Authentic Norwegian Meatballs / Kjøttkaker Recipe


Recipe for authentic Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker. Pictures.



As a native born-and-raised Norwegian, I grew up making and eating traditional Norwegian food. My mother taught me how to cook from I was just a wee little girl as I watched and stirred the pot with her. What a blessing to have had such a loving mother to teach me valuable life skills! One of the dishes frequently served as a mid-week dinner in Norway is “kjøttkaker”, Norwegian meatballs. When searching online, many English-written recipes for Norwegian meatballs contain bread crumbs and pork and are not your typical Norwegian kjøttkake recipe.  There may be some regional differences, and of course every person will do things their own way. But the recipe I’m about to share, however, is a typical old fashioned meatball recipe from Norway, a recipe as genuine and authentic as they get!

Traditional Norwegian kjøttkaker are all-beef, flavorful, and somewhat salty. Although Americans typically serve meatballs with BBQ or marinara sauce, Norwegian meatballs are served with brown gravy. Some Norwegians like to add a little bit of ginger to their meatball dough, and others will add chopped, raw onions. So you’ll find slight variations in these recipes but in the end they are all very similar to each other, and native Norwegians know what.

If you decide to try this recipe, I would absolutely love a comment with a star rating as it really helps me out! Thanks in advance!


How to make traditional Norwegian meatballs:

Use a medium mixing bowl and add corn starch, flour, and spices: salt, pepper, paprika, and nutmeg. If you want to add ground ginger, try 1/4 tsp.

Mixing flour and spices for traditional Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker.

Add milk (water is OK, too) and whisk together until smooth.

Mixing flour, spices, and milk for traditional Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker.

This Scandinavian style whisk is an excellent tool to whisk out lumps, and it reaches everywhere! It is a standard tool in most Norwegian kitchens.

Mixing together flour, spices, and milk for traditional Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker.

Then add ground beef to the milk and spice mixture and stir with a spoon until completely combined and sticky. This wooden spoon from an Oxo set works wonderfully!

Mixing meat into flour, spices, and milk for traditional Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker.

Mixing meat and spices for traditional, authentic Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker.

To fry your wonderful, tasty, Norwegian meatballs, you’ll need:
A frying pan with oil or butter for frying, a lid to cover, a tool for shaping the meatballs, a glass of water for dipping the tool, and a turner.

Preparing to fry traditional, authentic Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker.

Heat the frying pan to medium-low heat and start shaping the meatballs.

I find it easy and convenient to shape the meatballs using a medium sized meatball / cookie scoop. However, my own mother simply used two spoons to shape them: She would keep the meatball in one spoon while using the other spoon to flip it until it was round. It is very helpful to dip the scoop or spoons into cold water now and again to keep the meat from sticking.

Shaping traditional, authentic Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker.

Drop the meatballs gently onto the frying pan and flatten them a little bit with a turner dipped in water. Authentic Norwegian meatballs are a bit larger than Italian (or Swedish) meatballs and they are usually not completely round. When you flatten them a little bit they are also easier to cook through. To get the job done faster, I usually flatten all of them in one sitting after I have dropped them onto the frying pan.

Making traditional, authentic Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker.

If your frying pan is large enough you may be able to fry them all of them at the same time. If not, just fry in two sittings, keeping the first batch covered and hot. I currently use a 12 inch ceramic GreenPan. Oil is not strictly necessary on this pan, but I still like how the meatballs fry in the oil or butter.

Frying traditional, authentic Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker.

When you have filled your frying pan, immediately put a lid on to trap the heat to help cook the meatballs through. Let them fry until browned underneath, checking after 3-4 minutes or so.

Traditional, authentic Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker.

When browned, flip them and fry the other side as well, again with the lid on.

Kjøttkaker, traditional Norwegian meatballs. Recipe with pictures.

These old fashioned Norwegian meatballs are authentic; the real deal!

The kjøttkaker are now done! Just cut one in half to double check that there is no pink inside, and you’re all set.

Kjøttkaker, traditional Norwegian meatballs. Recipe and pictures.

Authentic Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker. Recipe and pictures.

Whip up some brown gravy and spoon it on! The following pictures show you how to make delicious Norwegian style brown gravy using a roux, which works very well with Norwegian meatballs. The gravy includes Better Than Bouillon Beef Base, although beef broth can be used instead if you wish.

Norwegian Style Brown Gravy

Traditionally, Norwegian meatball gravy was made from browned roux, but these days people also use dry gravy mixes to simplify. This made-from-scratch recipe is not complicated, however, and tastes wonderful!

This gravy recipe calls for onion powder, which actually is not an ingredient typically used in Norway. But it’s an effortless way to add great flavor without the crunch of onions. (Ugh!) But if you prefer, you can mince and saute onions until softened to add to the gravy in place of onion powder.

To make the gravy, melt butter in a medium sized pot, then add flour and onion powder.

Whisk together into a smooth, soft roux, as seen in the picture below. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking often until browned. This should take 8-10 minutes. You don’t want to brown the roux too quickly as it could leave a burned taste if you do.

Keep on cooking and whisking until the roux has reached a nice, brown caramel color.

Pull the pot away from the heat to cool for a minute, then add water while quickly whisking together until smooth. Return the pot to the heat and bring to a boil while whisking, to prevent lumps.

Also add the Better than Bouillon Beef Base and whisk until completely mixed in.

Let the gravy simmer on low heat for 7-10 minutes to make sure the flour is fully cooked, to avoid a gritty flour taste. At the end, unless it makes you feel really bad, add meatball drippings and some heavy cream or half-and-half. These two steps can be omitted and the gravy will still taste great, but especially the drippings will add a lot of flavor.

For a traditional plate of Norwegian meatballs, serve with potatoes boiled in lightly salted water, and steamed vegetables such as a blend of cauliflower, carrots and broccoli. Ladle gravy over the meatballs and potatoes.

Recipe for authentic Norwegian meatballs, kjøttkaker. Pictures.

Steaming hot kjøttkaker, Norwegian meatballs from an old-fashioned, authentic recipe! This is a traditional mid-week dinner in homes throughout Norway. If you decide to try this recipe, please consider leaving a comment and star rating as it is very helpful to me and my readers! Thanks in advance, Enjoy!

4.8 from 6 reviews
Authentic Norwegian Kjøttkaker Meatballs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
These old fashioned Norwegian meatballs are authentic; the real deal.
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Norwegian
Serves: 4
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch (or potato starch)
  • 1½ teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon milk (or water)
  • 1 Lb ground beef
  • Oil or butter for frying
  • -------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • GRAVY:
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder OR a small, raw onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Beef Base (or 4 bouillon cubes)
  • Drippings from the fried meatballs
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (Optional)
  1. Put the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl; corn starch, flour, paprika, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  2. Add milk and whisk well until no lumps remain.
  3. Add meat and stir with a spoon until completely combined and sticky.
  4. Add olive oil or butter to a frying pan on medium-low heat.
  5. Shape meat balls with spoons or a meatball scoop, dipping your tool of choice in water now and again to keep meat from sticking.
  6. Drop the meat balls on the frying pan, flattening them a little bit with a turner.
  7. Cover and fry until browned on the top and bottom, a few minutes on each side.
  8. Keep hot until ready to serve.
  9. Serve with brown gravy, potatoes boiled in lightly salted water, and steamed vegetables such as a blend of cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli.
  10. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  11. GRAVY:
  12. In a medium sized sauce pan on medium-low heat, melt butter.
  13. Add flour and onion powder. Whisk together into a smooth roux, and cook while whisking now and again until the flour mixture has turned medium-brown. This should take 8-10 minutes.
  14. Pull away from the heat and add all of the water while quickly whisking together to avoid lumps. But be careful, the flour mixture will be very hot and may hiss loudly when you add cold liquids. Alternatively, you can heat the liquid before adding.
  15. Also add the beef base, and bring to a boil while whisking often. The gravy will thicken. Reduce the heat and boil gently for 7-10 minutes until smooth. Stir once in a while.
  16. Add the meatball drippings from frying, which will add a lot of great flavor!
  17. Add heavy cream and stir well. (Optional)
  18. Serve over Norwegian meatballs.

About Terese

26 Responses to “Authentic Norwegian Meatballs / Kjøttkaker Recipe”

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  1. John Erik says:

    I am currently making risengrynsgrot according to your recipe. My mother made it often when I was growing up. Anyway, I was a bit curious about your other recipes and saw your kjottkaker recipe. My father was from Drammen, so maybe the differences come from there. I do use onion and bread crumbs and the binder I was taught to use was egg. The other thing was that after browning two sides, I put the kaker in water set to simmer. When all of the kaker have been fried, I’ll make the gravy in the same pan (cast iron) and use the water from the simmering pot to add to the rue I’ve made in the pan. The simmering assures the kaker is cooked through and the gravy is added to the pot with the kjotkaker, making it thinner than most gravies. Served with boiled potatoes and a little lingonberry jam.

    • Terese says:

      Thank you for your comment and for sharing how you have been making kjøttkaker! Is your recipe from Drammen, an actual Norwegian recipe that your father brought with him? Perhaps there are some regional differences, that could very well be. Checking with Norwegian recipe sites, cookbooks etc. along with my mother’s and paternal grandmother’s recipes (from different parts of the country), I had not seen any recipes on kjøttkaker using bread crumbs. Upon checking further now that you brought it up, I did find one recipe that calls for bread crumbs and an egg, but not pork. That doesn’t mean they can not be found at all, so I appreciate your input and will change my post accordingly. Thanks again!

      • Leslie Giannetto says:

        My grandmother was from Bergen, and her recipe was similar to John Erick’s. She used Cracker Meal instead of breadcrumbs, and did not use onions. But after browning the kaker, she did put them in a pot of simmering water and let simmer for about 1/2 hour or so, She then heated up the drippings in the frying pan and strained them while pouring into the pot with the meatballs and simmering water. Made a great gravy. She did not use pork, only chop meat.

        • Leslie Giannetto says:

          * Also, she used cornstartch instead of flour for thickening the gravy. (Less lumps to deal with)

        • Terese says:

          Thank you for letting me know! Being that the two cities mentioned are in different parts of the country, there obviously is a tradition for it in Norway. I appreciate the information!

      • Vivian says:

        My mother was from Drammen – can’t wait to try this recipe-

        Thank you for sharing

  2. Cathy says:

    I love the way you describe your recipes.

    Do you have a recipe for the brown gravy?

  3. Hannah Rogers says:

    The meatballs were sooooo good, I only wish there was a recipe for a good gravy to go with it.

    • Terese says:

      Thank you! I decided I needed to work on that, so I have now edited to add a great gravy recipe, perfect for kjøttkaker! I hope that helps!

  4. Suzy Regan says:

    My mother used to make a (pickeled) cucumber salad-do you have a recepie for that??
    Thank you

    • Terese says:

      Well, I can certainly try. 🙂 I’m not sure if this is the same as what your mother made, and it’s been a lot of years since I made it personally. I used to just wing it. Seems like what I used to do, was to slice up an English cucumber, those long slender ones, into thin slices. Then add some white vinegar and sugar along with some water, and that was that. Here are a couple of recipe from sites in Norway though, maybe you could give these a try:

      1 cucumber (long, skinny kind), 5 tablespoons white wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar), 1 tablespoon sugar, water. Cut the cucumber in half length wise. Scrape out the seeds, then chop into small pieces. Put into a bowl and stir in vinegar and sugar. Cover with water and let sit a while, preferably a few hours. OR just stir in 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 tablespoon sugar if you want to serve immediately. You can also stir in 4 tablespoons fresh, chopped mint leaves.

      Here’s another, similar recipe, pretty close to what I used to do, I just can’t remember adding salt.
      1 sliced cucumber, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 tablespoons fresh, minced parsley. Add salt to the cucumber slices, let sit to draw water out of the cucumber. Mix together vinegar, water, and sugar, and pour over the cucumber slices. Sprinkle parsley on top.

      I hope that helps! At least it should give you an idea on how she may have made it, if she used a Norwegian recipe.

  5. vejune baltrusaitis says:

    hi! i am planning a birthday party next month for my daughter which is Frozen Fever-themed. [last year we did a Princess and the Frog-theme, so i made (vegan) gumbo and jambalaya and it was amazing.] anyway, because there will be a lot of people, i’d like to use the crockpot like i did last year. i’m assuming i can make the meatballs ahead of time and freeze them, but i was wondering if i could make the gravy in a crockpot and, if so, do you have any recommendations and/or suggestions on how to best make it? (meaning, can i put everything in the crockpot and let it cook, or should i cook something in a regular pot first and then transfer ingredients to the crockpot to finish cooking.) thank you!!

    • Terese says:

      It won’t work well to make this particular gravy in the crock pot, but you could find a different brown gravy recipe that doesn’t require browning roux. If you happen to have a pressure cooker with saute option, then you could do it, but a crock pot takes way to long and won’t brown it the way you’ll need. If you dump the ingredients in there and wait for it to cook, the flour will likely lump together. But you could make the gravy ahead of time and transfer; just keep in mind that if the gravy has cooled down in a refrigerator or freezer, you’ll need to let it come to a boil and whisk pretty well until it’s smooth, otherwise it will look almost lumpy / irregular. A simple alternative would be to quickly whisk up some brown gravy from bags and use that with the meatballs. That will taste pretty good too and it’s much easier for a day that you’ll be busy anyway. I hope you’ll find a solution that works great, and that you’ll have a wonderful party! Happy Birthday to your daughter!

  6. helga atwood says:

    I am from Norway and always loved the way my mom made the kjøttkake. This recipe is very close . I added 2 teaspoons of cardamom and also onion powder. We are from Trondheim. Takk så mye. Aldri hadde oppskrift fra mor min. Now I have one very close.

    • Terese says:

      You are very welcome, I’m glad this recipe ended up being close to what you were looking for. Cardamom sounds delicious, and onion powder too. And I have family in Trondheim! Thank you so much for adding a star rating, that’s great!!

  7. Harald Hagen says:

    I was born and raised in Oslo Norway and when I grew up Kjøttkaker were my very favorite dinner and we usually had it once or twice a week. I don’t know if your recipe is like “min more” but they sure taste the same. One thing I do remember is my mother always added Goat cheese to the brown gravy
    Thank you for an excellent recipe
    Tusen takk!

  8. Jim Nordberg says:

    My Grandmother made a variation of Norwegian meatballs Born late 1800’s to Norwegian immigrants she used equal amts of beef pork veal having the butcher grind twice, form the balls and fry lightly in butter long enough to hold together then drop into slow boiling water and simmer a couple hrs. Remove meat and thicken to make a gravy return the meatballs add parsley and serve over egg noodles. Mmmmmm a family favorite!

  9. John weiss says:

    We have used this recipe several times and everyone loves it. Only change I made was a little less salt. I used the onion powder n that worked out great. The dripping and heavy cream really make it tasty

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