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Easy Old-Fashioned Swedish Meatballs

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swedish meatballs


I loved getting to spend time in the summers with all of my Grandparents when I was a child. And I miss all of them each and every day! Time with my paternal Grandparents, Elton “Dale” and Alice Campbell, who lived just outside of Champaign-Urbana (where I’m from), in a little town called Tolono, Illinois, was always so much fun when we were kids!

My Grandpa, a Scotch-Irishman, and my Grandma, Swedish, lived in a little white house on a street that looked like it was straight out of the movie, “Fried Green Tomatoes”! There were railroad tracks right across the tiny narrow road, and we loved to watch the trains pull up and fill their cars with grain or water! Whatever they needed that day from the silos. I especially loved waving to the man who always rode on the back, though. The very last car…..the red caboose!!  No matter who was “in charge of waving”, he always had a smile for every child jumping up and down, waiting their turn to wave back!

My Grandpa always had a gorgeous garden! Tons of vegetables, but I especially loved his strawberry patches!! Helping Grandma on the front porch snapping pea pods and green beans were one thing, always fun actually, but getting to help pick strawberries was a royal treat! One for the little wooden, woven bucket with the red handle….one for the tummy. As big as your palm, crimson red, juicy, and sweet as candy!





The summers were scorching-hot down in central Illinois, 102º+ days were not uncommon, and I loved every minute of every day! In the mornings when it was still a little cool, we’d get to walk with Grandma down to a little candy store and pick out a few “penny candies” that were all scooped into a tiny little brown paper sack for each of us. We could sample a couple, after having homemade waffles for breakfast and were stuffed to the gills anyways. Then the rest was saved until the afternoon! There were sheets to help hang on the clotheslines, dolls to be rocked in the handmade wooden cradle, “Grocery Store” to be played, “dress-up” with Grandma’s pretty scarves and even jewelry from her jewelry box, hair to be washed, bangs to be trimmed (too short! 🙁 ), and hair to be turned into tiny pinwheels all over our heads secured with bobby pins for church the next day. I don’t know which I hated more. Sleeping with all those bobby pins on my head or dressing up and going to church. (I was a TOTAL tomboy).

After my Grandma prepared us all a delicious, completely homemade supper, (which always included everything we had picked from Grandpa’s garden, some type of meat dredged and fried, plus homemade mashed potatoes and gravy!), the evening fun began!

Though my Grandpa was a tall and thin man, he had an enormous chair in the living room with big wide arms, that I think was purchased just so all of his Grandkids could perch on it! He used to read us books that we’d get to choose from the little bookcase of Golden Books and others that my Grandma kept right in the living room handy, and Grandpa was such a good story teller of his own, too! (He also had a really cool, song-like whistle that he used to do that sounded like a beautiful bird singing. Not kidding. When I close my eyes I can still hear him whistling).  It was such a pretty and unique sound!

After the books we had chosen were read, plus at least two more that we begged for, it was apple peeling time!!! Not red apples, not Granny Smith apples, but the ever so sweet and juicy yellow apples!!! He would take out his pocket knife, and cut the skin off in one, long, twirly curl! The whole big apple! Then he’d cut slices off for each of us, while reading those last few books we  begged for. 😉

We’d all watch a few shows on the big wooden console TV that sat on the floor and was in black and white, and then the REAL evening’s treat came! We always finished every evening with homemade strawberry ice cream made from the strawberries that Grandpa grew! Grandma and Grandpa had theirs in bowls, but us kids got CONES! What a HUGE treat that was back then!! And not the overly sweet, pointy-ended ones that came out later. The old-fashioned, pale peach-colored ones that were delicately crispy and light as a feather! There was just nothing better than a sweet, wafer-like cone with homemade strawberry ice cream!!

All of my Grandparents, Step-Grandparents and even my Dad are gone now, but the memories of them will live in my heart forever. It’s summer! Get the kids out of the house and off their computers and phones, and go on a picnic, go fishing, hiking through a National park, or day-long trip to the beach. Take them to visit their Grandparents. Because this is what they’ll remember. The only things that will have meaning later.





Though this recipe for Easy Old-Fashioned Swedish Meatballs is my quicker version, I’m certain that my Grandma Alice would’ve liked it anyways. 😉 It’s delicious, and quick to fix after a busy summer’s day. I’m sure that you’ll enjoy it, too!



Easy Old-Fashioned Swedish Meatballs
Yield: 5 - 6 servings

Easy Old-Fashioned Swedish Meatballs


For the Meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb. lean quality ground beef, broken up well
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground pork, (can sub ground beef if you need to), broken up well
  • 1/3 cup plain or italian-seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 Tbl. finely chopped fresh parsley or 1 tsp. dried
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried minced onions
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg, as you like
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
  • *extra pepper and a little salt on top before baking

For the Sauce:

  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp. Kitchen Bouquet, or to taste (start with a little then slowly add as it's strong in flavor)
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • fresh chopped parsley for garnish if desired
  • Lingonberry jam on the side if desired, *see note


  • For Meatballs:
  • In large bowl, mix all ingredients well with hands. Pat into a mound, divide into fourths, and make 5 meatballs out of each section totaling 20. Place onto sprayed or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with more pepper and a little extra salt if you'd like. Bake in 375ºF oven for about 25 minutes. Remove from sheet with spatula, scraping away any released fat, and place onto plate lined with paper towel. Cover and set aside.
  • To Make the Sauce:
  • In large deep frying pan, whisk together ingredients for the sauce, *except sour cream*, until well combined. Add meatballs and bring to just a simmer. Stir gently and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes. Turn to LOW or remove from heat altogether, and stir in sour cream until creamy. Remove from heat if you haven't already.
  • Let stand, covered, for 10 minutes before serving so that sour cream sauce can heat through.
  • Serve the Swedish meatballs over cooked noodles, garnish with fresh chopped parsley, and serve lingonberry jam on the side if desired.
  • Notes

    *If you want, you can also stir in a little Lingonberry jam right into the sauce when it's finished if you prefer it that way over serving it on the side. Add before the sour cream to melt the jam so it easily melts and incorporates into the sauce.
    **The sour cream should always be added last and then removed immediately from the heat to prevent curdling.
    ***If you prefer extra sauce, go for it and double it! 😉


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    Monday 23rd of July 2018

    Thank you SO much for sharing your sweet summer childhood memories. They are the best. You are such a good storyteller. You could write childhood tales a la Ingalls. I saved off this recipe to try later, perhaps this fall. Blessings!


    Thursday 28th of July 2016

    We don't have Kitchen Bouquet here in NYC (at least not that I've seen) would it be the same as Gravy Master?


    Friday 29th of July 2016

    Hi, Annie! I just buy mine at Walmart, and funny, I had never heard of "Gravy Master". But after reading about it, I think it would be a perfect substitute, possibly even better. I'll look for it in stores here so that I can do a comparison test! Hope that helps, and thank you! :)

    Dishin with Didi

    Wednesday 22nd of June 2016

    Kelly my sweet, sweet girl. I could literally hear the grandchildren's laughter and smell the wonderful aromas from grandma's kitchen!! ♥


    Wednesday 22nd of June 2016

    Awww, thanks, Didi!! Don't you wish grandparents could live forever? I miss them all so much!! My Dad, too. <3

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