“Secret” Swedish Meatballs

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Recipes are mementos that get passed down through the generations. They are held close like secrets of the past and only the worthy get to receive them. One time, I asked my grandma for her potato bread recipe and she gave one to me; not hers, but a different one!!! She said she didn’t want me to know it because then she couldn’t make it for us anymore…

This is one of those recipes. The recipe that EVERYONE in the family wanted but we could never duplicate. 5 years ago, around Christmas time it finally changed. WE GOT THE RECIPE! My cousins, their parents, my parents, and my grandmother all hovered in her kitchen and took notes as she made her infamous Swedish Meatballs.

This is a memory I will cherish. My grandmother passed away last year but her recipes will live on in her kids, grand kids, great grand kids, and beyond. In the time where it is easier to get food delivered from an app on your phone take time with your family to create some memories in the kitchen.

She always served these meatballs at holidays with her mashed potatoes, sweet corn, and homemade potato bread. They are also amazing as leftovers!

Maybe someday your granddaughter will be writing about your cooking and recipes, so don’t hold back the bread recipe!


Grandma Elaine’s Swedish Meatballs

Proportions are for 2 pounds of ground beef, making about 20 meatballs.

Mix in a large bowl:

  • eggs(OR: 2 eggs+ 1/4 cup unsweetened evaporated milk); whip eggs before adding other ingredients
  • 1/2 to 1 cup cracker/chip crumbs(salty bready crumbs of some sort – soda crackers are typical; cassava flour chips worked too)
  • ••• Key proportion: mix of eggs/milk and crumbs should make a mixture that’s somewhat thickened but still watery.
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • Sprinkle of garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 2-3 shakes nutmeg(more if desired)
  • 4-5 grinds of pepper(more if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp flour, if mixture doesn’t hold together well enough. If using lean beef, you’ll need this.


Add 2 pounds ground beef to the above and mix thoroughly (using hands or stand mixer).

Form into ~1.5 inch diameter balls.

Add 1-2 tbsp cooking oil to skillet. Sear and rotate meatballs until browned on all sides and solidified slightly, in batches if needed. No need to cook through; that will happen in the oven. Place browned meatballs in a casserole dish.

When meatballs are browned, make gravy with pan remains. Add water to pan and scrape, then add flour, corn starch, or tapioca to thicken slightly. Add salt to taste. When consistency and flavor are good, pour gravy over meatballs. Should have enough gravy to fill casserole about 1/3 to 1/2 full.

Meatballs with gravy can now go in refrigerator for 24 hours if not needed immediately.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Start with lid off of dish for a half hour, then put lid on to keep from getting too browned.

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