Instant Pot Meatball Sandwiches

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Instant Pot Meatball Sandwiches start with frozen meatballs and a quick marinara sauce for an easy weeknight dinner recipe.

meatball sub made in a pressure cooker in a white baking dish

❤️  Why You’ll Love This Recipe: These meaty and saucey sandwiches are fast, easy to make, and always hit the spot. Thanks to frozen meatballs, this is a shortcut dinner that has simmered-all-day flavors.

Hi everyone, Jenn here! My kids have become obsessed with meatballs, mostly thanks to our Spaghetti & Meatballs recipe. After his school served meatball subs, my oldest asked me to make our own version “so we all could have some.”

I’m happy to report that these were a big hit with the kids, and my oldest graded these as “so much better than at school.”

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How to Make Instant Pot Meatballs Sandwiches

This Instant Pot Meatball Sandwich recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant PotNinja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL

This recipe uses the pot-in-pot method to cook the meatballs at the same time as the savory marinara sauce that goes with them. If this is your first time using this method, see our pot-in-pot how-to guide here

You’ll need a cake pan that will fit inside your pressure cooker, as well as a wire rack or trivet. I like the 7-inch round cake pan from Fat Daddio’s for my 6-quart pressure cooker. 

This recipe makes plenty of sauce, so if you prefer dryer subs, you can discard the chicken broth/water after cooking the meatballs. Or to avoid soggy sandwiches, serve the sauce on the side for dipping like a French dip!

cooking peppers and onions in an instant pot

Which Frozen Meatballs Are Best?

Since you’re making the sauce in the Instant Pot, choose meatballs that don’t include sauce.

Other than that, you can use any pre-cooked, frozen meatball brand you like. (We really like the 1-ounce dinner size Italian Style Meatballs from Cooked Perfect.)

Turkey, beef, or even plant-based meatballs will all work! (My middle son is all about plant-based meats at the moment, and we’ve had great results with the Beyond Meat Meatballs.) 

frozen meatballs in an instant pot with marinara sauce and a trivet

Serving Suggestions

I love meatball sandwiches with a bit of crispness to them! To serve these sandwiches, I toast the sub rolls for a minute or two. Then I assemble them with meatballs, sauce, and mozzarella. Then I place the sandwiches back under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes, just until the cheese melts and the sub gets a bit of a toasty edge. 

Tip: Keep a close eye on the sandwiches under the broiler, as all ovens vary! 

instant pot with marinara sauce and meatballs


You can store leftover meatballs and sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Assemble and heat the sandwiches just before serving. 

You can also freeze the cooled meatballs and sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost the meatballs in the Instant Pot or thaw them overnight in the fridge to serve. 

meatball sub in a white baking dish with cheese

More Instant Pot Meatball Recipes

There are dozens of ways to prepare meatballs in the Instant Pot, including these popular recipes:

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meatball sub made in a pressure cooker in a white baking dish

Instant Pot Meatball Sandwiches

Servings: 4 servings
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 6 minutes
Course: Beef
Cuisine: American
These quick and easy Instant Pot Meatball Sandwiches are made with frozen meatballs and homemade marinara, served on toasted sub rolls with melted cheese. 
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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes in puree
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder or 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 24- ounce bag frozen fully cooked Italian meatballs
  • 4 crusty sub rolls toasted
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese


  • Select Saute to preheat the pressure cooking pot. Add the oil. When hot, add the pepper and onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened. 
  • Meanwhile, in a 7-inch round cake pan, stir together the tomatoes, garlic powder, basil, red pepper flakes, and salt. 
  • When the vegetables are softened, add the meatballs and stock or water to the pressure cooking pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan and stir everything together. 
  • Place a trivet in the pressure cooking pot and use a sling to carefully lower the pan with the tomato sauce onto the trivet. Lock the lid in place. Select High Pressure and 3 minutes cook time.
  • When the cook time ends, turn off the pressure cooker. Use a quick pressure release. When the valve drops, carefully remove the lid. Use the sling to remove the pot of sauce from the pressure cooking pot. Remove the trivet and add the sauce to the meatballs. Stir to combine. Switch to the Keep Warm setting until ready to serve.
  • If you like, toast the sub rolls in a toaster or under the broiler. Pile the meatballs and sauce onto the sub rolls and top with mozzarella. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet under the broiler to melt the cheese. Keep a close eye on the sandwiches under the broiler to prevent burning.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 1625kcal | Carbohydrates: 109g | Protein: 93g | Fat: 93g | Saturated Fat: 31g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 54g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 309mg | Sodium: 3677mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 26g


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originally published September 18, 2021 — last updated June 1, 2024
Categories: Beef