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Instant Pot Meatballs | Cookies and Cups

Instant Pot meatballs cooked in marinara sauce are tender, juicy, and packed with flavor. Serve these easy meatballs over spaghetti or make them into a saucy meatball sub!

Can’t get enough meatball recipes in your life? Try my creamy Swedish meatballs or these cheesy chicken parmesan meatballs, too.

Instant pot meatballs and sauce served over a bed of spaghetti on a white plate.

Why You’ll Love This Instant Pot Meatballs Recipe

Make the best homemade meatballs for a quick and tasty dinner! The Instant Pot locks in all the juiciness and tenderness we love in classic meatballs. These are full of flavor, smothered in savory marinara sauce, and delicious over pasta or in a hoagie roll. Here’s why you’ll love ‘em:

  • Extra juicy. Nothing unleashes a meatball’s true potential like the Instant Pot. All the flavor and juiciness goes directly back into the meat, which is perfectly cooked. Every bite shines!
  • Quick and easy. Once your meatballs are shaped and ready, simply pop them into the Instant Pot with some sauce and let the pressure cooker work its magic. Lift the lid to perfect saucy meatballs that are ready to serve.
  • Make-ahead friendly. These Instant Pot meatballs keep well in the fridge and freezer. Make a big batch and have delicious meals ready to go in the following days.
Ingredients for instant pot meatballs with a text label overlaying each ingredient.

Ingredients You’ll Need

You need only a few basic pantry ingredients to make the best meatballs in your Instant Pot. Check out some quick notes here, and scroll to the recipe card for a printable ingredients list.

  • Pasta Sauce – Choose your favorite store-bought marinara sauce or any pasta sauce that you’d like. You can also cook your meatballs in beef broth instead, see the recipe card and Tips section below for details.
  • Binding Ingredients – Milk, a beaten egg, parmesan cheese, and Panko breadcrumbs act as binding ingredients to help the meatballs hold their shape. Panko crumbs are larger and hold more moisture, but you can use regular breadcrumbs if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Onion and Garlic – Finely diced onion and minced garlic bring flavor to the meatballs.
  • Seasonings – For well-seasoned meatballs, I use Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Feel free to adjust the amount of chili flakes to taste.
  • Ground Meat – I use a combination of lean ground beef and ground pork for extra flavor. For a leaner meatball, you can use ground chicken, ground turkey, or any combo you’d like.

How to Make Instant Pot Meatballs

It takes just a bit of prep to make your homemade meatballs from scratch, and then the pressure cooker takes over. Here’s a quick step-by-step to get you started. Scroll down to the recipe card for printable instructions.

  • Add the pasta sauce to the pot. First, you’ll stir pasta sauce with a bit of water inside the Instant Pot. The additional liquid prevents the pot from throwing a burn notice while cooking.
  • Combine the binding ingredients. Meanwhile, whisk the egg and milk together in a mixing bowl, and add the parmesan, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. This gives the breadcrumbs time to soak up the liquid.
  • Add the ground meat. Using your hands, gently work the ground beef and pork into the egg mixture. Be careful to not overmix. 
  • Shape the meatballs. Afterward, shape the ground meat mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs. Nestle the finished meatballs into the sauce inside the Instant Pot.
  • Cook. Seal the lid and set the meatballs to cook on High Pressure for 8 minutes, followed by a 5-minute natural release. Finally, release the remaining pressure manually. Your meatballs and sauce are ready to serve! See below for tasty serving ideas.
Cooked meatballs in pasta sauce inside the instant pot.

Tips for Success

Follow these tips for perfect Instant Pot meatballs that are flavorful and tender every time you cook them:

  • Use lean ground beef. The ground pork will add just the right amount of moisture and your sauce will turn out less greasy. If you notice some grease floating on top of the sauce after cooking, use a spoon to skim it off.
  • Don’t overmix the meat mixture. Overmixing the ground meat can lead to tough meatballs. Using your hands to combine the ingredients is less rough than a spoon, and it’s your best bet for tender, light meatballs.
  • Don’t skip the water. Tomato sauce can sometimes throw out a burn warning in the Instant Pot, so be sure to add the amount of water listed in the recipe.
  • Cook the meatballs in broth instead. To cook these meatballs without marinara sauce, place the prepared meatballs in 1 ½ cups of beef broth (or chicken stock) and follow the cooking directions as written.
  • Budget enough time for the IP to pressurize. Note that the Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to come to pressure before the actual cooking time starts. Make sure that you plan for the amount of time it takes to pressurize, cook, and release the pressure afterward. 
  • Check the meatballs for doneness. After you’ve lifted the lid to your pressure cooker, check that the meatballs are done using an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature should read 165ºF.
  • No Instant Pot? No worries, you can still enjoy delicious homemade meatballs made in the slow cooker or oven instead. Check out my recipes for crockpot meatballs and baked meatballs.
  • Make it spicy. Give your Instant Pot meatballs some kick and borrow the sauce from my smoky chipotle meatballs recipe. Prepare the chipotle sauce and then combine it with water inside the IP as directed here.
Overhead view of instant pot meatballs served in a bowl with pasta sauce, with a spoon for serving.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you cook raw meatballs directly in the sauce?

Yes, it’s safe to cook raw meatballs in sauce inside the Instant Pot. They’ll cook through by the time you lift the lid. If you’d prefer to brown the meatballs using the Saute function first, that’s also totally fine!

What do you put in meatballs so they don’t fall apart?

The egg and breadcrumbs bind with the other ingredients and keep your meatballs from crumbling apart. Don’t skip these!

Why do you put milk in meatballs?

Adding milk to meatballs makes them rich and flavorful, not to mention it adds moisture. Without it, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with dry, bland meatballs. 

Instant pot meatballs and sauce served over a bed of spaghetti on a white plate, with the instant pot and a bowl of meatballs in the background.

Meatball Serving Suggestions

Wondering what to serve with meatballs? You can’t go wrong with homemade egg noodles or classic spaghetti and meatballs served with garlic knots. It’s a satisfying meal with a side salad or veggies, like air fryer asparagus

But why stop there? Instant Pot meatballs are delicious inside a hoagie roll for a meatball sub sandwich. They’re also great over mashed potatoes for an easy comfort food dinner. If you’re serving these meatballs as a party appetizer, leave them in the IP on the Keep Warm setting and let everyone skewer their own!

Overhead view of instant pot meatballs and sauce served over a bed of spaghetti on a white plate with a fork.

Can I Meal Prep Instant Pot Meatballs?

Certainly! You can make and shape the meatballs and store them airtight for up to 1 day in the fridge. When you’re ready to cook them, simply combine the sauce and water in the Instant Pot, add your meatballs, and proceed with the recipe as directed.

Instant pot meatballs served in a bowl with pasta sauce.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

  • Refrigerate. Store the cooked meatballs and sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
  • Reheat. Reheat meatballs together with the sauce in a pot on the stovetop or using the microwave. You can also warm the meatballs using the Saute function on the Instant Pot.
  • Freeze. You can also freeze these Instant Pot meatballs for up to 3 months. Store them airtight in a container or freezer bag and defrost them in the fridge before reheating.

More Instant Pot Recipes


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Cooked in marinara sauce, Instant Pot meatballs are tender, juicy, and packed with flavor. They’re a quick and tasty dinner served over pasta or in a meatball sub!

  • 24 ounces pasta sauce
  • ¾ Cup water
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ¼ Cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ Cup panko bread crumbs
  • ¼ Cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¼ pound ground pork

  1. Add the pasta sauce and the water to the insert in the instant pot and stir well.
  2. Combine the milk and egg in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the parmesan cheese, panko, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes so the breadcrumbs soak up the liquid.
  4. Add the ground beef and ground pork. Use your hands to combine the mixture until it is an even mixture that holds together. Don’t overmix or the meatballs will get tough.
  5. Shape the meat mixture into balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter – about the size of a golf ball. It should make about 20-22 meatballs.
  6. Place the uncooked meatballs into the sauce in the instant pot.
  7. Place the lid on the instant pot and set the vent to the sealing position.
  8. Cook on manual high pressure for 8 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes for the instant pot to pressurize. Once the cooking time has elapsed, naturally release the pressure for 5 minutes. Release the remaining pressure and check the meatballs to make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees.
  9. Serve over noodles or make into meatball subs.


  • To cook without the marinara sauce: Place the uncooked meatballs in 1 ½ cups of beef broth and follow the remaining directions as listed.

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