Skip to Content

"Love, Need, and Want You" Easy Afro-Caribbean Flavored Instant Pot Meatballs

Sharing is caring!

There is nothing like a good classic meatballs and spaghetti sauce recipe, but sometimes a change-up like instant pot meatballs is necessary. These North African inspired meatballs are delicous, moist, and easy to make thanks to the instant pot cooking.

These easy instant pot meatballs are well seasoned with a dry seasoning mix and cooked with a flavorful and aromatic curry sauce or gravy. Depending on the size of your meatballs these can be an appetizer or the main dish.

Traditional meatballs are seasoned with salt and pepper in terms of dry seasonings but then fresh vegetables like onions and bell peppers are often added.

These homemade meatballs take things up a few notches. It's one of my favorite instant pot recipes. This is mainly driven by the curry based sauce. The sauce alone is a standout, but the beefy flavor that drips into the sauce during pressure cooking makes it even more amazing.

meatballs in bowl with rice topped with gravy

Ingredients Needed To Make These Instant Pot Meatballs

  • Ground Beef
  • Eggs
  • Water
  • Bread crumbs
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Onions
  • Turmeric
  • Curry Powder
  • Aleppo Pepper (optional)
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Allspice
  • Cinnamon
  • Sea Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Red Wine
  • Habanero or Scotch Bonnet Pepper
  • Coconut Milk
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Water

How To Make This Instant Pot Meatballs Recipe (Step by Step)

Step 1 - Prepare the Spice Mix

Mix together all the dry spices together in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

Step 2 - Prepare the Meatball Mixture

Allow the ground meat to come to room temperature. Add beaten egg, panko bread crumbs, and a quarter of the spice mix. Mix all into the ground meat gently being careful not to overdo it.

Shape the ground beef into 6-8 raw meatballs. Light and soft hands technique is best to maintain tender meatballs.

Step 3 - Cook the Meatballs

Heat the instant pot on saute settings (highest heat level). Add olive oil and brown the uncooked meatballs on two sides. Remove and set aside.

Add the red wine and deglaze the bottom of the instant pot pan.

Add the onions and saute 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds.

Layer in the whole habanero pepper, fresh thyme, half the remaining dry spices, coconut milk and water. Mix well.

Add the meatballs back. Cancel the saute settings. Add the lid and high pressure cook for 5 minutes. The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to reach pressure and then the cook time will start counting down.

After cooking allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes. After those 5 minutes, manually release the remaining pressure using quick release. Remove the lid. Check the meatballs for doneness (internal temp should be 165 degrees). If not done allow meatballs to cook in the sauce a bit longer on saute settings.

Remove the meatballs and cook the sauce down to preferred consistency. I like a thicker gravy type of consistency. Serve.

meatballs in bowl with rice topped with gravy

Pressure Cooker Meatballs Cooking Considerations and Tips

Choose ground beef that has a bit of fat for more flavor and to help achieve tender meatballs. You can also use a combination of beef and pork or veal.

For the sauce I added about a ½ to 1 cup of water. You want enough liquid overall to avoid getting the burn notice when cooking. But you need to strike a balance so as not to have too thin of a sauce.

Meatball size is your choice, but note cooking time will be impacted by size. I made 8 meatballs total using one pound of ground beef.

Deglazing the bottom of the pot with wine is a great step for maximizing flavor. It also helps insure you don't get the dreaded burn notice that can happen with instant pot cooking.

Most meatball recipes skew toward an Italian seasoning profile including using sauces like a marinara sauce or basic tomato sauce. This is a different version obviously, but still one I'd consider an easy meal. Rather than go with a red sauce, coconut milk serves as the base flavor in the sauce along with a homemade curry seasoning mix.

I added habanero chili to give it that Afro-Caribbean element, but I didn't cut it as I didn't want the pepper's heat. Habaneros are actually fruity if you can the seeds and veins. I simply cut a few slits into the sides of the peppers. The cook time is short enough to avoid them disintegrating into the sauce. But you will want to remove the chili as soon as you release all the pressure.

Mix all into the ground meat gently being careful not to overdo it. Light and soft hands technique is best to maintain tender meatballs.

In a typical meatballs recipe you'd probably serve them with spaghetti. With this more North African flavor profile I'd recommend serving over a grain like rice, fonio, or couscous. These also make for great meatball subs with the tasty sauce on top.

Beats and Eats (music pairing for flavorful meatballs)

Patti Labelle's "Love, Need, and Want You" is the perfect jam for these tasty instant pot beef meatballs. It's got a simple chorus and beat with Patti's over the top vocals similar to this simple meatball recipe and the otherworldly curry gravy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) For Making This Easy Meatball Recipe

Can I Substitute Another Meat For Ground Beef?

Ground turkey is a popular alternative for those wanting lower calorie/cholesterol options. You'll likely need to go with a shorter cooktime to avoid overcooking such a lean protein.

Why do you use panko bread crumbs to make meatballs?

Bread crumbs are one of the best kept secrets for making juicy meatballs. Bread crumbs absorb the juices from the meat as it cooks, which traps the moisture inside the meatballs.

Do I Need The Steamer Basket For This Recipe?

No you will not. There are enough liquid ingredients in this easy recipe including the coconut milk and water. Plus the deglazing aids a lot so you don't really have to worry about dryness or the burn notice.

How Do You Brown Meat Without It Sticking?

The key is to allow the pot to get hot enough and then avoid trying to move the meatballs too soon. For a detail breakdown review this browning meat in an instant pot tutorial.

Is This Meatball Recipe Keto Friendly?

This is definitely a low-carb recipe. To be purely keto you'll want to exclude the bread crumbs.

For other Instant Pot Recipes To Try:

Instant Pot Spaghetti

Instant Pot Beef Tips

Instant Pot Beef Short Ribs

Instant Pot Brown Stew Chicken

Instant Pot Oxtail

meatballs in bowl with rice topped with gravy

Easy Afro-Caribbean Flavored Instant Pot Meatballs

Tender, juicy instant pot meatballs seasoned with an Afro-Caribbean spice mix and topped with creamy curry-flavored sauce.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: African, American, Caribbean
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 561kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 cup Water
  • ¼ cup Bread crumbs
  • ¼ inch Fresh Ginger diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic diced
  • 1 medium Yellow Onion diced
  • ½ teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Curry Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo Pepper optional
  • ¼ teaspoon Cocoa Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon Allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Sea Salt
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • ¼ cup Red Wine
  • 1 whole Habanero or Scotch Bonnet Pepper
  • 14 oz Coconut Milk
  • 2 sprigs Fresh Thyme

Instructions

Step 1 - Prepare the Spice Mix

  • Mix together all the dry spices together in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

Step 2 - Prepare the Meatball Mixture

  • Allow the ground meat to come to room temperature. Add beaten egg, panko bread crumbs, and a quarter of the spice mix. Mix all into the ground meat gently being careful not to overdo it.
  • Shape the ground beef into 6-8 raw meatballs. Light and soft hands technique is best to maintain tender meatballs.

Step 3 - Cook the Meatballs

  • Heat the instant pot on saute settings (highest heat level). Add olive oil and brown the uncooked meatballs on two sides. Remove and set aside.
  • Add the red wine and deglaze the bottom of the instant pot pan.
  • Add the onions and saute 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds.
  • Layer in the whole habanero pepper, fresh thyme, half the remaining dry spices, coconut milk and water. Mix well.
  • add the meatballs back. Cancel the saute settings. Add the lid and high pressure cook for 5 minutes. The Instant Pot will take about 15 minutes to reach pressure and then the cook time will start counting down.
  • After cooking allow the pressure to release naturally for 5 minutes. After those 5 minutes, manually release the remaining pressure using quick release. Remove the lid. Check the meatballs for doneness (internal temp should be 165 degrees). If not done allow meatballs to cook in the sauce a bit longer on saute settings.
  • Remove the meatballs and cook the sauce down to preferred consistency. I like a thicker gravy type of consistency. Serve.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Choose ground beef that has a bit of fat for more flavor and to help achieve tender meatballs. You can also use a combination of beef and pork or veal.
For the sauce I added about a ½ to 1 cup of water. You want enough liquid overall to avoid getting the burn notice when cooking. But you need to strike a balance so as not to have too thin of a sauce.
Meatball size is your choice, but note cooking time will be impacted by size. I made 8 meatballs total using one pound of ground beef.
Deglazing the bottom of the pot with wine is a great step for maximizing flavor. It also helps insure you don't get the dreaded burn notice that can happen with instant pot cooking.
Most meatball recipes skew toward an Italian seasoning profile including using sauces like a marinara sauce or basic tomato sauce. This is a different version obviously, but still one I'd consider an easy meal. Rather than go with a red sauce, coconut milk serves as the base flavor in the sauce along with a homemade curry seasoning mix.
I added habanero chili to give it that Afro-Caribbean element, but I didn't cut it as I didn't want the pepper's heat. Habaneros are actually fruity if you can the seeds and veins. I simply cut a few slits into the sides of the peppers. The cook time is short enough to avoid them disintegrating into the sauce. But you will want to remove the chili as soon as you release all the pressure.
Mix all into the ground meat gently being careful not to overdo it. Light and soft hands technique is best to maintain tender meatballs.
In a typical meatballs recipe you'd probably serve them with spaghetti. With this more North African flavor profile I'd recommend serving over a grain like rice, fonio, or couscous. These also make for great meatball subs with the tasty sauce on top.

Nutrition

Calories: 561kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 457mg | Potassium: 662mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 422IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 80mg | Iron: 7mg
Subscribe To My YouTube ChannelSubscribe To My YouTube Channel for full length recipe videos. Click the bell icon to be notified when I post new videos.
My YouTube Channel
Tried this Recipe? Tag it Today!Mention @foodfidelity or tag #foodfidelity!

Sharing is caring!

Recipe Rating




Silvia

Monday 11th of April 2022

These meatballs are full of flavor. We love meatballs and we make them often, but they are usually made with tomato sauce, so these were a treat.

Michele

Sunday 10th of April 2022

These meatballs were delicious. I will be making these again. Thanks for the recipe.

sara

Sunday 10th of April 2022

I have been exploring my instant pot a lot lately, as it is youth sports season here and I am at the ball or soccer field every night. These will be a great fast dinner to fuel hungry kids!

Freya

Sunday 10th of April 2022

These sound so good and a much more exciting flavour than plain old meatballs! Can’t wait to give these a go!

Leslie

Thursday 7th of April 2022

This is definitely not your traditional, boring meatball recipe! This is such a fun recipe with lots of flavor!