Classic comfort food, all in one pot! The spaghetti, (frozen!) meatballs, and sauce all cook together in the Instant pot for a totally hands-off main dish. It's so flavorful and SO easy, you might never want to make them another way again.
It was on a weekly rotation for the first couple of months, but then I had to space it out for fear we would get sick of it. But probably that is not possible!
Okay, apart from this being just an all time classic meal that uses only one pot(!), I love it because it uses all pantry/frozen ingredients. And there's no chopping. Which means it's a perfect meal for busy school nights, or if you're just getting back from vacation and haven't grocery shopped yet, or if you just need a really easy meal!
And have I told you that this uses one dish? Pretty much all I do now that we don't have a dishwasher is calculate how many dishes I'm making.
Make a salad and some bread and you have the easiest comfort food meal maybe of all time!
The Instant Pot
My gauge for the success of an Instant Pot meal is always: "is it better than the regular way to make it?"
Spaghetti and meatballs make a surprisingly amazing Instant Pot meal. The noodles and meatballs cook in the sauce and there is big flavor pay off from it!
I will say I'm iffy about noodles in the Instant Pot, but this is the best I've ever had them! Usually they're extra starchy and prone to overcooking, but that's really toned down here. I'm unsure if it's the quick release? I have no answers, but I do know that somehow, IT WORKS.
Also, I need to give you my caveat that though the cook time in the recipe is 8 minutes, this will take about half an hour by the time the IP comes to pressure, cooks, and then simmers. IP time estimates are wack!
I use store bought frozen meatballs for this recipe. And while you could make homemade meatballs here (like if you made a batch of these + froze extras), I think part of the beauty of this recipe is that it's pantry staples + all in one pot. Keep it simple!
Anyway, get whatever meatballs you like! I like the Italian frozen meatballs from Aldi, but if you wanted to switch it up with chicken or turkey meatballs, you certainly could.
The meatballs cook in the sauce with the noodles which makes them so flavorful, and is also integral in preventing the noodles from sticking to the pot. Put a single layer of meatballs on the bottom of the pot. Whatever you have left goes on the top of the noodles!
Another ingredient that is very flexible. Any tomato-based sauce will do here. Pick your favorite, pick what's in the back of your pantry that you've been meaning to use since 2021. Whatever!
I will warn you that when you take the lid off, you're probably going to think that the sauce is WAY too runny - don't worry, as it simmers, it will all thicken up and be perfectly saucy!
Using spaghetti is vital for this recipe! Maybe not vital, but I've tested it with no other types of noodles so cannot comment on their cook times or guarantee any positive outcomes.
You'll have to break the spaghetti noodles in half to fit them laying down in your pot. One important note is to try to scatter them to prevent clumping. Plus, add butter to prevent sticking.
Eat This With
Okay, unsure if this is just mid-kitchen-renovation Mandy talking, or if this is the type of cook I am all the time now, but I really think these Instant Pot spaghetti + meatballs, a Caesar salad from a bag, and some crusty Italian bread is a top tier meal. But if you're feeling more ambitious and want to make more from scratch, here are some ideas:
- A Caesar salad with this Caesar salad dressing (the con is it's not from a bag, but the pro is it's AMAZING.)
- This easy baked garlic bread
- Homemade rolls!
Instant Pot Spaghetti + Meatballs
- 2 pounds frozen meatballs
- 1 pound spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 (24 ounce) jar marinara
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes (optional)
- For serving: parmesan
- Arrange the meatballs in a single layer in the Instant Pot (it's okay if you don't use them all here). Break the noodles in half and scatter them over the meatballs. Slice the butter and place over the noodles. Top with any remaining meatballs. Pour in the sauce and water, and add the crushed red pepper flakes if using. Lock the lid in place and set to high pressure for 8 minutes. Quick release the pressure and remove the lid. Set Instant Pot to saute and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. This is where the noodles finish cooking and the sauce thickens slightly.Serve topped with parmesan.