Instant Pot Meatballs
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
Instant Pot Meatballs are a quick and easy dinner idea. Tender beef meatballs cook in marinara sauce in the Instant Pot, perfect for serving with pasta!
Do you know what the Instant Pot is really good at? Making quick and easy meals that are hands-off and full of FLAVOR.
At least a couple of times every week, I use my Instant Pot to make dinner for my family. It makes preparing some of my favorite recipes extra easy, since I don’t have to watch a pot on the stove or check on food that’s cooking in the oven. And I am always amazed at the flavors that develop when food is cooked in a pressure cooker!
To make these Instant Pot meatballs, I started with my go-to baked meatballs recipe and adapted it to cook in the Instant Pot. Since my family loves our Italian meatballs with pasta sauce, I decided to cook the meatballs in a simple marinara sauce, based off of my favorite from scratch recipe. Since you’re already chopping onion and garlic for the meatballs, it hardly takes any more time to make the sauce from scratch.
Once you get the meatballs and sauce in the Instant Pot, your pressure cooker does the rest. You’ll be free to cook some pasta or prepare a veggie side dish to go with the meal.
The best thing about these Instant Pot meatballs is how tender they are. Cooking meatballs in a pressure cooker is certainly the way to go if you want them to turn out perfectly tender and flavorful.
If you want to cook pasta in the Instant Pot as well (or don’t want to bother with shaping meatballs), you’ll love my Instant Pot Spaghetti recipe. It’s made with ground beef and marinara sauce, and it’s a reader and personal favorite!
Instant Pot Meatballs Ingredients
- Ground Beef: Use lean ground beef for less grease in the finished dish. Pressure cooking makes the meatballs very tender, even when they’re made with lean ground beef. For an even leaner option, you can use ground turkey to make turkey meatballs.
- Egg: The egg helps to bind the meatballs together.
- Onion & Garlic: Fresh onion and garlic add flavor and moisture.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: Bread crumbs help to bind the meatballs together. I like to use Panko breadcrumbs because the larger crumb pieces trap more moisture in the meatballs, making them juicier.
- Parmesan Cheese: Grated Parmesan cheese makes the meatballs more flavorful.
- Seasonings: The best meatballs are well seasoned. In addition to the onion and garlic, we are using Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
The meatballs cook in a simple homemade marinara sauce. For the pasta sauce you’ll need:
- Olive Oil: For sautéing the onion and garlic.
- Onion & Garlic: These create a base layer of flavor for the sauce.
- Crushed Tomatoes: Canned crushed tomatoes are convenient and make a delicious spaghetti sauce.
- Water: It is important to add some water so that you do not get an Instant Pot burn message when the sauce and meatballs cook.
- Seasonings: The sauce is seasoned with dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper. I also add half a teaspoon of sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. For a bit of heat, you can add a pinch of red pepper flakes as well.
Find the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
How to Make Instant Pot Meatballs
Start by preparing the marinara sauce:
- Sauté the onion in olive oil in the Instant Pot using the sauté function.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Turn off the Instant Pot.
- Add the remaining sauce ingredients to the pot. Stir and scrape up any bits of onion or garlic that are stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Then make the meatballs:
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together an egg and 2 tablespoons of water.
- Add the onion, garlic, Panko, Parmesan and seasonings. Mix with a fork.
- Add the ground beef and mix with your hands until just combined.
- Shape into 1 1/2-inch meatballs and place in the sauce in the Instant Pot.
Time to pressure cook!
- Pressure cook at high pressure for 9 minutes.
- When the cook time ends, allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes. The natural release helps to keep the meat tender.
- Then, carefully move the valve to the venting position to release the remaining pressure.
- Serve as desired.
Instant Pot Meatballs Recipe Tips
- Chop once! You’ll need chopped onion and minced garlic for both the meatballs and the sauce. For efficiency, chop the onion and mince the garlic for both the sauce and meatballs at the same time.
- Keep it lean. While I recommend using ground beef with some fat in my classic Meatball Recipe, when cooking Instant Pot meatballs in sauce it’s best to use lean ground beef so that you don’t end up with a greasy sauce. Even with lean ground beef, there may be some grease on top of the sauce, but you can use a spoon to skim most of it off after cooking.
- Don’t forget the water. Tomatoes are one food that can commonly give a burn warning, but I’ve tested this recipe multiple times in both my 6 quart and 8 quart Instant Pots and have not gotten the Instant Pot burn message. Just be sure to add the amount of water listed in the recipe, and also scrape up any bits of food that are stuck to the bottom of the Instant Pot before pressure cooking.
- Don’t overwork the meat. When making meatballs, mix the meat mixture just until the ingredients are combined. Overmixing can lead to tough meatballs.
- Want to cook meatballs in a slow cooker? Try my Slow Cooker Meatballs recipe.
For an easy, healthy dinner, serve these meatballs with whole grain pasta and a salad or vegetable side dish. Or use them to make meatball subs. For a low carb meal, serve the meatballs with zucchini noodles. Here are a few suggestions for what to serve with meatballs:
- Pasta. Keep it classic with spaghetti, or enjoy with your favorite short pasta shape.
- Bread. My family loves bread, so I usually make Garlic Bread or Garlic Knots to serve with our meatball dinner.
- Salad. Try an Italian Salad or a simple Green Salad.
- Vegetables. Air Fryer Broccoli, Roasted Cauliflower, Roasted Broccoli or Sautéed Green Beans are all good options.
- Meatball Sub. Instant Pot meatballs are perfect for making meatball sub sandwiches!
Storage and Reheating Tips
Once cooked, Instant Pot meatballs can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or, they can be frozen for up to 3 months. Reheat meatballs and sauce together in a saucepan on the stove over medium low heat. Or, reheat meatballs and sauce in the Instant Pot using the sauté function. Individual portions may also be reheated in the microwave. If frozen, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
More Instant Pot Beef Recipes
- Instant Pot Lasagna
- Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff
- Instant Pot Goulash
- Instant Pot Beef Stew
- Instant Pot Taco Meat
- Instant Pot Stuffed Peppers
- Instant Pot Meatloaf
Instant Pot Meatballs with Marinara Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- ¾ cup water
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional, for spice
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- ¼ cup very finely minced yellow onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound lean ground beef*
Make the Marinara Sauce
- Heat the olive oil in the Instant Pot using the saute function. When hot, add the onion and saute for about 2 minutes, until onion starts to soften. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Press Cancel to turn the Instant Pot off.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, water, oregano, basil, sugar, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if using). Stir well, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Make the Meatballs
- Place egg and water in a large mixing bowl and beat them together with a fork.
- Add the onion, garlic, Panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well with fork.
- Add the ground beef and mix with your hands until just combined. Try not to over-mix as this can make the meatballs tough.
- Use your hands to shape the mixture into 1 ½-inch meatballs and place in the sauce in the Instant Pot. You should be able to make about 18 meatballs.
Pressure Cook Sauce and Meatballs
- Close the Instant Pot lid and set the steam release valve to the sealing position. Set the cook time to 9 minutes at high pressure. The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to reach pressure and then the cook time will start counting down.
- When the cook time ends, allow the pot to release naturally for 5 minutes by leaving the pot alone (do not move the valve yet). After 5 minutes, carefully move the steam release valve to the venting position.
- Once all of the steam has escaped and the pin drops down, carefully open the Instant Pot lid. Check that the meatballs have reached at least 165° F in the center by testing with an Instant read thermometer.
- If there is some grease on top of the sauce you can use a spoon to skim it off if desired. Stir the sauce gently.
- Serve meatballs and sauce over pasta, or as desired.
- Use lean ground beef or the sauce may turn out too greasy.