These Instant Pot Meatballs are life-changing and can be enjoyed as an appetizer, in a sub, or make it into a one-pot meal with your favorite pasta! Made in 20 minutes these healthy, tender, naturally gluten-free meatballs can be made with any ground meat (fresh or frozen), with or without sauce, and there’s no browning, sauteing, or long simmering time.
Instant Pot goulash, lasagna and ground turkey quinoa bowls are other easy Instant Pot meals that I include often in our dinner rotation when life gets busy!
Table of contents
- Instant Pot Meatballs
- Why This Recipe for Pressure Cooker Meatballs Works?
- Ingredients for Meatballs Instant Pot
- How to Make Instant Pot Meatball Recipe – 3 Ways!
- Frozen Meatballs Instant Pot
- Optional Add-Ins and Variations
- Tips for Best Results
- Serving Recommendations
- Making This Recipe in Advance
- More Instant Pot Recipes
Instant Pot Meatballs
If you’ve never considered making meatballs in your Instant Pot, I urge you to make it happen. You will not look back because it’s a total game-changer. Who ever thought you could have meatballs ready on your table in under 20 minutes? Total!
This modern day pressure cooker meatballs recipe works with any type of ground meat, whether turkey, chicken, beef, or pork, and no matter what, they come out perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked, and super moist! Enjoy them on top of healthy pasta dishes, in a sub, or on their own as an appetizer. My kids love them as an afterschool (before all the hockey) snack!
They couldn’t be easier, tastier, or juicier, and all of this without long simmering times, or browning them first. Trust me, we love a healthy short cut and these Instant Pot meatballs come out as good, if not better than regular meatballs. Even more tender.
I just love healthy Instant Pot recipes!
I have a recipe for turkey meatballs that requires the addition of zucchini to keep them moist. With the Instant Pot, the steam and moisture do not escape which locks in all the juices inside the meatballs. It’s amazing!
Make a big batch and freeze some for later, because we all love a good plate of delicious meatballs at any given time!
Why This Recipe for Pressure Cooker Meatballs Works?
- It’s so much faster than traditionally made meatballs on the stovetop. No long simmering in the sauce, but they taste like they were simmering all day!
- They’re so juicy, so moist, and the pressure cooker only enhances the flavour.
- These meatballs are super healthy and gluten-free when using certified gluten-free oats. No breadcrumbs!
- Meal prep, batch cooking, and freezer-friendly which means they’re great for more than just one meal!
- Cost-effective and much cheaper than buying frozen meatballs from the store.
- They’re delicious and work in a variety of ways- for Instant Pot spaghetti and meatballs, in a sandwich, or on their own.
Ingredients for Meatballs Instant Pot
- Any ground meat: Ground turkey, chicken, beef, pork, lamb, venison etc. Forgot to thaw? Quickly defrost using Instant Pot frozen ground beef method.
- Fresh garlic and onion: I have to say that adding fresh garlic and onion produced the tastiest pressure cooker meatballs because the flavor gets infused into the sauce.
- Dried oregano, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper: Use what you like or have on hand. If you prefer Italian seasoning or another herb, use it. If you only have white vinegar use that instead or omit it completely.
- Tomato sauce: You only need this if you’re going to be cooking the meatballs in the sauce. Use low sodium, and whichever one is your favourite.
- Egg, oatmeal (or breadcrumbs): They are completely unnecessary but can be used for binding if you prefer. I have used uncooked quinoa as a binder before, too.
You might also love to browse these healthy ground turkey recipes!
How to Make Instant Pot Meatball Recipe – 3 Ways!
Instant Pot Meatballs No Sauce
- Prep: Mince fresh onion and garlic with a knife, a box grater, or puree in a small food processor. Add 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the pot and place a trivet or steamer basket inside. This works for any size Instant Pot.
- Shape meatballs: Combine ground meat, grated onion, and garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper and roll into about 30 smaller golf size balls meatballs. Size doesn’t matter, within reason.
- Add meatballs as you roll them. It is OK to stack meatballs and I find dipping hands in a bowl with water helps to roll turkey meatballs.
- Cook on High pressure for 7 minutes. Wait for 2 minutes and release the remaining pressure using the Quick Release method. Open the lid, meatballs are ready and you might have to separate a few meatballs from each other.
Instant Pot Meatballs and Sauce
Cooking pressure cooker meatballs with tomato sauce is very similar to the ones without the sauce minus the trivet and water.
- Prep: Add tomato sauce to any size Instant Pot. No water or trivet is needed.
- Add meatballs: Drop raw meatballs into the sauce as you roll them out. They should fit in a single layer in tomato sauce but packing them tight or on top is just as fine.
- Cook on High pressure for 7 minutes. Wait for 2 minutes and release the remaining pressure using the Quick Release method.
- Serve: Meatballs taste best if you let them stand open for 10 minutes. Then I toss them to coat in sauce by shaking the inner pot and garnishing with parsley or dill.
Avoid the burn notice by making sure your sauce isn’t too thick. You need enough liquid to create steam. If you find your sauce is way too thick, add just a bit of water to thin it out.
How to Make Instant Pot Pasta and Meatballs
And last but not least – you can make a one pot meal. Make a classic Instant Pot spaghetti and meatballs combo or use any pasta shape you have on hand!
- Cook meatballs with or without tomato sauce first as per recipe.
- Add 2 cups water and 3 cups of any dry pasta. If you cooked meatballs without tomato sauce, add it now.
- Stir gently not to break meatballs: If you add long shape pasta like spaghetti, stirring will be hard. So, break the spaghetti noodles in half and lay them in about 6 layers crisscross to prevent sticking. Top with tomato sauce, if not added yet.
- Cook on High pressure for 5 minutes with Quick Release. Stir and serve.
Frozen Meatballs Instant Pot
Cook frozen meatballs in your Instant Pot just like you would fresh. The Instant Pot will take longer to come to pressure but the cooking time remains the same. The beauty pressure cooker meatballs. 🙂 Use your frozen meatballs for turkey meatball soup and more!
Optional Add-Ins and Variations
- Adding chopped spinach/kale into the sauce once it’s cooked adds more nutrients and added flavour.
- To make them gluten-free, you can either completely omit any breadcrumbs or make sure to use certified gluten-free oats.
- Serve over zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash for a low-carb meal.
- Use ground beef, chicken, turkey, pork, or a combination.
- If you’re not concerned about dairy, you can add a bit of parmesan cheese or even cheddar (like I do in Mexican meatballs) to your meatball mixture.
- When making meatballs without sauce, use beef broth instead of water for flavour.
Tips for Best Results
- Pictured are meatballs made with turkey and no egg and no oatmeal. I have used oatmeal for beef meatballs as poultry is already quite dense when cooked. I find all meatballs taste amazing and come out juicy no matter which variation I make.
- When rolling the meatballs, dipping your hand in cold water can help with forming the balls without the meat getting stuck to your hands.
- Don’t overcook! 7 minutes is the optimal cook time for juicy meatballs whether from fresh or frozen.
The cook time remains the same! Keep in mind the cooking time and total time are two different things. It will take longer for frozen meatballs to come to pressure, which means the total time it takes for your meal to hit the table will be a little longer, but not by much. Once the pot comes to pressure, everything else remains equal.
Not with this recipe! Here’s why. Yes, sometimes that might happen if you have a high amount of sugar in your sauce, or there’s not enough sauce for the number of other items in the pot. A pressure cooker needs a certain amount of liquid in it to create steam, so as long as you have enough sauce, that isn’t too thick, and there’s more sauce than there are meatballs, you should be fine.
Some recipes result in crispy meatballs on the outside. This isn’t one of those recipes. This beautiful recipe results in super tender, moist, and delicious meatballs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t brown them first, it just means you don’t have to!
No, you don’t! As long as you’re not doubling the size of the meatballs, but rather the amount, then the cooking time will remain the same.
Serve as an appetizer: This is my absolute favorite way! Transfer meatballs to a baking dish and stick a toothpick into each one. Voila. Or serve right in the Instant Pot (with toothpicks) while keeping it on the warm function. Easy entertaining for game day, potlucks, and serving any crowd!
BBQ meatballs: Completely switch up the dish and toss the cooked meatballs, made with no sauce, into BBQ sauce, for BBQ meatballs. Serve alongside mac and cheese or healthy coleslaw or add them to your pizza! (Yes, that’s right, I said it).
For a healthy dinner: Serve on top of your favorite whole grain pasta, brown rice, or quinoa. Would even be amazing for meatball almond flour crust pizza! For a low-carb dinner, enjoy with greens like this Ukrainian cucumber and tomato salad, zucchini noodles, or even a green smoothie. Discover 65 healthy sides to find a few that you will love!
In a sub or sammie: A meatball sub or sandwich makes a fun (albeit a little messy) meal for lunch or casual dinner.
Making This Recipe in Advance
Freezing: Place raw meatballs on a baking sheet and flash freeze for a few hours. This is so they don’t stick together once kept frozen. Transfer to a Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Cook straight from frozen.
Refrigerate leftovers: In an airtight container, meatballs can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days. If made with pasta, keep stored for up to 2 days only, as pasta tends to get soggy.
More Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot pot roast
- Instant Pot meatloaf and mashed potatoes
- Instant Pot spaghetti
- Instant Pot turkey chili
- Instant Pot mac and cheese
Did you know we have entire Youtube channel dedicated to healthy Instant Pot recipes and tips? My goal is to help you become confident with your Instant Pot by demonstrating each delicious foolproof recipe in step-by-step videos.
Instant Pot Meatballs
- 1 lb 3 oz one tray ground turkey, beef, chicken or pork
- 1 large egg optional
- 1/4 cup any oats optional
- 2 large garlic cloves grated or 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp onion flakes powder or 1 small onion, grated (pureed in food processor)
- 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar optional
- 1/2 tsp oregano dried
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 15 oz can tomato sauce low sodium (optional)
- Instant Pot meatballs without tomato sauce: In any size Instant Pot, add 1/2 cup water and place trivet or steamer basket inside. Set aside.
- Instant Pot meatballs with tomato sauce: Add a can of tomato sauce. No water. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add ground meat, grated (pureed) onion and garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Mix well with a spatula or hands.
- Using small cookie scoop, form 30 meatballs (it helps to dip hands in a bowl with cold water occasionally) and place them one by one inside prepared Instant Pot. It is OK to stack meatballs or just arrange them in a single layer in tomato sauce.
- Close the lid, turn pressure release valve to Sealing and pressure cook on High pressure for 7 minutes.
- Wait for 2 minutes and release remaining pressure using Quick Release method.
- Open the lid and voila.
Meatballs with Tomato sauce
- Meatballs in tomato sauce taste best if you let them stand open for 10 minutes. Then I toss them to coat in the sauce by shaking the inner pot and garnish with parsley or dill. Serve with desired whole grain and salad or dinner.
- Transfer meatballs in a baking dish and stick toothpick into each one. Voila. Healthy and easy appetizer right there. Or serve right in Instant Pot (with toothpicks) while Keep Warm is on. Genius!
Meatballs with Lean Ground Beef
I wouldn’t worry about this step if I had extra lean ground beef. But with lean beef or pork here is what I do:
- Cook meatballs on a trivet with water first.
- Drain liquid (broth basically) to a bowl.
- Remove trivet from Instant Pot and add tomato sauce (or not).
- And serve leaner and less saturated fat meatballs.
- Next day I skim and discard solidified fat from the bowl with liquid and use it as a broth in recipes. Can refrigerate or freeze.
How to Cook Frozen Meatballs
- Cook frozen meatballs in Instant Pot just like fresh. Instant Pot will take longer to come to pressure but cooking time remains the same. The beauty of a pressure cooker. 🙂
How to Make Meatballs and Pasta One Pot Meal
- And last but not least – you can make a one pot meal. Are you mind blown yet?
- Cook meatballs with or without tomato sauce first as per directions above or in the recipe.
- Add 2 cups water and 3 cups any dry pasta. If you cooked meatballs without tomato sauce, add it now.
- Stir gently everything not to break meatballs. If you add long shape pasta like spaghetti, stirring will be hard. So just lay broken in half noodles in about 6 layers criss cross to prevent sticking. Top with tomato sauce, if not added yet. You shouldn’t worry about Burn here.
- Cook on High pressure for 5 minutes with Quick Release.
Absolutely loved it! I doubled the recipe, used the eggs, oatmeal and Rao spagetti sauce, omitted the vinegar and used ground turkey. It was so light and absolutely delicious.
I’m so happy to read this! Thanks for your positive feedback!
Attempt it in a straightforward candy and sour dish, as the meat different in chili, as a “rooster” salad, or in a Philly “cheesesteak” sandwich.
So glad you are thinking of enjoying it in so many different ways!