My Norwegian Grandmother's Meatball Recipe (2024)

May 28, 2016

posted by Haley


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A legendary recipe in my family: My Norwegian grandma’s meatballs are perfectly seasoned. Serve with lingonberry jam on the side and a plate full of lefse!

My Norwegian Grandmother's Meatball Recipe (1)

(I just realized that I am writing this post on what would have been my grandmother’s 94th birthday. She passed away in 2005. I still think about her often. She was the greatest.)

When it comes to cooking, my grandma was known for one thing: Her meatballs.

I’ve noticed that Italian grandmas get a lot of attention for their cooking – and rightly so. But you don’t often hear about Norwegian grandmas and their recipes.

Today, I’m on a mission to shine light on my grandma and all the other Norwegian grandmas who probably don’t get the attention they deserve for their cooking.

Every Christmas, my grandma would make a HUGE batch of these meatballs (kjøttkaker or kjøttboller in Norwegian) – and we would devour them. Other components of the Christmas meal were:

  • Oyster stew
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Cooked corn
  • Cranberry salad
  • Norwegian lefse, with lots of butter and sugar

My Norwegian Grandmother's Meatball Recipe (2)

Norwegian Roots

My grandma was born in the U.S. but she was Norwegian through and through.

  • I distinctly remember her and her sister speaking in Norwegian when they didn’t want me to understand what they were talking about.
  • She would utter Norwegian words and phrases and call us cute Norwegian names when we were young.
  • She enjoyed traditional Norwegian foods like lefse, sweet soup and head cheese.

She wasn’t crazy about cooking, but she took pride in her meatballs – probably because she could see how much we enjoyed them.

My Norwegian Grandmother's Meatball Recipe (3)

I am excited and proud to share this special recipe with you.

It isn’t fancy or difficult to make. You probably have most of the ingredients on hand.

These meatballs can be eaten plain, but also work well in spaghetti. Personally, I like to eat them with a little bit of lingonberry (or strawberry) jam on the side.

My Norwegian Grandmother's Meatball Recipe (4)

Here is a picture of my grandparents in 1963:

Don’t Take My Word For It…

Grandma’s meatballs are legendary in our family. Here’s what other family members have to say about them:

  • My brother: “They were perfectly seasoned, juicy, and just the right size: It wasn’t just a huge glob of meat. They were perfectly proportionate. They were great with or without gravy. And they mixed well with the other dishes: Mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and lefse. I’m getting hungry just thinking about them.”
  • My mom: “Oh my. Her meatballs were so moist. You know how meatballs can get dry sometimes? Well hers weren’t. They were just really moist and really good.”
  • My dad: “They had a different taste to them. Boy, they were seasoned just right. She would just dump this and that in there… I don’t think she even had a recipe. But they sure were good.”

My Norwegian Grandmother's Meatball Recipe (5)

I’m going to leave you with that. Bon appetite – orshould I say, “Vel bekomme!”

Looking For More Traditional Norwegian Recipes? Check These Out:

  • Sweet soup (sot suppe)
  • Potato dumplings (klub)
  • Lutefisk
  • Flatbread (flatbrod)
  • Lefse
  • A platter of Scandinavian snacks
  • Swedish meatballs
  • Open-faced sandwiches
  • Norwegian Christmas bread
  • Norwegian cream pudding (rommegrot)
  • Rommegrot bars
  • Norwegian rice pudding (risgrot)
  • Almond kringler
  • Almond cake
    • Almond cake with cranberries and orange zest
  • Krumkake
  • Kringla
  • Sandbakkelse
  • Goro cookies
  • Pepperkaker (spiced sugar cookies)
  • Danish pancakes (aebleskiver)
  • How to make Norwegian egg coffee
  • Scandinavian gløgg (made with juice instead of wine)
My Norwegian Grandmother's Meatball Recipe (6)

Yield: 33 meatballs

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

If you plan on making gravy, add 1/2 cup water to the pan before baking. Then drain the pan sauce after baking the meatballs and proceed with making the gravy.


  • 2 pounds ground beef (I used 85% lean)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 slices day-old bread, torn into small pieces (omit for paleo or Whole30 diets)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes (or 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Beef Base)
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. With clean hands, mix all ingredients together until evenly incorporated.
  2. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch cake pan. Take a golf-ball sized scoop of the ground beef mixture and form into a ball. Repeat with remaining mixture. You should get about 33 meatballs in all.
  3. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Use pan juice to make gravy, if desired. Store any uneaten meatballs in the freezer for up to two months.

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Recipes International Main course Paleo

posted by Haley on May 28, 2016 (updated December 19, 2023)

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13 comments on “My Norwegian Grandmother’s Meatball Recipe”

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  1. Sonya Reply

    Delicious! I have had the good fortune of tasting these . . .

    • Haley Reply

      You certainly did 🙂 Thanks Sonya!

  2. pam hawn Reply

    I think this recipe is pretty true of the meatballs My grandmother used to make. with a few exceptions. She used a little nutmeg in the meatballs. Which added a savory characteristic. She fried them in bacon grease in a hot skillet until they were brown on all sides. Then she put them in a . heavier Pan with a lid.She cooked them in LOW Oven and covered them with milk and cream. Then grandma would make a slurry of milk and flour and thicken the gravy.

  3. Kim Reply

    That. Sounds good. My. Son loves. Meatballs. I look forward to. Making them

  4. Gayle Barbur Reply

    Hi my Norwegian Grandma made hers with beef veal and pork all ground up with shredded potato for filler. I’m 1/2 Norwegian this is how I do them, Very good

  5. Cheryl Ristow Reply

    Do you mix even the heavy cream into the meat mixture?

    • Haley Reply

      Yes, the cream is mixed into the meat mixture.

  6. Dana Fuchs Reply

    Should I crush up the beef bullion cubes or put them into a bit of water to make them soft?

    • Haley Reply

      Crushing them up is fine.

  7. Nancy Reply

    Love Norwegian meatballs…my mom always made meatballs and gravy…she was a great cook….everything she made was the best…her gravy was the best gravy I have ever had…always came out perfect…made alot of Norwegian foods…lutefisk at Christmas…(never did care for that) and also lefse…which I still make myself once in awhile…especially when I am up North visiting my kids in Ohio for the holidays…they all enjoy lefse.. we would go to my Aunt’s house as she would make the potatoe dumplings (Klub) and invite the sisters over lunch! yummy….my husband does the cooking here and I have an old cookbook from my hometown in ND and the recipe is in there…so he has made them for me…One thing I really miss that my mom made every Christmas is Blo Klub..I think that is how you spell it…not sure…but I loved that….so many childhood memories…100% Norwegian….

  8. Eric Fretheim Reply

    Your mother reminds me of my grandmother. She was born in the US at the turn of the century in a Norwegian-speaking community and didn’t learn English until she started school. I remember her chattering with my great-aunts in Norwegian, which my grandfather didn’t speak. I’m also married to a foreign-language-first speaker and I can kind of guess what they were talking about in front of him! Haha.

    Your recipe looks more complex than hers, so I may give it a try out of curiosity. She didn’t use an oven; she browned the meatballs on her griddle first and then put them in a saucepan to cook them on the stove. When they were almost ready, she would make a roux for the gravy, mix it with water and milk and pour it into the pot to let the gravy cook right in there with the meatballs.

  9. Kris Reply

    yup, that’s the way my nana made them. Browned in the pan, then you make gravy and cook them fully in the hot brown gravy. To me, it’s not Norwegian unless there’s ginger and/or nutmeg in the recipe. My mother adapted this recipe (which I’m sure was Meatcakes recipe!) when she’d brown it as one big round (american meatloaf) in the dutch oven then cover it with diced tomatoes to cook more and serve like that!

  10. Alice Eggers Reply

    These ain’t them damn svedish meatballs!

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