Easiest Instant Pot Meatballs

4.83 from 86 votes
291 Comments

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These Instant Pot Meatballs are the easiest way to make meatballs EVER. No browning or sautéing. Just throw them in the sauce uncooked and let the Instant Pot do the rest!

Spaghetti and Instant pot meatballs on a plate

Instant Pot Meatballs

Try this Instant Pot Meatballs recipe with some of our favorite side dishes or salads. If it’s bread you are looking for, you can never go wrong with Hot & Cheesy Garlic BreadBreadtwists, or our Parmesan Pull Apart bread.

Meatballs in the Instant Pot are THE way to go when it comes to meatballs. They really couldn’t be easier! When cooking meatballs in a pan they can crumble and fall apart. Baking them can dry them out. Cooking them in the Instant Pot is easier AND tastes better. By cooking them in the sauce the meaty flavor infuses the sauce and makes it so much more flavorful. Instant Pot Meatballs can be shaped, thrown in and cooked without falling apart AT ALL. The meatballs stay tightly packed and don’t crumble in the sauce!

Raw Meatballs placed in an Instant Pot

Put them straight in the Pot!

See? Uncooked! Crazy right? The first time I made these, I was a little worried. I thought that the meatballs wouldn’t keep their shape and I would end up having meat sauce, which happens to me more than I would care to admit when I am sauteing meatballs in a skillet. I don’t know why they don’t fall apart in the Instant Pot. It’s like magic.

Any Kind Of Pressure Cooker Will Work

I also need to mention that this will work great in ANY kind of pressure cooker. No matter what you use, you will get the same results. Just make sure you have enough liquid in the pot so it will actually seal. You also don’t want to get a burn notice. Which brings me to…

Meatballs in an Instant Pot being served with a serving spoon

Avoiding The Burn Notice

Tomato based sauces can be tricky in an Instant Pot because tomatoes have a tendency to burn easily. Make sure your sauce is thin enough to create steam and seal the pot. You can thin it out by adding a can of diced tomatoes or even just a little water. If you are worried about it being TOO thin, you can always add tomato paste or tomato sauce to your pasta sauce after the meatballs are done cooking. I like using my homemade canned sauce because the consistency is just right. If it seems too thin afterwards, I will add a few tablespoons of tomato paste and that usually does the trick.

Close up of an Instant Pot Meatball in a serving spoon to show detail of beef and sauce

Storing, Freezing, and Reheating Meatballs

To store your meatballs after cooking, allow them to cool for 10-15 minutes and then place them in an airtight container or freezer zip-top bag. Store them in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3 months. These meatballs are great for meal prep and you can make large batches at one time. To re-heat, place frozen meatballs in the fridge overnight to thaw and re-heat over the stove top or in the microwave until meatballs are cooked through and the marinara sauce is hot. 

Close up of a meatball to show texture

Tips for Cooking and Serving

  • For this recipe I used our own Homemade Canned Spaghetti Sauce but you can use your own recipe or just store-bought spaghetti sauce. No matter what you use, it is going to be awesome. Even store-bought spaghetti sauce will be kicked up a notch because the meatballs will be cooked in it, giving it an incredible flavor.
  • Not a huge fan of ground beef? Feel free to try ground pork, ground turkey or ground chicken meatballs too! We will often do a mixture of both ground beef and pork to make them more tender.
  • These meatballs can easily be made gluten free if you want to switch out the Panko breadcrumbs for gluten-free breadcrumbs. You can also use gluten free oats if you don’t have breadcrumbs on hand.
  • Of course, you will want to serve these meatballs over gluten-free pasta if you have an intolerance to gluten. If GF pasta isn’t your thing, you can also use zoodles (spiralized zucchini) or you can use spaghetti squash.
  • Have leftovers? These meatballs make incredible meatball subs! Give them a try! You don’t be sorry!
Top view of spaghetti with meatballs next to Parmesan cheese

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A plate of spaghetti and meatballs

Easiest Instant Pot Meatballs

4.83 from 86 votes
These Instant Pot Meatballs are the easiest way to make meatballs EVER. No browning or sautéeing. Just throw them in the sauce uncooked and let the Instant Pot do the rest!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6 servings

Video

Equipment

  • Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients (except spaghetti sauce) until well mixed. Mixing together with your hands works great.
    Form into balls using hands or small ice cream scoop. You want them to be slightly smaller than a golf ball.
  • Spray bottom of Instant Pot with cooking spray and add spaghetti sauce.
    Place meatballs over the sauce, layering them if necessary. It's OK if they touch, just don't squish them too much.
  • Place lid on Instant Pot and switch valve to “sealing”. Press “Manual” and set to high pressure for 7 minutes.
  • After you hear the timer go off, allow to slow release for another 5 minutes and then do the quick release (you do this by carefully switching the tab to "venting").
    Remove lid from Instant Pot, stir, and serve over cooked pasta noodles.

Notes

Instant Pot Note: We use a 6-quart Instant Pot brand pressure cooker that we bought in 2016. Different or newer versions may be more sensitive to the “BURN” notice. If you are concerned about the burn notice, please refer to the Instant Pot webpage about Overheat Protection, found HERE.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 411kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 28gFat: 27gSaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 141mgSodium: 1513mgPotassium: 911mgFiber: 3gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 850IUVitamin C: 12.7mgCalcium: 171mgIron: 4.5mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her beautiful three girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

    1. Yes, you can freeze them. Allow them to cool and then put in a freezer-safe container or bag. When re-heating, just thaw and then heat on the stove. Hope this helps!

        1. Thanks for sharing! We haven’t re-heated leftovers in the IP before, we will have to give this a try!

      1. Definately going to make this. I use two different methods when freezing mestballs. I put the amount I want in a zip lock bag with sauce and freeze. This is one meal, 8 to 12 meatballs per quart size bag. I also put wax paper on a cookie sheet and place the meatballs on the sheet so they don’t touch, let them cool and freeze. Then I yave individual meatballs in a gallon size bag for when I need to add a few extra for a meal or only need one or two for a quick kid dinner.

    2. I cannot figure out what I did wrong but these taste horrible. The onion taste is so strong. I used a cheese grater and grated about 3/4 of a large onion but it was small strings and very wet like slop but onions, is this how the onions are supposed to be? I feel like maybe I grated them too small and therefore a lot more fit into a half cup than supposed to. Help!

  1. Could you please tell me what size instant pot you are using in this photo? I just bought a 6 quart and I’m wondering if the pound and a half of meat called for in the meatball recipe will fit. Thanks!

  2. wondering if there’s a way to do JUST the meatballs alone? (with 1 c. water, of course) I have a Philly Cheesesteak recipe and cringe at the idea of cheese sauce in my IP! I hate the loss of meat when I brown in a skillet, (not to mention the grease factor) and figure IP is a TON HEALTHIER.

    1. Yes, you can just cook the meatballs alone with some liquid in the pot. Water will work just fine. Thanks for asking!

    1. Yes! Let the meatballs cool and place them in a resealable freezer bag. Let as much air out of the bag as possible before freezing. I like to place the bag on a flat cookie sheet in the freezer for a few hours, then the bag lies flat in the freezer and saves space. Thanks for asking!

        1. As long as you have enough liquid in your sauce you should be ok. You can try to lightly stir them if you haven’t already started the IP. If it hasn’t come to pressure it might be a good idea to try to rearrange them a little bit!

  3. Ok so what did I do wrong? Followed the recipe, and when it starts cooking I get the BURN message! Stirred it, started over, same thing! ARGGHHHH! Is my pot too small? I have the LUX mini.

    1. Ok so we have had a few people experience this. Whenever we make this we use our homemade canned spaghetti sauce which is typically a little more watery than the thick, extra blended kind that you can get at the store. Some of the store-bought brands are a little too thick so there isn’t much water to rise up as steam and seal the lid. To remedy this, you can add 1/2 c. of water or beef broth over the top so it sits on top of the sauce (most of it will evaporate out). You just need enough liquid in there that it will seal that lid. Hope this helps!

  4. You said that oats could be subbed for the bread crumbs? How much and how? What about something like almond flour as a binding agent?

    1. You can use about 1/2 c. oats. You can use almond flour but I would only use a few Tbsp if using as a binding agent. Hope this helps!

  5. 4 stars
    I just made these in my 8 qt IP. I loved the convenience and not having to saute them. I used 1 lb of 80/20 grd beef which I don’t normally buy but decided to today which probably made the sauce a bit greasy. Next time I’ll need to make sure to use 90/10. Even though I used less meat than the recipe calls for I left all dry ingredients pretty much the same but only used one egg. For the sauce I used one jar of classico. Ok, for the review. These were, surprisingly a bit bland. My wife thought they need more garlic, who normally does not care for a lot of garlic. I used 1 tsp of jarred crushed garlic which claimed 1/2 tsp was a clove. I also don’t know if the grated onion added much additional flavor. I’ll try it again but tweak the garlic next time and definitely use a lower fat beef. I don’t want to fslut the recipe because I made some adjustments so the fattier beef may have muffled the flavor of the garlic? Otherwise A+ on ease and it’s a great starting point to start with. Thanks!!

    1. Yes, you definitely want to use very lean ground beef. That may have affected the taste. You can definitely add more garlic if you would like! I have found that the jarred garlic doesn’t have as much flavor as fresh pressed garlic. That may have been an issue as well. Let us know how it turns out for you next time!

  6. Going to try this shortly! Just confused about the garlic – if crushed, won’t it just end up in 2 of the meatballs when cooked?

    1. You will want to crush the garlic and mince it up if it still seems like one big chunk. That way it will go throughout all the meatballs. You can use minced garlic as well.

  7. I keep getting the burn notice- is it because I added the meatballs first and then the sauce? I am a newbie to the IP. Thank you!

    1. Yes, that could definitely be a reason. You could also add some water if the sauce is really thick. There has to be a way for the IP to create steam and close up the valve. Does that make sense? Let us know if you keep having issues and we will do our best to help!

  8. I am worried the sauce might be greasy if the meatballs were cooked in the sauce soI am going to saute them slightly first to release the fat, then rinse out the pot and begin the process. I may want to shorten the cook time by a minute if I do that. Comments?

    1. When we make meatballs in the IP, we like to use VERY lean ground beef, for the exact reason you mentioned. That way the little bit of grease that is released infuses the sauce and makes it taste amazing. Hope this helps!

  9. If I double the recipe do I need to double the sauce as well? Please say no! And great tip about floating a boat of water filled foil on top. That’s genius!

    1. Why thank you 🙂 haha it’s not very often my ideas are called genius! If you do the “steam boat” method you could probably get away with not doubling the sauce. Hope this helps!

  10. I LOVE this recipe! I’m not even a fan of red sauce, but this was awesome. I used Big Y brand sausage flavored jarred red sauce. We made grinders with provalone. It was so good and so easy, we are gladly eating the leftovers on night two!! This is a keeper recipe. I highly recommended it!

    1. Thank you so much for the comment! Mmmm grinders with provolone sounds delicious!

    1. Oh no! Yes, you will want to add a little water if it is really thick. I know this may sound odd but we have also made a little “boat” out of aluminum foil that holds about a cup of water and placed it on top of the meatballs/sauce. It makes it so there is enough steam to push the little valve up to seal. Does that make sense? We have done that when we have noticed the sauce was too thick and didn’t want to water it down. Hope this helps!

        1. You must be using a really thick spaghetti sauce. Try adding some water to the sauce so it will be able to create steam to steal the pressure cooker. Hope this helps!

      1. Just make sure that aluminum boat does not simultaneously contact the sauce and the inner pot or you’ll have a culinary galvanic nightmare and the foil can dissolve and add aluminum to your food. It’s not supposed to be a health risk but why take the chance?

        Also bear in mind the heat has to travel though the sauce in order to heat the boat so that extra bit of water won’t stop a sauce from burning if it’s prone to-it will burn before the water is even warm.

        1. Oh woah, I didn’t even think of that! Maybe the best thing to do is just add more water to the sauce. Thanks for the heads up!

          1. Can you use 1/2 ground beef & 1/2 Italian sausage ground to make the meatballs also add fresh mushrooms to cook the sauce & meatballs in insta pot??

          2. Yes, absolutely! Any meatball recipe will do just great. Adding mushrooms is a wonderful idea! Hope this helps!

    1. You can try it but you would have to add more liquid.. we haven’t done it like that before so I would have to experiment before I told you for sure. If you try it out, let us know how it worked for you!

  11. 5 stars
    Made this last night for company. It was a big hit. There are just enough leftovers for meatball heroes tonight!

  12. 5 stars
    My all time pet peeve with internet recipes is people using parsley or cilantro at the end in the photos and yet not on the ingredient list. Since Italian Parsley is in my fridge 350 days a year not a problem but please add it to your ingredient list. I’m burying the lead here which is these just came out of the IP and they are amazing. Like, what the crazy hell amazing. No sautéing? I’ll never make meatballs another way again. Game changer. Well done, and thanks for sharing. You’ve changed my life.

    1. I agree, haha, we can definitely add it as optional. Technically we just use it sometimes for photography reasons, to make the food look more appetizing, but it isn’t really part of the recipe. That being said, I’m so glad you liked the meatballs!!

      1. 5 stars
        I don’t think it’s optional! Fresh Italian Parsley is terrific on virtually anything. 🙂
        Making the meatballs again tonight. Terrific stuff…will check out your other recipes tomorrow

    1. Funny you should ask that because we are wanting to do the same thing! I just don’t dare because I am afraid the bottom will burn with all the sugar from the BBQ sauce. I will research this more and most likely do a post on it soon if it works out. If you end up trying it before I get a post up, please let me know how it turns out for you!

      1. 5 stars
        Great recipe. Could bbq sauce be done as a pot in pot in a pyrex bowl? How much extra time if done that way?

        1. That is a great question. We have never done it that way before. If you try it let us know how it turns out and what you did!

        2. 5 stars
          It works!! Did 2 cups BBQ sauce, 1 cup honey, added a little chicken stock to avoid the burn notice. They’re beautiful and yummy!! These are gluten free.

          1. Oh yay! Thanks for coming back to let us know how you made it successful for BBQ Meatballs! Definitely going to try this!

          2. 5 stars
            Amazing! I was sure I’d have meat sauce also because my meatballs were so wet and I made some substitutions (lean turkey for beef and rolled oats for Panko) and they came out PERFECT! My 3 kids ate as many as I would feed them. Thanks for this recipe!

          1. Glass can be used. From HIP Pressure Cooking (and confirmed on many sites):
            “Suitable Heat-Proof Containers –
            As the name suggests, heat-proof containers should be heat or ovenproof- this includes high-temperature silicone, heat-proof glass (like pyrex), ceramic, stainless steel, aluminum and even copper! The forms should not be plastic or any glass that is not tempered.”

      2. 5 stars
        Wow, these were amazing, I used ground chicken & gluten free panko bread crumbs due to various allergies in our house and they turned out perfect. The whole family loved them.

  13. 5 stars
    Tried these IP meatballs last night and they were wonderful! We toasted hoagie rolls and made meatball subs with provolone. Thank you!

    1. So glad you liked them! Great idea to make meatball sandwiches… Mmmmm we will have to do that next time!

    1. If you increase the time, I wouldn’t do it for more than 5 minutes or so. Hope this helps!

      1. I made a large pot of meatballs and added 2 min to the recommended 7 min. They we’re perfect. Nice texture and the sauce was better than ever. The microwave oven has been removed from the house. The Instant Pot is just amazing

        1. An additional tip. After reading the posts regarding the “BURN” notice. Today is thinned our the spaghetti sacixe with about 1/4 cup of red wine. NO “BURN” notice. Meatballs were cooked perfectly and after the vent was opened I stirred in a can of tomato paste and stirred it up..replaced the lid for 5 min and sauce was outstanding

          1. Thank you so much for sharing how you had success with this! I will definitely have to try it with some red wine to enhance that delicious flavor!

      2. It would have been ok except it was the first time we used our Instant Pot and the timer did not work. After 10 minutes, we stopped it and they were not done. We put them in for another 8 minutes. Done. Have to call the company to figure out why the timer was a FAIL:(.

        1. i have noticed that when you add a lot to the instant pot it takes longer to heat up and get the pressure and the timer wont start until its starting to cook so when i have vary little in the instantpot it will take about 15 min for it to start the timer and a few more when i have a lot of food in it so im guessing you just dint give it time to build up the pressure and the kick the timer