Once you learn to make these tender, flavorful gluten free meatballs and perfectly cooked gf spaghetti in the Instant Pot, you’ll never want to make them any other way.
Simplicity is the name of this dinnertime ? game
We’ve all had spaghetti and meatballs ? and it’s not necessarily the sort of thing to get too excited about. But even though it sounds super basic, it typically takes more than a few pots and pans and isn’t really a meal you’d turn to at the dinnertime witching hour. ⏱Until now.
If you make these gluten free spaghetti and meatballs in an Instant Pot or similar electronic pressure cooker (mine is the 6-quart basic IP model!), other than a bowl to make the meatball mixture, everything goes right into the IP liner at the same time. AT THE SAME TIME.
What comes out the other side, after it comes to pressure of course (which typically takes about 20 inactive do-something-else minutes), is the most perfectly saucy al dente spaghetti and tender meatballs cooked to perfection. This meal never ever fails, and it never ever disappoints.
Instant Pot cooking 101/troubleshooting
It’s not uncommon to purchase an Instant Pot electronic pressure cooker (or similar brand) on a great sale that you couldn’t resist, and then let it sit in the box unopened for months or even years. I can’t explain it, but I get it.
A new appliance can seem very overwhelming, especially this one. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but most of the IP recipes you’ll find on the Internet seem to assume you already know how to use it.
So I make no assumptions in this recipe or the accompanying video. If my instructions are too basic for you, you’ll know right away and feel free to skim them. But for the rest of us, let’s learn from my mistakes!
Before my first successful IP voyage, my first Instant Pot trials were a complete failure. At first, I didn’t close the vent by setting it to sealing. Surprise! It never came to pressure. Then, I tried cooking things without enough moisture.
Of course, you would never do that since you’re way smarter than I am. But if you did happen to do that, the pot will eventually start counting down as if it got to pressure but your food will not be cooked. Do not cut the liquid in this recipe. Truuuuust me.
If you’re afraid that something might burn on the bottom of the pot, use the rack that comes with the appliance to elevate the food a bit. That would work in this recipe just fine if you like.
Be sure to place the dried spaghetti in a criss-cross pattern on top of the sauce, as specified in the recipe, to minimize clumping. Despite your absolute best efforts, some of the strands of spaghetti may stick together during cooking, resulting in some clumps. However, unlike boiling spaghetti on the stovetop, all of the spaghetti strands in the clump will be cooked just right.
What else do you make in the Instant Pot?
I purchased an Instant Pot in 2017, and I’m proud to say that I put it to the test almost immediately. My first successful recipe was a shredded salsa chicken that everyone in my family loved so much that I served it at least once a week for months.
I moved on making grains like oatmeal and rice in the Instant Pot. That works just fine, but they’re not too much easier than just making it in a pot so it doesn’t happen too often.
As soon as I saw how incredibly easy it is to go from dried beans to creamy, homemade beans with no advanced planning at all, though, I was officially completely hooked. I cook a pound of dried beans every week.
Dried beans in the IP sidebar
If you’re interested, rinse and pick over the pound of beans, and add it to the Instant pot along with 5 cups of water, a few dried bay leaves and some other spices (I like to add dried cumin, smoked Spanish paprika and some chili powder—but no salt or the beans will be hard!).
Set it to cook for 40 minutes on high pressure and allow the steam to release naturally for about 20 minutes, and then manually release the rest. Remove the bay leaves, salt to taste and voila!
What if I don’t have an Instant Pot?
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can try making my slow cooker gluten free meatballs recipe, which is also great. If you’d like something grain-free and dairy-free, you can also try our Paleo meatballs recipe.
The meatball mixture in this recipe is made with all dried herbs because dried herbs and spices are the ones that retain the most flavor when cooking in an Instant Pot or slow cooker. But if you’d like to use this same meatball mixture to cook meatballs in the oven or on the stovetop, that would work great, too.
Try replacing some of the dried herbs with fresh ones, especially on the stovetop. Just use double the amount of fresh that you would use dried.
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy-free: The shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in this meatball mixture really makes the entire dish very creamy and flavorful. In fact, the spaghetti and meatballs actually taste like they were made with cream, even though there isn’t any cream in the recipe.
If you’d like to replace the cheese with a nondairy cheese, I’d try shaving any Violife brand block cheese. Daiya brand shredded cheese should also work relatively well. It won’t be the same, though.
Egg-free: Since there is only one egg in this recipe, you can try replacing it with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). You will need a binder, though, or you will end up with spaghetti and meat sauce as cooking under high pressure is no joke.
Dried pasta: If you’re looking for brands of gluten free pasta, we’ve covered that pretty extensively. Be sure you’re using spaghetti, nothing thinner like angel hair or flatter like fettuccini, which will stick together like crazy. I haven’t tried this recipe using a short dried pasta, but I’m anxious to give it a shot.