Instant Pot Meatballs (from frozen)

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Instant Pot Frozen Meatballs is that go-to meal you can make in few minutes that is packed with flavor and all you need is meatballs, canned tomatoes, and some herbs.

Instant Pot Frozen Meatballs

This is a really great recipe for a weeknight dinner when you want Italian food without too much time investment. In this recipe, we combine all the sauce ingredients in the Instant Pot, the add the frozen meatballs on top and pressure cook. In just five minutes you’ll be ready to dive into your Italian feast!

Why You’ll Love It

  • You can easily and quickly whip this up in no time at all for any number of people. You can double or triple the recipe and have a great sauce to serve over spaghetti.
  • If you don’t have time to put together something fresh, you know you can grab a can of tomatoes and those frozen meatballs from the freezer and make this dinner in a flash.
  • You won’t believe how much flavor the sauce gets in just 5 minutes in the IP.

truth_man says: 5 starsI used this recipe for a last-minute dinner idea. I’m so glad I found it! Thanks!

» Also try this Instant Pot Spaghetti and quick Instant Pot Tomato Sauce.

Ingredients You Need

Ingredients for frozen meatballs in the Instant Pot
  • Frozen meatballs – Any meatballs will work – beef, pork or turkey. You can make your own fresh meatballs or use frozen meatballs for simplicity. We particularly like turkey meatballs – they have great flavor, and it’s leaner than regular pork or beef meatballs. If using beef meatballs, look for a low fat content, like 95%, so it doesn’t make the sauce too oily.
  • Diced or crushed tomatoes – We’d recommend buying some Roma or San Marzano canned tomatoes, as though often have a brighter, tastier flavor.
  • Dried oregano and thyme – When buying dried oregano, make sure to use it quickly – it loses fragrance as it sits in your kitchen. You could also substitute these two spices with an Italian seasoning if that’s what you have.
  • Salt and pepper

Equipment Needed

Instant Pot Duo Plus
  • Instant Pot I use a 6-quart Instant Pot Duo Plus to make all of my recipes, but you can use any size or brand of electric pressure cooker. If you’re using an 8-quart pot, you will need to adjust the amount of liquid accordingly, as it requires more water to build steam.

Helpful Tips

  • You don’t have to cook these meatballs in tomato sauce. You could use a canned marinara or even barbecue sauce! The only thing to bear in mind is that if the mixture is thick, you’ll need to add some water to prevent the burn notice. The Instant Pot creates pressure by boiling water into steam – if there’s no water, it can’t do that!
  • Any meatballs can be used in this recipe, from chicken to turkey, or even vegan meatballs!
  • If you add enough meatballs that stacking is required, add 2 minutes to the cook time so they are sure to get cooked through.

How to Make Instant Pot Frozen Meatballs

Step 1: Add tomatoes & spices

Add the diced tomatoes and seasonings to the Instant Pot. Make sure to stir everything together very well – that will ensure your seasonings disperse flavor into the sauce.

making tomato sauce in the Instant Pot

Step 2: Add meatballs

Add the frozen meatballs on top of the sauce. Try to space them out evenly. You might notice that my meatballs are frozen and raw. They are not pre-cooked meatballs. You can use either, the cook time will stay the same.

You can double or triple the recipe, if you want to make more. If tripling the recipe means that meatballs are stacked up on each other you might need to add 2 minutes of cook time to make sure they all get cooked through.

Frozen meatballs in the Instant Pot

PRO TIP: It’s not necessary to add extra water since the tomatoes have enough water content to build pressure.

Step 3: Pressure Cook

Instant Pot Frozen Meatballs

Lock the lid in place and set the valve to sealing. Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. When the cooking cycle is complete, do a quick release of the pressure. This is the fastest way to make the recipe. However, if you have a few extra minutes and want to build more flavor, allow the pot to naturally release pressure, which takes about 10 extra minutes.

Keep in mind that the meatballs need to reach 165° F to be safe to eat. Test them with a meat thermometer to be sure.

Step 4: Serve

We recommend serving these meatballs over spaghetti, and with a generous dusting of parmesan cheese. If you prefer a low-carb version, you can serve the meatballs as is with some mozzarella cheese melted over the top.

Instant Pot Frozen Meatballs

How to Avoid the Burn Notice

The burn notice is sometimes a mystery to me. I rarely get the burn notice when cooking in the Instant Pot using my recipes on this site, but I hear from some readers who do. I don’t know why some people have this problem while others don’t.

In any case, be aware that you might get a burn notice while cooking tomatoes in the Instant Pot. Tomatoes are very viscous, and don’t allow for good circulation. You might not get it with crushed tomatoes, but get the burn notice when you stir in tomato paste.

If you do get a burn notice, I would suggest leaving the tomato paste out, using whole tomatoes instead of diced, or adding about 1/4 cup of water. The extra water will help the dish cook under pressure and it can be reduced out after the pressure is released, plus you can add the tomato paste at the end as well, so there’s no worries about diluted or watery sauce.

Variations to Try

Instead of cooking the meatballs in tomato sauce, you can try different variations, if you like. Some that we really like are:

  • Plain meatballs – just cook the frozen meatballs in beef broth.
  • BBQ sauce – Mix bbq sauce and water.
  • Frank’s Red Hot Sauce – No need to add water, just cook in red hot sauce.
  • Grape Jelly Meatballs
  • Swedish Meatballs
  • Sriracha Honey Meatballs – make this honey sriracha sauce to pour over your meatballs once cooked
Instant Pot Frozen Meatballs

Storing and Reheating

You can store leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge if you won’t be using them right away. If you want to prepare the ingredients ahead of time, the meatballs will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days and in the freezer for 2-3 months.

You can easily reheat the meatballs in the microwave or in the Instant Pot with a zero minute cook time. Place the leftovers in an Instant Pot safe container, set it on the trivet, with one cup of water in the inner pot. Set to high pressure for zero minutes. When done do a quick release of the pressure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I cook the meatballs from fresh instead of frozen?

Yes, you can use fresh meatballs in this recipe. You can lower the cook time to 4 minutes if the meatballs are fresh.

Can I double the recipe?

Yes, you can double or triple the recipe to make a larger amount. This is a great way to cook a delicious meal for a lot of people really quickly. If the meatballs end up being stacked up, add 2 minutes to the cook time.

How long do frozen meatballs take to cook?

To cook frozen meatballs in the Instant Pot you will need 20-30 minutes. They cook for 5 minutes. Keep in mind that it will take the Instant Pot at least 10 minutes to reach high pressure and then a quick release. Therefore, the overall cooking time is roughly 20 minutes.

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Instant Pot Frozen Meatballs

Instant Pot Frozen Meatballs

Instant Pot Frozen Meatballs is that go-to meal you can make in few minutes that is packed with flavor and all you need is meatballs, canned tomatoes, and some herbs.

Note: Made in a 6-qt Instant Pot

4.83 from 79 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Pressurize Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 247 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons (32 g) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon (1 g) dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 g) ground black pepper
  • 24 frozen meatballs

Instructions
 

  • Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasonings to the Instant Pot and stir.
  • Add frozen meatballs on top of the sauce. Do not stir them into the sauce.
  • Lock the lid in place and set the valve to sealing. Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. When done, do a quick release (or if you have time, you can do a natural release). Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • You can cook these meatballs in your favorite cooking sauce. Use marinara sauce, barbecue sauce, or make your own sauce.
  • If it’s a thick sauce, you’ll need to add some water to prevent the burn notice.
  • You could also use chicken or turkey meatballs, or even vegan meatballs.

Nutrition

Calories: 247kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 15gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 548mgPotassium: 525mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 267IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 60mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Beef, Tomatoes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

19 thoughts on “Instant Pot Meatballs (from frozen)

  1. Michelle says:

    As I was making this I kept thinking this is might burn. It did, what did I do wrong? Pasta sauce always burns in my pot.

    • Laura says:

      I’m sorry to hear that Michelle. I don’t know why some people have this problem while others don’t. I’ve never had a problem with pasta sauces. However, tomatoes are very viscous, and don’t allow for good circulation. You may have an easier time avoiding burn with crushed tomatoes, but get a burn notice if you’ve stirred in tomato paste. I would suggest leaving the tomato paste out, using whole tomatoes instead of diced, or adding about 1/4 cup of water.

    • Angela Morris says:

      Hi Summer, the cooking time stays the same whether you double or triple the recipe. If the recipe were for thawed meatballs then you would have to add 2 minutes to cook them from frozen.

  2. Amy Hannickel says:

    5 stars
    I have a ninja foodie. I was having trouble qwith yhe sauce burning so I changed the pressure cooker to low and cooked for 12 minutes for aproz 30 meatballs. They were perfect.

  3. Jan B says:

    5 stars
    After reading some of the comments I was worried I would get the dreaded burn notice. I didn’t! They came out great.

    • Angela Morris says:

      So glad to hear that Jan. I’ve never had trouble with getting the burn notice but I know it can be a real pain.

  4. Michael Thomas says:

    I made a slight tweak to the sauce for these meatballs by adding a splash of balsamic vinegar. It added a wonderful tangy flavor that I loved.

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