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Instant Pot Italian Meat Sauce

Can you make a good Italian meat sauce in the Instant Pot?

It’s something I was very curious about trying…

In my kitchen a good meat sauce needs to simmer on the stove for several hours, or even better all day.

So it goes without saying that the idea of it being ready to serve in under an hour was very appaling, and yet very appealing.

Most days we just don’t have a lot of time to spend on cooking.  So this is exactly the kind of time saver I was hoping for when I purchased the Instant Pot.

My goal here was to use my usual meat sauce recipe ingredients, but adapt the cooking method to the IP. I did a bit of online surfing, searching for the right steps to take and this is what I came up with.

Overall I think the recipe was a success.  It turned out great, tasted delicious, and was ready in time to bring to work for my dinner. That’s a win win in my books!

Now, for the reality check…

I still think that sauce simmered on the stove for hours and hours, in my cast iron pot, will taste the best, with full, deep flavours, that in my opinion can only develop with time.

Also, I missed the smell of the sauce cooking throughout the house (on my clothes, in my hair…haha ok that part I didn’t miss). But don’t worry when you pop open that IP lid, all those wonderful aromas are there in all their glory!

In case you are wondering why I don’t call this a Bolognese sauce, it’s because there’s no milk or cream in it, however turning it into a Bolognese style sauce is not hard, simply stir in a 1/4 cup of cream once you open the pot, it’s just enough  to give it that extra layer of flavour.

How do you use this sauce?

Serve this delicious sauce over any type pasta. Spaghettini is my personal favourite but this kind of sauce sticks well to penne, rotini, fusilli, etc.

If you’re making fresh gnocchi this is your sauce!

You can also layer between sheets of pasta, with some cheese and bechamel sauce, and create a fantastic lasagna. And if you’re watching your carbs, go ahead and serve it over cooked spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. Yum yum

I will be making my pasta sauce this way more often than not from here on…unless the Instant Pot is being used for another yummy recipe…hmm maybe I will need a second one after all.

Happy cooking friends!


Here is the printable recipe…

Instant Pot Italian Meat Sauce


Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup pancetta or bacon chopped
  • 1/4 tsp each salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano or sprig fresh oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme or sprig fresh thyme
  • a few black pitted black olives optional but they do add great flavour
  • a piece of parmesan rind for flavouring
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 jar tomato puree (or crushed tomato can)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste


  • Press SAUTE on the Instant Pot then add olive oil and let it heat up until screen reads HOT.
    Add ground beef and pancetta, season generously with salt, pepper and garlic powder, and cook for about 7 min until browned, stirring often.
    Press CANCEL, remove inner liner from base of pot carefully and drain fat from pot, then return to Instant Pot base.
  • Press SAUTE, add chopped onion and carrot cook 3-5 minutes more.
    Add minced garlic, stir then add wine and cook a few more minutes, allowing for wine to reduce significantly.
    Add broth, bay leaves, oregano and thyme and stir well.
    Pour crushed tomatoes and tomato paste on top, but DO NOT STIR, let it sit on top (this tip was recommended on several tomato sauce recipes I found online to avoid getting a “BURN” error, and it is crucial!)
    Press CANCEL.
  • Lock on lid and turn pressure valve on lid to SEALING position.
    Choose PRESSURE COOK and adjust timer to 15 minutes.
  • When the IP beeps (after the 15 minutes of pressure cooking) let the pot run on natural pressure release for another20 minutes (you will see the timer count up on the screen).
    Release remaining pressure by carefully turning steam valve to VENTING.
    When pressure pin has dropped, open lid, add the butter and give the sauce a really good’s now ready to enjoy over your chosen pasta!

Mary's meat sauce in the instant pot


Remember DO NOT STIR in the tomato sauce,

simply pour it in and close the lid.

meat sauce


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Instant Pot Italian Meat Sauce

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