This Healthier Instant Pot Spaghetti & Meatballs Recipe is an easy meal prep recipe that uses frozen meatballs and whole wheat pasta for a healthy spin of this dinner classic.
This recipe has become one of my go-to healthy dinners on busy weeknights because it is just so stinkin’ easy to throw together.
Easy One-Pot Meal Prep Dump Recipe
One of my favorite things about making this recipe in my Instant Pot is that you just dump everything in and walk away.
- No watching the pot to make sure it doesn’t boil over.
- No stove top full of different pots and pans to cook your sauce, your meat, and your noodles.
- No sink full of cutting board, pans, and dishes when you’re done.
Just one pot, no-prep ingredients poured in and ready to serve.
And, because the spaghetti and meatballs reheat so well as leftovers, it makes it the ideal meal prep recipe.
Just measure out your portions into your containers, add some veggies, and you’re good to go!
I love these glass meal prep containers and I can’t wait to get another set.
What Makes This Spaghetti & Meatballs Healthier?
Spaghetti Sauce With No Added Sugar
Spaghetti sauce is one of those places that can have all kinds of hidden sugar. Tomatoes have natural sugars of their own, but some brands add sugar up to 12 grams per serving!
I use Newman’s Own Organic Marinara sauce in this recipe, but any no-sugar-added pasta sauce will do.
* Update – I used to use Newman’s Own, but now I absolutely love Ragu Simply! I get it at my local Walmart for the price of “normal” sauces, but it doesn’t have any added sugar, it uses all real, recognizable ingredients, and they are expanding their line with new flavors, too (I have the roasted garlic sauce in my cart right now)!
Whole Grain Spaghetti
Whole wheat pasta has fewer calories, is less processed, and gives you more fiber, vitamins, and minerals than regular pasta.
I like to use Barilla pasta in this recipe. It holds up really well (because nobody likes mushy pasta) and it’s easy to find in my local grocery stores.
I use 1 cup of shredded carrots in this recipe, but I’ll also add onions, zucchini, or bell peppers sometimes too.
My husband isn’t quite as excited about veggies as I am and this using the shredded carrots (or zucchini) is a great way to “hide” the vegetables.
Technically, these are matchstick carrots which aren’t ideal for hiding, but it’s what my store has prepped, so it works for me.
Sometimes I’ll have meal prep sessions where I break out my food processor and shred a bunch of carrots and zucchini to keep in the freezer for recipes like this.
And, of course, the added diced tomatoes help the vegetable content, too!
Honestly? Prepared meatballs aren’t the healthiest food around, even if they do use turkey.
Ideally, you would use extra lean ground turkey and make meatballs from scratch, but the whole point of this recipe is keeping it super fast and simple.
And sometimes that means buying prepared meatballs! I use Kroger’s reduced fat turkey meatballs in this recipe.
Comparing Kroger’s turkey meatballs to their homestyle meatballs, the turkey meatballs have 80 less calories, 10 less grams of fat, and an extra gram of protein per serving. That’s a pretty substantial difference!
Low Sodium Chicken Broth
This is just another one small change that can make a big difference in your health.
Eating too much sodium can increase your blood pressure, cause you to hold onto water weight, and all kinds of other things.
Using just a little less salt in your dishes can add up over time.
How to Make Healthier Instant Pot Spaghetti & Meatballs
I use my 6-quart Instant Pot DUO Plus for this recipe, which is currently my favorite cooking appliance.
Step #1 – Dump In Your Ingredients In This Order
The order is actually pretty important when it comes to Instant Pot recipes, so follow my lead and you’ll be good to go!
First, add your frozen meatballs. No need to thaw them!
They will thaw as your Instant Pot comes to pressure.
Next, add your pasta.
**Pro tip – if you want to avoid your pasta sticking together in clumps, make sure you splay the pasta out like you see me doing here.
If you just plop big chunks of pasta in, that’s how it will cook. But any pasta clumps that I’ve ever gotten stir out easily at the end.
Now, add your chicken broth. You could definitely just use water if you want, but I love the added flavor of the broth.
Next, add your carrots (or shredded zucchini).
Here is where the order is MOST important.
The reason we add the tomato products last is because if they are on the bottom, they can often give you the “BURN” error when your recipe is cooking. Nobody wants that to happen!
Just make sure to add the spaghetti sauce and the diced tomatoes on top. Spread it around so that either sauce or tomatoes are covering all of the pasta, but DON’T STIR!
Step #2 – Cook
Put your lid on your pot and make sure the valve is set to “sealing” before you set the cooker to pressure cook on high for 8 minutes.
When the cooking cycle is complete, open the valve to quick release the pressure.
It’ll take about 3 minutes for the pressure to fully release and allow the pin to drop.
Step #3 – Stir & Serve
As soon as the pressure is released, you can open the lid and give it all a good stir.
And that’s it! It’s ready to serve.
I like to sprinkle on some fresh basil or parsley before I serve it up.
A green salad goes great with this dish, but I also like to serve it with roasted green beans or roasted zucchini spears (though my husband would prefer I always served it with garlic butter Texas toast).
- 40 (~20 oz) frozen lean turkey meatballs (I use Kroger brand)
- 16 oz uncooked whole grain spaghetti
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 24 oz Ragu Simply spaghetti sauce (this one is my new favorite budget-friendly no-added-sugar sauce!)
- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- Place meatballs in the bottom of your Instant Pot.
- Break spaghetti in half and spread it on top of the meatballs.
- Pour in the chicken broth.
- Add the cup of carrots, jar of marinara sauce, and can of diced tomatoes to cover pasta. Spread sauce and tomatoes to cover noodles, but do not stir.
- Put the lid on the pot, make sure the valve is set to “Sealing” and cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. It will take about 20 minutes for your pot to come to pressure (this time may vary).
- When the cooking cycle is complete, open the valve to quick release the pressure.
- Carefully open the lid and stir well before serving.
Serving Size: 1/8 (~1 cup spaghetti + 5 meatballs)
Amount Per Serving:
Calories: 380Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 912mgCarbohydrates: 56gFiber: 10gSugar: 9gProtein: 22g