Easy Pressure Cooker Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Pressure Cooker Meatball Recipe

Making meatballs in the pressure cooker is easy, fast and splatter-free.  I make them often so I’ve streamlined the whole process to dirty as few dishes as possible.

Meatballs in tomato sauce are a classic Southern Italian recipe,  but when they’re draped over spaghetti, they’re actually being served in an Italian American way.  Let me explain…

In Italy spaghetti is served with just the sauce the meatballs were cooked in, and then, as a second course,  the meatballs are served on a new plate with a salad.  The more practical new-world Italian Americans turned this two course meal into a single dish by simply serving the meatballs on top of the spaghetti. And so, Spaghetti and Meatballs was born!  Today’s busy old-world Italians, seeing the practicality of this arrangement, are starting to introduce this dish on their dinner table as well.

Meatballs are the ultimate frugal meat dish – the addition of breadcrumbs lets you make more with less without compromising flavor or appearance.  The bread crumbs are also the secret to tender meatballs – the more bread you add, the more tender and bread-puddingly the meatballs become.  Make your own breadcrumbs out of sourdough bread, or whole wheat crackers and then pop them in the chopper or electric grater. Throw the bread crusts in there too, they add flavor and color.

And speaking of frugality, after serving this dish you’ll have enough tomato sauce left-over to freeze for one more pasta meal.  The sauce will have taken some of the meatball flavor so it will be a light ragu.  If I have any left-over meatballs (which is rare in my family) I break them up and toss them in the leftover sauce.
Pressure Cooker Meatballs RecipeMaking the classic Spaghetti and Meatballs
The meatballs will be able to wait a bit either with the electric pressure cooker’s “keep-warm” setting or in a sealed stovetop pressure cooker off the heat (for 30 minutes or more) but pasta waits for no man!  I bring the pasta water to a boil in a separate pan once I’ve closed the pressure cooker.  Then, when the meatballs are just finished their 5-minute pressure cooking time and I’m waiting for the 10-Minute Natural Release, I dump the dry spaghetti in the boiling water and cook them.  When the spaghetti is ready,  the meatballs are ready.  I release any remaining pressure from the meatballs and use a couple of ladles of tomato sauce to dress the strained spaghetti. Then,  I quickly  pile the spaghetti in dinner bowls, top with meatballs, and serve.
Spaghetti and Meatballs (form the pressure cooker)More Serving Suggestions: Meatballs – no limits!
If spaghetti aren’t your speed there are tons of ways to serve these meatballs. Drop them and a drizzle of sauce on an island of mashed potatoes, tuck them next to steamed rice or slice them in half, line them up on a small baguette and cover with mozzarella cheese; slide that under the broiler for a few minutes for a meatball sub! Sometimes, right before making the meatballs, I slice and slide a tray of potato wedges in my little toaster oven and the kids love eating the meatballs and dipping these oven fries into the tomato sauce.

Leave a comment and photo, below, to let us know how you serve delicious pressure cooker meatballs!

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
6 L or larger none 5 min. High(2) 10-min Natural

4.8 from 5 reviews
Pressure Cooker Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: Makes 25-30 meatballs and sauce for 2 pastas (serves 8-10)
  • Serving size: 1/10th (about 3 meatballs and ½ cup /120ml of sauce)
  • Calories: 269.8
  • TOTAL Fat: 14.6g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 17.8g
  • Sugar Carbs: 12.2g
  • Sodium: 618.2mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 0.8g
  • Protein: 16.3g
  • Cholesterol: 66.4mg
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Play around with the ingredients for different flavors - use seasoned instead of plain breadcrumbs, use another kind of hard cheese (halve the salt if using pecorino) or replace the oregano with hot pepper flakes.
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped and divided
  • ½ cup (60g) plain dried bread crumbs
  • ⅓ cup (30g) grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • ½ cup (120ml) whole milk
  • 1 pound (500g) mixed ground meat (for example pork, beef and veal or just beef)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • ½ celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2¾ cups (700g) tomato puree
  • 2 cups (500 ml) water
  1. Quarter the onion and, using a mini-chopper, finely chop the onion (do not liquefy).
  2. Add half of the chopped onion into a large mixing bowl put the half-full chopper aside.
  3. To the bowl add the bread crumbs, cheese, oregano, pepper and 1 teaspoon of the salt, mix with a fork until well combined.
  4. Next, add the milk and when that is mixed-in well add the ground meat.
  5. Lastly add the egg and mix using your hands in a kneading motion until it is distributed - set aside.
  6. To the heated pressure cooker add the olive oil and onion. While that is sauteing snap the carrot and celery into small pieces to fit in the chopper, finely chop and add to the pressure cooker.
  7. Add the tomato puree, salt and water and mix well (leave the heat/saute' mode on).
  8. Move the bowl with the meat mixture next to the pressure cooker and start making meatballs - if you're not handy at making them the same size you can use a tablespoon to measure the quantity of meat for each meatball.
  9. As you make each meatball, drop them into the sauce. To get them in an even layer drop them in clockwise, then fill the center and start again with the second layer until you run out of meatball mixture - there is no need for precision here.
  10. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
  11. For electric pressure cookers: Cook for 5 minutes at high pressure.
    For stove top pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 5 minutes pressure cooking time.
  12. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the 10-Minute Natural release method - move the cooker off the burner and wait for the pressure to come down on its own (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, when cooking time is up count 10 minutes of natural open time. Then, release the rest of the pressure slowly using the valve.
  13. See serving suggestions above for making spaghetti and meatballs.

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