Instant Pot Gluten Free Meatballs and Spaghetti

Instant Pot Gluten Free Meatballs and Spaghetti

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.

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. 

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.

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.

We were all sick of it inside of 2 months. I really did just love the ease of making that chicken with some enchilada sauce and calling it dinner with a few corn tortillas. Sue me! 

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.


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. #glutenfree #instantpot #gf #meatballs

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 4 to 5 servings


For the meatballs
1 pound at least 90% lean ground beef

1/4 cup (60 g) coarsely ground gluten free breadcrumbs

1/2 cup (40 g) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried minced onion (or 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder)

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

For the sauce and pasta
4 1/2 cups (40 fluid ounces) canned tomato puree

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried minced onion (or 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder)

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

10 ounces dried gluten free spaghetti

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups (12 fluid ounces) lukewarm water


  • In a large bowl, place the ground beef and break it up lightly with your hands. Place the bread crumbs, cheese, basil, oregano, onion, garlic powder, and salt on top, and mix gently with a spoon until just combined. Add the beaten egg and mix again, gently, until everything is just moistened by the egg. Divide the meatball mixture into 12 equal pieces and roll each lightly into a ball, taking care not to pack the meat tightly. Set the shaped meatballs aside briefly.

  • In the Instant Pot liner, place the tomato puree, salt, basil, oregano, onion, and garlic powder, and whisk to combine well. Divide the dried spaghetti into 4 roughly equal portions. Break the first portion in half and scatter the spaghetti pieces evenly across the top of the sauce in the liner. Repeat with the second portion, but scatter it the opposite way on top of the first layer (perpendicular to the first portion). Repeat with the remaining two portions, breaking each in half and alternating directions. Drizzle the olive oil on top of the spaghetti, and mix very gently with a spoon, keeping most of the spaghetti pieces on top of the sauce. Place the shaped meatballs on top of the pasta in a single layer and pour the water on top.

  • Secure the lid of the Instant Pot until it clicks. Set the vent to sealing. Plug in the pot if it isn’t already plugged in. Press the “Manual” button, ensure the pot is set to “High” (rather than “Low”), set the timer using the “+” or “-“ buttons to 6 minutes. In a moment, the pot will read “ON.” The 6 minutes will begin to count down once the pot has reached full pressure.

  • As soon as the 6-minute manual cooking cycle is over, press the manual button to turn the heat off. Then, using a cloth to avoid burning your hands, release the pressure manually by turning the vent from sealing to vent. Once all the pressure has released, the pressure “button” on the top of the lid will fall and become recessed into the lid. Open the pot and, using a large serving spoon, gently stir the cooked meatballs and spaghetti from the bottom of the pot to the top. Remove the spoon and place the lid of the pot loosely back on top. Allow the dish to rest for a few minutes before serving hot, sprinkling with extra cheese and fresh herbs, if desired.

  • Adapted heavily from Melissa Clark’s “Pressure Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs” in the New York Times weekly Food section.


Comments are closed.

  • Melanie Brewer
    January 27, 2019 at 10:33 PM

    This is exciting! I live in a college dorm and quick and easy things, that are also gluten free (that aren’t super processed and bad for you) , are hard to find and this may be a game changer! Thanks!!

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 28, 2019 at 10:12 AM

      That’s such a great idea, Melanie! I hadn’t even thought of the fact that you could use the Instant Pot so well in a dorm.

  • Cynthia
    January 24, 2019 at 12:41 AM

    I got a burn signal, like Jessi. I did not change anything in the ingredients. I’m wondering if I didn’t stir it enough before putting in the meatballs? I’ll try again in the next week or two. We love the end result. Delicious!

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 24, 2019 at 8:14 AM

      That’s so strange, Cynthia! Of all the times I’ve made this, that’s never happened. The 4 1/2 cups of tomato puree alone on the bottom of the pot should prevent anything from burning.

      ETA: Okay I’ve done some research, and it seems that the newer models of the Instant Pot do have this tendency to indicate that there is a “burn” going on (I tried 3 separate times to say that in a way that made more sense, and failed!). If you’re using an 8 quart model, there may not be enough liquid (and the surface area of the bottom of the pot is likely larger, which exposes more to the heating element). If you used an especially thick tomato puree, or just used a thick tomato sauce in place of the sauce mixture that I specify, that could also be an issue. There is a ton of information on Paint The Kitchen Red that you should find useful.

  • Katrina
    January 21, 2019 at 11:05 PM

    Just wanted to thank you for your hard work! I’m coming up on a year since learning that I have Celiac, and your site has helped me a lot in navigating this new way of life. :) I recently got an Instant Pot and have been having a lot of fun with it. I will for sure be giving this spaghetti and meatballs recipes a try. Thanks again for helping this girl out!

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 22, 2019 at 7:57 AM

      I’m so glad the site has been helpful, Katrina! Thank you so much for letting me know. Glad you’re enjoying the Instant Pot, too. I find it super useful, much more so than my slow cooker, which I almost feel bad about since I know that almost every American household has and uses a slow cooker. I’ve always preferred fast to slow, though!

  • Jessi Gray
    January 21, 2019 at 7:28 PM

    After a few minutes I got the burn error on my instant pot and the bottom of the pot is scorched. What did I do wrong?

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 22, 2019 at 7:52 AM

      I’m afraid I really don’t know, Jessi. I’ve made this recipe nearly 10 times and have never had that issue. In my experience, the biggest issue with Instant Pot cooking is if you don’t have enough liquid. If you altered the measurements in the recipe or made substitutions, I’d start there.

  • Jessi Gray
    January 21, 2019 at 6:38 PM

    Is the cheese supposed to be grated or shaved? Shaving the cheese creates long strips & it doesn’t seem like they’ll mix well into meatballs?

  • Billie S Coleman
    January 21, 2019 at 1:13 PM

    could you recommend a pressure pot? I’ve been looking to buy one.

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 21, 2019 at 2:27 PM

      I have used a number of stovetop pressure cookers over the years, Billie, but I highly recommend buying an electronic pressure cooker instead. The one I have is the 6 quart one from Instant Pot. Here’s a link: https://instantpot.com/portfolio-item/duo-6-quart/. I bought mine on Amazon a few years ago, but it’s available in so many places now. I hope that helps!

  • Debbie Ornstein
    January 20, 2019 at 11:59 AM

    What is the proper timing and heat setting (High or Low) for a slow cooker with this recipe? I don’t think 6 minutes will do it for cooking the spaghetti and meatballs. Thanks!

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 20, 2019 at 3:04 PM

      Hi, Debbie, this recipe is designed for the Instant Pot, not the slow cooker. That’s why the time is 6 minutes! For the slow cooker, I would follow the instructions in my slow cooker meatballs recipe. I’m afraid I really don’t think you can make the spaghetti in the same pot as the meatballs in the slow cooker.

  • Jeanette
    January 19, 2019 at 10:33 PM

    This was a hit for supper tonight. Great flavour in the meatballs. Worked great in my pressure cooker!

  • A.K.
    January 19, 2019 at 7:37 AM

    My doctor has advised me to take all nightshades out out of my diet. Any recommendations for a tomato puree substitute?

    • Nicole Hunn
      January 19, 2019 at 2:34 PM

      I’m afraid I don’t know how to essentially make a tomato sauce without tomatoes, A.K., but you might be able to find something if you google it. Sorry!

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