This hearty Instant Pot beef ragu is a great recipe for cooler weather or when you want to make a versatile meat dish as part of your weekend meal prep. It’s paleo and Whole30 friendly, gluten-free, high in protein and iron, and full of flavour.
Originating from northern Italy, ragu or ragù is a meat-based sauce that is commonly served with pasta. You may be more familiar with the most typical version called ragù alla bollognese (Bolognese sauce) made with ground pork or beef (or both), but there are many recipe variations depending on the region. Today’s recipe is inspired by the Neapolitan ragu, made with whole diced beef, more onion and vegetables, and more tomato puree. It has a few other additions that makes it incredibly hearty and delicious.
As with most meat stews and sauces, you can make this recipe on the stove or a slow-cooker, but let’s face it, the advantage of making ragu with an Instant Pot is that you can achieve the most tender, juicy meat in fraction of the time. Less time for meal prep, more time for fun!Getting all Italian with this hearty Instant Pot beef ragu recipeClick To Tweet
Before you get cooking
We’re keeping this recipe paleo and Whole30 friendly, so we’re not using any added sugar or red wine. The sweetness comes from the sautéed vegetables and tomatoes. We’re also adding a little chili for a kick, and cinnamon and star anise that enhance the heartiness and meat flavours in this dish. Seriously, if you’ve never added either of those to a meat stew, give it a go and you will be surprised by what these spices can do to a simple meat sauce.
We got some beef rump steak on special but you can use any cut of beef, such as stewing steak, chuck steak or other cheaper cuts of meat, which work well in this recipe. Pork or lamb could also be used, if you’re avoiding beef.
This pressure cooker beef ragu is perfect for freezing (2-3 months) or store the leftovers in the fridge for 2-3 days. It’s great with pasta, such as tagliatelle or penne, or zucchini or sweet potato noodles for those avoiding regular pasta. Rice and potatoes also work well. Leftovers can be reheated in the frying pan and served as taco or wrap filling, or to top a salad.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium brown onion, finely diced
- 1 large carrot, diced into small cubes
- 1 celery stick, diced into small cubes
- 1/2 long red chili, diced (or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes or cayenne pepper)
- 1 + 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 3 large cloves of garlic, finely diced
- 1.5 lb / 700-750 g diced beef steak (stewing steak, chuck steak, rib eye)
- 1 teaspoon black or white pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika (mild or sweet)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, thyme or basil
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder (optional, but adds warmth and depth)
- 1 star anise (optional)
- 1 x can chopped tinned tomatoes (400 g/ 1 + 1/2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos (or Tamari wheat-free soy sauce)
- 1 cube of beef stock including water
- Turn on the Instant Pot and press the Sauté function key. Add the olive oil, onions, carrots, celery, chili and salt and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring a few times, until softened.
- Add the beef and the rest of the ingredients and stir through. Press Keep Warm/Cancel.
- Place the lid and lock. Set to Manual, High pressure, and set for 30 minutes. After three beeps the Instant Pot will begin to build up pressure and start cooking. Once the cooking finishes, release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes before using quick release to let off the rest of the steam.
- Then open the lid and press the Sauté function again. Use a potato masher (that’s the easiest way) to shred or mash the beef into smaller pieces. You will get something like shredded beef consistency. Cook for 10-15 minutes to thicken the sauce, stirring every 2-3 minutes. Serve with pasta, vegetable noodles or rice.
- Stove top method. Repeat the first two steps as above using a saucepan over medium heat. Once the beef and tomatoes are in, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered with a lid for 2 hours. After 2 hours, shred the beef, and cook uncovered for 5-10 minutes to thicken the sauce if needed (you might not have as much liquid when cooking on the stove).
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