Norwegian meatballs

Norwegian Meatballs (Kjøttkaker)

The first Christmas I spent with my husband’s family, my mother-in-law made Norwegian meatballs or kjøttkaker for our Christmas eve dinner.

Kjøttkaker comes from “kjøtt” meaning meat and “kake” meaning cake. So, it literally means meat cake.

Anyway, I did not realize at the time that Norwegian meatballs was special for my husband when he was growing up, because my mother-in-law only made it during Christmas. So, when he gets kjøttkaker at any other time of the year, it makes him feel like it is Christmas morning!

Now, every time I see him stressed or worn out from work, I make a batch of Norwegian meatballs and it perks him up right away!

One of the things I love about the Norwegian meatballs is that it can be prepared ahead of time. It actually tastes better after reheating. So if I know I am going to have a busy few days, I make a batch of Norwegian meatballs in advance and voila, easy dinners for a couple of nights!

If you like the Swedish meatballs at Ikea, then you have to try the Norwegian meatballs. You will never go back for the Ikea ones after this!

If you make this dish, please let us know what you think by leaving a comment. We would love to hear what you think about kjøttkaker!

Norwegian Meatballs

Ingredients for the meatballs

  • 3 pounds ground chuck or ground beef (can also use a combination of ground beef and ground pork)
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter, for frying

Ingredients for the gravy

  • pan drippings, from frying the meat
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • hot water (1/2 cup – 1 cup or more)
  • 1/4 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs (until salt and pepper) using a food processor, mixer or by hand. The mixture will be quite moist.
  2. Form the meat into round or oblong-shaped meatballs and brown in fry pan or Dutch oven until quite brown.

    image of Norwegian Meatballs Kjøttkaker

  3. Remove to a platter or big bowl. You may have to work in batches.

    image of Norwegian meatballs Kjøttkaker

  4. When all the meatballs are cooked and have been transferred to a big bowl, prepare the gravy.
  5. To prepare the gravy, turn the Dutch oven with the pan drippings to medium heat and add 3-4 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour. Keep stirring until all the fat is absorbed.
  6. Add hot water to the pan. Add 1/4 cup at a time until a thin mixture is formed. The amount of water added will depend on the consistency that you want for your gravy.
  7. Add salt, pepper, all spice, and nutmeg. Stir thoroughly.
  8. Put the meatballs back into the Dutch oven and simmer covered for about half an hour on low heat. Stir every few minutes. Scrape the bottom for browned bits.
  9. After 30 minutes, turn off heat. Kjøttkaker can be served right away or stored in the fridge to be reheated later.

    image of Norwegian Meatballs Kjøttkaker

Recipe Notes

  • The Norwegian meatballs can be made a few hours to a day ahead. Allowing it to sit for a few hours before reheating improves its flavor.
  • Our family likes to eat the Norwegian meatballs with rice (gravy on rice, yum!), steamed vegetables, and a scoop of lingonberry jam on the side. Some people switch out the rice for mashed potatoes, which is probably the more traditional thing to do. But, my husband grew up eating it with rice and as a Fil-Chi, I have no reason to say no to that!
image of Norwegian Meatballs Kjøttkaker

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