Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs

4.88 from 58 votes
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Instant Pot Swedish meatballs simmered in a delicious creamy gravy. The meat combines ground beef, pork, breadcrumbs, and spices. The Instant Pot braises and pressure cooks the meatballs and sauce to create a flavorful appetizer or entree.

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 allow you to perform various techniques in one pot. I think we can all appreciate fewer 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. A panade is my secret weapon to prevent the meatballs from shrinking and becoming dried out. Make a batch for the ultimate comfort food!

Whisk mixing a panade mixture in a bowl to be used in the ground beef mixture.

For the best taste and texture

Adding a panade is the key to a cohesive and succulent meatball. 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 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.

Make the meatballs

Combining ground pork and ground beef enhances the mixture’s taste and provides a slight sausage-like texture. In a large bowl, combine the ground meats with grated onion, minced garlic, baking powder, salt, pepper, allspice, and nutmeg. Mix in the panade, then form into balls. I’ve found that two tablespoon-size cooks quickly and gives hearty bites.

Typically a soft, fork-tender density is desired for traditional meatball recipes. However, some springiness is welcomed for the Swedish version. The unexpected yet delightfully bold, sweet spices make the flavors really pop.

Raw meatballs lined up in rows on a sheet pan ready to be cooked.

How to cook Swedish meatballs in the Instant Pot

  1. Add the meatballs and use the saute function to brown the surface. This enhances the flavor and color through the Maillard reaction.
  2. Deglaze the pan with beef broth. The moisture helps the system pressurize.
  3. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes, then naturally release for 10 minutes to allow for gradual carry-over cooking.
  4. Thicken the sauce at the end of cooking using the saute function. This prevents the cream from curdling.
Several little 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 high-heat environment in the Instant Pot. I use a cornstarch slurry after the pressure is released to get around this issue. This quickly adds body for a creamy sauce that clings to the meat.

The cream is added last with the heat turned off. Incorporating dairy helps prevent curdling, which could ruin the texture. A little bit of lemon juice provides some acidity to subtly cut the sauce’s richness. Add some sour cream if you like a tangy flavor.

Pouring cream into an Instant Pot filled with meatballs to make a sauce.

Serve this with

A big bowl of egg noodles or homemade mashed potatoes soaks up each drop of the luscious gravy from the pressure cooker Swedish meatballs. This dish is traditionally served with lignin berry jam and pickled onions, balancing the sweet and savory meatballs. I often serve them as a hot appetizer, and they disappear fast. I can’t wait to hear how you pair the meal in the comments below!

More Instant Pot recipes

Swedish meatballs served in a bowl with egg noodles.

Recipe Science

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 the ground meat to give the mixture an interior lift as it cooks. This little extra push from the inside of the sphere prevents the product from becoming too compact and dense.

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.
4.88 from 58 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings 4 servings
Course Appetizer
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 

  • Make a Panade – In a medium-sized bowl whisk together ¼ cup heavy cream and egg. Add in breadcrumbs and stir to combine, set aside.
  • Make the Meatballs – 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 until consistent in appearance, 1 minute.
    Add in the panade and mix with hands to combine until smooth, 1 minute. Add in ground beef and mix with hand until combined, 45 seconds.
  • Form the Meatballs – Roll the meat mixture into 2 tablespoon-sized balls, about 17 total.
  • Heat the Instant Pot – Select "Saute" on the Instant Pot. Allow the pot to heat. It will indicate "Hot" on the display when ready.
  • Brown the Meatballs – Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once hot, add half of the meatballs and brown on one side for 4 minutes, then flip and brown for 2 minutes. Transfer them to a clean plate and repeat with the remaining meatballs.
  • Deglaze the Pot – 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. Add the meatballs back to the pot.
  • Cover Instant Pot – Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, turn and lock.
  • Pressure Cook – Press the "Manual" button on the Instant Pot on high pressure, and then set the timer to 5 minutes using the "+" or "-" controls. 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.
  • Release Pressure – Once cook time is complete, allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes.
  • Open the Lid – Carefully open the lid. Press the "Keep Warm/ Cancel" button.
  • Thicken the Sauce – In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Press "Saute" on the "More" setting. Cook and stir until the sauce is thickened 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 and adjust salt and pepper as desired.
  • To Serve – Garnish with parsley and serve with toothpicks as an appetizer. For an entree, serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Equipment

Notes

Stove Top Instructions:
  1. Follow instructions 1 to 7. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add oil, brown meatballs on one side for 4 minutes, flip, and brown for another 2 minutes. Transfer meatballs to a plate. 
  2. 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.
  3. Place the 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. Reduce heat to a simmer, and stir in ½ teaspoon salt, ½ cup heavy cream, and lemon juice. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.
Slow Cooker Instructions: 
  1. Follow instructions 1 to 7. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add oil, and brown the meatballs on one side for 4 minutes, then flip and brown for another 2 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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 the sauce and browned meatballs to the slow cooker. 
  4. Cover and cook meatballs for 2 hours on “High” or 4 to 5 hours on “Low”.
  5. Stir in ½ teaspoon salt, ½ cup heavy cream, and lemon juice. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired
Storing: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 464kcal (23%)Carbohydrates 8g (3%)Protein 25g (50%)Fat 36g (55%)Saturated Fat 17g (85%)Cholesterol 183mg (61%)Sodium 1032mg (43%)Potassium 525mg (15%)Vitamin A 725IU (15%)Vitamin C 0.7mg (1%)Calcium 106mg (11%)Iron 2.5mg (14%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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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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27 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Lori says

    Hi there,
    This looks delicious and I’m dying to try it, but am I missing under Instant Pot when to put the meatballs back into the pot? I’d think before you turn it on to pressure cook but I am definitely a newbie with the IP. I figure maybe not and I just don’t know when …
    Help?
    And thank you! I really don’t know the answer, lol.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Lori- That’s a great question! Add the meatballs back to the pot after deglazing the pan. I’ve updated the recipe to make that step more clear. Thanks!

  2. Kelti Aldrich says

    Since Indiana doesn’t seem to know it’s Spring, I thought today was the perfect day to make this. So glad I did. My eighteen year old daughter texted me to say,” These meatballs were bussin! I could have eaten so many more, mom!”

    This recipe is definitely a keeper!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      That’s so awesome! I’m trilled to hear that these meatballs were a hit with the family.

  3. Marianne says

    This is the only recipe for Swedish meatballs that I need. From the panade to the Maillard reaction, you know this one is a cut above the rest. I always double the recipe and 34 medium-large meatballs fit perfectly as one layer in my wide round Dutch oven. This is probably my 12th time making it!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Whoo-hoo! Thank you for making the meatball recipe, Marianne! Great to hear that it can scale up easily in the dutch oven.

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