Swedish Meatballs, Like My Mama Used to Make ‘Em

When I was a kid, one of my favorite meals was Swedish meatballs. Now my kids eat them – and I use exactly the same recipe my mom did.

There is a very special secret ingredient to my recipe.

The McCormick Swedish Meatballs Seasoning & Sauce Mix.

If you came across this blog looking for some old, family-heirloom recipe with a true secret, I am sorry to disappoint. My mom dutifully put a home-cooked dinner on our table almost every night of my young life, but an adventurous or thrilled cook she was not. And cooking for five picky kids will certainly take any fire for culinary experimentation right out of you, I imagine. Our weekly menus consisted of basics like these Swedish meatballs, spaghetti, tater tot casserole, rice-and-hamburger casserole (which may be, to this day, the only food my dad has ever refused to eat), stuffed peppers, goulash, baked chicken, potato-and-hot-dog-and-onion fry, and so on. Recipes were quick, easy and cheap. My parents would buy half a cow and we ate a lot of ground beef. Nothing fancy like pre-cut chicken breasts like spoiled me gets nowadays.

I am pretty sure I have never had real Swedish meatballs, but I imagine they are more labor-intensive than the ones I make. A quick search online turned up cook times of an hour! And that is the beauty of the McCormick seasoning packet. As long as I have milk, ground beef, some sort of pasta and 20 minutes, I am good to go. And I can at least pretend I’m making something interesting.

Since I can’t really share a recipe here (instructions are conveniently written on the packet!) I can share a tip for decent stove-top meatballs. Maybe this is common knowledge and I’m the last person to know, but just in case YOU are the last person to know, I wanted to give you my insights into making sure the meatballs do stay ball-shaped and don’t burn. Because up until about two years ago every batch I made looked more like slightly singed, fat, mini beef pancakes than meat spheres.

First, I use a tablespoon to make sure my meatballs are uniform in size. Some people may be good at estimating this, but I’m not one of those people. I put the meatballs into a cold skillet, then cover and cook over medium heat until the meatballs brown. Turn them over with a spoon and cook a little longer (I know, my times are so scientific, aren’t they? Next time I will write down how long they cook for). Drain the fat from the pan and continue with packet instructions.

Anyway, there you have it, my method for making truly round meatballs on the stove top.

This “recipe” gets a 5/6 star rating at our house. Grant won’t eat ground beef, but everyone else eats it. And as any other mom knows, anytime you’ve found a food that 50% or more of those in the house actually eat, you consider it a success.



  1. I thought your list of foods for “picky” kids was actually quite expansive. My kids won’t even eat Spaghetti sauce…Plain noodles with butter and parm cheese!!! And my hubby isn’t much better!!!

  2. Wow, I’m going to have to give those a try. I’ve always got milk, burger, and noodles 🙂


  1. […] of the same rotation of meals twice a month, with very little variety (I wrote a bit about that in this post) I’m quite sure I didn’t see my mom ever cook with fresh herbs, or anything as fancy as […]

  2. […] Our trip to this shining mecca of wholesomeness had me thinking back to when I used to buy organic milk and produce for our family, probably two kids ago. I always tentatively reach for the organic milk when I’m shopping, but it’s more than twice as much per gallon as the conventional milk we’ve become used to buying, so it doesn’t end up coming home with me. My sister chose some beautiful, organic apples that cost $1 more per pound than I pay for conventionally grown apples (doesn’t that seem backwards? I would think organic would be considered “conventional” seeing as how modern pesticides haven’t been in existence that long, considering the history of humans), and we go through a pound of apples in one day. The grass-fed, organic ground beef at Costco is over a dollar more per pound than what I buy at my local grocery store to make tacos and Swedish meatballs. […]

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