Make these Cheesy Smoky Umami Instant Pot Meatballs (Pressure Cooker Meatballs) soaked in easy tomato sauce. Bursting with smoky flavors and juicy textures. YUM! Perfect thrifty make ahead freezer Instant Pot meals and dinner for those hectic nights. 😀
These incredibly juicy globes of Instant Pot Meatballs are seriously delicious umami bombs!
Jacky kept wanting to steal my umami meatballs. But of course, I shoved them down before he succeeded. hehe~ 😛
These Instant Pot Meatballs are great with so many things: spaghetti, pasta, sliders, subs, pizza, polenta, or just enjoy them on its own.
You can make these meatballs in Instant Pot when you’re looking for something easy, fulfilling, and thrifty.
Definitely perfect as make ahead freezer Instant Pot Meals for those busy weeknights, treating guests or make a big batch for potluck parties!
Instant Pot Meatballs
- 1 pound (454g) lean ground beef
- 4 strips (~80g) bacon , minced
- 1 small onion , roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic , roughly minced
- 1 extra large egg , beaten
- 1 teaspoon (1.8g) dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon (2g) fennel seed , ground
- ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon (1.5g) kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon (0.5g) black pepper
- ½ cup (31g) panko bread crumbs
- ¼ cup (62.5ml) milk
- 2 - 2.5 oz (60 - 70g) cheese (we used 40g freshly grated Parmesan cheese + 30g Mozzarella cheese)
- Mix Meatballs Ingredients: Combine all the meatballs ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
*Pro Tip: Add the dry ingredients first, then the wet ingredients. Mix well with your hands. Ensure the egg is beaten before adding it to the meatball mixture.
- Make Tomato Sauce: Combine all the tomato sauce ingredients in your Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Mix well until the tomato paste dissolves into the tomato sauce. Close lid and pressure cook at High Pressure for 5 minutes, then Quick Release.
- Preheat Oven & Test Seasoning: While the tomato sauce is cooking, preheat oven to 450°F. Test the seasoning by cooking a small portion of the meatballs mixture on a skillet over medium-high heat.
- Make Meatballs: Gently roll the meatballs mixture with your hands into ball shapes.
*Pro Tip: As shown in the video, we like to serve ours slightly bigger than the size of a golf ball. You should be able to create 8 – 12 meatballs with the listed amount of ingredients.
- Brown in Oven: Place a piece of parchment paper on your baking tray and gently place the meatballs on it. Place the meatballs in the oven for roughly 12 – 16 minutes until the top is browned but not dried out.
- Pressure Cook Meatballs: By now, the tomato sauce should be done cooking on the first cycle. Remove the meatballs from the oven and fully submerge the meatballs in tomato sauce in Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Close lid and pressure cook at High Pressure for another 5 minutes, then quick release.
- Serve: Remove the meatballs from the tomato sauce. Confirm the internal temperature of the meatballs is at least 145°F.
- Optional: Continue to reduce the tomato sauce until desired consistency. Taste the seasoning of the tomato sauce and add in more salt and pepper if desired. If you like, sprinkle more cheese on top of the meatballs when it's served.
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Ingredients for Instant Pot Meatballs
The smoky flavors of the minced bacon work well with the 2 melty cheese embedded in a meatball full of umami ingredients that complement each other.
The sweet and sour flavors of tomatoes work really well with stocks. So, by mixing chicken stock and tomato paste into the tomato sauce, you”ll get a rich and savory red sauce. Yum!
Instant Pot Meatballs Experiment
We’ve always made this delicious Meatballs in Tomato Sauce Recipe on the stovetop. So we wanted to see if our Instant Pot Pressure Cooker can do any better!
We’ve cooked 2 batches of Instant Pot Meatballs: one batch with browning in the oven, the other batch without browning.
Test A – Instant Pot Only:
We pressure cooked the first batch of meatballs in Instant Pot with the easy tomato sauce at High Pressure for 5 minutes, then quick release.
Results – The meatballs have soaked in a lot of the juice and flavors from the tomato sauce, so they were super juicy and moist. However, the flavors and textures were a bit flat compared to the browned version.
Test B – Oven + Instant Pot:
We pressure cooked the second batch of meatballs in Instant Pot after browning them in the oven.
Results – The flavors and textures were noticeably better than Test A – non-browned version.
The browned Instant Pot Meatballs were a bit more delicious than the ones we usually make on the stovetop with browning. This is because the Pressure Cooker Meatballs have a bit more juice soaked into the meat and cooks a wee bit faster.
Tips for Instant Pot Meatballs
- Beat Egg: Make sure the egg is beaten before adding it to the meatball mixture.
- Test Meatballs Seasoning: It’s important to test the seasoning of your meatballs mixture by cooking a small piece of it first. Cook it on a pan over medium high heat, adjust the seasoning and repeat this step if necessary before proceeding.
- For Juicy Meatballs: Meatballs’ juice will continue to escape into the tomato sauce the longer you cook it, so if you like juicy meatballs, it is best to serve immediately or keep warm for up to 30 minutes.
- How to Make Ahead & Freeze Meatballs: Cook a bigger patch of pressure cooker meatballs and freeze the cooked meatballs in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- How to Reheat Frozen Meatballs: Depending on the size of the pressure cooker meatballs, you can pressure cook them frozen with tomato sauce at High Pressure for 8 – 10 minutes, then Quick Release. Make sure the meatball’s internal temperature to be at least 145°F before serving.
Have fun & Enjoy these delicious Umami Instant Pot Meatballs! 😀