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Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs

So excited to share my husband’s favorite (and mine) for spaghetti and meatballs! Sometimes food is more than sustenance; sometimes it’s art and should be done carefully and corectly. Like cream puffs. Or my Key Lime Pie Parfaits. At other times you just want to put food on the table that everyone will eat! That’s how I feel about Spaghetti and Meatballs – a crowd-pleasing, comfort food. So easy, so delicious! (And still so remarkably beautiful that the pictures are making me hungry.)

Looking for better sauce

For years I’ve been happy to just open a jar of spaghetti sauce, cook some noodles and call that dinner. But when you taste marvelous marina like that in my Classic Lasagna without Pre-boiled Noodles recipe, you know there must be a way to make homemade a more delicious and more affordable option.

So was birthed the Slow Cooker Spaghetti with Meatballs. Very yummy! And what I love about that recipe and this is that it solves one of my store-bought sauce pet peeves. Watery spaghetti sauce that runs all over your plate! You won’t find that with any of my recipes! We are all about thick.

Look at how yummy and thick that sauce is!

Twirled spaghetti on a fork topped with a meatball and resting on a bowl full of instant pot spaghetti and meatballs.
Twisted forkful of saucy spaghetti noodles in the foreground, with plated spaghetti and meatballs in the background.

Why not in a Pressure Cooker?

After I bought a pressure cooker, I realized that pasta could go from raw to cooked in no time. And that with an Instant Pot, you could add raw meat, sauce and pasta and let the cooker do its magic. And so was birthed Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs!

Unbelievably, this recipe is basically unaltered from my very first attempt! The only thing I’ve ever had to tweak was the time.

A Note about Noodles

For this recipe, you break the noodles in half, then scatter them over the meatballs. They shouldn’t be touching or they will cook together.

Noodles scatterd in an Instant Pot with arrows indicating noodles that should be separated to avoid sticking.

Frozen to Fabulous in no time

I’ve also experimented a little with meals that can be frozen and then go directly in the Instant Pot. This recipe is perfectly suited for that.

I often form the meatballs and freeze them beforehand. Then the assembly is even quicker at the busy dinner hour.

But, of course, you can also freeze the sauce for Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs ahead of time as well. Simply sauté the onions and garlic on your stovetop, add your remaining sauce ingredients and freeze in a ziploc. To make sure the frozen sauce fits in my Instant Pot, I let the bag freeze firm in a bowl that is shaped to fit the cooker.

To the left a pictue of a bowl above an Instant Pot indicating similar size. To the right, a freezer bag of sauce set into the same bowl.

To cook Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs from frozen, simply layer frozen meatballs, spaghetti noodles and water, and frozen spaghetti sauce. Then you cook as normal.

Rounded mound of frozen sauce shown resting atop noodles inside the Instant Pot.
close up of sauce-covered meatballs over a bed of pasta.

Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Build and Release Pressure: 17 minutes
Total Time: 48 minutes

Thick and hearty sauce-covered spaghetti and meatballs from uncooked meatballs, dry spaghetti noodles, and sauce ingredients.

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • ½ lb ground beef
  • ¼ cup dried bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 1 egg

Spaghetti and Sauce

  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 ½ tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ½ tsp. fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. pepper
  • ½ lb spaghetti noodles

Instructions

  1. Mix all meatball ingredients. Form into 1” meatballs. Place in freezer while preparing sauce. *
  2. Set the Instant Pot to Saute setting. Add olive oil and then onion and garlic to the interior pot. Saute until tender. Cancel Saute setting.
  3. Carefully place meatballs on top of onion. Break noodles in half and scatter randomly over the meatballs. Try to separate the noodles to avoid them cooking together. Cover with 2 cups of water.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and stir them slightly above the meatballs.
  5. Put on the lid and set the steam release knob to the Sealing position.
  6. Select 11 minutes
  7. After cook time has finished, turn off the pot and turn the steam release knob to the Venting position, and do a Quick Release of steam.
  8. If sauce starts to spew out with the steam, quickly close the vent and then release the steam in bursts, until sauce has stopping spewing.
  9. After the pin in the lid drops down, open the lid and give the spaghetti a stir. Separate noodles with a fork if needed.
  10. For Freezer Meal: Freeze meatballs in a quart-size or gallon-size freezer bag. Saute onion and garlic on stovetop. Add remaining sauce ingredients. Transfer sauce to a quart-size freezer bag, and place bag into a bowl that fits into the instant pot. Freeze the sauce until it can be removed from the bowl and retain its shape.
  11. To cook from Frozen: Place frozen meatballs into the Instant Pot. Break noodles in half and scatter over the meatballs. Pour 2 cups of water over the noodles. Place frozen sauce over the noodles. Continue from step 5.

Notes

*Or flash freeze meatballs on a baking sheet and then transfer to a freezer safe plastic bag and store for up to 2 months.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 421Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 102mgSodium: 1242mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 5gSugar: 12gProtein: 27g
close up of sauce-covered meatballs over a bed of pasta.

Leave some feedback

Apparently different pressure cooker sizes can cook differently. And I have a smaller size than most. This recipe has also been tested successfully in the normal 6-quart size. But if you find your noodles uncooked in 11 minutes that may be the reason. Just return your lid and close the valve and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Be sure to add your additional time to future cook times, and please drop me a comment here. I’m sure everyone else would appreciate learning how you prepared this recipe successfully.

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