Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs

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Instant Pot Swedish meatballs simmered in a delicious creamy gravy. The meat is a combination of ground beef, pork, breadcrumbs, and spices to create a flavorful appetizer or entree. The Instant Pot braises and pressure cooks the meatballs and sauce all in one device.

Instant Pot Swedish meatballs recipe

It’s pretty amazing what one kitchen gadget can do. In the case of this Swedish meatball recipe, the saute and pressure cooking functions on the Instant Pot allows you to perform various techniques all in one pot. I think we can all appreciate less dirty dishes to clean.

Over the years it’s been experimenting with different meat-to-breadcrumb ratios to perfect Grandma’s Italian meatball recipe. Using what I’ve learned, I designed a product that has a nice chew but doesn’t crumble apart. To prevent the meatballs from shrinking and becoming dried out, a panade is my secret weapon.

Whisk mixing a panade mixture in a bowl

For the best taste and texture

Adding a panade is the key to a cohesive and succulent meatball. By soaking breadcrumbs in a liquid-like cream, a starchy paste forms and sets into a gel once heated. Mixed with the meat, something miraculous happens.  The proteins are coated with the starch, which prevents tight bonding as the meat cooks. You will notice that the meatballs hold their round shape and stay moist, even after being locked in a high-pressure chamber.

Combining pork and ground beef enhances the taste of the mixture and provides a slight sausage-like texture. Typically a soft, fork-tender density is desired for traditional meatball recipes, however, some springiness is welcomed for the Swedish version. What makes the flavors really pop is the unexpected, yet delightfully bold, sweet spices from nutmeg and allspice.

raw meatballs lined up in rows on a sheet pan

How to cook Swedish meatballs in the Instant Pot

  1. Use the saute function to brown the meatballs. This enhances the surface flavor and color through the Maillard reaction.
  2. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes, then naturally release for 10 minutes to allow for gradual carry-over cooking.
  3. Thicken the sauce at the end of cooking using the saute function. This prevents the cream from curdling.

meatballs being sautéed inside an Instant Pot

The role of cornstarch

The gravy-based sauce typically uses a roux of flour and butter to thicken. However, the starches could scorch in the elevated heat environment in the Instant Pot. To get around this issue, I use a cornstarch slurry after the pressure is released. This quickly adds body to the sauce, helping it to cling to the meat.

The cream is added last with the heat turned off. Gently incorporating the dairy product helps to prevent curdling, which could totally ruin the texture. A little bit of lemon juice provides some acidity to subtly cut the richness of the sauce.

person pouring cream into an Instant Pot filled with meatballs

Serve this with

A big bowl of egg noodles or homemade mashed potatoes soaks up each drop of the luscious gravy. This dish is traditionally served with lignin berry jam and pickled onions, balancing the sweet and savory of the meatballs. I can’t wait to hear how you pair the meal in the comments section below!

Swedish meatballs served in a bowl with egg noodles

More Instant Pot recipes

Add baking powder for extra tender meatballs

As you know baking powder is a common leavening agent for baked goods, providing height, and air pockets. What’s neat is you can add a small amount to ground meat to give the mixture an interior lift as is cooks. This little extra push from the inside of the sphere prevents the product from becoming too compact and dense.

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Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs

Easy Instant Pot Swedish meatballs simmered in a delicious creamy gravy. The meat is a mix of ground beef, pork, breadcrumbs, and spices.
Pin Print Review
4.43 from 21 votes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings 4 servings
Course Appetizer, Entree
Cuisine Swedish

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 8 ounces lean ground pork
  • ¼ cup grated yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • teaspoon allspice
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 ounces ground beef, 85% lean recommended
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup unsalted beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 teaspoons water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • In a medium-sized bowl whisk together ¼ cup heavy cream and egg.
  • Add in breadcrumbs and stir to combine, set aside.
  • In a large bowl add pork, grated onion, garlic, baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, allspice, and black pepper.
  • Use your hands to mix and combine the mixture until consistent in appearance, 1 minute.
  • Add in the breadcrumb mixture (panade) and mix with hands to combine until smooth, 1 minute.
  • Add in ground beef and mix with hand until combined, 45 seconds.
  • Roll meatball mixture into 2 tablespoon-sized balls, about 17 total.
  • Select "Saute" on the Instant Pot. Allow pot to heat, it will indicate "Hot" on the display when ready.
  • Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, once hot add half of the meatballs and brown on one side for 4 minutes, flip over and brown 2 minutes.
  • Remove meatballs from the pot and brown the remaining meatballs, transfer to plate.
  • Add 1 cup of unsalted beef broth, using a whisk to deglaze and scrape any of the browned bits on the bottom of the pan into the liquid.
  • Press "Keep Warm/ Cancel" on the Instant Pot, then add the meatballs back in.
  • Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, turn and lock.
  • Press the "Manual" button on the Instant Pot on high pressure, and then set the timer to 5 minutes using the "+" or "-" buttons. It will take about 10 minutes for the pot to heat and build up pressure. You will see some steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display.
  • Once cook time is complete, allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes.
  • Carefully open the lid. Press the "Keep Warm/ Cancel" button.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry.
  • Press "saute" on the "more" setting.
  • Cook and stir sauce until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 60 to 90 seconds.
  • Press the "Keep Warm/ Cancel" button, stir in ½ teaspoon salt, ½ cup heavy cream, and lemon juice.
  • Taste sauce and adjust salt and pepper as desired.
  • Garnish meatballs with parsley and serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Equipment

Notes

Stove Top Instructions:
  • Follow instructions 1 to 7. Heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat, add oil, brown meatballs on one side for 4 minutes, flip over and brown another 2 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate. 
  • Add 1 cup of unsalted beef broth, using a whisk to deglaze and scrape any of the browned bits on the bottom of the pan into the liquid.
  • Place lid on the pot, slightly ajar. Simmer on low heat for at least 1 ½ hours, checking and stirring every 20 minutes, or as needed. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Turn heat to medium-high and stir sauce until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 60 to 90 seconds.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer, stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup heavy cream, and lemon juice. Taste sauce and adjust salt and pepper as desired.
 
Slow Cooker Instructions: 
  • Follow instructions 1 to 7. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add oil, brown meatballs on one side for 4 minutes, flip over and brown another 2 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate. 
  • Add 1 cup of unsalted beef broth, using a whisk to deglaze and scrape any of the browned bits on the bottom of the pan into the liquid.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Turn heat to medium-high and stir sauce until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 60 to 90 seconds. Transfer sauce and browned meatballs to slow cooker. 
  • Cover and cook meatballs 2 hours on “High”, or “Low” for 4 to 5 hours.
  • Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup heavy cream, and lemon juice. Taste sauce and adjust salt and pepper as desired

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Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 464 Calories from Fat 324
% Daily Value*
Fat 36g55%
Saturated Fat 17g85%
Cholesterol 183mg61%
Sodium 1032mg43%
Potassium 525mg15%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Protein 25g50%
Vitamin A 725IU15%
Vitamin C 0.7mg1%
Calcium 106mg11%
Iron 2.5mg14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Reader Interactions

13 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Bryan says

    Omg! This looks so good! I’m a sucker when it comes to pasta so I’d love to try out the meatball recipe. I’m about to text this link to my girlfriend so we can both be excited for it lmao

  2. Amanda Close says

    Hi! I’m a little confused about baking soda vs powder. You recommend soda in your tip above but then don’t have it in the ingredients list. Should we use both? Or powder since you have it on the recipe itself? Thanks!!

  3. Trang says

    This is the third swedish meatballs recipe I’ve tried and it’s the best! The panade really makes the meatballs super tender and delicious. I love that tip and I’m gonna use that alllllll the time now when making any kind of meatballs. I doubled the recipe for meal prep, it worked out perfectly. So good!

  4. Arleen Barber says

    Hi. This recipe looks great and I have been looking for Swedish Meatballs for a while! One quick question: you mention adding lemon juice but don’t say how much to use and when to add it. Can I assume it won’t curdle the sauce? Thanks!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thanks for the catch Arleen! I’ve updated the recipe to include the lemon juice. It’s only 1 teaspoon and should not curdle the cream.

  5. Celeste says

    Fantastic recipe! Thanks for sharing it with us. We don’t eat pork at home so I swapped the pork mince out for turkey mince, worked a treat!

  6. Julie says

    Absolutely delicious. The meatballs were so moist and tasty and the gravy was out of this world.
    I cooked mine in the pressure cooker and it was just so easy.
    I must admit that I thought the mince was quite a wet mixture and I was worried that they may have fallen apart when I was browning them.
    Thank goodness they stayed together so well.
    It really was a beautiful meal that the whole family enjoyed.
    Thank you so much for a wonderful recipe.

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