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Meatballs in Vodka Sauce

Bright tomato sauce with a splash of vodka gets simmered with juicy meatballs — and it can all be made in advance and ready to cook in the Instant Pot. We like to serve them with steamed green beans or broccoli, but you can also enjoy with crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

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Total Cost: $9.87 | Cost Per Plate: $2.47

Related: 5 Staples You Can Make In An Instant Pot

Prep Time
30 min
60 min



  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 tbsp whole-grain bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp each onion powder and dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper


  • 1 28-oz BPA-free can peeled tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced white onion
  • 3 tbsp vodka
  • 2 tsp each dried basil and oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp each sea salt and smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp each ground black pepper and red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp raw honey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream, room temperature
  • ½ cup basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tapioca starch



  1. Make meatballs: Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Mix together all meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Using a 3 tbsp ice cream scoop, portion 8 meatballs. Use your hands to roll into balls; place on sheet. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Make sauce: In a blender, combine tomatoes, onion, vodka, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, paprika, black pepper, pepper flakes and honey; blend until smooth. Line a 6½-inch-diameter bowl with a large freezer bag. (NOTE: Make sure bowl fits inside Instant Pot insert.) Add sauce and meatballs to bag. Seal and freeze. Once mixture is frozen, remove bowl.

To Instant Pot

  1. When ready to eat, press Sauté on Instant Pot and set to Normal/Medium; heat 1 tbsp oil. Place frozen meatball mixture in pot; cook until some of sauce has thawed and there is about ½ to 1 cup liquid in pot, about 3 minutes. Lock lid and set release valve to Seal. Press Pressure Cook/Manual and set timer to 7 minutes. When cooking is finished, leave vent in seal position and allow pressure to release naturally. When metal pin in lid falls and all pressure is released, unlock lid. Using a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to a bowl. Add cream and basil to sauce. Whisk tapioca in 1 tbsp water; whisk into sauce. Serve meatballs with sauce.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size ¼ of recipe
  • Calories 464
  • Carbohydrate Content 18 g
  • Cholesterol Content 99 mg
  • Fat Content 31.5 g
  • Fiber Content 3 g
  • Protein Content 25 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 12 g
  • Sodium Content 871 mg
  • Sugar Content 7 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 15 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 2 g