These easy Instant Pot Turkey Meatballs are a new meal prepping staple in my household. Though they may look like traditional meatballs, they contain both a secret ingredient and hidden vegetables — perfect for a home chef who needs a healthy recipe to feed a crowd.
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Before we get too far, I want to acknowledge that these are not authentic Italian meatballs. Please don’t leave any comments about their non-Italian nature — I know. Though I love the real deal, one of the benefits of living in a nation of immigrants is that I get to combine ingredients from all over the world to make interesting recipes.
One of those ingredients is harissa paste. Where a traditional meatball and sauce recipe might use tomato paste, I swap in its spicier North African cousin made from chilis and spices. (If you like harissa, then you’ll also love this Moroccan-Style Chicken Stew!) It adds a great depth of flavor in only one ingredient — hence the “easy” part of this meatball recipe.
This recipe is also made easy by using turkey sausage along with the lean ground turkey. Using sausage adds more flavor to your meatballs without needing to raid the pantry for dozens of seasonings. You can use any kind of sausage or ground meat you like here, but I like using turkey as a healthy option for weeknight cooking.
Helpful Tips and Tools
One of the most important steps in making these easy Instant Pot turkey meatballs is letting the meat mixture chill. This makes forming the meatballs much easier. I prepared the mixture in the morning, then finished the recipe later that night, but you really only need an hour.
When portioning your turkey meatballs, I recommend using a scoop. This way, all of your meatballs will be the same size. When making this many meatballs, it also helps the task go super quickly. An ice cream or cookie scoop works really well, but in a pinch you can also use a large spoon.
Recipes like this are also great for sneaking in hidden vegetables. Whether you are feeding a picky eater or just want to incorporate more nutrients into your diet, tomato based sauces hide things well. In this recipe, the carrot adds great flavor and a slight sweetness to the sauce. This makes it a great compliment to any sort grain for serving. Pasta and meatballs are a classic combination, but I find that grains like farro are equally delicious and re-heat really well for meal prepping and leftover eats.
Recommended tools and ingredients:
Easy Instant Pot Turkey Meatballs
What You’ll Need
- 1 pound lean ground turkey
- 1 pound turkey sausage
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 carrots peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons harissa paste
- ½ cup basil chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
What to Do
In a mixing bowl, combine the turkey, turkey sausage, Italian seasoning, Panko breadcrumbs, and egg. Using your hands (be sure to take off any jewelry!) mix all of the ingredients until well combined. Wash your hands, then cover and chill the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
Using a scoop or spoon, portion your chilled mixture into equal sized meatballs — they should be between ping-pong and golf ball sized. Depending on your preferred size, you will end up with between 24 and 30 meatballs.
Turn on the “Saute” function on your Instant Pot. When the pot says that it is “hot” add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, along with the diced onion and carrot. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until slightly softened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the harissa paste to the pot with the onions and carrot. Saute with the vegetables until the paste is slightly caramelized. Add ¼ cup of water to mixture, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of pot.
Layer the meatballs over the cooked vegetables, then add the crushed tomatoes on top. Leave the ingredients layered like this!
Cover the Instant Pot and ensure the lid is set to “sealing”. Cook the meatballs on high pressure for 12 minutes, then manually release the pressure. Stir in the chopped basil. Taste the sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve your meatballs with your favorite pasta, grain, or roasted vegetables! Enjoy.