Pressure Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs

This is a super easy pressure cooker (Instant Pot®) spaghetti and meatball dinner. The meatballs and pasta cook right in the cooker along with the sauce. It's simple enough for weeknight meals, but special enough for Sunday family dinner.

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Meatballs browning in a pressure cooker.

Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs

If the Lady and the Tramp loved it, I love it too! Spaghetti and meatballs are one of those classic recipes recognized worldwide, but this version of pressure cooker spaghetti and meatballs speeds up the process significantly and makes a comfort meal big enough to feed a crowd. There are a lot of shortcuts you can take when making this dinner, but if you are ever going to make homemade spaghetti and meatballs now’s the time – when everything cooks together in one pot. The meatballs called for in this recipe can be any type of meatball as long as they are not yet cooked. Frozen meatballs are fine too and you can use beef, pork, turkey or chicken meatballs like the ones you see in the photo above. Use the BROWN or SAUTÉ setting to brown the meatballs on all sides first. Then, move to the next step and make the marinara sauce. 

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Meatballs and marinara in a pressure cooker with a wooden spoon sticking out of it.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Yes, you could substitute a jar of your favorite sauce instead of making the sauce for this pressure cooker spaghetti and meatballs, but honestly, making your own marinara is just a matter of sautéing some onion, garlic and red pepper along with some seasonings before adding the tomatoes. Doing it all yourself from scratch gives you good bragging rights and tastes better too.

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Pasta added to the top of a pressure cooker.

Instant Pot Pasta

Cooking pasta in the pressure cooker is not traditional. Purists will tell you that it’s wrong and that you should only ever cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. If you’re a purist, you should cook the pasta separately and just make the sauce in the pressure cooker or Instant Pot®. Add ¾ cup of broth or water to the sauce and meatballs, pop the lid on and follow the rest of the recipe. If you’re not a purist, don’t listen to the others and go ahead and sprinkle the pasta into the cooker, separating the strands of spaghetti slightly as you do so. While you’re at it, whatever you do, don’t tell the purists that you also broke the spaghetti in half in order to fit it into the cooker! That is also very much a break (forgive me) from tradition, but if you want spaghetti in the pressure cooker that’s the only way you can do it. If you’re vehemently opposed to breaking spaghetti (and I do understand), use a smaller shaped pasta for this recipe instead. You can read my tips on cooking pasta in the pressure cooker here, which also gives you information on how to calculate the cooking time for a variety of pasta shapes. 

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Spaghetti and meatballs in a pressure cooker with a red and tan towel near by.

Quick and Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs

After a quick few minutes of cooking time, the spaghetti and meatballs will be finished. It won’t look like the photo above when you remove the lid. You will need to gently stir everything together. Let everything sit in the warm cooker for a few minutes to absorb any extra sauce or liquid. Food out of a pressure cooker is way too hot to eat anyway, so let it cool to an edible temperature before serving it, which brings us to the last component of this meal…

 

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A white bowl of pressure cooker spaghetti and meatballs with whipped ricotta dolloped on top and a large bowl of more spaghetti in the background.

Whipped Herbed Ricotta

You could stop right here and serve the pressure cooker spaghetti and meatballs as is with some grated Parmesan cheese on top, or you could keep going for just a few minutes and give this meal a little flare with some whipped herbed ricotta cheese. It’s as simple as stirring some ingredients together and a dollop of the ricotta with parsley, basil and Parmesan does add a burst of flavor to each bowl. It really depends on how you plan on eating the spaghetti. The addition of ricotta is not approved by Lady nor the Tramp.  

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Pressure Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs with Herbed Ricotta 

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 20 m
  • Total Time: 35 m
  • Servings:
    6

Ingredients

  • 18 raw meatballs (beef, pork, turkey or chicken)
  • olive oil
  • ½ onion finely chopped
  • ½ red pepper finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon sugar optional
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes optional
  • 28 ounce canned crushed tomatoes
  • 28 ounce canned petite diced tomatoes undrained
  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguini
  • 1 cup chicken or beef stock
  • 2 cups water
Herbed Ricotta – Optional
  • cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the pressure cooker using the SAUTÉ or BROWN setting,
  2. Brown the meatballs in batches, turning them to brown on all sides. Remove the browned meatballs from the pressure cooker and set them aside.

  3. Make the sauce. Add the onions and red pepper to the cooker and sauté until they start to soften – about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, Italian seasoning, sugar (if using), 1 teaspoon of salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Add the crushed tomatoes and the petite diced tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes. Then return the meatballs to the pressure cooker and stir to coat them in the sauce.

  4. Break the dried pasta in half and spread it out flat on top of the meatballs in different directions. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of salt over the pasta. Pour the water and chicken stock on top of the pasta and press the pasta down gently to submerge it into the liquid. No need to stir, but make sure the liquid in the cooker is able to reach the bottom of the cooker by pulling the ingredients away from the side of the cooker a couple of times before locking the lid in place. If the cooker gives you an error message, open the lid and stir the ingredients just a little, making sure the water can reach the bottom of the pot.

  5. Pressure-cook on HIGH for 6 minutes.

  6. Make the whipped ricotta. Whisk the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, milk, parsley and basil together in a bowl. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

  7. Release the pressure using the QUICK-RELEASE method, covering the pressure release valve with a kitchen towel if it starts to spurt a little water.

  8. Carefully remove the lid and gently stir the spaghetti, sauce and meatballs together. Let the food sit and cool to an edible temperature for a few minutes. Serve the spaghetti and meatballs in bowls and top off with a dollop of the herbed whipped ricotta and extra Parmesan cheese. Garnish with fresh parsley or basil leaves.
  9. NOTE: For a short cut you can use two (24-ounce) jars of your favorite pasta sauce instead of making the sauce yourself, increasing the water to 2½ cups. Pour the sauce over the browned meatballs and continue with step 5.

  10. NOTE: If you are using a brand of petite diced tomatoes that are thick, like Cento®, you may need to add another ¼ cup of water to the pot before pressure cooking.

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Comments (11)Post a Reply

  1. I will definitely be making this as soon as I can gather all the ingredients together. I will also be cooking the pasta IN the IP and I will be breaking it in half….I am a rebel! Must confess that no matter how good this turns out to be, my favorite meatball will also be the one in the pic! ‘Bones and petites’ to you as well.

    1. Hi Marcia. Are you using the “Print Recipe” button just above and to the right of the recipe title? If you click on that button, a new window with a nicely formatted recipe should open that is easy to print.
      ML

  2. I can’t wait to try this recipe when the Instant Pot I just ordered yesterday arrives. Question about using jarred sauce – aside from adding extra water, do I still add the chicken stock, too? Thank you!

    1. Hi Tony. Yes – add the chicken stock as well if you’re planning on cooking a full pound of pasta. Have fun with your new toy!

    1. Hi Nancy. You can add the meatballs and pasta at the same time and cook for 6 minutes. The meatballs don’t need time to cook, but they do need time to defrost and warm through completely.

  3. Meredith, can this be made in the Cook’s Essentials pressure cooker? I’m guessing yes, but was surprised to see a different brand here. Thank you!

  4. I make a version of beef stew in the pressure cooker all the time that uses tomato soup, and I add elbow macaroni. Comes out great – so why did I never think to do spaghetti in it with meatballs??? Thanks for this – going to try it!

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