These Instant Pot Meatballs are ultra juicy, flavorful, and so easy to make. These are the BEST meatballs made with Italian sausage and Romano cheese!
I’ve decided that the best way to make meatballs is in the instant pot. This one pot wonder makes meatballs that are perfectly crisped on the outside and insanely tender in the middle.
This might look like your standard meatball recipe, but the addition of romano cheese, buttermilk, and beef broth take these to another level.
- Italian Breadcrumbs – breadcrumbs add flavor and help keep the meatballs tender; they hold onto the moisture in the meatballs which keeps the meatballs from becoming dry. We’re using Italian breadcrumbs for additional flavor, because they contain spices such as basil, parsley, onion powder, and garlic powder. If only plain breadcrumbs are available, use those, but add additional seasonings.
- Romano Cheese – like breadcrumbs, the grated cheese provides flavor and helps seal in the moisture. Romano adds a sharp, salty flavor that balances out the rich flavor of the sausage. Feel free to use a blend of parmesan/romano/asiago, if preferred.
- Eggs – help bind the meatball ingredients together so they hold their shape. A common meatball mistake is adding too many eggs, which makes them dense. Today’s recipe calls for 2 large eggs.
- Buttermilk – the acidity in buttermilk makes the meat super tender and adds so much moisture to the meatballs. The subtle tang of buttermilk adds a nice flavor contrast to the rich flavors of the meat and broth. If buttermilk isn’t available, use any milk you have on hand.
- Minced Garlic – gives a subtle kick of nutty flavor. Use jarred minced garlic for easy prep. This recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of minced garlic which is equivalent to about 3 large cloves.
- Salt and Pepper – brings out flavors and adds a touch of heat. Seasoning properly with salt and pepper makes a world of difference in any recipe.
- Ground Beef and Italian Sausage – meatballs can be made with just ground beef, but Italian sausage makes them more flavorful. The blend of the two ground meats is absolutely delicious. If you only have ground beef on hand, that’s fine, but you’ll need to add additional seasonings to make up for the lost flavor from the sausage. If you only have sausage on hand, feel free to use just that.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – used to brown the meatballs in the instant pot before cooking to lock in the flavor and create a crispy exterior. Regular olive oil may also be used.
- Beef Broth – allows the instant pot to come to pressure to cook the meatballs properly. Using beef broth rather than water adds extra flavor.
- Marinara Sauce and Pasta – for serving!
How to make
These instant pot meatballs are easy to make, packed with flavor, and so moist thanks to the instant pot!
- In a large bowl, stir together breadcrumbs, cheese, eggs, buttermilk, garlic, salt, and pepper, then use your hands to stir in the beef and Italian sausage until just combined.
- Use a large cookie scoop to portion the meat mixture out into 28 scoops then use your hands to form them into balls.
- Add oil into the instant pot, hit SAUTE, then cook 9 meatballs until golden-brown. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
- Hit CANCEL, drain the instant pot, then pour in beef broth. Place the trivet into the pot, then stack the meatballs onto the trivet. Seal and lock the lid, then cook on HIGH for 7 minutes.
- Let the pressure naturally release for 5-10 minutes then serve with marinara sauce and pasta!
What meat is in meatballs?
A combination of ground pork and ground beef are commonly used to make Italian meatballs, but pretty much any meat like veal or even bacon will work. Today, we’re using ground Italian sausage — ground pork primarily seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, fennel seed, and anise seed — and ground beef. Using Italian sausage instead of ground pork makes these meatballs more flavorful.
Can you put raw ground beef in the instant pot?
Yes. Ground beef will cook all the way through in the instant pot:
- Combine raw beef with the other meatballs ingredients, then shape then mixture into balls.
- Brown the outsides using the SAUTE feature of the Instant Pot. This creates a crispy exterior.
- Pour beef broth into the Instant Pot, place in trivet, then place the meatballs on top.
- Seal and lock the lid, then cook on HIGH pressure for 7 minutes.
Do you need breadcrumbs in meatballs?
Breadcrumbs help mind the meatballs together and also keep them light and fluffy, by breaking up the density of the meat.
Other recipes may call for grinding fresh bread to make homemade breadcrumbs or soaking bread in milk which can help make really tender meatballs. I suggest following the recipe as written for the best results. This recipe is moist enough, so dried breadcrumbs work best.
Do you have to use buttermilk?
No. If you don’t have buttermilk you can use whatever milk you have on hand. However, if you do have buttermilk I recommend using it. The acidity helps break down the meat which results in juicier, more tender meatballs.
How to serve instant pot meatballs
My favorite way to serve meatballs is over a big plate of pasta smothered in spaghetti sauce but there are plenty of other delicious ways to serve them!
- In a pasta bake. Dice the meatballs up and use them in place of the bolognese in my baked ziti recipe.
- In a sandwich. Sandwich a few meatballs, sauce, and mozzarella between two slices of toasted bread, then broil until the cheese it’s gooey and melty.
- As an appetizer. Skewer the meatballs on toothpicks and serve as an appetizer next to marinara sauce or gravy.
- On pizza. Grab your favorite pizza dough, slather it with pizza sauce, sprinkle on cooked, chopped meatballs and plenty of cheese, then bake.
what to serve with instant pot meatballs
If you’re serving your instant pot meatballs over a big bowl of pasta with red sauce like I do, here are some side dish ideas!
How to store
Leftover meatballs will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen, then microwave to warm.
To warm in the instant pot, pour in 1 cup of water, place the meatballs on the trivet, and cook on HIGH for 5 minutes.
Instant Pot Meatballs
Equipment for this recipe
- 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup finely grated romano cheese can use any blend of parmesan/romano/asiago cheese
- 2 large eggs whisked
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground Italian sausage can use sweet, mild, or hot
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup beef broth
- Marinara sauce for serving
- Pasta for serving
- In a large bowl, stir together breadcrumbs, cheese, eggs, buttermilk, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Use your hands to stir in the beef and Italian sausage until *just* combined.
- Use a large cookie scoop to scoop the meat mixture into 28 scoops, then use your hands to form them into round meatballs. Set aside on a clean work surface.
- Add oil to a 6 quart Instant Pot, then hit SAUTE.
- Once it reads HOT, add in 9 meatballs and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.
- Repeat with remaining meatballs.
- Hit CANCEL, then drain the Instant Pot.
- Pour in beef broth, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom.
- Place the trivet into the Instant Pot, then gently stack the meatballs onto the trivet.
- Seal and lock the lid - make sure the pressure valve is pointing toward SEALING.
- Cook on HIGH pressure for 7 minutes.
- Let pressure naturally release for 5-10 minutes before flipping the pressure valve to release any remaining pressure.
- Serve with your favorite marinara sauce and pasta!
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*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.