This Beef Ragu is the perfect family dinner recipe. It cooks up in under 50 minutes in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker, making it a delicious quick, yet satisfying dinner for a crowd.
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This recipe post was originally published on February 21, 2020. It was updated with new illustrated recipe photos and recipe tips on September 9, 2020.
Satisfying comfort food doesn't need to mean hassle, hard work, and lots of time in the kitchen. This Beef Ragu made in the pressure cooker or Instant Pot, so it is ready in under an hour and only takes 7 steps! It's the perfect recipe for a Sunday dinner with family or friends. Serve it over tagliatelle, pappardelle, or any other egg-based pasta!
The first time I tried ragu was 2 years ago. It was a mid-summer evening and we were at RARE in downtown Fort Collins with friends.
I can't remember if the ragu was lamb or meat-based (it's currently meat and pork sausage-based) but I remember being grabbed by the menu description. A slow-cooked meat sauce with red wine, onions, carrots, and finished with cream? Sign. Me. Up.
'Cause there's something about a meat sauce that cooks low and slow -- the meat gets super tender and the flavors develop an uncomparable depth... in a way that only comfort food can.
And so I ordered the ragu. We also ordered apps for the table so I just ordered the smaller size, but one taste of that Italian ragu and I knew I'd be back.
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Coming back to ragu I sure did, too. First I tried another Italian restaurant in town's -- Cacciatore at Heller's Kitchen -- interpretation of ragu (it was lamb-based) and I went back to RARE 3-4 plus times.
Hey, it's for "research," right??
But through this "testing" I realized what kind of flavors I liked and which cuts or kinds of meats I preferred. And I also got to thinking I needed to learn how to make this at home!
After all, that way I could enjoy it whenever I liked, freeze it for reheating later on a busy night, and save some money on all that "research." 😉
While learning to make the ragu at home, I found that I could get the same tender ragu meat in just a fraction of the time (my first non-pressure cooker attempt took 2.5 plus hours...). After a few attempts, I settled on this easy, yet indulgent Italian classic, my best ragu recipe.
This Beef Ragu (or Beef Ragout) Recipe is...
- The ultimate comfort food
- Perfect for a dinner party
- Or a Sunday family dinner
Life is too short for boring food. Get a delicious dish the whole family will love on the table tonight with my best instant pot ragu!
- Olive Oil
- Ground beef -- 85% or 90% lean is perfectly fine. I like to use grass-fed whenever I can
- Sweet Italian pork sausage -- you can also use sweet Italian chicken sausage, but the ragu won't be as rich and flavorful with it. Either way, you want to use raw or bulk sausage
- Garlic cloves
- Red wine -- use a dry red wine, like cabernet sauvignon, chianti, Sangiovese, or a red blend wine for the best results
- Tomato paste
- Canned diced tomatoes -- the better quality tomatoes you can afford, the better. I love to use the San Marzano tomatoes whenever possible
- Dried thyme
- Half & half -- or you can use half the amount of heavy cream in place of the half & half
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What is a meat ragu?
Meet ragu is an Italian slow-cooked meat sauce that is simmered with carrots, onion, celery, tomatoes, and seasonings and is finished off with a splash of cream. It's perfect served over egg-based noodles or polenta.
Is beef ragu gluten-free?
Yes, this beef ragu recipe is naturally gluten-free. There are no wheat ingredients in it. If you are serving it over pasta, however, use a gluten-free pasta to keep the wheat out of the recipe.
How do you make ragu?
We'll start by sauteing the ingredients and then we'll pressure cook the ragout to make it super succulent and tender. See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the complete directions and measurement amounts.
- Saute the onions, carrots, and celery in the pressure cooker or Instant Pot's saute setting.
- Add the ground meat and sausage to the veggies and saute until the meat is cooked through, crumbling the meat as you cook.
- Stir in the garlic and saute it with the meat until its fragrant.
- Pour in the red wine and cook until the wine has reduced.
- Add the tomato paste, salt, tomatoes, and seasonings.
- Turn off the saute feature and lock on the pressure cooker lid.
- Set the pressure cooker or Instant Pot to cook on high for 20 minutes. When done cooking, quick-release the pressure.
- Remove the lid and stir in the half-and-half and until its incorporated. Serve the ragu hot!
Tips for the perfect ragu:
- Cook the meat completely before stirring in the garlic and wine.
- Choose a good quality wine. The flavors will show in the final result, so you want to use something better than a cooking wine, if possible.
- Quick-release the pressure cooker.
- Splurge on good quality tomatoes, if you can afford it. For around $3 at Trader Joe's, you can get a good-quality canned tomatoes grown in Italy that create an extra special tomato flavor in the dish.
Can you make beef ragout ahead of time?
Yes, you can definitely make this ragout ahead of time. It reheats very easily, so you can make it up to 48 hours ahead of serving time.
To reheat the ragu, warm it in a dutch oven over low to medium-low heat on the stovetop for 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes, or until heated through.
How do you serve this instant pot ragu?
Meat ragu is delicious served the following ways:
- Egg-based pasta like pappardelle or tagliatelle
- Creamy polenta
- Mashed potatoes (not traditional, but still tasty!)
- Simple green salad
- Roasted or blistered green beans
- Sauteed zucchini or air fryer zucchini
- Roasted lemon broccoli
- A glass of red wine: cabernet sauvignon, chianti, sangiovese, cabernet franc, or zinfandel
Can you freeze this recipe?
Yes, beef ragout freezes like a dream. Just place it in a freezer safe container and it will be safe to freeze for up to 2 months.
Can you double or triple beef ragu?
You definitely can double or triple this recipe. As long as your pressure cooker or Instant Pot can accommodate the amount of food, you are good to go.
Just double or triple the recipe ingredients and continue with the directions as listed, though you may need to saute the ingredients a bit longer to have them all cook through. Pressure cook as directed, however, because you don't need to adjust the time for the different quantity of food.
Tools you will need to make this recipe:
- Cutting board
- Chef knife
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker
- Heat-safe spatula or turner
More Italian-inspired recipes you might like:
- Instant Pot Risotto
- Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce
- Easy Turkey Meatballs
- Zucchini Lasagna
- Juicy Chicken Sausage Meatballs
- Butternut Squash Farro with Crispy Breadcrumbs
- Italian Tuna Pasta Salad
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Make your next Sunday dinner satisfying, delicious, and easy with this Pressure Cooker Italian Beef Ragu.
Make sure to have all your ingredients prepped before you start cooking because cooking will go quickly.
Boil your pasta water about halfway through the pressure cooking time and your pasta should be ready right around the time your ragu is. If your pasta is done cooking first, just toss it with a little olive oil after draining and cover it until serving.
To keep this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free pasta or serve your ragu over polenta.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cup 1/4" diced onion
- 1 1/2 cup 1/4" carrot coins
- 1 1/2 cup celery, diced into 1/4" pieces
- 1 lb 85% lean ground beef
- 1 lb sweet Italian pork sausage, bulk or de-cased raw sausage
- 5 large cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup red wine (see notes below)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes, not drained
- 1/2 cup half & half
- 16 oz. pappardelle or tagliatelle pasta, cooked according to package directions
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Heat your pressure cooker's sauteing feature to medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pressure cooker pot and heat it until the oil sputters when flicked with water.
- Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute for 5 minutes, stirring often, or until the onions and celery start to turn translucent.
- Add the ground meat and sausage and cook for another 5-6 minutes, crumbling and stirring as you cook, or until the meat has browned.
- Stir in the garlic, rosemary, and thyme and saute for 1 minute, stirring the mixture continuously, or until the spices are fragrant.
- Pour in the red wine and saute for another 1-2 minutes, continuing to stir and cook until the wine and other liquids have evaporated.
- Add the tomato paste, salt, and diced tomatoes to the pot. Stir the ingredients into the meat mixture. Turn off the saute feature, lock on the pressure cooker lid, and set the pressure cooker to cook on high for 20 minutes.
- When the pressure cooker is done cooking, quick-release the pressure. Remove the lid once all the pressure has escaped. Stir in the half and half until it's incorporated. Serve the ragu hot over pappardelle, other pasta, or polenta with grated parmesan cheese!
1. You can store leftovers of this ragu covered in the fridge for 4-5 days.
2. This ragu freezes well, too. Just store it in an airtight & freezer-safe container in the freezer for 2-3 months. Defrost it in the fridge for a day before reheating on the stovetop (over medium-low) or in the microwave (on 40-50% power).
3. Red wine: you want a dry and full-bodied red wine for this recipe. I like to use a cabernet sauvignon, chianti, or a cabernet Sauvignon-based red blend. The flavor of the wine will come through in the dish so you don't need a fancy red wine for this, but you at least want a decent one.
4. Ground meat: if you can find and want to splurge on grass-fed ground meat, I recommend it. It adds a richer depth of flavor and has more omega-3 fatty acids than standard corn-fed ground meat.
5. You can also use canned whole tomatoes and dice them in the can with kitchen shears (just place the shears in the can of tomatoes and chop them up) in place of the diced tomatoes
Serving Size1/10 of ragu & pasta
Amount Per Serving Calories 517Total Fat 26gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 17gCholesterol 108mgSodium 780mgCarbohydrates 39gFiber 2gSugar 4gProtein 29g
This nutrition breakdown is just an estimate of the nutritional value of this recipe and cannot be taken as facts. The owners of Mae's Menu are not nutritionists or dieticians and therefore cannot be held accountable for this nutrition estimate. Please contact your nutritionist or medical professional for a nutritional breakdown of this food. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.