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Easy Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

Easy Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

This Instant Pot Bolognese sauce is so delicious it’s going to blow your mind. It uses just a handful of pantry ingredients. And it cooks in a fraction of the time a classic Bolognese sauce takes.

bolognese sauce on top of spaghetti shot from a low angle

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A while ago, a friend posted a recipe on Facebook for a meat sauce that she made. I was intrigued by the recipe because it used 4 onions for 1 pound of beef. It seemed like a lot of onions, but my friend said it was a big hit with her family.

Talk About Good by the Junior League of Lafayette, LA

The recipe came from a cookbook called Talk About Good, is published by the Junior League of Lafayette, Louisiana. It is a collection of recipes contributed by members of the Lafayette Junior League, their relatives, and friends.

Now if you’re from Louisiana, I’m guessing you already know about this book. It has a huge and devoted following.

As a native Californian, I’d never heard of it. But when I googled it, I found a ton of love for it and was curious. People LOVE this cookbook. And Louisianans know a little something about good food.

My copy came in the mail a few days later and it is a delightful tome full of recipes—many of which I can’t wait to try and, to be honest, some that I will certainly never attempt.

ingredients for instant pot bolognese sauce

About that meat sauce for spaghetti…

But back to that spaghetti sauce I was talking about. I tried it, adapting it based on ingredients I had on hand. I also used the Instant Pot to cook it because I didn’t want to babysit it for 3 hours to cook it on the stovetop. The result was even better than I expected.

Like I said, the recipe calls for FOUR whole onions. That’s a lot of onions. But the sauce did not taste overly onion-y!

Between all those onions and a hearty portion of intensely concentrated tomato paste, this sauce is loaded with flavor.

And it has plenty of meat for my taste. The mushrooms add more meatiness, too. The best part is that it takes a fraction of the time that I used to spend on a good meat sauce.

sauteed meat and vegetables for meat sauce

What is spaghetti al Bolognese anyway?

That’s a hard question to answer, even for Italians.

The short answer is that ragu al Bolognese is a slow-cooked meat sauce made with tomatoes. But what makes the question tricky to answer is that in Italy, this sauce is served on thicker pastas like tagliatelle or on dumpling-shaped pastas like tortellini or gnocchi. Never on spaghetti.

That said, I serve it on spaghetti most of the time! Sometimes on penne, fusilli, or rotelle.

Can you really make a great Bolognese sauce in the Instant Pot?

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say yes. I know what you are thinking. Your Italian grandmother would roll over in her grave. An all-day simmer is required to make a delicious, complexly flavored meat sauce.

But it’s true. The Instant Pot turns out a rich, meaty sauce layered with flavor. I had to tweak the original recipe a bit, but the result is divine.

One thing to note is that tomato paste/sauce can sometimes burn in the Instant Pot. And the fact is that this sauce does burn a bit on the bottom of my pot.

But it’s okay! The flavor is still great (there’s no burned taste!) and after a little bit of a soak with hot water and a scrub with a scrubby sponge, the pot turns out good as new.

finished spaghetti sauce in the instant pot

What ingredients do you need to make Instant Pot Bolognese sauce?

I love this recipe because it uses simple ingredients that I almost always have on hand.

  • Onions
  • Ground beef
  • Garlic
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Mushrooms

How long does it take to make Instant Pot Bolognese sauce?

This pressure cooker meat sauce recipe is fast! No more spending 2, 3, or even 4 hours babysitting a pot on the stove.

Prep time for this sauce is about 20 minutes. This includes chopping onions, mincing garlic, slicing mushrooms, and opening a few cans. It also includes browning the meat and veg before putting them in the pressure cooker.

Including prep time, time for the pot to come to pressure, and pressure cooking, this sauce takes just about 1 ½ hours from start to finish. If you are a fast onion chopper or cut down on the pressure cooking time (45 minutes is okay), you could get it down to 1 ¼ hours pretty easily.

cooked meat sauce in the instant pot with a wooden spoon

What to serve with this Instant Pot meat sauce?

I normally serve this sauce over spaghetti or other pasta. The sauce itself is gluten-free, so it’s a great topping for gluten-free pasta for my gluten-free husband.

For a low-carb meal, you could put it over zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash.

It also makes a great sauce for lasagna. I like to layer it with lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, and chopped spinach.

No matter how you serve it, you need some of this delicious Garlic Cheese Bread on the side!

instant pot meat sauce vertical shot

More Instant Pot Recipes You’ll Love

Yield: Serves 8

Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

cooked meat sauce in the instant pot with a wooden spoon
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 onions, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook, breaking up with a spatula, until browned. Transfer the meat to the Instant Pot. Discard excess grease left in the pan.
  2. In the same skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to the Instant Pot.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and add a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the Instant Pot.
  4. Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and parsley, if using.
  5. Cover the pot, set the valve to the sealing position, and pressure cook for 1 hour.
  6. When the cooking time is up, quick-release the pressure.
  7. Serve immediately over cooked pasta.

Notes

1. You can use a combination of beef and pork if you like.

2. I use a large skillet to brown the meat and saute the vegetables. You could do this directly in the instant pot, but I find it is easier to do it in a large skillet.

3. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information

Yield

8

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 304Total Fat 23gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 12gCholesterol 66mgSodium 415mgCarbohydrates 9gFiber 2gSugar 4gProtein 17g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

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