by Olena

Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

by Olena

5 from 2 reviews

Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce made healthy with one secret ingredient. It is hearty, flavorful and will knock any nonna’s socks off.

Looking for more dinner ideas? Check out my most popular collection of 30 healthy Instant Pot recipes.

Bolognese Spaghetti Sauce

Pressure Cooker Bolognese

This Instant Pot bolognese sauce has been in my back pocket to share with your for 2 years! Rich, hearty and so easy to serve over your favorite pasta for an affordable Italian dinner night in.

Or just a quick healthy dinner. Just like my spaghetti with tomato sauce. Kids love this kind of food!

I have been making bolognese on a stovetop and recently adapted for Instant Pot because it cooks twice faster in a pressure cooker.

Still on a fence about Instant Pot? Check out which one I recommend to buy from my experience. Own one but still not 100% confident around it? Read my Instant Pot guide. Lot of tips and tricks.

I have included both versions of Instant Pot bolognese: on the stove and in a pressure cooker.


What makes this healthy bolognese sauce stand out from the rest is one secret ingredient – lentils. Other ingredients are simple and easy to find too:

  • Ground turkey
  • Tomato sauce and paste
  • Onion and garlic
  • Spices

Black lentils for Bolognese Sauce

Black lentils a.k.a beluga lentils. They are tiny round lentils often found in a bulk section of larger grocery store. Mixed with small pieces of ground turkey they absorb the flavours beautifully reducing animal products consumption, adding fiber and cutting down on cost.

What a health benefit and money saver! And my kids love it just like any other pasta meat sauce. Lentils truly get lost in the texture of the spaghetti sauce.

Can I Use Brown or Green Lentils?

Yes, you can. And I have made this Instant Pot bolognese sauce with green lentils numerous times. They are larger than black lentils so texture comes out a tad different but not a big deal at all.

How to Make Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

I have tested this bolognese sauce both on a stove and Instant Pot. Instant Pot step by step with photos is shown below. Both versions are included in the recipe card below.:)

  1. Quickly saute onion and garlic.
  2. Cook turkey for 5 minutes, breaking it into small pieces.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and do not stir.
  4. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.
  5. Release pressure right away with Quick Release.

How to make Bolognese Sauce in Instant Pot step by step

What to Serve Bolognese With?

Serve hot over whole wheat or gluten free pasta. Or white pasta like me because it was kids’ treat.

Tubular pasta or the one with grooves that can “catch” the sauce works best. Like rigatoni, penne, rotini or macaroni. I know many like to eat sauce with strand or ribbon pasta like fettuccine or spaghetti. It all works.

I often substitute pasta with whole grain like quinoa or brown rice. Just to change things up.

For a low carb meal, serve over a bed of greens like arugula, spring mix or kale.

More Healthy Pasta Recipes

Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce with pasta served on the plate

Can I Freeze Bolognese Sauce?

Yes. 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 glass from cracking.

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

More Healthy Instant Pot Recipes

Did you know we have entire Youtube channel dedicated to healthy Instant Pot recipes and tips? My goal is to help you become confident with your Instant Pot by demonstrating each delicious foolproof recipe in step-by-step videos.

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Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

5 from 2 reviews

Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce made healthy with one secret ingredient. It is hearty, flavorful and will knock any nonna’s socks off.

  • Author: Olena of
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 14 oz tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, low sodium
  • 6 oz tomato paste, low sodium
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup black lentils, uncooked (rinsed & drained)
  • 2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 2 tsp oregano, dried
  • 2 tsp basil, dried
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Stovetop: Preheat large deep skillet or dutch oven on medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add onion and garlic, sauté for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Increase heat to medium – high, add ground turkey and cook for 10 more minutes, breaking into small pieces with spatula and stirring often. Add oregano and basil, cook for 30 seconds, stirring a few times.
  3. Reduce heat to low – medium, add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, lentils, honey, salt and pepper; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 50 – 60 minutes or until lentils are tender. Do not open!
  4. If at the end bolognese sauce is too thick add some water but first stir and see.
  5. Instant Pot: On Instant Pot, press Sauté and preheat until display says Hot. Swirl oil to coat, add onion and garlic; sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add oregano and basil, cook for 30 seconds, stirring a few times.
  6. Add ground turkey and cook for 5 more minutes, breaking into small pieces with spatula and stirring often.
  7. Press Cancel and add other ingredients in this exact order: water, lentils, honey, salt, pepper, tomato paste, tomato sauce. Do not stir! Close the lid, turn release vent to Sealing and press Pressure Cooking for 25 minutes on High.
  8. After display says Off, turn the valve to Quick Release and release the pressure. Stir the bolognese sauce.
  9. Serve hot over whole wheat pasta 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.


Brown or green lentils will work great just the texture might be a tad different which is not a big deal.

You can use any canned tomato product like tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes or strained.

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.

olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog. I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

What You Will Find Here

Healthy family recipes with simple ingredients. Many are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I share mostly dinner recipes because it just never ends... I’m obsessed with healthy freezer meals. And more than in love with my Instant Pot.

A Little More About Me

Originally from Ukraine, I now reside on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada with my family. I started this blog in 2012 when I ended up at home with 2 small kids unemployed and a wee bit chubby.

7 comments on “Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

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  1. This was very good! I used brown lentils, since that’s all I could find. And I threw a spaghetti squash in with it to cook. The squash was a bit crunchy, but after letting the “noodles” sit in the bolognese sauce, they softened up nicely!

        1. Oh, cool. I think if you cut it in half next time, it will cook completely. Also depend on a size of squash obviously haha. Great idea! I have 8 quart too and can’t imagine a smaller one.

  2. 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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