Scandinavian Celebrations: Savor These Swedish Meat Pies

By Jo Mancuso (OPB)
Aug. 10, 2016 11:15 p.m.
This savory handpie from Melissa Bahen's "Scandinavian Gatherings" is good hot out of the oven but maybe even better after it's cooled a bit, making Swedish Meat Pies a great portable, make-ahead summer dish.

This savory handpie from Melissa Bahen's "Scandinavian Gatherings" is good hot out of the oven but maybe even better after it's cooled a bit, making Swedish Meat Pies a great portable, make-ahead summer dish.

Charity Burggraaf

Melissa Bahen and her husband, who live in the hilly countryside outside Eugene, started attending the summer Scandinavian Festival in Junction City eight years ago and "instantly fell in love with the Swedish meat pies" sold at the Loven Oven booth, readily identified by its long line.


Bahen, who is of Norwegian descent and blogs as Lulu the Baker, says she read the pie's description at Loven Oven's booth — a sour cream pastry crust with ground beef, shredded potatoes, onions and cheese — and thought she could create a make-at-home version: "I tinkered with the crust and filling — I like to put garlic in everything and the carrots add flavor and color."

She has included this recipe in her book, "Scandinavian Gatherings; From Afternoon Fika to Midsummer Feast," a collection of seasonal entertaining, craft and food projects drawing from Scandinavian style and traditions, due out Sept. 27. (Check out Bahen's Swedish meat pie recipe.)

Meanwhile, James Dreier and crew will be serving up his mother's original version at this year's Scandinavian Festival in Junction City, starting Aug. 11.

Roberta Dreier of Eugene created the Loven Oven recipe almost 40 years ago from her stepmother's Swedish and English family traditions. "I fooled around with her pastry recipe and made a turnover or calzone that would be easy to eat while walking around at an event," she says. Dreier says she's seen copycat versions posted online, but her Loven Oven recipe remains closely guarded.

The iconic Scandinavian Festival centerpiece, the dala horse, is always a crowd favorite.

The iconic Scandinavian Festival centerpiece, the dala horse, is always a crowd favorite.

Courtesy of Dr. Dale Rowe

The festival offers three stages of entertainment (dancers, singers, musicians); craft, cooking and dancing demos; about 85 food, beverage and crafts booths; children's area; adults-only wine terrace and beer garden; and nightly pageant followed by community dancing. Highlights this year: an on-stage wedding ceremony and a performance by the Tulehoidjad Estonian dance group of Portland.

The 56th annual Scandinavian Festival,  Aug. 11–14 in downtown Junction City. Danish Day, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday; Finnish Day, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; Norwegian Day, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and Swedish Day, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission free.


Swedish Meat Pies

Prep: 30 minutes hands-on; 1-1/2 hours chilling and baking | Ready in: 2 hours  | Average

Swedish meat pies actually taste best when they’re not piping hot. They get better (and won’t burn your mouth) after cooling for a little while. This – plus their portability –  makes them great make-ahead party food! If taking on a picnic, I would pack them while they are still quite warm and eat at room temperature within a few hours of baking. -- M.B.

Swedish Meat Pies

8 pies

For the crust:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • Pinch of table salt

For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups shredded potatoes
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground allspice
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese


  1. To make the crust, in a large bowl with an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sour cream on medium speed until smooth, about 15 seconds. Add the flour and salt, and beat on low just until smooth, about 20 seconds. Wrap the dough in a piece of plastic wrap, and chill it until firm, at least 1 hour.
  2. While the dough is chilling, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion, celery, and carrot, and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and potatoes, and sauté for 2 minutes more, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the ground beef, salt, pepper, nutmeg and allspice. Crumble the meat, and cook it until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from heat, and stir in the cheddar cheese until evenly distributed. Cover the skillet, and allow the mixture to cool until the crust is thoroughly chilled. Once the beef mixture has cooled slightly, you can put it in the refrigerator to continue cooling while the crust chills.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Divide the chilled dough into eight equal portions. On a well-floured surface, roll each portion of dough into a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Divide the filling into eight equal portions. Place a scoop of filling on one side of a dough circle, and spread the filling out to cover half of the circle. Stay about 1 inch from the edge of the dough, and make sure the filling is only on one side of the circle. Use your finger to lightly brush the edge of the dough circle with water, then fold the dough over the filling and press the edges to seal the pie. Dip a fork in flour, gently press the fork along the edge of the pie to crimp it, then poke two or three holes gently in the top of the pie to let steam escape.
  5. Put the pie on a prepared baking sheet, and repeat step 4 to assemble the remaining seven pies.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and bubbly. Allow the pies to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Excerpted from “Scandinavian Gatherings; From Afternoon Fika to Midsummer Feast: 70 Simple Recipes and Crafts for Everyday Celebrations” by permission of Sasquatch Books. Copyright 2016 By Melissa Bahen. All rights reserved.

Additional storage and reheating tips

Let handpies cool to a warm room temperature, place in an airtight container and refrigerate. Best eaten or frozen within three days of making. To reheat ours straight from the fridge, we put them on a baking sheet and heat in a 350° oven until warmed through, about 15–20 minutes. If they start to get too brown on top, just place a piece of aluminum foil lightly on top to protect the crust from over-browning. To reheat ours from the freezer, we place them on a cookie sheet and cover with foil. Bake in a 350° oven until warm through (after 30 minutes you can cut one in half and test with your finger); then remove the foil and continue baking for 5–10 minutes to crisp up the crust. — M.B.