Ok, technically this should be called Fusilli and Meatballs. Spaghetti noodles don’t fare as well in the Instant Pot as the shapes – fusilli, penne, shells, etc. But oh my word. This “one stop shop” Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs has been a game changer for me over the past few months.
My kids straight up cleared out the entire pot the first night I made it. The next time, I doubled up and we had just enough to have a little leftover for lunch. I use a 6 quart pot, so this recipe below is the doubled one and should feed 6 to 8, depending on how big of eaters your family are.
With only 4 main ingredients, 6 if you count the salt and oil, this Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs comes together in a matter of minutes, and only cooks for 6 minutes! All in all, with the time it takes to come to pressure and gather your ingredients, you’re looking at about 20 minutes flat. Plus there’s only 1 pot to clean up at the end. As a full-time working mom of 3, this is like a unicorn meal.
Having meatballs on hand and using store-bought sauce is what makes this quick, but you can easily brown 2 pounds of ground beef with some seasonings in the pot, and then drain it before adding the remaining ingredients.
I love to make my meatballs homemade because I can control what goes in them, plus I know my kids love my homemade recipe. A few years ago, I found this meatball master tray online and while they don’t create perfectly rolled meatball shape, they cut the time (and mess!) in half. I just mix up the meatball mix, press it into two of these trays and pop them in the freezer. To save space and so I can easily dump 2 pounds of them into the pot, once they’re frozen I break them apart and store them in reusable airtight bags.
I keep 4 pounds of these meatballs in my freezer at all times. I prefer the coconut flour option texture wise and find they hold together best in the Instant Pot. I use this meatball master tray to make my life easier, freeze them raw, and just plop them into the pot uncooked and frozen! I haven’t tested it with cooked meatballs, but I think these. these, or these would work just fine if you don’t have any pre-made. Just note that they are not grain-free (they use rice) and some do contain dairy.
As you may remember from my Welcome post when this new blog launched last year, I’m excited to have the freedom to share more recipes containing gluten-free grains with you all. Especially because when polled, I was surprised to see that nearly 80% of you answered that you or your family ate gluten-free the majority of the time, and grain-free on occasion. That’s how the rest of my family eats, so with that in mind, this is one of those few recipes that I used brown rice in.
See number 2 in my tips below for how to use cassava or chickpea pasta to keep this grain-free!
So let’s talk about some of the tips I have after testing this multiple times.
My Top 5 Tips
- The texture of this dish isn’t going to be as good as doing the pasta separately on the stove and adding the sauce and meatballs after. It just isn’t. BUT the convenience factor far outweighs that for me. The pasta still is cooked perfectly al dente, without a hint of mushiness. It’s just that the overall sauce at the end has a little more starch in it because the pasta is cooked in it, and nothing is drained out afterwards. Honestly? It tastes a little like the Spaghettios and meatballs from my youth. Raise your hand if you’re a 90’s kid like me! Remember how the sauce was a tiny bit silky and just the slightest bit gummy? That’s kind of what you get here. But again – my family devoured, and the ease of this makes it worth it
- Brown rice noodles are the best, aside from wheat noodles, to cook in the Instant Pot. Chickpea (I prefer this one for the ingredients and how it holds up) and cassava (this one is the best) will work, they just are a little bit temperamental and can go mushy more quickly. Jovial brand brown rice noodles delivered the most consistent results and held their shape nicely. Rule of thumb if you choose a different noodle- set your pot for 1/2 of the time called for on the box, minus 1 minute. So if your box calls for 12 minutes, set it for 5 minutes.
- Use frozen meatballs! This not only makes everything so much easier and saves time, but it helps the meatballs keep their shape and not break apart in the pot or stick to the bottom. I keep 4 pounds of grain-free meatballs (see notes in recipe) in my freezer, uncooked, at all times so I can just toss them into this in a moments’ notice.
- I have not tested this yet stove top but I’m 99% certain it can be done easily. If you test it, come back and let everyone know how long it took, and what temperature you set your stove to!
- Don’t walk away from the machine for more than 5 to 7 minutes after the timer has finished. Your pasta will overcook.
With that, here’s the recipe! This will forever be on rotation for us, and I plan to test some other types of sauces and proteins!
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Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs
Super easy, 6 ingredient spaghetti and meatballs that cooks 6 minutes!
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 6
- Total Time: 11 minutes
- Yield: 6 to 8 servings 1x
- Category: Easy
- Cuisine: Italian
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds frozen, uncooked meatballs*
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 12-ounce boxes dried gluten-free fusilli noodles (see blogpost for other pastas)
4 cups store-bought marinara sauce
4 cups unsalted chicken broth
optional garnish: Dairy-Free Parmesan Cheese (Eat What You Love, pg 315)
- Add the olive oil to the pot of an electric pressure cooker, such as an Instant pot, and turn the machine to sauté mode on high. Add the meatballs, salt, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. The meatballs will be browned slightly, but not defrosted or cooked through.
- Add the noodles overtop. Layer the sauce over the noodles, but do not stir. Add the broth overtop, and again do not stir. Secure the lid and set the valve to sealing. Select manual pressure on high and set the timer for 5 minutes.
- When the timer is finished, manually (or quick) release the pressure. Remove the lid and stir the pasta well.
- There will be some extra sauce at the top, but as you stir, the pasta will continue cooking and absorb some of the liquid. Serve hot, topped with dairy-free Parmesan cheese if desired.
If needed to thicken, switch the pot back to sauté mode for 30 to 60 seconds, until the sauce has reduced.
*I keep 4 pounds of these meatballs in my freezer at all times. I prefer the coconut flour option. I use this meatball master tray to make my life easier, freeze them raw, and just plop them into the pot uncooked and frozen! I haven’t tested it with cooked meatballs, but I think these would work just fine if you don’t have any premade.
Keywords: east recipes, meatballs, instant pot recipes, instant pot, Danielle Walker, against all grain, family dinner, kid approved, Italian