A family-favorite recipe for generations, Aunt Bee’s Swedish Meatballs and her tender, juicy meatloaf are pure homemade comfort food at its finest. This is a recipe that you will hold onto forever!
While Spring is technically right around the corner, it’s still very much winter in Virginia. I just hope that the season is over sooner rather than later! My boys were home from preschool AGAIN yesterday, thanks to a whopping 1 inch of snow.
Since I have been holed up inside recently to avoid the howling winds and the snow flurries swirling around outside, I have been cooking up some warm, home-cooked dinners for my family. When I’m looking for a comfort food classic, I know just where to turn!
Remember Aunt Bee, my mom’s godmother? Well Aunt Bee is pretty famous for her delicious cooking, and she has been kind enough to share some of her favorite recipes with me. Even though she constantly reminds me about how “old” she is, she’s an avid reader of the blog, e-mailer, and all-around fun lady!
When Aunt Bee’s grandson, Chip, saw my post for her Sweet Potato Casserole (which is absolutely heavenly, by the way), he sent me an email to let me know that I just HAD to share her meatloaf recipe as well! A quick phone call to Aunt Bee and the recipe was in my hands a few days later.
And let me tell you: this is about as authentic as it gets! This is actually Aunt Bee’s mother’s recipe, and she just happened to be Swedish. So these are true Swedish meatballs from Sweden! And if you want the meal to be truly authentic, Aunt Bee insists that you MUST serve the meatballs with a lingonberry sauce (or jam). My own mom keeps a jar of lingonberry preserves in her refrigerator for just this purpose!
After one bite of the tender, juicy meatballs and the thick, creamy gravy, you will understand why Aunt Bee’s grandsons are so fond of this meal. I also realized that it is the same recipe that my own mom has been making for my entire life. I was raised on Swedish meatballs and I have every intention of sharing them with my own family as well. This is just one of those meals that everyone loves and that will always stay on the menu.
The same basic recipe can be adjusted to make either meatballs or meatloaf. If you are making the meatballs, you can fry them in a skillet on the stovetop as instructed in Aunt Bee’s recipe. To make meatloaf, just form the meat mixture into one large loaf and bake it in the oven for about an hour. Easy peasy!
- 2+ pounds chuck hamburger meat
- 2 large onions, grated into the meat in the bowl
- 3 eggs slightly beaten
- 6 slices of cubed bread or bread crumbs, soaked in half-and-half or milk just until moist (but not too soggy) [Note: I have also used about 1 ½ cups of Panko breadcrumbs with good results]
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- butter and vegetable oil for frying
- For the gravy:
- Pan drippings
- ¼ cup flour, plus additional as needed
- 1 can beef broth (approximately 2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons Half-and-half
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Place the meat in a large bowl. Grate the onions into the meat.
- Add eggs, breadcrumbs, sugar, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to gently combine.
- Form meatballs on a baking sheet so that they will be ready to fry. I make my meatballs approximately the size of golf balls, but you can form them into any size that suits your family. Smaller meatballs will cook faster in the pan.
- Put a few pats of butter and a teaspoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Saute meatballs in batches, turning while they cook so that all sides are evenly browned and the meat is cooked through (about 8-10 minutes per batch).
- Repeat until all meatballs are cooked.
- For the gravy:
- Add flour, beef broth, and half-and-half to the pan drippings. Whisk over medium heat until it bubbles and thickens. Whisk consistently so that it doesn’t burn or get lumpy. You may need to sprinkle in additional flour (one tablespoon at a time) to get the gravy to thicken to the desired consistency.
- To make meatloaf instead of meatballs, simply form the meat mixture into one large loaf. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees F for approximately 1 hour. I like to slather the top of my meatloaf with ketchup before baking, but that's totally optional! You could also make a pan sauce like the one described above and serve that over your meatloaf.
Looking for even more comforting and family-friendly dinner ideas? Check out these favorites: