Norwegian Meatballs in luscious brown gravy [Kjøttkaker I Brun Saus]

These scratch-made Norwegian meatballs are tender and delicious. Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and a dollop of lingonberry jam for a Norwegian-inspired dinner at home. This flavorful dish is ready in about 30-minutes!

A pinnable image of Norwegian meatballs [Kjøttkaker I Brun Saus].

What are Norwegian meatballs anyway? Typical Norwegian meatballs are all beef and served in a luscious creamy brown gravy. They are traditionally quite simplistic in style but of course, every family has their own additions or changes to the basic recipe.

Similar to Swedish meatballs, Norwegian meatballs are called Kjøttkaker [ Kjøttkaker i brun saus] do have some differences. Norwegian meatballs are typically bigger and flatter than their Swedish neighbors and instead of being served in marinara like their Italian cousins, are served in a creamy brown gravy.

Ingredients for Norwegian Meatballs

The best Norwegian meatball recipe is always going to be the recipe you’ve tweaked to fit your individual tastes. That being said, the basic ingredients are listed below.

** You can find the full recipe ingredients and instructions on the printable recipe card below.

  • Ground beef – I use 80% lean minced beef. Lean grades of beef produce a dryer meatball, and here fat equals flavor and adds to the overall juiciness of the meatballs. While an all-beef mixture is traditional, you can use any blend of ground meat you prefer. A meatloaf blend of beef, pork, and veal is fabulous in this recipe, too.
  • Ground nutmeg – This warm spice is a beautiful background note for the rich meat.
  • Ground ginger – This warming spice cuts through the fatty meat and refreshes the palate.
  • Allspice – This is a secret ingredient my Norweigan friend alerted me of when she gave me this recipe many years ago. If you did not have allspice, you could substitute an equal amount of cinnamon.
  • Cornstarch – this is traditionally used instead of breadcrumbs in a authentic Norwegian meatballs to bind and help the meatball hold its shape as it cooks. Potato starch is more conventional here but not as easy to find at the store. Potato Starch is an ingredient I usually purchase at my local Asian or Indian grocery store.
  • Cream or Milk – I use the cream since I’m already using it in the sauce, but whole milk will also do here. The meatballs will not be as rich using milk, so there is a trade-off in flavor.
  • Oil for Frying – I prefer vegetable or canola oil. There is no need to spend extra money on expensive oil for frying. I prefer oil to butter for frying the meatballs since butter burns easily and these meatballs require medium to medium high heat for frying which is too hot for butter on my stove.

For the Kjøttkaker brown gravy

I prepare a large amount of gravy for this recipe to use a copious amount over mashed potatoes. If you don’t eat a lot of gravy, you may want to cut the recipe in half.

** You can find the full recipe ingredients and instructions on the printable recipe card below.

  • Flour – All-purpose white flour is used for the base of the gravy.
  • Butter – Salted or unsalted butter both work fine here. If you use salted you will just want to add a little less salt on the back end. Add small amouts of salt as you go and tatse test. It’s easy to add more but not as easy to back correct an over-salted sauce.
  • Beef stock or water – I start with usalted beef cooking stock (not beef broth). I like that I can control the salt in the brown gravy.
  • Beef Base, Bouillon, or Gravy Seasoning – To give the sauce a little extra depth of flavor, I like to add a bit of “Better than Bouillon” brand beef base. You can substitute this with a beef bouillon cube but again beware of the added salt in bouillon. Less is more with bouillon. If your a fan of Kitchen Bouquet or Maggi brand Seasoning, you can add a dash or two of one of these in place of the beef bouillon base. These different products add a rich umami flavor to the beef gravy.
  • Heavy cream – Norwegian meatball gravy uses heavy cream instead of sour cream to make the creay brown sauce. You can always substitute whole milk or half and half if that’s what you have available.
  • Lingonberry or red currant jam – Lingonberry Jam has become popular in the United States and is available in my local grocery store. However, if Lingonberry Jam is unavailable in your area, it is easily substituted with Red Currant Jelly, and cranberry sauce is another acceptable substitute.

Tools

An overhead shot of a pan of Norwegian Meatballs topped with sprigs of fresh thyme, fresh vegetables, and Lingonberry jam can be seen in the background.

Special tips

I prefer cast-iron for the crust it imparts on the meatballs, but a Teflon coated skillet (shown in the photos) will work well here too. In testing, I find the stainless steel skillet a little harder to work with especially in regards to these tender meatballs breaking apart if you try to turn them too soon.

It is important to use full-fat cream or milk in the gravy recipe. Keep the heat low (or off) when you add the milk or cream; do it right at the end of cooking as it does not need to come to a boil. It will also be less likely to curdle if it’s not too cold, so instead of using it straight from the refrigerator, let the cream come up to room temperature.


The fat content in dairy affects how dairy products react when heated. There’s nothing more disappointing than working so hard to pull a special meal together and ending with a broken sauce. It’s so disheartening.

Norwegian Kjøttkaker Meatballs with fresh springs of thyme.

How to make Norwegian Meatballs

** You can find the full recipe ingredients and instructions on the printable recipe card below.

  • Add all the meatball ingredients except the meat and oil into a large mixing bowl [paid link] and whisk [paid link] to combine.
  • Next, break up and add the meat into the cream mixture and mix well; about one to two minutes. You will notice the mixture combine together into a large ball.
  • Divide the meat into 8 to 10 large meatballs. Form each into a ball and then flatten slightly on the top and bottom, almost like forming a hamburger patty.
  • Next, heat the oil in a large Teflon or Cast-iron skillet [paid link] over medium to medium-high heat and brown the meatballs well on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. If you notice the meatballs becoming too crusty, turn down the heat to medium or medium-low. [This is largely dependent upon your stove. My gas stove runs hot.]
  • Transfer cooked patties to a plate and prepare the gravy.

How to make Norwegian Brown Sauce

  • Start by draining the excess oil from the pan, reserving any browned bits t o flavor the gravy.
  • Next, add the butter and melt. Add the flour to the butter and whisk [paid link] to combine. Cook the butter-flour mixture [called a roux] over medium-low heat, stirring often. You will cook the roux until you reach your desired color, typically something like milk chocolate or coffee with cream.
  • Slowly pour in the beef stock, stirring to combine. Next add the beef base, bouillon, or kitchen bouquet, salt, and ground black pepper to taste. If using, add in the nutmeg and allspice to mirror the flavors in the meatballs themselves.
  • Add the meatballs into the sauce and gently simmer. Turn the meatballs over to coat in sauce.

What to Serve with Norwegian Meatballs

Kjøttkaker i brun saus is conventionally served with boiled potatoes like Russets, baby reds, or Yukon gold. However, mashed potatoes or egg noodles also make great vehicles for soaking up all that luscious brown gravy.

If you don’t mind crossing nationalities, German spätzle is also amazing with this dish. Add a side of steamed veggies, mushy peas, and a spot of Lingonberry jam for a hearty meal.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Are Norwegian Meatballs Gluten-Free?

Yes. The meatballs themselves are gluten-free. However, the gravy recipe written here is not. It’s made with a traditional all-purpose flour which you could swap out for a 1:1 gluten-free flour blend, I prefer Bob’s Red Mill Baking blend.

What to Serve with Norwegian Meatballs

Kjøttkaker i brun saus is conventionally served with boiled potatoes like Russets, baby reds, or Yukon gold. However, mashed potatoes or egg noodles also make great vehicles for soaking up all that luscious brown gravy.u003cbru003eIf you don’t mind crossing nationalities, German spätzle is also amazing with this dish. Add a side of steamed veggies, mushy peas, and a spot of Lingonberry jam for a hearty meal.

What is the difference between Norwegian and Swedish meatballs?

Similar to Swedish meatballs, Norwegian meatballs do have some differences. Norwegian meatballs are typically bigger and flatter than their Swedish neighbors and instead of being served in marinara like their Italian cousins, are served in a creamy brown gravy.

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Noregian Kjøttkaker Meatballs are tender and delicious. Serve with mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and Lingonberry jam for a Norwegian dinner at home.

Norwegian Meatball Recipe [Kjøttkake]

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
These scratch-made Norwegian Meatballs are tender and delicious. Serve with boiled potatoes, seasonal vegetables, and a dollop of lingonberry jam for a Norwegian-inspired dinner at home. This flavorful dish is ready in just 30-minutes!
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine Norwegian
Servings 4 servings
Calories 993 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the Meatballs

  • 20 oz ground beef [ 1+1/4 pounds] or blend of beef, pork, and/or veal (meatloaf blend works well). See Recipe Notes.
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch or potato starch. See Recipe Notes.
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 2/3 cup Heavy Whipping Cream See Recipe Notes.
  • 1/4 cup Canola Oil for frying meatballs. See recipe notes.

For the Gravy

  • 1 stick butter [1/2 cup] See Recipe Notes
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups beef cooking stock, beef broth, or water See Recipe Notes.
  • 2 tsp Beef Base See Recipe Notes.
  • 1/4 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 tsp Salt more or less to taste
  • 1/2 ground pepper more or less to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg more or less to taste
  • 1/2 allspice more or less to taste

Optional Ingredients

  • Lingonberry jam or Red Currant jelly OPTIONAL, for serving along side
  • 2 springs fresh thyme or minced parsley fresh, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Add all the meatball ingredients except the meat and oil into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  • Next, break up and add the meat into the cream mixture and mix well; about one to two minutes. You will notice the mixture combine together into a large ball.
  • Divide the meat into 8 to 10 large meatballs. Forming into a ball and then flatten slightly on the top and bottom, forming almost a patty.
  • Heat the oil in a large Teflon or Cast-iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat and brown the meatballs well on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. If you notice the meatballs becoming too crusty, turn down the heat to medium or medium-low. [This is largely dependent upon your stove. My gas stove runs hot.]
  • Transfer cooked patties to a plate and prepare the gravy.
    Start by draining the excess oil from the pan reserving any browned bits in the pan to help flavor the gravy.
  • Next, add the butter and melt. Add the flour to the butter and whisk to combine. Cook the butter-flour mixture [called a roux] over medium-low heat, stirring often. You will cook the roux until you reach your desired color, typically something like milk chocolate or coffee with cream.
  • Slowly pour in the beef stock, stirring to combine. Next add the beef base, bouillon, or kitchen bouquet, salt, and ground black pepper to taste. If using, add in the nutmeg and allspice to mirror the flavors in the meatballs themselves. Stir in the cream.
  • Add the meatballs into the sauce and gently simmer. Turn the meatballs over to coat in sauce.
  • Serve over mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, buttered egg noodles, or German Spatzle and a dollop of lingonberry jam.
  • Garnish with fresh thyme or freshly minced parsley before serving.

Notes

  • Ground beef – I use 80% lean minced beef. Lean grades of beef produce a dryer meatball, and here fat equals flavor and adds to the overall juiciness of the meatballs. While an all-beef mixture is traditional, you can use any blend of ground meat you prefer. A meatloaf blend of beef, pork, and veal is fabulous in this recipe, too.
  • Ground nutmeg – This warm spice is a beautiful background note for the rich meat.
  • Ground ginger – This warming spice cuts through the fatty meat and refreshes the palate.
  • Allspice – This is a secret ingredient my Norweigan friend alerted me of when she gave me this recipe many years ago. If you did not have allspice, you could substitute an equal amount of cinnamon.
  • Cornstarch + flour – this combination is used instead of breadcrumbs in a traditional Norwegian meatball to bind and help the meatball hold its shape as it cooks. Potato starch is more conventional here but not as easy to find at the store. Potato Starch is an ingredient I usually purchase at my local Asian or Indian grocery store.
  • Cream or Milk – I use the cream since I’m already using it in the sauce, but whole milk will also do here. The meatballs will not be as rich using milk, so there is a trade-off in flavor.
  • Oil for Frying – Any inexpensive oil will do. I prefer vegetable or canola oil. There is no need to spend extra money on expensive oil for frying.
It is important to use full-fat cream or milk in the gravy recipe. Keep the heat low (or off) when you add the milk or cream; do it right at the end of cooking as it does not need to come to a boil. It will also be less likely to curdle if it’s not too cold, so instead of using it straight from the refrigerator, let the cream come up to room temperature.
The fat content in dairy affects how dairy products react when heated. There’s nothing more disappointing than working so hard to pull a special meal together and ending with a broken sauce. It’s so disheartening.
I prefer cast-iron for the crust it imparts on the meatballs, but a Teflon coated skillet (shown in the photos) will work well here too. I find a stainless steel skillet a little harder to work with especially in regards to these tender meatballs breaking apart if you try to turn them too soon.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving (1/4 of the entire recipe)Calories: 993kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 32gFat: 86gSaturated Fat: 39gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 33gTrans Fat: 3gCholesterol: 236mgSodium: 1906mgPotassium: 915mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1537IUVitamin C: 1mgVitamin D: 1µgVitamin E: 4mgVitamin K: 18µgCalcium: 98mgFolate: 48µgIron: 4mgZinc: 7mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

This recipe was last updated on January 09, 2022. The recipe card itself was changed to make a more authentic Norwegian recipe. The content body was updated to give the reader more useful information.

18 thoughts on “Norwegian Meatballs in luscious brown gravy [Kjøttkaker I Brun Saus]”

  1. This is a fantastic recipe. My daughter-in-law is Norwegian and I wanted to “practice” making these before her next visit. I am absolutely certain that she will love them! So happy I found this wonderful recipe

    Reply
  2. Oh, my gosh! This was delicious. I did add minced onion to the meatballs and added 2 pinches of each of the spices to the meatballs. These were fabulous! Thank you for the recipe. If you are considering making these you have to! They are great!!

    Reply
  3. We just got back from Disney and have been raving about these meatballs since ordering them in Epcot. Tried out your recipe tonight—so so good and just like the Disney ones! My husband said they were even better than Disney’s because they didn’t crumble as much. High praise! Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

    Reply
  4. Phenomenal flavor in these meatballs. I know Norwegian cooking is all about the spices and herbs. They’re even amazing without the gravy!
    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply

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