by Olena

Instant Pot Bolognese

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Olena Osipov
5 from 7 votes

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Instant Pot Bolognese is Italian meat sauce made in 40 minutes instead of simmering for 3 hours. Same hearty and flavorful sauce that will knock your nonna’s socks off.

Looking for more dinner ideas? Check out super popular collection of 40 Instant Pot recipes like Instant Pot lasagna or corned beef and cabbage!

Instant Pot Bolognese

Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

This Instant Pot bolognese is stick-to-your-ribs, rich and comforting dinner. Serve over your favorite pasta, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, pour a glass of red wine and experience affordable Italian dinner night in. Sometimes I’ll even place a large bowl of Italian chopped salad on the table too.

I do love the slow simmer process/ stovetop meat sauce when I have time (and other times I whip up this 10-minute spaghetti!). Otherwise, pressure cooker is perfect to make this large batch of meat sauce in 40 minutes and even freeze for later. In fact, I now turn to my Instant Pot for all kinds of meaty classics like bbq chicken, pork carnitas, pot roast, chicken thighs, chicken breast, and even a whole chicken!

Ingredients for Instant Pot Bolognese

Full recipe card is located below.

  • Ground meat: I like a combination of ground turkey and beef for more lean and yet rich traditional meat sauce. You can also cook it from frozen.
  • Veggies: Onion, garlic, carrots and celery – a mirepoix basically. All diced.
  • Tomato sauce or diced tomatoes: I prefer to use tomato sauce for more saucy sauce. I also tried diced tomatoes and sauce comes out more watery and chunky.
  • Tomato paste and balsamic vinegar: Add that extra 3 hour simmer depth of flavor.
  • Spices: Oregano, basil, salt and pepper.

celery, carrots, onion, meat, tomato sauce in instant pot

How to Make Instant Pot Bolognese

  • Saute meat: After you press Saute, wait 5 minutes until display says Hot. Cook turkey and beef for about 10 minutes, constantly breaking into small pieces. Good sauce has small pieces of meat.
  • Add remaining ingredients and do not stir: Veggies, spices and tomato products go last, on top to avoid Burn. Do not stir, again to avoid Burn.
  • Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes: Close the lid and turn vent to Sealing. Beware that Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure. No water is necessary.
  • Release pressure right away with Quick ReleaseWhen you open the lid, sauce might appear watery. Give it a few stirs, and it will become this beautiful and thick meat sauce.

Still on a fence about Instant Pot? Check out which one I recommend to buy. Own one but still not 100% confident? Read my Instant Pot guide.

cooked Instant Pot Bolognese sauce in pressure cooker with spoon

Tips and Variations

I kept my bolognese more simple because we find it flavorful with my addition of tomato paste and balsamic vinegar. Plus I like to keep ingredients list shorter. But below are a few traditional suggestions.

  • Deglazing? If you notice a lot of burnt meat pieces on the bottom, add 1/4 cup water and deglaze. I didn’t have to.
  • Cream: If you are used to a touch of creaminess, add 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half after sauce is cooked.
  • Wine: Use 1/2 cup dry red wine, reduce tomato paste to 2 tbsp and omit balsamic vinegar. You can also deglaze bottom of the pot with it.
  • Pancetta: Fry 4 oz of diced pancetta, before adding the meat. It will give it chance to caramelize.
  • No need to saute: I find with Instant Pot, veggies release their maximum flavors cooked under pressure. No need to saute them. We saute meat mainly to break it up into pieces.

You can also make a similar sauce to serve with Instant Pot meatballs, instead of ground meat.

Serving Suggestions

  • Pasta: Serve hot over whole wheat or gluten free pasta. Tubular pasta or the one with grooves that can “catch” the sauce is considered the best. Like rigatoni, penne, rotini or macaroni. I personally like to eat sauce with strand or ribbon pasta like fettuccine or spaghetti. It all works.

Im currently loving all the pasta dishes you can make with an Instant pot. Like parmesan chicken pasta, spaghetti, mac n’ cheese, beef stroganoff, and more!

  • Whole grains: I often substitute pasta with whole grain like quinoa or brown rice. Just to change things up.
  • Low carb: Serve over a bed of greens like arugula, spring mix or kale.
  • Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated parmesan cheese is the best. I was out of a sprinkle of parsley or basil though. But you should. 🙂

Instant Pot Bolognese over spaghetti on a plate

How to Store and Reheat Bolognese Sauce

Storing: Refrigerate leftovers for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

Freezing: Sauces like Instant Pot bolognese freeze beautifully as they do not contain tender vegetables. Cook, cool completely and freeze in glass container for up to 3 months. To thaw, defrost on a counter or in the fridge overnight. Forgot to thaw ahead? Place container in a bowl with warm water. Just make sure to let glass warm up a bit on a counter to prevent it from cracking.

Reheating: Then in either scenario, simmer on the stove covered on low, stirring occasionally and until warmed through.

More Instant Pot Recipes

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Instant Pot Bolognese recipe on white plate and black fork

Instant Pot Bolognese

Instant Pot Bolognese

Instant Pot Bolognese is Italian meat sauce made in 40 minutes instead of simmering for 3 hours. Same hearty and flavorful sauce that will knock your nonna's socks off.
5 from 7 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 357kcal
Author: Olena Osipov


  • 2 lbs ground beef turkey or mix of both (I did)
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 large celery stalks diced
  • 2 large carrots diced
  • 3 garlic cloves grated
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 28 oz tomato sauce low sodium
  • 6 oz tomato paste low sodium
  • Parmesan cheese and parsley for garnish (optional)


  • On Instant Pot, press Sauté and preheat until display says Hot.
  • Add ground meat and cook for 10 minutes, breaking into small pieces with spatula and stirring often.
  • Press Cancel and add other ingredients in this order: onion, celery, carrots, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, tomato sauce and paste. Do not stir.
  • Close the lid, turn valve to Sealing and press Pressure Cook on High or Manual for 15 minutes.
  • After, turn valve to Venting (Quick Release) and release the pressure.
  • Sauce might appear watery. Give it a few stirs and it will be awesome.
  • Serve hot over pasta, rice or quinoa. Or any greens like arugula, spring mix or kale.

Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days.

    Freeze: Freezer in an airtight container for up to 3 months.


      • I like to use a combo of ground beef and more lean turkey for balanced flavor and health. You can do either or.
      • If you use beef only, I recommend to drain the fat.
      • Diced tomatoes will work but sauce will be more chunky and more watery.
      • Crushed or strained tomatoes will work as well.


      Serving: 1cup | Calories: 357kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 575mg | Potassium: 419mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 2615IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg
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      20 comments on “Instant Pot Bolognese

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      1. 5 stars
        Omg soo good!!! This was perfection!! I love every single one of Olena’s recipes I’ve tried!!
        I used the beef/turkey combo and Rao’s Arrabiata Sauce since we like a kick! I also tend to like to add crazy garlic, so I might have used 6 cloves, lol!!! My husband was drooling when I gave him a spoonful! It made such a great amount too as the recipe calls for 8 servings.

        I will be so happy to freeze leftovers for a quick fix one night!
        Thank you Olena for your amazing recipes!!

      2. For the 28oz can of tomato sauce, is it actual tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes? The reason I am asking is the crushed and dices tomatoes come in 28oz and I want to try making your sauce and I don’t want to mess it up. Could you also email me your recipe for sauce with beans instead of meat.
        Thanks for your time!

        1. It is almost plain tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes will work too.Diced tomatoes are more watery, you can use them too but I prefer thicker tomato sauce.

      3. 5 stars
        This is one of the best recipes from you I have made!!!! Everyone needs to try it. It is that good! Thank you once again for a winner. 💜

      4. What happened to the version of this with black lentils? It used to be my favorite and I can’t get it anymore!

        1. I’m so happy you loved the recipe, Stephanie. There was older version of recipe with black lentils. If you want, I can email it to you.

      5. 5 stars
        Very good! Used black beans instead because there were no black lentils at the store. Sauce was kinda watery though in consistency, but the flavor was great.

        1. Glad you liked it. Sauce was a bit watery because lentils will absorb more water than black beans. But that’s a good substitute. Food doesn’t always necessarily have to be the prettiest to be tasty and healthy.:)

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