Swedish Meat Balls

And a little random movie star trivia.

While recipes for Swedish meatballs show up in the 1910s in American newspapers, they really started to become popular domestically at ladies’ luncheons in the 1930s, where they were likely to be served with ketchup, and the 1940s, where sour cream was more common. By the 1950s, most recipes included noodles.

Here’s a mention in a blurb from the December 13, 1951 edition of the Scottsdale Progress:

Loves To Eat

Nancy Olson loves to eat, yet manages to retain her trim figure. The leading lady of Paramount’s “Submarine Command” munches on garlic bread before, during, and after meals, prefers curried and Spanish food but also goes for Swedish meatballs in a big way.

Well, she’d have to, or it’d be awkward at home. Olson itself is a Scandinavian name, but her mother Evelyn Bergstrom was the daughter of Swedish emigrants. She’s probably best recognized (she’s still working, now and then) for her role as Betty in Sunset Boulevard. Here’s a trailer:

Fun fact (depending on your idea of fun, I guess): while there was a pretty famous Scandinavian restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in the 1960s called Scandia, it served Danish food, including frikadeller, the delicious — but totally different — Danish meatballs.

Here’s their menu from 1981, with the Danish meatballs on page three:

So Nancy in Sunset Boulevard couldn’t get Swedish meatballs on Sunset Boulevard. Hey, it’s the little things in life that amuse me.

We talked a little bit about these in the post for Swedish Meatballs from Chicago, Illinois.

From a box sold in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. Thanks to Monica in the comments for filling in the blanks!

Swedish Meat Balls

1 lb. ground lean beef
1/2 lb. each ground pork and veal ground
1 c. dry stale bread crumbs
1 c. milk
1 onion, minced
2 eggs, beaten
Dash nutmeg
Dash black pepper
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. flour
2 c. veal stock or consommé
Pinch grated lemon rind
1 c. sour cream
Chopped dill or parsley
Cooked noodles

Blend meats, crumbs, and milk. Saute onion in Tablespoon butter and add to meat with eggs and seasonings.

Mix with hands to get even texture; roll in small balls. Brown in 2 Tablespoons butter. Remove meat balls.

To pan juice add flour and stock to make gravy. Stir until hot. Check seasonings and add lemon rind. (Gravy should not be too thick at this point.)

Return meat balls to gravy and simmer over very low heat 1 hour. Remove meat balls to serving platter with slotted spoon. Stir some cream into gravy and heat. (Do not boil.) Pour over meat; add dill.

Serve with noodles. Serves 6 to 8.


  1. monica horn

    I have a copy of this exact recipe that I scanned from a vintage cookbook.
    I can see some of the translation here was lost due to the hand-written card being difficult to read.

    For ex it’s not “Sauce onion” it’s *saute* onion in 1Tbsp butter

    Check *seasonings* is the answer to the first ? mark .

    and “Gravy should not be too *thick* at this point” is the answer to the 2n ?

  2. does it matter

    I take the time to fill in the gaps missing in your translation of the hand-written, vintage recipe and my comment is deleted.
    Friendly blog!

    • Monica, I presume? 😉

      Your comment wasn’t deleted, new commenters need to have one comment approved before they show up, and since there was an hour between the time of your comments and I’m at work… I didn’t see it. That approval process is why you don’t see 1000 comments for knock-off handbags and ED pills. 😉

      But thank you for the effort!

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