by Olena

Instant Pot Bolognese

by Olena

5 from 4 reviews

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.

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.

I do love the slow simmer process when I have time. Otherwise, pressure cooker is perfect to make this large batch of meat sauce in 40 minutes and even freeze for later.

Kids love this kind of food!

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.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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

5 from 4 reviews

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.

  • Author: Olena of
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 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)


  1. On Instant Pot, press Sauté and preheat until display says Hot.
  2. Add ground meat and cook for 10 minutes, breaking into small pieces with spatula and stirring often.
  3. 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.
  4. Close the lid, turn valve to Sealing and press Pressure Cook on High or Manual for 15 minutes.
  5. After, turn valve to Venting (Quick Release) and release the pressure.
  6. Sauce might appear watery. Give it a few stirs and it will be awesome.
  7. 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.

 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.

10 comments on “Instant Pot Bolognese

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  1. 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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