Instant Pot Meatballs

Instant Pot Meatballs

The Spruce / Karen Hibbard

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 14 mins
Total: 34 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
486 Calories
20g Fat
37g Carbs
43g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 486
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 7g 35%
Cholesterol 152mg 51%
Sodium 1394mg 61%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 14%
Dietary Fiber 8g 28%
Total Sugars 19g
Protein 43g
Vitamin C 39mg 193%
Calcium 194mg 15%
Iron 9mg 51%
Potassium 1923mg 41%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Not only do these delicious Italian-style meatballs take fewer than 15 minutes to cook in the Instant Pot, cleanup is a breeze because there's no need to brown them first; the meatballs are cooked right in the sauce. If you make the pasta while the meatballs and sauce cook, you'll have a spaghetti dinner on the table in record time. Or skip the pasta entirely and pile them into meatball sandwiches. If you're following a keto or low carb diet, serve the meatballs and sauce with spiralized summer squash, zucchini noodles, or spaghetti squash.

While a flavorful seasoned tomato sauce is included, feel free to streamline the recipe with about 4 to 6 cups of purchased sauce or your favorite homemade sauce. If you do use an alternative sauce, it might have to be adjusted for the Instant Pot. A pressure cooker relies on a certain amount of liquid to create the steam it needs and can have difficulty reaching full pressure when a sauce is a bit thick. For this reason, the sauce is thinned slightly with water or beef stock and the tomato paste is added when the sauce is done. If the finished sauce is thinner than you like, just continue cooking for 5 to 10 minutes with the Instant Pot on the sauté setting until it has reduced and thickened.


For the Meatballs

  • 2 pounds ground beef, lean (85/15 to 90/10)

  • 2 large eggs

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

  • 1/3 cup onion, finely minced

  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs

  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/4 cup milk

  • 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Sauce

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1/3 cup onion, finely chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1 cup water, or unsalted beef stock or part red wine

  • 2 tablespoons basil, fresh chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried leaf basil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 (16-ounce) can tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste, optional

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or to taste, optional

  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Meatball ingredients for the Instant Pot

    The Spruce / Karen Hibbard

  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef with the beaten eggs, garlic, onion, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, milk, parsley, Italian seasoning, kosher salt, and ground black pepper. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate the meatball mixture while you prepare the sauce.

    Combine the meatball ingredients in a bowl

    The Spruce / Karen Hibbard

  3. Choose the sauté setting on the Instant Pot and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water or stock, basil, kosher salt, ground pepper, sugar, and red pepper flakes, if using.

    Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, water or stock, basil, kosher salt, ground pepper, sugar, and red pepper flakes to the instant pot

    The Spruce / Karen Hibbard

  4. Shape the ground beef mixture into 1-inch (or larger) meatballs. Place them on the sauce mixture, layering as necessary. Do not push them down or they might lose their shape.

    Meatballs in the Instant Pot pressure cooker

    The Spruce / Karen Hibbard

  5. Lock the Instant Pot lid in place and turn the venting knob to "sealing." Choose the manual setting and high pressure and then set the timer for 9 minutes.

    Lock the Instant Pot lid in place

    The Spruce / Karen Hibbard

  6. When the time is up, wait for about 5 minutes and then carefully move the knob to "venting." Remove the cover and set the pot on sauté; add the tomato paste and stir gently. Simmer for about 5 to 10 minutes, or as needed to reduce slightly.

    Instant Pot Meatballs

    The Spruce / Karen Hibbard


  • Meatballs cooked in the sauce come out tender and delicious, but because they are not browned, they will add more fat to the sauce. Lean ground beef is the best choice for this method.
  • The recipe is easily scaled down for a small family and it freezes beautifully. Make a full batch and freeze half for another day.

Recipe Variation

  • To lower the carbs in the meatballs, omit the breadcrumbs or replace them with panko crumbs or almond meal.