Easy low-carb Instant Pot meatballs are the perfect family meal for busy nights.
They only take 8 minutes to cook in the Instant Pot and are cooked in a no sugar sauce.
Are meatballs keto or low-carb?
No, traditional meatballs are made with breadcrumbs and flour. They are usually served with a sauce that has added sugars and unnecessary carbs and starches. Then there are the side dishes, meatballs are usually served with pasta, mashed potatoes and garlic bread.
These keto meatballs are a low-carb version by leaving out the breadcrumbs and wheat flour. Most importantly these meatballs contain a secret ingredient of hidden smokey bacon. The bacon gives the meatballs and sauce a terrific flavour.
Ingredients you need
All the quantities and instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Lean ground beef
- Minced garlic (fresh crushed garlic or garlic powder)
- Coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
Tomato sauce ingredients
- Tinned tomatoes, or canned chopped tomato puree
- Onion powder
- Garlic salt
- Italian Seasoning
- Red pepper flakes optional
- Black pepper
- Bay leaves
Toasted garlic ricotta topping
- Ricotta cheese
- Pre-shredded mozzarella
- Minced garlic - or garlic powder
- Olive oil
How to make meatballs in the food processor
First, to make the meatball mixture the perfect consistency I use my food processor to thoroughly mix the meatball ingredients.
Place all the meatball ingredients into the bowl of your food processor.
Process and pulse until the ground beef, herbs and spices are well combined and finely ground.
Roll large spoons of meatball meat into golf-ball-sized meatballs.
When the ground beef and other ingredients have been mixed in the food processor it is the perfect texture for rolling meatballs. The bacon is the perfect secret ingredient. The flavour is not overpowering and balances well in the sauce.
How to make Instant Pot tomato sauce
The second step is to make a basic but flavourful tomato sauce. The meatballs will cook inside the sauce. This allows the flavours to blend.
The base for the sauce is tinned/canned chopped tomato puree with no sugar or salt added. The seasoning will make the sauce taste like tomato marinara. It is so easy you will never buy store bought sauce again.
Place all the ingredients for the meatball sauce into your Instant Pot. Turn on the sauté function on the Instant Pot to bring the sauce to a simmer.
Once the sauce is simmering the raw meatballs are added directly to the sauce. Then add a small amount of water over the meatballs and sauce to give the Instant Pot enough liquid to come to pressure.
Next, to cook the meatballs, I used the "manual" or "pressure cook" setting for 8 minutes with a natural pressure release. This means after the Instant Pot beeps you will let it sit until the pressure has released on its own and the pin drops.
The natural pressure release is important because the sauce will spray out of the top if you try to do a quick release of the pressure. Don't worry, it took about 10 minutes for the pressure to release.
The meatballs cooked perfectly in the sauce. They held their form and did not stick to each other. The bacon released enough bacon grease to flavour the sauce without making it too oily.
How to thicken your tomato sauce
When the low-carb meatballs are done cooking you may want to thicken the sauce depending on your preference or how you will serve the meatballs. The sauce was a little thin at first, but as it cooled it thickened and was perfect to me. If you prefer a sauce that is very thick you will want to turn the Instant Pot back to sauté mode and let any excess liquid cook down.
If you choose to thicken the sauce, please be sure to stir the meatballs frequently to prevent the sauce from burning.
How to make garlic ricotta cheese sauce
The final step is to make the garlic ricotta cheese topping. This part is optional but adds wonderful flavor to the meatballs. I make the topping while the pressure is released from the Instant Pot.
Combine the ricotta cheese, garlic, and mozzarella cheese in an oven-safe bowl. Bake the garlic ricotta cheese for 10-15 minutes. This is just enough time to melt the mozzarella cheese and make the top nice and crispy.
The meatballs, tomato sauce, and garlic ricotta are so easy to make I am sure you will love them.
Meatball recipe FAQ
You can turn the Instant Pot onto saute mode and heat to thicken the sauce. The water will evaporate and naturally thicken. Alternatively, you can add xanthan gum which is a keto thickener instead of cornflour or flour.
More keto meatball recipes
If you love meatballs, why not make cheesy chicken meatballs, stuffed meatballs, easy sweet and sour meatballs, or bacon meatballs. Your family will love them all and they are all freezer safe for easy meal prep.
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Low-Carb Instant Pot Meatballs Recipe
- Before starting, oil the whole inside of the Instant Pot liner with olive oil. This will prevent the sauce and meatballs from sticking.
- Add all the ingredients for the sauce into the Instant Pot. Stir the sauce so that the seasonings are mixed into the sauce.
- Turn the Instant Pot to sauté. While the sauce is heating up you will want to make the meatballs.
- Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a food processor. The food processor will finely chop the bacon and onions and help the meatballs hold their shape.
- Next, roll the meatballs. You will want to roll a palm-sized amount of meat in your hands to form the meatballs. You want your meatballs to be about the size of a golf ball.
- Once the meatballs are formed, arrange them in the tomato sauce in the Instant Pot. It is ok if the meatballs touch. Since the sauce is hot the meatballs won't stick together when cooked.
- Pour 120ml ( ½ cup) water over the sauce, do NOT stir the water into the sauce. This will help the Instant Pot come to pressure.
- Close the lid and turn. Turn the pressure release valve to "sealing".
- Cook the meatballs and sauce on high pressure using the "manual" or "pressure cook" button for 8 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
Toasted Garlic Ricotta Topping
- While the pressure is releasing you will want to heat your ricotta topping. Mix all the topping ingredients together in an oven safe dish.
- Bake the topping at 400 degrees F/200 degrees C for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- When the pressure valve drops on the Instant Pot lid remove the lid. Give the meatballs a good stir.
- Serve the meatballs immediately with a big dollop of ricotta topping. The meatballs are also great served with zucchini noodles!
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Approximate nutrition information is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. For the most accurate nutritional data, use the actual ingredients and brands you used in your preferred nutrition calculator.