Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

Learn how to make a delicious Instant Pot Bolognese sauce with our beginner-friendly, step-by-step recipe. Making a Bolognese sauce in the Instant Pot pressure cooker not only saves time but it also locks in all those gorgeous, hearty flavours and nutrients. Enjoy over favorite pasta or zucchini noodles!  We’ve included modifications for gluten-free, Whole30/Paleo versions. Make sure to comment and rate this recipe once you’ve tried it! 


In our humble opinion, if you’re going to master only a handful of pressure cooker recipes, one of them should definitely be a good, hearty Instant Pot Bolognese sauce. Served over good quality pasta, rice or zucchini noodles, this nourishing beef ragu sauce is always a crowd-pleaser. The best part – it’s super versatile and can be turned into many other dishes, such as Shepherd’s Pie or spicy beef chilli.


 

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE INSTANT POT BOLOGNESE

Ingredients for Instant Pot Bolognese sauce

The secret to a good Bolognese sauce is good quality meat, organic tomatoes (they are sweeter!) and slow cooking. The longer you can cook the sauce the better; however, not everyone has the time. Right? That’s when your trusted Instant Pot comes into play.

Instant Pot Bolognese sauce takes half the time, yet the result is as good as if you’ve been cooking it all afternoon. Plus, you seal in all those nutrients and flavours.  In today’s beginner-friendly recipe, we show you how to make pressure cooker Bolognese sauce using the Instant Pot. It’s super easy and you will love the flavors of our version.

PS. The more authentic Italian Bolognese uses fewer tomatoes but we like it nice and saucy this way. This recipe is gluten-free, Whole30 and paleo-friendly.

Instant Pot Spaghetti Bolognese Sauce Recipe


Below you will find the complete list of ingredients, method and nutritional breakdown for this recipe. You can also jump directly to our beginner-friendly step-by-step photos and instructions below the recipe card.

This Bolognese sauce recipe is part of our Instant Pot for beginner series. If you’re new to the Instant Pot, make sure to check out these posts as well:

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Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce Recipe

  • Author: Instant Pot Eats
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Use our beginner-friendly, easy recipe to make this delicious Instant Pot Bolognese sauce to save time and lock in all those gorgeous, hearty flavours and nutrients. Enjoy over pasta or zucchini noodles! Please note, we have updated the earlier recipe to simplify it. See Notes below for optional add-ons from the previous recipe if you loved that more complex-flavour version.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot or 2 small, diced into small cubes
  • 2 celery ribs, diced into small cubes
  • 3 oz / 90 g bacon, diced into small cubes
  • 2.5 lb / 1.1-1.2kg ground beef (we used grass-fed)
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced finely
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (you could use red too)
  • 1 cup chicken or beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 14oz/ 400 g (1 can or jar) of tomato sauce or puree, also known as passata (we love this brand)

To finish: 

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour (tapioca/arrowroot for Whole30 or paleo)
  • Fresh parsley or basil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Cooked spaghetti, pasta or zucchini noodles

Instructions

  1. Prep. Dice onions, carrots, celery, bacon and garlic. Set garlic aside. 
  2. Sauté stage. Turn the Instant Pot on and press the Sauté function key (it will show Normal, 30 minutes). Once hot, add olive oil, onions, celery, carrots and bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times. In the meantime, prepare the rest of the ingredients. 
  3. After 3-4 minutes, add the beef, garlic, salt, pepper and spices/herbs and stir through breaking the meat apart with a spatula. Add 1/2 cup of white wine and stir into the beef, allow it to bubble for 30 seconds or so. Follow with the stock and press Cancel to stop the Sauté process. Mix the beef and stock through really well, keep breaking the meat apart if it’s in large clumps. Use the spatula to scrape anything that might have stuck to the bottom.
  4. Now, pour the tomato puree/sauce over the top and spread it evenly, don’t stir through all the way. This will prevent any possible BURN error as tomato sauce can get caramelized on the bottom.
  5. Set & cook. Secure the lid on top and turn to lock in place. If using earlier models, check that the steam releasing handle is pointing to Sealing.
  6. Press Manual/Pressure Cook button and use the + / – keys to adjust the time to 15 minutes. It should say HIGH pressure. If not, change to HIGH using the Pressure Level button. After a couple of seconds, the screen will show ON and the pot will start to heat up and build the pressure.
  7. The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure. The more liquid/ingredients you have in the pot, the longer it usually takes. Once the pressure is built up, the float valve will come to the UP position.Now, the 15-minute timer will show on the screen. Note that the cooking actually begins during the pressurizing stage.
  8. Once the timer is done, the Instant Pot will change to a natural pressure release stage. Allow about 10 minutes to rest and then use the quick release to manually let off the remaining pressure (press the Quick Release button on the top). If Keep Warm is selected, you will see a new timer on the screen to let you know how many minutes the pressure cooker has been staying warm (you can use it as your timer for natural release).
  9. Thicken the sauce. Open the lid and stir the sauce. At first, it may seem like it’s got too much liquid but we’re not done just yet. Press the Sauté button again. Allow the sauce to come to a simmering bubble and cook it for 5-7 minutes, stirring a few times. This will allow some of that liquid to evaporate.
  10. In the meantime, mix 2 tablespoons of flour and 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl into a smooth slurry. Pour this liquid into the sauce and stir immediately. Press Cancel to stop the Sauté function. The sauce will now look more thickened and glossy. Taste for seasoning.
  11. The sauce can be served right away or stored in the fridge or freezer. Make sure to cool it down completely before storing. Serve with your favorite pasta (spaghetti is more traditional) or gluten-free alternatives. Zucchini noodles are great for Whole30, Keto, Paleo version.

Notes

Pressurizing time: 10 minutes | Cooking under pressure: 15 minutes (on HIGH) | Release: 10 minutes natural release + quick Release  Saute Time: 10 minutes Total cooking time: 45 minutes

MEAT. We used grass-fed ground beef, but you can use half beef and half pork; also, ground lamb or chicken meat will work. Grass-fed meat is optional but it’s more nutritious and really does taste so much better.

TOMATO SAUCE. Good, ideally organic tomatoes is another key to an amazing Bolognese. They tend to be sweeter and definitely better for you. We used tomato sauce (pureed tomato passata sauce) but you can also use chopped tinned tomatoes (we love this brand).

ADD-ONS FROM THE EARLIER RECIPE. For a bolder, more in-depth flavor, you can add any or all of the following: 1 teaspoon paprika powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 tablespoons Tamari gluten-free soy sauce, 1 teaspoon fish sauce (don’t worry, you can’t taste it), 1-2 bay leaves and chili flakes or powder to spice it up. In this recipe, we have also added bacon which is optional.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1.5 cups
  • Calories: 408
  • Sugar: 4.1 g
  • Sodium: 1360.2 mg
  • Fat: 27.3 g
  • Saturated Fat: 9.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.7 g
  • Fiber: 2.9 g
  • Protein: 31.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 96.5 mg

Keywords: Bolognese Sauce, Bolognese, Ground Beef, Tomato Sauce, Italian, Spaghetti, Instant Pot, Gluten-Free, Whole30, Paleo, Pressure Cooking


 

HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT BOLOGNESE SAUCE

Here are step-by-step instructions for making Bolognese sauce in the Instant Pot pressure cooker. We used Instant Pot Duo Nova 6-quart for this recipe. There are three stages to making this dish: the initial Sautéing, Pressure Cooking, final Sautéing & thickening of the sauce. 

Step 1. Turn the Instant Pot on and press the Sauté function key. Once hot, add olive oil, onions, celery, carrots and bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times.  

Instant Pot sauteeing vegetable for Bolognese sauce

Step 2. Once the vegetables have softened up, add the beef, garlic, salt, pepper and spices/herbs and stir through breaking the meat apart with a spatula.

How to make bolognese in Instant Pot steps 2

 

Step 3. Add the white wine and stir into the beef, allow it to bubble for 30 seconds or so. Follow with the stock and press Cancel to stop the Sauté process. Mix the beef and stock through really well, keep breaking the meat apart if it’s in large clumps. Use the spatula to scrape anything that might have stuck to the bottom. 

Step 3 for making Bolognese sauce in the Instant Pot

Step 4. Now, pour the tomato puree/sauce over the top and spread it evenly, no need to stir through all the way. This will prevent any possible BURN error as tomato sauce can get caramelized on the bottom.

Secure the lid on top and turn to lock in place. If using earlier models, check that the steam releasing handle is pointing to Sealing.

Making Bolognese sauce in the Instant Pot step 4

Step 5. Press Manual/Pressure Cook button and use the + and – keys to adjust the time to 15 minutes. It should say HIGH pressure. If not, change to HIGH.

After a couple of seconds, the screen will show ON and the Instant Pot will start to heat up and build the pressure inside. You will see Heating & Pressure icons on top of the screen. The Instant Pot will now take about 10 minutes to come to pressure. The more liquid/ingredients you have in the pot, the longer it might take. Once the pressure is built up, the float valve will come to the UP position. Now, the 15-minute timer will show on the screen. Note that the cooking actually begins during the pressurizing stage.

Once the timer is done, the Instant Pot will change to a natural pressure release stage. Allow about 10 minutes to rest and use the quick release to manually let off the remaining pressure. Tip: If Keep Warm is selected, you will see a new 00:00 timer on the screen letting you know how much time the pot has been resting at a warm temperature. You can use that timer for your natural release count. 

Instant Pot settings for making Bolognese sauce

 

Step 6. Open the lid and stir the sauce. At first, it may seem like it’s got too much liquid but we’re not done just yet. Now, press the Cancel button and change back to Saute function. Allow the sauce to come to a simmering bubble and cook it for 5-7 minutes, stirring a few times. This will allow some of that liquid to evaporate.

Instant Pot steps for finishing the bolognese sauce

Step 7. In the meantime, mix 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl into a smooth slurry. Pour this liquid into the sauce and stir immediately. Press Cancel to stop the Saute function. The sauce will now look more thickened and glossy. Taste for seasoning.

How to thicken bolognese sauce in Instant Pot

This recipe makes 6-8 servings because we like to make a big batch of the sauce to then use as leftovers and to turn into other dishes. The sauce can be served right away or stored in the fridge or freezer. Make sure to cool it down completely before storing. Divide the sauce between Ziploc bags or containers and freeze the leftovers for up to 3 months.

 

HOW TO USE UP LEFTOVER BOLOGNESE 

Instant Pot Bolognese sauce recipe
If you have leftover Bolognese sauce, there are quite a few ways to use it up. Obviously, you can reheat it for another spaghetti Bolognese meal.

  • Cold Bolognese is great in a Shepherd’s or cottage pie.
  • You can re-fry the Bolognese sauce with added Tex-Mex spices and turn it into taco and burrito filling.
  • If you add some ginger, garlic and soy sauce, you can turn it into a more Asian-inspired dish and serve it with rice.
  • Pan-fry the sauce for 5-10 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid. Once it thickens, add some BBQ sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce and turn it into Sloppy Joes.

MORE INSTANT POT RECIPES YOU MIGHT LIKE


 

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Instant Pot Bolognese Recipe

By Instant Pot Eats

About us: We are a team of Instant Pot enthusiasts, who love good food and cooking. Our blog is dedicated to delicious recipes you can make using your trusted pressure cooker.

PS. This post may contain Amazon affiliate links, which means we receive a small commission for purchases made through these links. 

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36 Comments
  1. I did the previous recipe so many times!! cant find it! Can you please help by sending the previous recipe!

    1. See Notes under the recipe for the extra ingredients used in the previous recipe and omit the bacon (unless you like a little bacon in your Bol sauce). The rest is pretty much the same.

    1. And make sure to check the notes as we left all those add-ons that were included in a more complex original recipe. The rest is pretty much the same really.

  2. The old version of this was amazing!!! A family staple for years. Thanks for including the original ingredients in the notes, but I think I might try to track it down on the Internet Archive and save it to my cloud drive. It was that good.

    1. The basic recipe template is the same, it was mainly the addition of those spices/condiments that was different in the original. Plus, we added a little bacon but can be omitted.

  3. Did you change this recipe? I thought it had star anise, smoked paprika and bay leaves. Also fish sauce and aminos. I’m disappointed loved it that way!

    1. We have simplified the ingredients for a more accessible version. We have left all the add-ons from the previous recipe in the Notes under the recipe.

      ADD-ONS FROM THE EARLIER RECIPE. For a bolder, more in-depth flavor, you can add any or all of the following: 1 teaspoon paprika powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 tablespoons Tamari gluten-free soy sauce, 1 teaspoon fish sauce (don’t worry, you can’t taste it), 1-2 bay leaves and chili flakes or powder to spice it up. In this recipe, we have also added bacon which is optional.

  4. When did the recipe change or do you have a link to the old version with cinnamon, fish sauce, diced tomatoes, etc? I’ve been making that version for years and it’s a family favorite.

    1. Hey Kelly,

      If you look in the notes, you will see all those other ingredients in there as optional. We simplified the main recipe so it was easier for people that didn’t have those ingredients on hand, but left them in the Notes below the recipe. We also added bacon to the main recipe, which you can take out.

      PS. we can vouch that this one is just as tasty but agree, the cinnamon and fish sauce give it an extra special quality so.

      IPE team

  5. This is the best recipe! I’ve made it so many times in the middle of a busy week. Highly reccommend.

  6. Absolutely loved this recipe. I was looking for something with ground beef that wasn’t “chili” like and this fit the bill. I skimped on the salt and later added it back to the recipe. Served with spaghetti squash, this was the perfect meal.

  7. My whole family, including the 5 year old and 1 year old LOVED this! Thanks!

    Only issue was the star anise breaks up in the instant pot so you get a crunchy surprise once in a while – any way to prevent this??

    1. Hi Nicky, first of all, thank you. I’m super glad you enjoyed the recipe. In regards to the star anise, I am not sure if there is a way to keep it intact. Whenever I cook with it on a stovetop, it doesn’t break up into pieces, but I guess pressure cooking softens it up enough for it to fall apart. Not really sure you can avoid it, but you could omit it from the recipe if it really bothers you or the kids. You might also be able to grind the star anise in a mortar & pestle before adding it to the pot so that you still get the flavour but not the crunchy bits.

  8. I used half of the cinnamon that was called for and added 1tsp of onion powder, basil, oregano, and parsley along with everything else except fish sauce. Fab.

  9. Hi, I assume you put in the bay leaves when you add the tomatoes? There is nothing written about when to add them. Looks delicious.

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