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Norwegian meatballs

"Kjøttkaker" (meat balls) .
Photo: Sara Johannessen / Matprat.no
"Kjøttkaker" (meat balls) .
Photo: Sara Johannessen / Matprat.no

The juices from the meat blend into the gravy, resulting in an irresistible combination of flavours.

Although similar to other meatballs found across the world, the literal translation of kjøttkaker is "meat cakes", as the Norwegian version has bigger and less round patties than other meatball recipes.

"Kjøttkaker" (meat balls) .
Photo: Sara Johannessen / Matprat.no
"Kjøttkaker" (meat balls) .
Photo: Sara Johannessen / Matprat.no

It's one of our most popular traditional dishes and an everyday comfort food.

Norwegians always say that the best meat cakes are the ones that mom makes.

It's a dish that's best made at home with lots of love!

Family dinner .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen - VisitNorway.com
Family dinner .
Photo: Christian Roth Christensen - VisitNorway.com

So what makes a kjøttkake? In Norway, they are traditionally made from minced cattle, pork, lamb, or game meat, and shaped into thick, flat patties and fried.

The dish is served with delicious brun saus (brown gravy).

Kjøttkaker, meat cakes .
Photo: Astrid Hals / Matprat.no
Kjøttkaker, meat cakes .
Photo: Astrid Hals / Matprat.no

Kjøttkaker are usually served with boiled potatoes and carrots, and sauerkraut or mashed peas.

Don't forget the lingonberry jam!

Kjøttkaker, meat cakes .
Photo: Matprat.no /OEK
Kjøttkaker, meat cakes .
Photo: Matprat.no /OEK

Norwegian meatballs


(serves 4)

400 g minced beef

1 tsp. salt

0.25 tsp. pepper

0.25 tsp. ground nutmeg

0.25 tsp. ground ginger

2 tbsp. potato flour

1.5 dl water or milk

Brown gravy:

4 tbsp. butter

4 tbsp. flour

1 l beef stock or bouillon

0.5 tsp. salt

0.5 tsp. pepper

Mushy peas:

1 bag of frozen peas (400 g)

1 dl beef stock (diluted: 1 dl water + ½ stock cube)

1 tbsp. butter

0.25 tsp. pepper

Boiled potatoes:

Approx. 800 g peeled potatoes

Lingonberry jam (or sweetened lingonberries)


Source: Matprat.no



1. Make the mince first. Put all the ingredients into a food processor bowl and mix for approx. 10-20 seconds until the mince is evenly and finely ground. 

You can also make the mince by hand: Thoroughly mix the salt into the mince. Add spices and potato flour while stirring. Gradually add milk or water, a little at a time, while stirring the mixture. 

2. Shape the mince into big, oval-shaped patties (somewhere between burger patties and meatballs) using a spoon, your hands, and cold water.

3. Add some butter to a frying pan on medium-high heat. Fry the patties for approx. 2 minutes per side until they have a nice brown colour.

4. Make the brown gravy by melting the butter in a large saucepan. Add flour and brown the mixture at low heat, until it has a nut-brown colour.

5. Gradually add hot stock, a little at a time, stirring well between each time you add some liquid. Leave to simmer for approx, 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. Add the meat patties to the gravy and leave them to simmer for approx. 10 minutes (until thoroughly cooked).

7. Boil the potatoes in salted, boiling water until they are soft on the inside.

8. Boil the frozen peas in beef stock to make mushy peas. Blend the mixture together with a hand mixer or food processor. You can also use a potato masher. Add butter, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with gravy, boiled potatoes, mashed peas, and lingonberry jam.

Among Norwegians, kjøttkaker is a top contender as Norway’s national dish, beaten only by fårikål.

No matter where you hit the road, you will soon discover that kjøttkaker is a regular menu item at Norwegian veikroer (roadside diners) and fjellstuer (mountain lodges). It's a plus that they are inexpensive!

Kongsvold Fjeldstue .
Photo: Kongsvold Fjeldstue
Kongsvold Fjeldstue .
Photo: Kongsvold Fjeldstue

You can also buy them ready-made at the store, and barbecue them outside!

Kjøttkaker tastes excellent cooked over a campfire, and it's very easy to do.

Brimi Fjellstugu .
Photo: Tina Stafrèn/Visitnorway.com
Brimi Fjellstugu .
Photo: Tina Stafrèn/Visitnorway.com

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