This Instant Pot meat sauce is thick, hearty, and flavorful. Make this pasta sauce recipe tonight for a quick and easy family favorite meal.
Homemade meat sauce is such a classic staple in so many kitchens. You can use it in so many different recipes or simply pour it over a big bowl of pasta for instant comfort food.
A big drawback to traditional sauces is that they can take so much time to make on the stovetop. Sometimes you need to throw together a meal quickly or make enough for a large group of people.
Pressure cooking this sauce saves you hours of simmering on the stove without losing all the extra flavor. I love using the Instant Pot to cook things that take a long simmer like Instant Pot Low-carb Cranberry Sauce as it is so flavourful but quick. That’s what makes this Instant Pot meat sauce so easy!
All you need is about 15 minutes of prep, then set it and forget it. You’ll have a delicious sauce ready in under an hour.
- Meat: grass-fed ground beef and pancetta
- Veggies: white onion, carrots, celery, crushed tomatoes
- Liquids: beef stock, tomato paste, tomato sauce
- Seasoning: Italian seasoning, dried basil, bay leaves
- Pantry staples: olive oil, garlic, salt
How to make Instant Pot meat sauce
- Set your Instant Pot to Sauté on high. Add the olive oil and vegetables. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the pancetta.
- After a few minutes, you’ll add the ground beef. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat into smaller pieces, and when the beef is brown, use a strainer to drain off the grease.
- Next, add the garlic, tomato paste, and seasonings. Stir until well combined.
- Pour in the beef stock and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen up any browned bits. Then, gently stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and bay leaves. NOTE: To prevent the tomatoes from burning to the bottom of the Instant Pot, try not to stir too much.
- Want to save time on chopping? Throw the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery into a food processor to chop everything up into fine pieces.
- You should be able to find pancetta at any major grocery store. However, if you can’t find pancetta, you can substitute it with prosciutto, bacon, salted pork, or smoked sausage.
- I love using San Marzano tomatoes but it’s up to you which tomatoes you’d like to use.
- The sauce tastes even better the longer it sits. So, feel free to make this a day or two ahead of time!
- I would not recommend adding pasta into the Instant Pot with the meat sauce. The cook time is too long and the pasta will end up as mush.
- If you don’t have Italian seasoning, simply make a combination of dried oregano, basil, thyme, and parsley.
- Traditionally, bolognese-style meat sauce is served over Tagliatelle pasta but you can serve it over whatever pasta you have on hand. You can even serve them over zoodles if you’d like.
- If you’re a fan of parmesan, you can add a handful to the sauce. Parmesan cheese adds a nice tangy and creamy finish to this meat sauce if you stir it into the sauce at the end.
- If you are using tomato paste from a can, you can freeze the extra in tablespoon portions. I like using tomato pasta from a tub to make storing leftovers easier as it can be kept in the fridge for longer.
Frequently asked questions
Can I make this ahead and store it?
Meat sauce stores really well, so this recipe is perfect to make for meal prep. Cool everything to room temperature before transferring into airtight containers or freezer-safe bags.
It will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Just reheat when you’re ready to use. You can reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop. I prefer using the stovetop as it’s more even.
You can also store it in the freezer. Frozen, it will stay fresh for 4 to 6 months. For best quality, thaw in the refrigerator before reheating. My favourite way to freeze them is in freezer-safe bags, laid flat as it thaws more evenly and quicker.
What can I use leftover meat sauce for?
This sauce is so versatile and can be used in so many ways. Here are some ideas:
- Stuffed peppers or spaghetti squash
- Zucchini noodles
- Chili and soups
- Poured over sauteéd or roasted vegetables
Can I use different meat in the sauce?
Feel free to make the Instant Pot meat sauce with whatever meat your family enjoys the most.
You can try bacon or smoked ham in place of the pancetta, or omit altogether. Instead of ground beef, try bulk Italian sausage or ground turkey.
Can I use different herbs?
Feel free to use fresh herbs like fresh basil instead of dried herbs. You can even use both! Simply stir the fresh basil into the meat sauce after it’s been cooked.
More Instant Pot Recipes to Try:
- Instant Pot Vegetable Beef Soup
- Instant Pot Short Ribs Recipe
- Easy Instant Pot Chicken Stew
- Instant Pot Beef Stew Recipe (Whole30 & Paleo)
- Instant Pot Keto Chili Recipe
- Instant Pot Mediterranean Chicken Recipe
Instant Pot Meat Sauce Recipe
- 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup white onion - diced
- 1 cup carrot - diced
- ½ cup celery - diced
- ½ cup pancetta - diced
- 2 pounds grass-fed ground beef
- ½ tablespoon clove garlic — minced
- 1 ½ tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- black pepper to taste
- ½ cup beef stock
- 28 oz 1 can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups any tomato sauce you prefer
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
- Set a 6-qt Instant Pot® to the high saute setting. Add olive oil, onion, carrot and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions in the pot are translucent, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add pancetta and cook for 2 minutes or so. Add ground beef and cook it until it’s browned about 7-10 minutes. Don’t forget to use a wooden spoon to break the meat up into small pieces in the pot; drain excess fat.
- Stir in garlic, tomato paste, dried basil, Italian seasoning, salt and black pepper.
- Stir in beef stock, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and bay leaves.
- Put on the lid, lock it and check to see if the vent is at sealing. Then, select manual setting; adjust pressure to high, and set time for 20 minutes. Mine took about 15 minutes to reach pressure. After the 20 minutes is up, do a Quick Release, which means move the valve to venting to release the steam.
- Select low sauté setting and simmer the sauce uncovered for about 5 minutes. Don’t forget to stir often. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve immediately.
If you make this recipe, follow @primaverakitchen on Instagram, snap a photo and hashtag it #primaverakitchen. I'd love to see what you're making!