I love instant pot recipes that yield a complete meal, with minimal prep, like this Instant Pot Penne Pasta with Meatballs. Uncooked penne pasta, meatballs and a simple homemade tomato sauce are added to the pot together, and dinner is ready in just a few minutes!

I have a handful of all-in-one instant pot meals, like this one, that my family LOVES and I make on a regular basis. Our favorite is probably Instant Pot Chicken Taco Bowls followed closely by Instant Pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta and Instant Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes.

Overhead photo of an instant pot filled with penne pasta in a red sauce with meatballs, and a spoonful being lifted out.

Instant Pot Pasta with Meatballs

I really look forward to sharing this type of Instant Pot recipe because I know so many of you share my enthusiasm for meals you can dump in the instant pot and have dinner ready and nearly the snap of your fingers. This pasta is especially kid-friendly and I’m confidant your family will love it!

How to make Instant Pot Pasta with meatballs:

Gather the ingredients you’ll need, including uncooked penne pasta, a can of crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, meatballs (frozen or fresh), and spices.

Four process photos for cooking penne pasta in the instant pot including frozen meatballs at the bottom of the pot, uncooked penne pasta on top, tomato sauce and spices covering the noodles and a final photo of the cooked penne pasta and meatballs meal in the instant pot.

Start by layering your frozen meatballs in the bottom of the Instant Pot.  Add the pasta on top of the meatball and spread it into an even layer.  Pour the water on top of the pasta.  Add the crushed tomatoes, seasonings, and tomato sauce on top and gently stir it with a spoon, making sure that the sauce completely covers the noodles.

Four process photos for cooking penne pasta in the instant pot including frozen meatballs at the bottom of the pot, uncooked penne pasta on top, tomato sauce and spices covering the noodles and a final photo of the cooked penne pasta and meatballs meal in the instant pot.

The general rule of thumb for cooking pasta in the instant pot or pressure cooker is to cook it on high pressure for half the amount of time noted on the box, followed by a quick release.

How to cook meatballs in the Instant Pot:

You can use pre-cooked frozen meatballs for this recipe or you can make your own meatballs from scratch.

To cook frozen meatballs in the Instant Pot, simply layer them at the bottom of the instant pot, add uncooked pasta and water on top, followed by tomato sauce and spices. Then cook on high pressure for half the time noted on the pasta box.

To cook raw meatballs in the instant pot, first turn the instant pot to sauté mode.  Spray the bottom of the pot with cooking spray. Quickly brown the meatballs on all sides (they should still be uncooked in the middle).  Then layer them at the bottom of the instant pot, add uncooked pasta on top, add water and top with desired sauce.  Then cook on high pressure for half the time noted on the pasta box.

A white plate with cooked penne pasta and meatballs in a red sauce with shredded parmesan cheese on top.

More ways to adapt this recipe:
  • Substitute crushed fire roasted tomatoes to add some heat and bold flavor.
  • Stir in spinach at the end
  • Add cheese at the end
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Recipe

Overhead photo of an instant pot filled with penne pasta in a red sauce with meatballs, and a spoonful being lifted out.
Prep 5 mins
Cook 25 mins
Total 30 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds frozen meatballs (fully cooked-about 16 meatballs)
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 3 cups water
  • 24 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasonings
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves , chopped (or 2 tsp. dried)
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese , for topping
  • fresh parsley leaves , for garnish
  • crushed red pepper flakes , optional for garnish

Instructions
 

  • DISCLAIMER: I developed and tested this recipe in my 6-QUART INSTANT POT DUO. If you’re using a larger IP or a newer brand you may need to add more liquid so that you don’t get a burn notice. (The new IP are much more sensitive). Not all instant pot recipes work perfectly for all types of instant pots. See this article for more information on adapting recipes for your instant pot.
  • Add meatballs to bottom of IP. Add pasta on top, spreading into an even layer.
  • Pour water over pasta.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, seasonings and tomato sauce and gently stir with a spoon. Smooth the sauce to completely cover the noodles.
  • Cook on High Pressure (Manual) for 4-5 minutes (half the time on the box of pasta).
  • Do a controlled quick release when timer beeps. Stir. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 547kcalCarbohydrates: 51gProtein: 28gFat: 25gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 332mgPotassium: 809mgFiber: 4gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 360IUVitamin C: 11.2mgCalcium: 72mgIron: 3.3mg

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was so easy and a huge hit with my family. Who doesn’t love a meal that takes 5 minutes prep time and satisfies the pickiest eater? This will be making many returns to our table.

  2. This is a good one, and now I will always make my pasta and meatballs in the Instant Pot! It really does add more flavor to the pasta. The changes I made were minor, mostly seasonings to the likes of my family and adjustments to portion size. I also used frozen turkey meatballs – really good! Thanks for this one :).

  3. 5 stars
    It was great. I added salt to the 3 cups of water to give the pasta a bit more flavor. I used a 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes instead of a 24-oz. can. When the left overs were reheated the next day, I added some shredded mozzarella cheese. This recipe is so simple yet so good.

  4. 5 stars
    I made this in my 6 quart Instant Pot using frozen turkey meatballs, whole wheat rotelli, and a 25 oz. jar of pasta sauce. I layered everything as suggested, with the addition of a layer of frozen sliced 3-colored peppers in between the meatballs and pasta. I added about an extra 4 oz. of water to the empty sauce jar and swished it around to get out all the bits, then added that to the pot, as well. I also added dried minced onion, garlic powder, and dried oregano, rosemary, and basil. I set it for high pressure for 8 minutes then quick released as soon as it was done. When I opened the lid, everything was bubbling and beautiful looking! It seemed a bit wet at first, but after I stirred everything together it was perfect with a velvety layer of sauce covering everything. The pasta was perfectly cooked to my taste (a bit softer than al dente). There is something I really like about cooking pasta like this, it is much more flavorful and has a slightly silkier texture. This recipe is a winner for a night when you want something good but don’t have the time or inclination to stand over the stove. I will freeze it in portions and get many meals out of this one batch. Thanks for sharing!

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