Instant Pot Penne Pasta and Meatballs is a 15 mins dump & start recipe that’s filled with awesome good flavors. You’ll have al dente pasta & juicy meatballs coated in a flavor packed sauce every single time. Make this Instant Pot Penne and frozen meatballs with pantry ingredients.
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Instant Pot Frozen Meatballs and Penne Pasta
Today’s Instant Pot Penne Pasta and Meatballs is inspired by our Instant Pot Rigatoni and Meatballs recipe, which is another fantastic dump & start beginner friendly dinner. Do check it out!
Use either homemade or store bought frozen meatballs for this quick and easy Instant pot pasta dinner & it will never fail to impress you! It’s budget friendly, delicious, kids approved & get’s done without any fancy ingredients.
Instant Pot meatball recipes like this dump & start instant pot bbq meatballs are a quick way to get dinner on the table in a jiffy! Don’t miss the exclusive tips section.
Tips & Tricks
- Prevent Burn: Dump ingredients in order as mentioned in this recipe and do not mix or stir before the pressure cooking cycle. This will prevent the BURN error!
- For best flavor: Use the rotel tomatoes for an instant flavor boost. The basil, oregano and thyme takes the sauce to another level.
- Control the spicy level: Skip the cayenne if you do not prefer spicy food or planning to make the instant pot frozen meatballs and penne for kids or use less for just a subtle kick.
- Al dente pasta cook time: 5 mins high pressure followed by quick pressure release manually.
- Softer pasta: 7 mins high pressure followed by quick pressure release manually.
Instant Pot meatballs and penne – Ingredients
Find the Ingredients with actual measurements at the bottom of the post. The list below is just a reference.
- Penne Pasta: Use the regular variety because this instant pot penne and frozen meatballs recipe is tested using the same. We have not yet tested the recipe using special varieties like gluten free penne or the lentil penne pasta!
- Frozen meatballs: Use either homemade frozen meatballs (recipe shared at the bottom of the post in **NOTES) or store bought frozen meatballs (our preferred brands are shared at the bottom of the post in **NOTES). Fresh homemade meatballs will not work for this recipe.
- Marinara Sauce: Or you can use any pasta sauce as well.
- Rotel Tomatoes: We prefer hot rotel as it adds lots of great flavor. If you do not prefer chunky tomatoes than you may sub the rotel tomatoes with a 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, works great too!
- Aromatics: Yellow onion is our favorite & of course minced garlic! Yellow onion has a subtle sweetness and it’s not overtly pungent like the red onions.
- Worcestershire Sauce: We recommend adding this as it only takes the penne and meatballs to the top! However, if you are allergic to Worcestershire sauce or do not prefer the taste you can sub it with apple cider vinegar ( 1/2 tbsp).
- Seasonings: Oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper flakes & cayenne pepper. We prefer a subtle kick in the recipe. It balances the flavor the tomatoes very well. However, you can always tweak the heat level by either omitting the cayenne or slashing down the amount. It’s totally up to you 🙂
- Chicken stock: We are totally crazy for Better than Bouillon paste here ate Foodies Terminal. It’s our go to for homemade instant chicken stock that’s packed with outstanding flavor. Add it to any recipe and you will have a tough time with portion control! You can either use Better than Bouillon paste (chicken) stirred in warm water in place of those store bough chicken stock cans or cartons. It’s the best for sure!
- Mozzarella Cheese: We used pre-shredded mozzarella cheese. And used it to layer on the top for a melty cheesy crust. You can either mix in the cheese with the cooked penne pasta and meatballs or leave on top to create that ultimate cheesy layer. Use as much cheese as you prefer.
Find the detailed step by step recipe along with measurements + Video at the bottom of the post.
Step #1 Dump Ingredients
- Dump Ingredients: Add the ingredients in this order -> frozen meatballs, than layer the pasta on top, pour the chicken stock all over the pasta, dump the chopped onion, garlic and Worcestershire sauce on top of the pasta, pour the marinara sauce on top of the pasta in a way that the pasta should be all covered with the sauce, add the rotel on top, sprinkle the seasonings on top of the rotel.
Step #2 Pressure Cook
- Pressure Cook: Secure the lid of the Instant pot and seal the valve. Pressure cook on HIGH for 5 mins followed by quick pressure release manually. Open the lid carefully. You’ll find an amazing bubbling sauce. TURN OFF the instant pot.
Step #3 Stir & Serve
- Mix: Gently mix everything in the pot until the pasta and the meatballs get’s a good coating of the sauce. The pasta will look so glossy, moist and appetizing at this stage. Garnish the top with mozzarella (Add as much as you prefer, you may not stick to the recipe). Place the lid back and allow the penne and meatballs to rest for 5 mins.
- Serve: After 5 mins open the lid, you’ll have an amazing melted cheese top. You may either serve right away or gently mix in the cheese and than serve. Your choice! The longer the pasta will rest the more sauce it will absorb and become tender.
Fridge: Instant pot penne pasta and meatballs will last for 3 days in the fridge when stored in air tight containers.
Freezer: You can freeze the instant pot frozen meatballs and penne pasta for upto 1 month. However, thawing and reheating the dish will make the pasta tender.
Fridge: Reheat the fridge cold instant pot penne and meatballs in the microwave oven until warm or hot. Sprinkle water on top of the dish and than reheat, this will prevent the pasta and meatballs from drying up.
Freezer: Thaw the penne and meatballs overnight in the fridge and than reheat following the directions mentioned above.
Instant Pot Penne Pasta and MeatballsPrint Recipe Pin Rate
Watch Recipe Video
- 1 pound Penne Pasta (**uncooked. 454 g / 16 ounce.)
- 1.5 pounds Frozen Meatballs (**we used turkey meatballs. You can use any frozen meatballs that you prefer. Homemade frozen meatballs would work too.)
- 23 ounce Marinara Sauce (**or any pasta sauce. 652 g.)
- 10 ounce Rotel Tomatoes (**we used hot rotel. Read **NOTES below for sub.)
- 1 cup onion (**finely chopped yellow onion.)
- 2 tsp garlic (**minced)
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (** OPTIONAL or use red wine vinegar. )
- 1 cup Mozzarella Cheese (**shredded.)
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt (**according to your own personal preference.)
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp Better Than Bouillon (**chicken base. Dilute this with the 3 cups water mentioned below to make an instant flavor packed chicken stock.)
- 3 cups water (**warm water.)
- Dump ingredients: Follow this order – Add frozen meatballs directly from the freezer into the steel insert of the instant pot. Than throw in the pasta and spread them in a sigle layer on top of the meatballs. Pour in the chicken stock all over the pasta. DO NOT mix. Throw in the onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce. Pour the Marinara sauce on top of the pasta and make sure that the pastas are all covered with sauce. Add the rotel (do not drain the juices). Now, sprinkle the seasonings on top and DO NOT mix or stir!
- Pressure Cook: Secure the lid of the instant pot, seal the valve and PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for just 5 mins. Once, the pressure cooking cycle is over the instant pot will begin to beep, immediately perform a quick pressure release manually by moving the valve from the sealing to the venting position. Open the lid carefully when the metal pin drops. You’ll have a beautiful bubbling sauce on the top. TURN OFF the instant pot.
- Mix & Serve: Now, gently stir the penne pasta and meatballs with the spatula and mix well all the ingredients in the pot. Do a taste test and check for salt, you may add a few dashes salt to make the flavors pop. Add salt according to your personal preference. Now, throw in the shredded Mozzarella all over the pasta & put back the lid. Rest for 5 mins or until the cheese melts. Open the lid and serve the penne and meatballs right away. You may give it a quick stir to mix in the melted cheese. Top with more cheese, garnish with fresh chopped basil and serve. Enjoy!
- Rotel Sub: If you do not prefer chunky tomatoes in pasta dishes than you may sub the Rotel mentioned in the recipe with a 8 ounce can of tomato sauce.
- Meatballs quantity: We prefer 1.5 pounds meatballs to 2 pounds pasta. But if you prefer more meatballs and less pasta go ahead and add 2 pounds meatballs. In case you prefer more pasta and less meatballs than add 1 pound meatballs. The recipe & cook time would remain the same in both the cases.
- Our preferred Meatballs: We used Kroger’s Turkey meatballs for todays recipe. They are soft, juicy & delicious. You can use any meatballs that you prefer like beef, Italian sausage, turkey, chicken. We prefer the frozen meatballs from Johnsonville, Bremer’s, Traders joe, Kroger’s (store brand), Farm Rich.
- Vegan Penne & Meatballs option: You can even veganize the recipe and use 365 Organic meatless meatballs, Gardein meatless meatballs and sub the chicken stock with vegetable stock or normal water.
- Is the recipe spicy? Yes, todays recipe is slightly spicy as we used HOT Rotel, a lot of cayenne and red pepper flakes, that’s how we love it.
- Non-spicy version: Skip or reduce the cayenne amount and use Regular Rotel (not with Habanero, use the one with green chili) or sub the Rotel with tomato sauce (8 ounce can).