Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs is emblematic of where I am at these days. This recipe is not fancy. It ‘s not a dish that you make to challenge your palette. It’s not sooo umami. It is made in a single pot, ready in minutes, and assembled with ingredients retrieved from my freezer and pantry.   Oh, and my kids will eat it.

Now I can’t claim authorship for this recipe. Credit goes to Melissa Clark, who has recently come out with a new cookbook, Comfort in and Instant that includes only Instant Pot recipes. I bought it after seeing this recipe featured in the NY Times. I’m working my way through the cookbook now at Instant Pot pace.

Make this recipe with ground beef, pork or turkey (I’ve tried two of the three) – whatever you happen to have on hand. And if you have the luxury of fresh basil and ricotta, do add those ingredients for the adults in the room. It takes the recipe to the next level.

Importantly, I would cook in the pressure cooker for an extra minute or two.  Online comments on suggested this fix and Melissa Clark even notes in her cookbook that different spaghetti can cook slower than others so you have to experiment with the pressure cooking time.  When you take the lid off, make sure you really mix and break up the spaghetti and keep it in the hot tomato broth because both times I made this I found some spaghetti was stuck together and a little too al dente. I also encourage you to leave the lid on for 10 minutes so the pasta continues to cook.

I do love the minimal effort and time efficiency that the Instant Pot provides me. With the arrival of the New Year, I find myself in a post holiday seasonal depression spurred on by cold and dreary weather, annoyances at work that do not deserve discussion (but weigh heavy on me) and a broken shoulder bone, bruised ribs and sprained rotator cuff that are a result of a very recent ski accident. I have zero motivation. I’m burned out from entertaining over the holidays. I can’t really work out without screaming in pain. The littlest things annoys me. Dieting seems impossible right now despite the fact that I feel lousy after holiday binging. Bottom line is that I am in Funksville, USA.

I am sure that Funksville is just a temporary pit-stop, and I will be trying out some new challenging recipe in no time, doing so with my non-dominant hand. But for now, the Instant Pot brings fleeting bursts of happiness and certainly makes me appear a better cook than I am. I do not have the luxury of time EVER given that I am a mom and I work more than full time. I still have yet to use the sous vide machine that my husband lovingly bought me a few years ago. Perhaps when the kids go to college and I quit the law after winning the jackpot, I will dust it off and try it. But until then, the Instant Pot is going to stay front and center in my kitchen.  And maybe it will get me to Spring when hopefully the dark cloud over my head lifts and the creative juices begin to flow again.

Instant Pot Spaghetti & Meatballs
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • I pound ground beef (or pork or turkey)
  • ¼ cup panko or bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or minced
Sauce and Pasta
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 springs fresh basil, plus more for serving
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 8 oz spaghetti (broken in half)
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, for serving
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the beef, panko, Parmesan, basil, egg, salt and garlic. Roll into 1¼ inch balls.
  2. Using the saute function on the Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker, heat 2 tbsp of the oil in the pressure cooker pot. Stir in garlic, pepper flakes and black pepper. Cook 1 minute until fragrant.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, basil and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
  4. Use a fork to remove the basil from the pot. Scatter the spaghetti over the sauce. Drizzle the remaining 1 tbsp of water and then pour a cup of water over the meatballs.
  5. Lock the lid and pressure cook for 5 minutes (you may need to add a minute or two depending on the pasta).
  6. Manually release the pressure.
  7. Stir the mixture to spaghetti strands (some might clump together). Stir in the parmesan. Cover the pot with lid (but don't lock it on) and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes (I recommend the full 10 minutes) for the space to thicken and the past to cook to your liking.
  8. Spoon into serving bowls. Daloop with ricotta (if using) and spring with basil and more Parmesan.






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