Ah, curried meatballs – such a heartwarming meal I have ate in various forms all my life. It’s a little bit bizarre, therefore, that I am just just now sharing my Instant Pot Beef Meatball Curry recipe with you. I’m sorry I made you wait so long!

There is something that makes me what to clap my hands together with joy about being presented with a bowlful of meatballs for dinner, regardless of what cuisine they hail from (don’t forget my IKEA style Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs!). I think it brings back memories of watching Lady and the Tramp sharing a bowl full of spaghetti meatballs and having a surprising smooch at the end of one particularly long strand! 

Anyway, let’s talk about what you need to make this recipe. Let’s start with the nonstick ceramic insert/inner pot for the Instant Pot. It is invaluable for low fat cooking and means that you don’t have to dirty a sauté pan as well as the IP when making this:

Honestly, I can’t believe I lasted a couple of years without one of these. It makes cooking rice dishes like biryani, spicy cajun rice and any sort of risotto an absolute dream – even when the only fat you use is a one cal per spray oil like Fry Light. Yes, I do get a bit of sticking occasionally but it’s so easy to clean by hand or in the dishwasher, this pot has never let me down yet. 

Next up, is my trusty old Magimix. Aw, he is such a work horse. Unusual for me, but I can’t remember exactly when Hungry Hubby bought it for me but we must be looking at 10 years or more now so I can certainly vouch for their longevity. To make the meatballs moist and thicken the sauce, I use a lot of grated onions in this recipe and it’s just so much easier to do this in the food processor. Plus you don’t cry all the way through the grating as you would do if you did this by hand! 

You can either use the double blade attachment to turn the onions into a super fine confetti or use a fine grating disc that you can purchase separately. I use whichever one I can lay hands on first in my kitchen! Both are equally effective.

This onion “mush” really is a secret ingredient and a half. You might be surprised to learn that many Indian restaurants use it in their base curry sauces as you don’t often see it mentioned in recipe books. But trust me, once tried, you’ll be adding it to all your curries! 

Instant Pot Beef Meatball Curry

Something else you mightn’t have tried before is cooking “pot-in-pot” in your Instant Pot. All this means is cooking the curry directly inside the Inner Pot then tucking a metal trivet into it, followed by a metallic bowl filled with rice and water so that you can cook a complete meal at once. Such a time (and sanity) saver!

I know people who use dog dishes (brand new ones, I hasten to add) but I got some handi dishes in Aldi ages ago which are like the stainless steel balti dishes you see in Indian restaurants but without handles so they fit very nicely into my Instant Pot. See the photos below:


This Instant Pot Beef Meatball Curry is so tasty you won’t feel too sad at not being able to order from your local balti house without massively going over your daily caloric intake! Plus you can of course add even more vegetables if you like – I add chunks of butternut and chopped spinach sometimes too.

Instant Pot Beef Meatball Curry

The makes enough for 4 portions of curry but I only cook two portions of rice with it as it’s usually just feeding Hungry Hubby and me. It reheats beautifully and the curry part is another great recipe for batch cooking days to save you time midweek. Plus it’s Syn Free!

Another way I like to enjoy this is instead of serving it with rice, serve it with roasted butternut and cauliflower, dusted with garam masala. Perfect for an SP (or low carb) day! 

Instant Pot Meatball Curry

Yield: 2 plus leftovers

Instant Pot Beef Meatball Curry (Syn Free)

Instant Pot Beef Meatball Curry

Succulent meatballs in an aromatic curry sauce all cooked at once, using the pot-in-pot Instant Pot technique. It couldn't be easier to make a curry from scratch! Plus it is completely Syn Free! The ingredients list is long due to the spices and anyone who loves Indian food or is doing SW is likely to have most of these in the cupboard!


For the onion paste:

  • 4 large onions
  • Half a bulb of garlic, cloves peeled
  • 2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled

For the meatballs:

  • 500g lean minced beef (under 5% fat)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

For the curry sauce:

  • One cal oil spray (I like the coconut Fry Light here)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • A stick of cinnamon (or cassia bark)
  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf (Indian if you can find it)
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 courgette, finely diced
  • 4 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup of white basmati rice (250ml worth)


  1. Start by making the onion paste by finely grating the onions, garlic and ginger. I do these very fast in a food processor but it can certainly be done with patience by hand (and probably a box of tissues for your oniony tears!).
  2. Mix 2/3 of the onion paste with the beef, garam masala, mint and salt. Form into golf ball sized meatballs.
  3. Turn your Instant Pot onto Sauté and spray very liberally with your one cal oil spray then brown the meatballs on all sides.
  4. Push the meatballs to the sides of the pot gently and add in the remaining onion paste. Cook for a couple of minutes until softened and some of the liquid has evaporated away (and do feel free to add a little more oil spray if you think it's sticking).
  5. Add the spices and chopped carrot and courgette and stir very well. Add the tomato purée and the canned tomatoes plus 200ml of water. Stir well without breaking up the meatballs.
  6. Tuck a tall trivet into the curry sauce (one 2-3 inches tall is perfect) and place a metallic bowl like an Indian handi dish on top. Add the rice plus 1 cup of water to the bowl and stir.
  7. Put the lid on the Instant Pot, close the vent and press the Rice function.
  8. After the 12 minutes cooking time, do a QPR. Carefully remove the dish of cooked rice with oven mitts and serve it up. Remove the trivet, stir the curry well and serve over the rice. Leftover curry can be frozen once cold.


Recipe Notes

  • If you want to cook more rice, you will need a larger bowl - I know Instant Potters who use dog dishes (new ones!) or cake tins without loose bottoms. Just be sure to test that your trivet plus your bowl fit in the pot with the lid fastened on securely before you start cooking!
  • You can cook just the curry in exactly the same manner if you prefer (perhaps you like your rice done on the hob or want to make a double batch of curry so need extra space in the pot). use the Rice function as stated and it will cook the curry perfectly.

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