Instant Pot Ziti and Meatballs—an easy Instant Pot version of baked ziti with a scrumptious tomato cream sauce, ricotta and meatballs. Everyone will be asking for seconds!
Instant Pot Ziti and Meatballs
If you love saucy pasta and meatballs you’ll love this recipe for Instant Pot ziti. It’s got a luscious tomato cream sauce that I wanted to lick off my plate. And because it uses frozen meatballs the recipe is fast and easy. I made this for my family and another family and both families agreed that it was delicious!
One note about salt. After the food has cooked I mention in the recipe to salt to taste. Depending on how salty your canned tomatoes are, which meatballs you use and if you use broth or water will depend on if you will need to add extra salt or not. A few shakes of salt can make the difference between a solid recipe and a meh recipe. I like kosher salt but table salt will do fine. Because kosher salt is so much more coarse than table salt you’ll need more to do the same job that table salt does. 1 teaspoon of kosher salt does not equal 1 teaspoon of table salt.
Meatballs. Use a brand of meatballs that you love. I have tried the Costco meatballs, a brand from Walmart and a brand from Smith’s. I preferred the turkey meatballs from Smith’s. The turkey meatballs from Walmart were just okay.
Heavy Cream. I don’t normally cook a lot with heavy cream. First off I don’t usually have cream in my fridge. And it’s just high in calories. However I really believe that the 1/2 cup of cream that’s added into this recipe makes the recipe! It gives it so much creaminess and flavor that I do believe it is worth it!
The cooking time. What? Only 2-3 minutes? I thought pasta needed more time? Usually I use the pasta rule of half the amount of time on the box and subtract 1 minute. With this recipe the pot takes a while to come to pressure because of the frozen meatballs. I only used a 3 minute pressure cook time. Which was definitely enough time. I believe a 2 minute pressure cook time might even be better.
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What Pressure Cooker Did You Use?
To make Instant Pot Ziti and Meatballs I used my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo 60 7 in 1*. I love this Instant Pot because it has the yogurt making function which I use almost weekly. It has two pressure settings (high and low), and there are also little slots in the handles so that you can rest the lid there instead of putting it down on your counter-top.
Instant Pot Ziti and Meatballs
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 minutes (plus 10 minute NPR)
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 8–10 servings 1x
An easy Instant Pot version of baked ziti with a scrumptious tomato cream sauce, ricotta and meatballs. Everyone will be asking for seconds!
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 3/4 cups water or chicken broth
- 1 (32 oz) bag frozen meatballs
- 1 (16 oz) box uncooked ziti pasta
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated/shredded parmesan cheese
- 1 Tbsp dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
- Turn your Instant Pot to the saute setting. When the display says HOT add in the oil, garlic and ½ tsp kosher salt. Saute for 20 seconds (be careful because it burns quickly). Turn off the saute setting. Pour in about ¾ cup of the water/broth and scrape the bottom of the pot.
- Pour in half the bag of the meatballs in an even layer. Pour the ziti in an even layer over the top. Then pour the other half of the meatballs over the top of the pasta. Pour in the rest of the water/broth. Dump the crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes over the top. Sprinkle with ½ tsp kosher salt.
- Cover the pot and secure the lid. Make sure the valve is set to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 3 minutes (2 minutes for more firm pasta). When the time is up let the pot sit for 5-10 minutes and then move the valve to venting. Remove the lid.
- Stir in cream, parmesan cheese and basil. Salt to taste. Drop dollops of ricotta on the pasta and then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Serve and enjoy!
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Italian
*Karen Petersen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Liz Butterfield says
Just made this recipe in my 6 qt IP and it didn’t come to pressure and started to burn (burn error). The first layer of meatballs and some of the ziti pasta were burning. I added the ingredients in the exact amounts and didn’t stir anything. I noticed the ingredients came to the level of a full pot or just above that line. Don’t know what went wrong. My picky husband says this recipe isn’t zippy enough. Sorry. I think it tastes a little like lasagne.
Sarah G says
I just made this tonight when I was in a pinch for time. It was DELICIOUS! I didn’t have ricotta so I just dumped more mozzarella on it. I also didn’t have crushed tomatoes so I put in a jar of spaghetti sauce along with the diced tomatoes. I was shocked how easy and delicious it was. I may put more pasta in next time. Maybe 50% more. Thank you for the recipe – I’ll definitely be making it again (with ricotta next time!)
So glad you liked it Sarah! Thanks for the 5 stars.
This was soooo yummy! I’ve made it three times now for different groups of friends/family, and it’s been a huge hit every time.
I love this one too! It is so good!
Can I use 16oz of regular spaghetti noodles with the same cook time and directions?
That should work as far as timing goes. I would break the spaghetti in half and criss cross the pasta on top of the meatballs. This way it won’t clump.
Jess Marie says
This recipe was really good !!! Next time I would cut the recipe in 1/2 was a ton of extra food ! I also substituted tomatoes purée & didn’t use the crushed tomatoes or diced tomatoes. My 5 year old had 3 platefuls !!!!! ❤️
Glad you liked it!!
Wouldn’t all this liquid,water crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes be too much liquid?
It was perfect for me!
This sounds great! I need to make this Gluten free. If I’m using brown rice pasta penne how long would you cook it in the instant pot for?
I haven’t experimented with gluten free pasta myself. I have heard it needs 1-2 minutes less time though.
If this recipe is halved for the 3-qt IP, must I change the cook time?
Can you make this in a slow cooker and if so how long. Thank You
I haven’t tried it yet in the slow cooker. Pasta is hit or miss for me in the crockpot.
This looks delicious and I plan to make it this week. I’m wondering if you have frozen the leftovers and if so, how did it do? I’m worried the pasta would get mushy when thawed.
I haven’t frozen this. I would be worried too!
Where does the olive oil go? It’s on the ingredient list, but not the instructions. I’m going to assume I saute the garlic in the oil.
Oops! Thanks for pointing that out. Yes you saute the garlic in the oil. I fixed the recipe.
Would like to make this recipe but substitute the tomatoes for a jar of premade spaghetti sauce? Would i need to adjust the recipe in any fashion?
That should work!
Mary Holley says
Which set of tomatoes are you replacing? It calls for one can crushed tomatoes and one can of petite diced tomatoes. And, how big a jar of spaghetti sause?
Cheryl Newton says
Hello! You make me want to use my pressure cooker more! Clarification about this recipe: you used 1/2 tsp. salt when sautéing the garlic, and another 1/2 tsp. before cooking? Thanks!
yes that’s correct!
Cheryl Newton says
Thank you, thank you for the speedy reply!
Aubray Clayton says
Might be a dumb question.. do I add the noodles cooked? Or directly from the box?
Elaine King says
The recipe states uncooked
directly from the box
I am looking forward to trying this but i’ Use Swedish meatballs from Ikea!
Looks so good!! Did you stir the ricotta into the sauce or leave it in dollops?
I left it in dollops but you can surely stir it in.
Sounds yum! Can’t wait to try it
I don’t think I can find frozen meatballs where I am, can I make my own oven baked ones and freeze them? Or add them in without freezing?
Sure I think that would work well!
Do you have a recipe for homemade meatballs that don’t fall apart when cooked?
Hmmmm, have you had lots of issues with this? Mine stay together for the most part. I’ll research this more and get back to you.
This looks great. Not a big fan of meatballs… what could I substitute?
Sliced smoked sausage. Or leave it meatless.
If the recipe for instant pot ziti and meatballs is doubled, do any changes need to be made with ingredients or cooking time??
It filled almost my entire 6 quart so I’m not sure doubling is a good idea. You could probably 1 1/2 times it in the 8 quart. Then I would decrease cooking time to 1 minute.
Kathy Richard says
Oh my goodness Karen, you are hitting all my guys favs! First beef barley soup for the hubby and now next time my son is home his fav is baked ziti. Your recipe has all the ingredients I would use but now I can make it in my IP. My men are going to be so happy! Thank you!
Kathy, I think they really will like it! It was a hit!
Hi Karen, would penne pasta work in this recipe??
yes it would!
Ed McGrath says
Do you drain the tomatoes before adding?
Nope, I didn’t
The broth/water is not listed in the recipe. Could you please give us the amount and what type of broth you used when you made it?
I corrected it. Sorry about that.
The recipe’s list of ingredients includes 3 ¾ cups water or chicken broth.
Becki Williams says
Can you substitute cream cheese for the ricotta?
Yes that would be so tasty! Or cottage cheese.
Sounds great! But how much total water/broth do you use? I didn’t see it in the recipe.
What is my problem?! Monday Monday!!! I just added it into the recipe.
What is the total amount of water/broth?
Sorry about that. I think my brain is not working today. I just added that into the recipe.