In a previous blog post, I talked about the basics of an Instant Pot. Today, I’m sharing my most recent experience of cooking in an Instant Pot. Porcupine Meatballs is a family favorite – meaning my husband likes it!

I whole-heartedly recommend reading the user manual first. In my experience, that will pay off and save you time in the long run. Did you guess that I didn’t heed my own advice? If so, you are correct! I thought I could remember what to do; surely the controls were intuitive. Not necessarily.


Preparation Time: 30 min

Cooking Time: 8 min

High Temperature


½ cup long-grain white rice (uncooked)

¼ cup finely diced yellow onion

¼ cup beef broth

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1 ¼ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 pound ground beef or turkey

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 (16-ounce) jar chunky spaghetti sauce

2/3 cup beef broth

3 teaspoons sugar


  1. In a mixing bowl, combine uncooked rice, onion, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, allspice, salt and pepper. Add the ground beef (or turkey) to the bowl and mix well.
  2. Form the meat mixture into 1 ½ inch balls.
  3. With the cooker’s lid off, heat oil on HIGH or “Saute”, until sizzling.
  4. Brown meatballs in the oil on at least 2 sides. You may need to work in small batches to brown them all. When finished, return all meatballs to the cooker.
  5. Mix spaghetti sauce, beef broth and sugar and pour over meatballs in cooker and securely lock the pressure cooker’s lid. Set for 8 minutes on HIGH.
  6. Let the pressure release naturally 10 minutes before performing a quick release for any remaining pressure. Set cooker to LOW or “warm” and serve.

Before I started making the meatballs, I started rice cooking in a double boiler, so I could serve the meatballs over the rice. A simple salad is a good way to complete the meal.

Assemble all ingredients first.

Then, I assembled all ingredients and chopped the onion. As I measured the first 8 ingredients in Step 1, I added them to a mixing bowl.

I usually do Step 3 first or at least before Step 2, which included adding the oil and turning on the Instant Pot to Sauté, so it can be heating.

I mixed the ground beef with my hands, trying not to overwork the meat. In Step 4, I added the meatballs to the oil to brown, using silicone tongs to carefully turn the meatballs as they brown. Browning on all sides as much as possible adds flavor to the dish.

Turn meatballs gently to brown on all sides.

I was able to brown all meatballs in the same batch. However, if your meatballs are crowded, cook them in batches until all are browned.

In Step 5, mix remaining ingredients and pour over the meatballs. To secure the lid, align the upside-down triangle with the vertical triangle “Open” on the cooker housing rim. Turn clockwise to lock in position.

(As in reading the manual, I found this process is faster if you actually locate the above marks and align them to lock the lid!)

Setting cooking time involves the Manual setting and adjusting the time to 8 minutes. The temperature should come on the high setting. About 10 seconds after you complete the settings, the LED light should indicate ON. This means pressure is building to the appropriate temperature and pressure, which also means you need to allow enough time for this to happen. When this is complete, the light should change to the cooking time and count down until cooking is completed.

After cooking is completed, the Instant Pot switches to WARM to keep the food warm and allow time for pressure to go down. Allow this to occur naturally instead of doing a Quick Release.  At the end of 10 minutes, you should be able to turn the steam release handle to Venting to complete the release process. Be sure to stay away from the steam release handle to avoid burning yourself from remaining steam. Before opening the lid, make sure the float valve next to the Steam Release Handle has dropped down.

Ready to eat! Serve with or without rice and enjoy.

OBSERVATIONS AND/OR TIPS: (The products listed below in italics are clickable links for ordering. Hover over a product to see if there is a clickable link.)

  • If you don’t have an Instant Pot, this recipe could easily be cooked in a Dutch oven on the range. You would need to allow enough time for the rice to cook or add quick-cooking rice instead of long-grained uncooked rice.
  • My recommendation for beef broth is Better Than Bouillon. (I also love the Better Than Bouillon Chicken Broth.) If you’d like to try both the beef and chicken bouillon, click here to get a 2-pack!
  • To make the recipe healthier, the following swaps are recommended:
    • Ground beef that is 80-20 is a good ratio of lean meat to fat, because it does not render so much fat that you need to drain it. Also – if you could get pasture-raised, grass-fed beef, it would be healthier.
    • Most vegetable oils are not the healthiest choices. I used avocado oil in this recipe. It can be heated to higher temperatures without breaking down like olive oil. Coconut oil (organic, unrefined cold-pressed is best) will also work.
  • You can vary the taste by selecting any type of chunky spaghetti sauce you like.
  • I also prefer brown sugar to white sugar. I often use a small amount of brown sugar to reduce the sharpness of my homemade spaghetti sauce.

The cookbook I referenced, Great Food Fast by Bob Warden, has some great-sounding recipes. I’ve already selected several to try next. If you’d like a copy of the cookbook, you can order it here.

If you try out this recipe in your Instant Pot, comment about your experience! Or let us know about other recipes you’ve tried and your own Instant Pot hacks!

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a commission. Keep in mind that I link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.