Why you’ll love this recipe:
If you haven’t had success with meatball recipes in the past, this recipe is for you! There’s nothing worse than a dry, flavorless ball of meat. These melt-in-your-mouth tender meatballs are anything but dry!
Here’s what makes these Instant Pot Swedish meatballs so great …
- Smothered in a dark, flavorful gravy
- Made with pantry staples
- Comfort food at its best
- Meatballs can be prepped ahead of time
- One-pot meal with fewer dishes
Swedish meatballs are a perfect recipe if you like to meal plan. You can roll the meatballs a day or two ahead to save time. Unlike baked meatballs, pressure cooker meatballs are very forgiving. They don’t get dry or crumbly!
Key Ingredient Notes:
For the beef meatballs:
- Lean ground beef – It’s important to use lean ground beef to keep the gravy from getting greasy. Ground chuck will work in a pinch, but you may need to skim the excess fat off the top of the gravy.
- Panko breadcrumbs – Breadcrumbs are essential because they lock in moisture. They absorb the milk and the juices from the meat. Plain or Italian breadcrumbs work great too.
- Milk – The enzymes in milk help to tenderize the meat. It also adds moisture to the breadcrumbs, which results in a moist and tender meatball!
- Egg – Eggs bind the ingredients together. One is plenty! Too many eggs and meatballs come out spongy.
- Spices – Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder pack in flavor.
For the gravy:
Gravy from scratch is worlds better than store-bought. Here’s what you’ll need.
- Beef broth – Beef broth is the liquid base for this brown gravy recipe. It can be packed with excess sodium, which is why I recommend reduced-sodium broth.
- Kitchen Bouquet – Gravy Master and Kitchen Bouquet are in small bottles right by the dry gravy packets. Don’t skip this secret ingredient for a dark brown, rich gravy! They are shelf-stable for up to a year.
- Sour cream – For a thick and creamy gravy!
- Gravy mix – Gravy mix simplifies the gravy-making process! It adds several ingredients and spices in one easy-to-use packet.
- Cornstarch – Cornstarch acts as a thickener for the gravy. Don’t just dump it in the broth, or it will coagulate and form clumps. Clumps of cornstarch taste awful. Be sure to dissolve it with beef broth as the recipe directs.
How to make this recipe:
1. Make the meatballs
- In a large mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients for the meatballs except the ground beef. This ensures you don’t get chunks of breadcrumbs in your meatballs.
- Then add the meat and use your hands to mix it all together. Do not overmix, or the meatballs can get dry and tough.
- Use a portion scoop for uniform-sized meatballs. Scoop it into your hand, then roll it into a ball.
- Place them onto a sheet pan or large plate. Just be sure to wash the plate if you plan to use it for the cooked meatballs.
2. Sear and cook the meatballs in Instant Pot
- Preheat the Instant Pot on sauté mode and then drizzle in the oil. It should immediately heat up. Sear 10 to 12 meatballs at a time for about 3 minutes per side. The meatball will gently release when it’s ready to flip.
- Place the meatballs onto a plate. Add more oil and repeat.
- Cancel the sauté function, then use a paper towel to absorb the excess oil from the pot. Doing this will ensure the gravy isn’t greasy. Now, pour in a little bit of broth and deglaze the pot really good. Be sure to scrape off any stuck bits to prevent the “BURN” notice.
- Place the meatballs back into the pot. Pour enough broth to mostly cover the meatballs. It’ll become the base for the gravy. If using, add in the gravy master. Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes, then manually release the pressure. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meatballs to a clean plate.
3. Make the gravy
- Press sauté on Instant Pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Meanwhile, combine the sour cream, gravy mix, spices, and cornstarch with a little bit of beef broth in a bowl. Doing this is essential for a silky smooth gravy with no cornstarch clumps!
- Stir until the mixture is nice and smooth.
- Carefully whisk the mixture into the boiling broth. Continue to whisk as it boils for 2 minutes. Adjust the thickness as needed.
- Transfer the meatballs back into the pot. Turn the pot off and serve immediately.
Meal Prep Tips:
- Make the meatballs ahead of time. Feel free to roll the meatballs the night before you make this dish. Double the batch and you can freeze half of them for next time! Let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight and then follow the recipe as directed.
- Make ahead & reheat: Meatballs and gravy taste even better the next day! Sometimes I will make the meatballs the night before I plan to eat them. Then, all you have to do is reheat on the stovetop until warmed through.
Side Dish Ideas:
- Egg noodles are our go-to side dish for these meatballs.
- Serve with rice: For a quick side dish, buy microwaveable rice. It’s ready in less than two minutes. Uncle Ben’s jasmine ready rice is a great option. Or you can make a perfect white rice on stovetop in just 15 minutes!!
- Cook mashed potatoes the day before. Reheat the mashed potatoes in the oven at 325 degrees while you cook the meatballs. Stir in a splash of half and half and stir the potatoes occasionally.
- Instant Pot meatballs can be stored in the fridge in the gravy for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
- Reheat gently over medium-low heat on a saucepan, or place in a crockpot on low for a few hours. You can also microwave individual portions until warmed through.
- To freeze raw meatballs, place the meatballs on a lined sheet pan. Place the sheet pan in the freezer until the uncooked meatballs are frozen. Place them into a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag. Thaw the meatballs in the refrigerator once ready to use. For best results, use within 2 months.
Technically yes, but the sear on the meatballs and the fond in the pot is what makes this recipe so delicious! Fond is the term for the brown bits left after searing the meatballs. It’s the backbone of the rich and flavorful gravy.
Since meatballs are made of ground beef, they should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill harmful bacteria.
More Ground Beef Recipes:
Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs
Instant Pot Meatballs and Gravy
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs Note 1
- ¼ cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ¼ lb lean ground beef Note 2
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 32 ounce carton low-sodium beef broth
- 2 teaspoons Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet optional, but highly recommended Note 3
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 1 packet brown gravy mix such as McCormick
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- salt and pepper
- fresh parsley for garnish
To make the meatballs:
- In a large bowl, mix all ingredients with a fork, except the ground beef. Once all of the dry and wet ingredients are well combined, add the meat and mix with your hands until just combined. Do not over mix.
- Use a two tablespoon cookie scoop to make even size meatballs, roll each meatball in your hands briefly and place on a sheet pan.
To sear and pressure cook the meatballs:
- Preheat the Instant Pot on ‘sauté’ for about 2 minutes. Add a generous drizzle of canola oil, it should shimmer when it hits the hot pot. Working in batches of 10 to 12 to leave space between each one, sear meatballs for about 3 minutes per side. If the meatball sticks, it’s not ready to be flipped yet.
- Add another drizzle of oil for the second batch if need be. Place seared meatballs on a clean plate. Press ‘cancel.’ Use a wad of clean paper towel to absorb all excess oil from the pot insert. Pour a little bit of broth and deglaze the pot well. It's crucial not to leave any brown bits stuck, or you may get "BURN" notice.
- Place meatballs back in the pot. Pour enough broth in to mostly cover the meatballs, about 20 ounces. Add in the Gravy Master. Replace the lid, and turn valve to the ‘sealing’ position. Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Manually release the pressure, and press ‘cancel.’ Use a large slotted spoon to remove all meatballs and place them on a clean plate or bowl.
To make the gravy:
- Press ‘saute’ and bring the liquid up to a boil. While it comes to a boil, in a bowl or liquid measuring cup; whisk the sour cream, gravy mix, garlic and onion powder, and cornstarch with just enough broth to dissolve the gravy mix and cornstarch. It will be thick and creamy.
- Whisk this mixture into the boiling broth and allow to boil for 2 minutes, whisking frequently. If it’s not thick enough after 2 minutes of boiling, dissolve 1 additional tablespoon of cornstarch and mix into the gravy. If it is too thick, add a splash of broth.
- Taste for salt and pepper and adjust. Add meatballs back in, turn pot off and serve immediately over mashed potatoes or buttered wide egg noodles. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.
- Meatballs can be stored in the fridge in the gravy for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
- Reheat gently over medium low heat on a saucepan, or place in a crockpot on low for a few hours. You can also microwave individual portions until warmed through.
* Disclaimer: All nutrition information are estimates only. Read full nutrition disclosure.
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