Cooking for children, Swedish meat ballsCooking for children, Swedish meat balls

I was feeding a young person tonight who was recovering from a recent bout of stomach flu, so bearing that in mind, as well as the recent emphasis in the blog on the basics, reminded me of what must be the first recipe I ever copied onto a recipe card: Swedish Meat Balls. It’s funny to see the yellowed, beaten up card printed in my school-girlish back hand (it had quite a steep slope in those days). These meat balls were a very popular menu item at the family table when I was a child, and children do seem to love them, as do men with somewhat unsophisticated palates.

I’ll type the recipe as I have it written, but I no longer make it with a “bouillon cube”; I now use beef stock instead of the hot water and the bouillon cube, and instead of the 1/2 cup milk and the 1/2 cup light cream in the sauce I just use all half & half. Also, the recipe claims to serve six, but that would be six people with very small appetites. Tonight I used 1 1/2 pounds of meat and increased the rest of the ingredients proportionately, we had five people at the table, and there were only two meatballs left.

Swedish Meat Balls

  • 1 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used a beef/pork/veal mix tonight)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg (for that Swedish flavor!)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 bouillon cube (or substitute 1 cup beef stock for hot water and bouillon cube)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup light cream

Soak bread crumbs in the 1/3 cup milk. Add onion, meat, egg, and seasonings; mix thoroughly. Shape into 1 inch balls. Sauté in butter in skillet until lightly browned on all sides. Remove meat, add flour to fat and blend (may need to add a little more butter to skillet). Add water, bouillon cube, milk and cream. Cook and stir over medium heat until sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, about two minutes. Add meat balls, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with rice or noodles.


Your comment “It’s funny to see the yellow beaten up card printed in my school-girlish back hand” brought back so many memories. I LOVED going to the library (still do) and would spend our school library time copying down recipe after recipe. This was when the only way to copy was with the round drum type machine that had the good smelling copier fluid and it was only reserved for teachers. I’d love to know what happened to these recipes and envy you that you’ve got something from your younger days.
Question: Do you prepare your own beef/pork/veal mix or do you have a butcher who takes care of that for you?

I get almost all my meat from McGinnis Sisters ; I think their meat is terrific and they had the meat loaf mix on sale this week for $1.99/lb.

Swedish meatballs were one of those things I always remember hearing about in the 70s although I don’t know that I ever actually had them. In fact, I’m not sure I actually ever saw a recipe before this.

My husband once made grape jelly meatballs which were something from his childhood. I can’t remember what was in them — the grape jelly was melted into some sort of a sauce which went over them. They weren’t as bad as they sound although I guess they didn’t recieve that enthusiastic a reception because he’s never made them again.

I remember those grape jelly meatballs, Julie; actually they were pretty good! The grape jelly and other ingredients transformed into a tasty barbecue sauce and they were popular crockpot items at parties.

Ah, Swedish meatballs… one of the foods I hate to love… but they’re so good!

I had an interesting variation on these while eating at Union Station in D.C. about a year ago. One of the Scandinavian countries (I forget which, alas) has a traditional dish that involves big meatballs stuffed with, among other things, prunes. I remember they were served with a sauce and mashed potatoes, and after a while, all the potatoes were pinkish-purplish in color from the prunes. It was quite the perfect lunch for that chilly day. Now, if I could find a recipe for those on the web, I’d certainly try my hand at making them.

Mmm, that sounds yummy Colin – do you remember if the meat seemed to be wrapped around a whole prune or did they seem to be stuffed with lekvar, like a pierogie?

I was so happy to see this recipe because I lost mine and the one Mom gave me to replace it wasn’t the same one she used to make when we were kids. I have a whole bunch of recipes in green ink that I wrote in home-ec in 11th grade when I had to make dinner for our family for a week for a project. It was either that or sew and you know how much I hate that! One of the recipes was for chili-dogs!! I also recently found a pamphlet from home-ec in 7th grade and on the cover it read Susan Wilson 7-B-1!

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