste.

    1. I love that you eat the red cabbage for Thanksgiving. For a few years we made a braised sauerkraut with gin and juniper berries and lot of butter. I’ll have to suggest the red cabbage to my husband this year.

  3. This sounds yummy. The best beef stroganoff I ever had was when I was 21 years old in a spa town in Germany. We were staying at this lovely inn where the owners butchered their own beef and made the pasta from scratch. It was divine.

    1. I don’t know if you saw my note above or not, but my family really likes the mini meatballs from Trader Joe’s or the ones from IKEA. I used to buy the ones from Costco, but my kids were turned off by the other flavors in there. Whole Foods has good ones too, I believe.

      1. Oh thank you! (I must have read past the meatball recommendations.)

        I have a Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods nearby so I’ll try those. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Marianne C. Skarupa

      My son doesn’t like them wither. I still continue to cook with them because even if I pick them out for him I figure he’s getting some of the flavor which hopefully will educate his taste buds. Ha! Or puree them after cooking so their texture is completely gone. It’s worth a try.

    2. That’s a good question! My first thought is that you can completely leave them out of the gravy and just keep them to have on the side. I’ve done that plenty of times with other recipes. Also, you could puree it like Marianne said. You can leave them out completely, or you could add a vegetable that would taste good with the gravy and sour cream. Maybe carrots or something like that. It won’t be exactly the same, but it would still probably taste good.

  4. Can’t wait to make this and probably more economical than using steak. When you have 6 kids one needs to find a way to stretch the dollar. My boys eat me out of house and home. Have a great weekend!

  5. This looks amazing, we’re having it for dinner tonight! If I wanted to put it in the slow cooker, do you think it would work to make the gravy and add the frozen meatballs to the cooker and then stir in the sour cream before serving?

    1. What a great idea, Lisa! I would definitely stir in the sour cream just before serving so it doesn’t curdle. And yes, go ahead and make the gravy and add it to the slow cooker with the frozen meatballs.

  6. I had all the ingredients on hand (we love Trader Joe’s too)! I made this last night and it was SO delicious. :)

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  7. Marianne C. Skarupa

    Made this last night and everyone loved it! It’s a repeater. Started the cabbage, set it on low, left a responsible teenager at home and got in a quick run and shower with a stir in between. Then began the rest of the dish. Because it’s what I had on hand I used pasta (mostaccioli rigati) instead of egg noodles. Would love to try the spaetzle. I’m just amazed at the taste of the long braised, but very easy cabbage.

  8. Love it!! We arrived in the States December 2015 after 17 years in Brazil. Gotta love the mix between Portuguese, Brazilian and German cooking down in the Southern Cone!

    Parabens, receita nota dez!

  9. Pingback: The Slow Train* [easy meatball stroganoff] | a glass of milk

  10. We had this for Sunday dinner yesterday. I’m not crazy about frozen meatballs, so I used the ones from this recipe:
    I swapped the oregano for thyme and left out the spinach (since we were already going to have so much spectacular (!) cabbage with our meal). They came together quick, and I just cooked them on a baking sheet at 500, and there are plenty for later in the week.
    Everyone devoured this delicious meal, including the cabbage. Definitely a keeper!

  11. This was soooo delicious!!! Wow~
    Used greek yogurt instead of sour cream, added 2 cloves of garlic & a healthy spoonful of bacon fat. Skipped the noodles & did mashed red potatoes.
    Will make again!

  12. margaux garapolo

    i made this last night, and it was so wonderful! the gravy didn’t thicken with just the flour, so i added a touch of cornstarch mixed with a little water, and that did the trick.

  13. I seem to remember that stroganoff is sometimes made with a little Worchestershire sauce added… has anyone it tried this way?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top