I totally fell into the Instant Pot craze of a couple years ago, believing wholeheartedly that the gadget would revolutionize the way I cooked and transform my kitchen. It really didn’t. Maybe I just didn’t try it enough or I’m not organized enough to plan my meals out — I tend to start planning dinner about an hour beforehand. But it never really found its place in my kitchen gadget rotation. With one very big exception — I LOVE, love, love, LOVE making my traditional bolognese sauce in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker.
What used to take 3-4 hours to make a traditional Sunday gravy now takes a short amount of prep time, maybe 25 minutes or so. Then the instant pot does its thing while I enjoy a glass of wine and maybe throw together a salad and boil a bit of pasta. Plus, I can make a huge batch, so I use the Sunday sauce for other things — to stuff bell peppers or zucchini, to make meatball subs for lunch later in the week, to make eggs in purgatory for a breakfast or brunch dish. My daughter loves eating a bowl of leftover sauce anytime as a meal on its own.
This is another great summer recipe because it won’t heat up your kitchen to cook! The Instant Pot keeps the heat self-contained so there’s no turning the oven on but you still get that all-day-on-the-stove flavor. I have two pressure cookers — the Instant Pot 8qt as well as the Breville Fast Slow Pro. I find them to be equally proficient at making this bolognese recipe and honestly, there’s very little difference.
1/2 white onion
1/2 cup celery diced
1/2 cup carrot sliced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
I am a very lazy chef (extremely so) and often just buy the prepared mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery diced mix) from the refrigerated case of my grocery deli section to save myself time and effort. I also often make this dish on Sundays after we’ve enjoyed a deli veggie tray on Saturday, so I know there will be leftover celery and carrots. No need for waste.
1 lb mild or spicy Italian ground pork sausage (whatever you prefer)
1 lb lean ground beef
Here you can substitute a vegan alternative like Beyond Beef, but I would still add a second element like diced portabello mushrooms. I have NOT attempted this recipe with these substitutions, I’m just letting you know what I would try if I was a vegetarian or vegan.
If you buy the link sausage as I did here, simply slice them open and discard the casings.
1 small can tomato paste
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 dry red wine (you can sub chicken or veggie stock if you don’t have wine or leave out for a thicker Sunday sauce)
Seasonings — salt and pepper, Italian seasoning blend if that’s all you have, otherwise I like dried basil, oregano, garlic and herb blend. I’m all for finding what works for you but obviously this is an Italian recipe so keep it to Italian herbs. I realize that’s vague but that’s what makes the recipe your own.
Creating the Bolognese Sauce
1. Set the Instant Pot
(Or pressure cooker, but I’ll be saying Instant Pot for my own sanity- please know I mean either interchangeably.)
Set it to Saute mode on High and add olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the mirepoix and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
2. Add the Meats
Then add both the meats or meat substitutes, using a flat edge spatula or wooden spoon to break them up into the smallest pieces you can, stirring often. Cook until meat is all browned, approximately 5-10 minutes.
3. Add the Seasonings
Add the tomato paste and stir until browned and fragrant, only about 1 minute. Add the red wine or stock and scrape the bottom of the pot to release all the yummy browned bits. Add the crushed tomatoes and seasonings and mix it up. Taste for seasoning and adjust until it’s to your liking.
4. Set to Pressure Cook Mode
Turn off saute mode and turn on pressure cook mode, I set mine to chili and stew mode but you can also choose manual on High for 20 minutes. Seal the lid and make sure the pressure nozzle is closed. This recipe should be quick release.
Once it’s done cooking and the pressure is released, I usually taste once more for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Otherwise you are good to go! This recipe is ideal with bucatini pasta as the holes in the pasta absorb the sauce best, but it can be served any way you like. I sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and sometimes a bit of fresh basil if it’s handy.
Share your favorite instant pot recipes with us below and let us know if you tried this easy and delicious instant pot bolognese recipe!
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