Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce: the perfect comforting family dinner recipe! Save hours but still get that classic rich bolognese flavor by using the Instant Pot.
This recipe post was originally published on February 21, 2020. It was updated on October 26, 2021.
In this recipe we will be making bolognese sauce in the Instant Pot. This meat pasta sauce is hearty, comforting, saucy, and authentically seasoned. In this post, I shared illustrated instructions on how to make the ragu, answers to common questions, serving suggestions, and more.
- This Pressure Cooker Beef Bolognese Recipe is...
- Recipe ingredients:
- What is a meat ragu?
- Is beef ragu gluten-free?
- How do you make ragu?
- Tips for the perfect ragu:
- Can you make beef ragout ahead of time?
- How do you serve this instant pot ragu?
- Can you freeze this recipe?
- Can you double or triple beef ragu?
- Tools you will need to make this recipe:
- More Italian-inspired recipes you might like:
- Get all my recipes as they drop!
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.
There's something about a meat sauce that cooks low and slow. The meat gets super tender and the flavors develop a savory depth that only comfort food can.
And so I ordered the ragu. And so I started down a journey of developing my own ragu recipe to share with you here.
Though the recipes I tried at Rare and other local restaurants were shredded meat based, I decided I wanted to step up my meat sauce recipe by finessing my bolognese recipe.
After all, classic bolognese is just a type of ragu. Meat, veggies, tomatoes, wine, and seasonings are simmered for a long period of time and then finished with milk or cream.
Whereas I'm all down for the meat, veggies, tomatoes, and more, the simmering for a long period of time is seldom my style. Thankfully, this is an issue we can easily solve with the Instant Pot!
Thanks to this favorite appliance, I was able to reduce the original stovetop cooking time of 2 ½ hours down to 1 just one hour. After we sauté the meat and veggies on the sauté setting, we pressure cook the mixture for just 30 minutes.
The result? A rich, hearty, and savory pasta sauce that's worthy of a restaurant but easy & quick enough to be on your family dinner table any day of the week.
This Pressure Cooker Bolognese Recipe is...
This recipe will be enthusiastically received whether you make this dish for Sunday dinner or a weeknight meal!
- Olive Oil
- Ground beef -- 85% or 90% lean is perfectly fine
- Sweet Italian pork 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 -- I love to use the San Marzano tomatoes whenever possible, but classic diced tomatoes also work well.
- Dried spices - thyme and rosemary
- Half & half
- Beef - this recipe can also be made with ground turkey. For best results, use 93% lean or less turkey, or a mixture of dark and white meat. All white meat won't add enough flavor to the sauce.
- Sausage - sweet Italian chicken sausage can substitute for the pork sausage but the sauce won't be as rich and flavorful with it. Either way, you want to use raw or bulk sausage, not precooked links.
- Half & half- ¼ cup heavy cream or ½ cup whole milk can substitute for the half & half.
How do you make bolognese in the Instant Pot?
- 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!
- Prepare the ingredients before you start cooking. The first few steps go very fast so the recipe works the best when you have all the ingredients ready to go as you need them. This helps the food cook evenly and to develop the best flavor.
- Cook the meat completely before stirring in the garlic and wine. This will help the texture of the sauce as well as the flavor, as browning the meat develops both.
- Choose a good quality wine. The flavors will show in the final result, so you want to use a dry red wine that's better than a cooking wine, if possible.
- Season the sauce adequately. 1 ½ teaspoons salt may seem like a lot, but it's crucial in bringing out the flavor of this sauce. Also, if sodium is a concern for you, know that the salt will be stretched over the 10+ servings that this recipe makes.
- Releasing the Instant Pot. You can quick release the pressure cooker to save time, but if you have more time natural-releasing also works.
- Splurge on good quality tomatoes, if you can afford it. Since tomatoes are such a star ingredient, going with the best you can will contribute the best flavor to the sauce. San Marzano or other Italian tomatoes are best, but common American brands like Hunts or Contadina also work.
Instant pot spaghetti bolognese FAQ:
Meat 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.
Yes, you can definitely make this ragu ahead of time. It reheats very easily, so you can make it up to 48 hours ahead of serving time.
To reheat the sauce, 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.
This Instant Pot meat sauce is delicious served the following ways:
- Pasta (pappardelle, tagliatelle, rigatoni, linguine, etc.)
- Creamy polenta
- Mashed potatoes
- Simple green salad
- Roasted or blistered green beans
- Sauteed zucchini or air fryer zucchini
- Roasted lemon broccoli
- Garlic bread
Leftover bolognese sauce can be stored covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. It can also be frozen in a freezer-safe container for 2-3 months.
Tools needed to make this recipe:
- Cutting board
- Chef knife
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker
- Heat-safe spatula or turner
More Italian recipes:
- Instant Pot Meatballs
- Instant Pot Risotto
- Pesto Gnocchi
- Chicken Bolognese
- Turkey Bolognese
- Baked Italian Sausage Casserole with Ricotta Cheese
- Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (Red Pesto)
- Sausage Risotto
- Easy Homemade Pasta Sauce
- Zucchini Lasagna
- Italian Tuna Pasta Salad
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Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce
Satisfying, delicious, and rich, this Instant Pot Bolognese is your favorite Italian restaurant comfort food in your very own kitchen!
Recipe tip: prep the ingredients before you start cooking because cooking will go quickly. This will help your sauce cook evenly and develop the best flavor.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 ½ cup ¼" diced onion
- 1 ½ cup ¼" carrot coins
- 1 ½ cup celery, diced into ¼" pieces
- 1 lb 85% lean ground beef
- 1 lb sweet Italian pork sausage, bulk or de-cased raw sausage
- 5 large cloves garlic, minced
- ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- ½ cup red wine (see notes below)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes, not drained
- ½ cup half & half
- 16 oz. pappardelle or tagliatelle pasta, cooked according to package directions
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Heat the Instant Pot sautéing feature to 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 sauté 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 sauté for 1 minute, stirring the mixture continuously, or until the spices are fragrant.
- Pour in the red wine and sauté 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 sauté feature, lock on the pressure cooker lid, and set the pressure cooker to cook on high for 30 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 bolognese hot over pappardelle, other pasta, or polenta with grated parmesan cheese!
1. Leftover bolognese sauce can be stored covered in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. It can also be frozen in a freezer-safe container for 2-3 months.
2. Red wine: a dry and full-bodied red wine is best for this recipe. I recommend 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.
3. To make this recipe in the Ninja Foodi Tendercrisp pressure cooker, sauté the vegetables and meat on medium-high heat and pressure cook for only 20 minutes. Quick-release the pressure as directed.
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.
I love this recipe. I’ve made it twice. I used Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon for the red wine. It gives it such an amazing flavor!
Chelsea | Mae's Menu says
Ah, I'm so glad to hear that you love it, Patty! The wine adds such amazing flavor to the dish. 🙂