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.
Add milk (water is OK, too) and whisk together until smooth.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When browned, flip them and fry the other side as well, again with the lid on.
The kjøttkaker are now done! Just cut one in half to double check that there is no pink inside, and you’re all set.
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.
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!
- 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
- 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)
- Put the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl; corn starch, flour, paprika, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
- Add milk and whisk well until no lumps remain.
- Add meat and stir with a spoon until completely combined and sticky.
- Add olive oil or butter to a frying pan on medium-low heat.
- Shape meat balls with spoons or a meatball scoop, dipping your tool of choice in water now and again to keep meat from sticking.
- Drop the meat balls on the frying pan, flattening them a little bit with a turner.
- Cover and fry until browned on the top and bottom, a few minutes on each side.
- Keep hot until ready to serve.
- Serve with brown gravy, potatoes boiled in lightly salted water, and steamed vegetables such as a blend of cauliflower, carrots, and broccoli.
- In a medium sized sauce pan on medium-low heat, melt butter.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the meatball drippings from frying, which will add a lot of great flavor!
- Add heavy cream and stir well. (Optional)
- Serve over Norwegian meatballs.