This classic Swedish meatballs recipe is made with delicious homemade meatballs smothered in a cream sauce and served with either mashed potatoes or egg noodles that are cooked at the same time in your Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot pressure cooker! This is an easy-to-make recipe that is ready in under an hour from start to finish and the flavors are outstanding.
I've been eating Swedish meatballs since I was a little kid and have had so many different variations, but I must say this recipe is the BEST Swedish Meatball recipe in the world... at least in my world and I sure hope that it becomes your favorite as well.
I did a whole bunch of research on Swedish meatballs before creating this recipe and while I would never say it is authentic, it is the best I've ever had. Just like with so many other recipes, there isn't just one way to make it, there are many different ways it can be made. In Sweden, this dish is called Köttbullar med gräddsås which translates to English as meatballs with cream sauce. Traditional Swedish meatballs are usually served with creamy mashed potatoes, pickled cucumber, and lingonberry jam which I really wish I could find near me, but haven't yet.
According to my research, everyone makes it slightly different in Sweden, so there isn't just one right way to make it. The most important thing about making food is to make it how you like it and adapt the recipe to fit into your eating plan.
For example, if you are vegetarian or vegan, you can switch the meat to finely chopped mushrooms or another meat substitute, use dairy-free options for the cream sauce and switch out any ingredient that doesn't fit into your eating plan and still enjoy your own version of Swedish Meatballs. If you are on a low-carb diet, you can easily make Keto Swedish Meatballs by omitting the bread crumbs and flour in the sauce and using a different thickening agent. If you are interested in these types of changes, see the section below where I get into a little more detail on how to adapt this recipe.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Most of the time when I've made Swedish meatballs in the past, I've always used frozen meatballs and just whipped up the creamy sauce to simmer the meatballs in. However, after making this recipe, I will never use store-bought meatballs again! Making the meatballs is the most time-consuming part of the recipe, but it is so worth it! I really hope you take the time to make your own, but If not, I will give directions on how to use frozen meatballs in this recipe.
I used a combination of ground pork and ground beef to make the meatballs and this combination of ground meat is fantastic. You get the beefy flavor from the ground beef and the ground pork adds a little more juiciness and a better texture to the meatballs in my opinion. This is the first time I've done the combination of ground meats and it is so worth it!
You can also use all ground beef and skip the pork or you can use a combination of ground pork, ground veal, and ground beef. You can also use ground turkey or ground chicken in place of the other ground meats, but the meatballs will be a little drier due to the leanness of the chicken or turkey. If you wanted to use ground chicken or ground turkey, I recommend adding in a little ground pork or adding some olive oil to the meatball mixture.
I use plain bread crumbs in this recipe which helps to hold the meatballs together and absorb the fat from the meat. If you are using lean ground meat like chicken or turkey or lean ground beef, you may want to decrease the bread crumbs to ¼ cup so the meatballs aren't dry.
For low-carb meatballs, omit the bread crumbs and the cream in the meatballs. You can certainly replace the bread crumbs with almond flour or crushed pork rinds, but these ingredients are not absorbent and while they will provide bulk for your meatballs they will not absorb the cream, so I recommend leaving the cream out when using them.
You could also use slices of bread instead of the bread crumbs, just break the bread up into small pieces and mix it in with the meatball mixture. 2 slices of bread should be fine.
The egg in the recipe also helps keep the meatballs together, but you can omit it if necessary and not replace it with anything.
I add the heavy cream in the meatball mixture for added moister because I really like the softer texture of the meatballs in this recipe. You can omit the cream or use whole milk if preferred. If you use milk, only use 2-3 Tablespoons because it is thinner and may make the meatballs too wet. If you wanted to use non-dairy milk, like soy milk, also decrease the amount to 2-3 Tablespoons.
The meatballs are seasoned with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and allspice which may seem like an odd combination, but it's delicious! Of course, you can season your meatballs with any spices you like so feel free to switch up the spices to what you have on hand and like.
Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard are also included in the meatballs and balance out all the flavors, but you can omit either or both. The Worcestershire sauce deepens the beefy flavor by bringing some umami into the dish. You can also use soy sauce in place of the Worcestershire sauce, but I would only use 1-2 teaspoons so your meatballs aren't too salty. The mustard brings a touch of acid and pop to the meatballs and can be substituted for any mustard you like (not honey mustard though) or omitted.
I use about ½ cup of grated onion and 3 cloves of minced garlic in the meatball mixture. You can substitute the onion with about 1 teaspoon of onion powder and the garlic with 1 teaspoon of garlic powder if desired.
QUICK TIP: If you want to make sure your meatballs are tasty before forming them, pinch off a small amount of the meatball mixture and flatten it into a small patty about the size of a quarter. Fry it until it is cooked through and taste for seasonings. Then you can adjust as needed.
Swedish Meatball Gravy
The gravy for the Swedish Meatballs is a combination of a basic light roux, the cooking liquid from the meatballs, and a touch of cream. It's seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.
Roux for thickening
There are a few ways you can make the roux, but the way that worked best for me is to use the fat after browning the meatballs along with some butter and flour. You can also make the roux by using just butter and flour and cooking it separately and then adding it back into the liquid after pressure cooking. I did test the recipe this way and while it did eliminate the need to remove the meatballs from the pot after browning, it added more fat to the gravy which caused it to split when it cooled. Once warmed, it does come back together, so, either way, is perfectly fine.
You can also use a cornstarch and water slurry in place of the roux. I would start with 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with 3 tablespoons of cold water. After the meatballs are finished pressure cooking, turn sear/sauté on high and add in the slurry. Bring the liquid to a low boil and then reduce the heat to medium (level 3 on the Ninja Foodi), the gravy will thicken as it heats. You can add more cornstarch and water mixed together if needed. The difference between making a flour-based roux and a cornstarch slurry is the look of the gravy. The cornstarch will add a sheen to the gravy and look a little translucent. It does not affect the flavor but definitely will look different.
Liquid for Pressure Cooking
When pressure cooking we need thin l liquid to build the steam that puts the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot under pressure. In this recipe, I use a combination of white wine and beef broth.
You can absolutely switch up the cooking liquid if desired. If you don't like wine, omit it and add in 2 cups of beef broth instead of 1 ½. You could also use chicken broth if desired.
I used a Cupcake Reisling white wine, but any white wine that you enjoy drinking is fine to use. I would be careful using an oaky chardonnay though, it might throw the flavors off. The Reisling I used is not an overly sweet wine, so try to stick to a dryer light white wine.
You can also use white cooking wine that you find in the grocery store and this is a great option if you are not a wine drinker, but want to use the wine in the recipe. I tested the recipe using cooking wine and it turned out just fine, so please don't buy a whole bottle of white wine if you aren't going to drink the leftovers.
Many people use sour cream in their Swedish meatballs and I always did before making this recipe. I decided to use heavy cream instead and absolutely LOVED the gravy this way.
However, you can certainly use sour cream instead or a combination of cream and sour cream. If you omit the wine in the recipe, you might want to add at least a Tablespoon or two of the sour cream to add that punch of acidity to balance out the richness of the gravy.
Egg Noodles or Potatoes
If you are using a Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot pressure cooker that is 6.5qt or bigger, you can cook either potatoes or egg noodles on top of the meatballs to have 2 components of the meal done at the same time.
If you want to make egg noodles, make sure they are extra wide noodles and not smaller or they may overcook. I have made the recipe with both and while the medium egg noodles worked fine they were cooked a little more than when I used the extra wide. This is not a big deal if you aren't planning on having leftovers, but reheating the smaller egg noodles will probably result in them becoming too soft.
When using extra wide egg noodles, you may need to keep them covered while you make the gravy to allow them to soften a little more.
I've also made the recipe using 3 pounds of Russet potatoes that I peeled and chopped into 1" pieces. You want the potato chunks to be small so they cook all the way through in the short pressure cooking time.
Once the potatoes are done cooking, keep them covered while you make the Swedish Meatball gravy, and then drain them and make the mashed potatoes while the meatballs and gravy stay on keep warm.
How to Make Swedish Meatballs in the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot
You can use any size electric pressure cooker to make this recipe, but if you want to make a layered meal with either noodles or potatoes on top, you will want a 6.5qt pressure cooker or larger.
One other thing that is important to mention is the sear/sauté heating level when using different inner pots. If you are using a stainless steel inner pot, you will want to drop your heat level down one step to avoid burning when sautéing the meatballs and making the roux. Stainless steel conducts heat differently and can burn the meatballs and roux if the heat is too high.
Other than that, the directions are exactly the same no matter which type of electric pressure you are using.
Making the Meatballs
Making your own meatballs is a little more time-consuming, but so worth it! These meatballs use simple ingredients and take about 15-20 minutes to make and brown before pressure cooking.
In a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients and mix well.
Turn the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot on and select the sear/sauté function on high (reduce to medium-high if using a stainless steel pot) and allow the pot to heat up for about 3 minutes while you form the meatballs.
Grating fresh onion to add to the meatball mixture gives a great flavor without having chunks of onion. If you don't have a grater, make sure to chop the onions very fine or use a food processor to process them.
You don't need to squeeze the juice from the grated onion unless you are omitting the breadcrumbs.
Once the pot has heated for a few minutes, add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and allow to heat until hot, but not smoking.
For the best results, I recommend making the meatballs about 1 ounce each which is about 2 Tablespoons of the meatball mixture per meatball. I like to use my Pampered Chef scoop so they are all uniform and I don't have to bother weighing the meatballs. Here is the scoop I use: (affiliate link)Medium Scoop
Place the scoop of meatball mixture into the palm of your hand and gently form it into a round ball.
Since the meatballs will be cooked in batches, I recommend making the meatballs and placing them on a tray or baking sheet while the oil is heating.
Browning the Meatballs
Once the oil is hot, decrease the heat to level 4 or medium-high and add about half of the meatballs. Sauté the meatballs for about 2 minutes on one side and gently flip them over and brown the other side. They are fragile at this point, so be as gentle as possible so they don't fall apart.
If at any point you see that the meatballs are getting too dark, lower the heat. You want them nice and brown, but definitely not burnt.
Once browned, remove the meatballs and brown the second batch. You will have brown bits, also known as fond, on the bottom of the pot. It can get pretty dark when you cook the second batch, but as long as you don't smell anything burning you are fine.
If you think it's burning, lower the heat to brown the second batch.
Once all the meatballs are browned, remove them and place them on a tray.
Making the Roux
Once the meatballs are on the tray, make sure the sear/sauté function is on medium to medium-high and add in the 4 Tablespoons of flour. Stir to combine with the fat and juices from the meatballs.
The mixture will look very crumbly because you don't have a full 4 Tablespoons of fat in the pot. Add about 2 Tablespoons of butter and allow it to melt and then stir it into the flour.
The mixture of flour and fat will look like wet sand. If it is still too dry and crumbly, add another Tablespoon of butter.
Cook, while stirring, the roux for about 2 minutes or until it becomes a light tan color. Remove as much of the roux from the bottom of the pot as you can and place it in a small bowl for use later.
It is very important that you remove the roux from the inner pot before deglazing the pot so that you don't have too thick of a liquid for pressure cooking.
Deglazing the Pot
Once as much of the roux is removed as possible (don't wash the pan), you will deglaze the pot with the cooking wine or ½ cup of the beef broth. Keep the heat on medium-high while doing this.
Pour in the ½ cup of wine or ½ cup of beef broth if you aren't using the wine and scrape the bottom of the pot to remove the fond (browned bits on the bottom). This is important because they can trigger the burn/water notice when pressure cooking AND the fond is full of flavor and helps to flavor the gravy.
You will see the liquid start to thicken as it picks up any of the roux left in the pot. Do not worry about this because we will add more thin liquid and it won't impede the pressure cooking process.
After everything is scraped off of the bottom of the pot, add the beef broth and stir.
Add the meatballs back into the liquid and try to get them as much in a single layer as possible.
Adding Egg Noodles or Potatoes
You can either go directly to the next step of pressure cooking or add egg noodles or diced potatoes in a pan on top of the meatballs so they cook at the same time and you can mash the potatoes to serve with the meatballs and gravy or drain the egg noodles and serve with the Swedish meatballs. The cooking time will not change no matter which you choose to use.
Use about 6-8 ounces of extra wide egg noodles, which is about 3 cups. Place them in a pan that will fit on the reversible rack in the low position when using the Ninja Foodi or a pan that will fit on the Instant Pot trivet above the meatballs.
I used my (affiliate link)8" x 2" Fat Daddio pan and that worked great, but any pan is fine as long as it is at least 2" in depth.
Pour in enough water to just cover the noodles and then either use a silicone cover (available on Amazon: (affiliate link)Silicone Covers) or aluminum foil to cover the pan.
Place the pan on the rack in the low position (for the Ninja Food reversible rack) and set the rack on top of the meatballs.
If you want to make mashed potatoes, you can use up to 3 pounds of potatoes that are cut into 1" pieces.
It's important to cut the potatoes small so they cook in the short pressure cook time. Cover them with water and then cover the pan with a silicone cover or aluminum foil.
Place the pan on the reversible rack in the low position (for the Ninja Foodi) or place the pan on a trivet that will sit over the meatballs.
Place the rack with the pan of potatoes into the pot on top of the meatballs.
Pressure Cooking Swedish Meatballs
The pressure cook time is the same whether you put egg noodles or potatoes on top or not.
Place the pressure lid on and make sure the valve is to the seal position. Set to high pressure and the time for 3 minutes. Press start.
It will take about 12-15 minutes for the pot to come to pressure if you have a pan on top and 8-12 minutes if you are only cooking the meatballs.
Once the pressure time is up, quick release the pressure by turning the valve to the vent position. This is also known as an immediate release.
Remove the pan of potatoes or noodles.
If using potatoes, leave them covered until you are ready to make your mashed potatoes, drain the liquid, and add your mashed potato ingredients. Here is my recipe for mashed potatoes if you want to use the ingredients I use: Ninja Foodi Mashed Potatoes
If using egg noodles, remove the cover to see how they are cooked. Use your judgment on whether to keep them in the liquid to sit while you make the gravy or drain them, put them back in the pan, and cover them to keep warm. I found with my extra wide egg noodles they were fine in the liquid covered while I made the gravy.
Making the Creamy Gravy
Add the already-made roux into the liquid with the meatballs and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. The pot can stay on keep warm or you can turn the sauté function on low.
Stir in the roux to incorporate it and you will see the liquid start to thicken almost immediately.
Add in the heavy cream and stir.
Serve the delicious Swedish meatballs with either egg noodles or mashed potatoes. You can also top with some fresh parsley if desired. Enjoy!
Instructions for Variations in Cooking Methods & Dietary Preferences
- Make the meatballs as instructed in the recipe.
- Heat a large sauté pan on the stove and add 2-3 Tablespoons of oil.
- Brown the meatballs in batches in the hot pan and remove.
- Add in 4 Tablespoons of flour and stir in with fat in the pan. Supplement if needed with butter until the mixture has the texture of wet sand. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Deglaze with white wine and 2½ cups of beef broth. Stir until you have a smooth sauce. You will use more liquid because of evaporation.
- Add in the meatballs and simmer until fully cooked and the sauce has thickened.
- Add in heavy cream and salt/pepper to taste.
- Serve with egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
Keto Swedish Meatballs Directions
Adapting this recipe to make it low carb/keto is pretty easy and here is one way to go about it.
- Omit the breadcrumbs in the meatball mixture. You can replace it with crushed pork rinds or almond flour to provide bulk, but these ingredients are not absorbent like flour is so follow the other changes listed below.
- Omit the cream from the meatball mixture
- Squeeze the grated onion to remove the liquid.
- Once the meatballs are browned, don't worry about removing them. Deglaze the pot and move on to pressure cooking.
- Instead of using a flour roux, use xanthan gum and melted butter or oil. I recommend starting out with ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum added into 1 Tablespoon of either fat and mix well. You will add this mixture AFTER pressure cooking at the point in the recipe where the roux is added back in. Once you see how much that thickens the gravy, you can decide if you want to add more or not. Make sure to mix the xanthan gum with a fat before adding into the gravy so it doesn't clump.
No Dairy Swedish Meatballs Directions
If you can't have any dairy, here are my suggestions for adapting the recipe.
- Skip the cream in the meatball mixture. You don't need to replace it with anything.
- Use olive oil instead of butter when making the roux.
- Instead of Heavy Cream in the sauce, use a non-dairy cream like this one: Silk Dairy Free Heavy Cream or you can use a dairy-free sour cream or yogurt if you prefer.
Gluten-Free Swedish Meatballs Directions
- Follow the keto Swedish Meatballs Directions above or
- Use gluten-free bread crumbs and gluten-free flour
- Use a gluten-free Worcestershire sauce or Coconut Aminos
- Always read labels to make sure that none of the ingredients contain gluten.
Vegetarian Swedish Meatballs
Although I am not vegetarian or vegan, I think it will be fairly easy to make this recipe suitable for either dietary preference. Because I am not vegetarian or vegan, please make sure to look over each ingredient and make sure they fit your dietary needs and preferences. These are only my suggestions.
- Replace the ground beef and ground pork with either a meat substitute OR
- Make Vegan Meatballs and instead of the spices called for in the recipe, switch them to the spices I use in this recipe.
- Replace the cream with a dairy-free heavy cream.
- Use coconut aminos instead of the Worcestershire sauce
Frequently Asked Questions
If you are going to eat the leftovers within 3 days, I recommend storing the meatballs in the gravy in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
If you want to freeze the meatballs for longer storage, make sure they have cooled completely before packaging for the freezer. I recommend refrigerating them overnight. The best packaging for freezing is a vacuum-sealed bag and make sure to freeze the meatballs in the gravy as the fat from the gravy will protect the meatballs from freezer burn.
Yes, absolutely. If you double this recipe for Swedish meatballs, you don't want to cook the noodles or potatoes on top unless you have enough clearance in your pressure cooker. The time will stay the same whether you make a half a batch, a full batch, or a double batch. Simply increase or decrease the ingredients to make as much or as little as you want.
The short answer is yes, you can. The longer answer is Swedish meatballs are different from Italian meatballs which are the ones we normally find frozen in the grocery store.
You can use them, but the flavors will be different. You will also need to make the roux with 4 tablespoon of butter and 4 tablespoon of flour since there isn't any need to brown the frozen meatballs.
After making the roux and deglazing the pot with liquid, add in the frozen meatballs and continue on with the recipe. The pressure cook time will stay the same.
What to Serve with Swedish Meatballs
Swedish Meatballs is a hearty dish and the gravy is rich and delicious, so I like to balance that out with a side salad or a green vegetable. If you want to go all in with a big plate of comfort food, serve the meatballs with mashed potatoes and steamed peas in butter!
Some lighter options would be any of these delicious recipes!
Pressure Cooker Swedish Meatballs Recipe
- Pressure Cooker
- 8"x2" Fat Daddio Pan or another pan that will fit on top for cooking noodles or potatoes
- Silicone Covers or aluminum foil for covering the pan
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef 80/20 or leaner
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 teaspoon fine grind sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- ¼ cup heavy cream or whole milk
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 medium onion grated or finely chopped
Swedish Meatball Gravy
- 4 Tablspoons all purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons butter salted or unsalted, may need more for the roux.
- ½ cup white cooking wine or a dry white wine
- 1½ cups beef broth
- ½ teaspoon fine grind sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup heavy cream
Starch Options for Cooking above the Meatballs
- 6-8 ounces Extra Wide Egg Noodles OR
- 3 pounds Russet Potatoes Peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
- enough water to cover noodles or potatoes
Prep for recipe
- Measure out the ingredients and spices. Grate the onion.
Making the meatballs
- Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well with clean hands.1 pound ground beef, 1 pound ground pork, 1 teaspoon fine grind sea salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, ¼ teaspoon ground allspice, ½ cup bread crumbs, ¼ cup heavy cream, 1 large egg, 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 medium onion
- Form the meatballs into about the size of a golf ball. Each meatball is about 1 ounce or 2 Tablespoons of meat mixture. Roll the meatball in the palm of your hands to shape and set on a baking tray.
- Heat the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot on high sear/sauté for about 3 minutes. Add olive oil and heat the oil for another 1-2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium high.2 Tablespoons olive oil
- Brown the meatballs in the inner pot in batches. I usually brown them in 2 batches. This takes about 5 minutes per batch. Remove the meatballs and set on a tray.
Making the Roux
- After the meatballs are removed, add in the flour. Keep the pressure cooker on sear/sauté, but lower the heat to medium. Stir to combine the flour with the fat and juices from the meatballs. The mixture will be dry and crumbly. Add 2 Tablespoons of butter and stir together. The roux should resemble wet sand. If it is still dry, add another Tablespoon of butter. Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the roux is a very light tan. Remove the Roux from the pot and place it in a small bowl for use later.4 Tablspoons all purpose flour, 2 Tablespoons butter
- Immediately deglaze the pot with wine and begin to scrape the bottom of the pot to remove the fond (browned bits on the bottom from the meatballs). It's important to get all of the fond off the bottom of the pot and into the liuqid to prevent the water/burn notice and it brings flavor into the gravy.½ cup white cooking wine
- Add in the beef broth and stir. Add the meatballs back into the pot.1½ cups beef broth
- If you want to add either egg noodles or potatoes to cook above the meatballs, see the instructions below. If not, go to the next step.
- Place the pressure lid on and turn the valve to seal. Set the pressure function to high and the time to 3 minutes. When the time is up, immediately release the pressure by turning the valve to vent.
- Once all of the pressure has been released, open the lid away from you. Remove the rack and pan if you cooked above the meatballs.
- Add either the potatoes or egg noodles to a pan that will fit on the reversible rack in low or another trivet that sits above the meatballs. Add enough water to just cover the potatoes or noodles. Cover with a silicone cover or aluminum foil. Set on the rack and place the rack into the pressure cooker above the meatballs. Continue with the pressure cookng instructions above.6-8 ounces Extra Wide Egg Noodles, 3 pounds Russet Potatoes, enough water to cover noodles or potatoes
- Once the pressure cook time is up, remove the rack with the pan. The potatoes can sit covered in the liquid until you are ready to mash them. Remove the lid from the egg noodles and see if they need to cook longer. If they do, cover them again and let them sit while you make the gravy. If they don't, leave them uncovered and then drain well before serving.
Making the Gravy
- Add the roux back into the liquid with the meatballs and stir. The pressure cooker can stay on keep warm or you can use sear/sauté on low if you prefer. You should see the mixture start to thicken almost immediately.
- Add in the salt, pepper, & cream and stir. Serve with mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Enjoy!½ teaspoon fine grind sea salt, ½ cup heavy cream, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
Louise has several very active Facebook groups that help people with the basics of cooking and getting the most out of the Ninja Foodi.
Louise is also a YouTube creator and you can find most of her recipes in video format on The Salted Pepper YouTube channel.
She is very responsive to messages and eager to help in any way she can. Get more Information about Louise & contact information
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