Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce (Step-By-Step Recipe) (2024)

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Learn how to make a delicious Instant Pot Bolognese sauce with our beginner-friendly, step-by-step recipe. Making a Bolognese sauce in the Instant Pot pressure cooker not only saves time but it also locks in all those gorgeous, hearty flavours and nutrients. Enjoy over favorite pasta or zucchini noodles! We've included modifications for gluten-free, Whole30/Paleo versions.

Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce (Step-By-Step Recipe) (1)

In This Post:

  • ℹ️ Overview
  • 🛒 What You Need
  • 📝 Go To Full Recipe
  • 📷 How To Make It Step-By-Step
  • 🫙Storage Tips
  • 🌮Using Up Leftovers

For more delicious meat recipes, check out our Incredible Italian Beef Ragu, Instant Pot Beef Cheeks (Served 4 Ways), , and Instant Pot Ground Beef Stroganoff.

Instant Pot Bolognese

In our humble opinion, if you're going to master only a handful of pressure cooker recipes, one of them should definitely be a good, hearty Instant Pot Bolognese sauce. Served over good quality pasta, rice or zucchini noodles, this nourishing beef ragu sauce is always a crowd-pleaser. The best part - it's super versatile and can be turned into many other dishes, such as Shepherd's Pie or spicy beef chilli.

The secret to a good Bolognese sauce is good quality meat, organic tomatoes (they are sweeter!) and slow cooking. The longer you can cook the sauce the better; however, not everyone has the time. Right? That's when your trusted Instant Pot comes into play.

Instant Pot Bolognese sauce takes half the time, yet the result is as good as if you've been cooking it all afternoon. Plus, you seal in all those nutrients and flavours. In today's beginner-friendly recipe, we show you how to make pressure cooker Bolognese sauce using the Instant Pot. It's super easy and you will love the flavors of our version.

PS. The more authentic Italian Bolognese uses fewer tomatoes but we like it nice and saucy this way. This recipe is gluten-free, Whole30 and paleo-friendly.

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What You Need For Instant Pot Bolognese

  • Ground beef
  • Bacon or pancetta
  • Tomato sauce
  • Veggies: onion, celery, carrots, and garlic.
  • For flavor: tomato paste, dried thyme, salt and pepper, bay leaf.
  • Stock: chicken or beef stock
  • For extra flavor (optional, not in the main ingredients): 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, cinnamon, a tablespoon of soy sauce, a teaspoon of fish sauce, ½ teaspoon of chili powder; throw these in at the same time as other spices:
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This Bolognese sauce recipe is part of our Instant Pot for beginner series.If you’re new to the Instant Pot, make sure to check out these posts as well:

  • How Does An Instant Pot Work? Cooking Stages + Key Features Explained
  • How To Use The Instant Pot For Beginners
  • How To Cook Rice In Instant Pot
  • Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes (Instant Pot Step-By-Step Recipe)
  • The First 10 Meals You Should Make In Your Instant Pot

Full Recipe

Find the full list of ingredients, instructions, and a nutritional breakdown below. If you have questions or cook this recipe, please let us know in the comments, and make sure torate this recipeso it’s easy for others to find.

Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce Recipe

Use our beginner-friendly, easy recipe to make this delicious Instant Pot Bolognese sauce to save time and lock in all those gorgeous, hearty flavours and nutrients. Enjoy pasta or zucchini noodles! Please note, we have updated the earlier recipe to simplify it. See Notes below for optional add-ons from the previous recipe if you loved that more complex-flavour version.

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Prep Time20 minutes mins

Cook Time35 minutes mins

Total Time55 minutes mins

Servings: 7

Calories: 444kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion medium, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, large carrot or 2 small, diced into small cubes
  • 2 celery ribs diced into small cubes
  • 3 oz. bacon about 90 g, diced into small cubes
  • 2.5 lbs. ground beef we used grass-fed, about 1.1-1.2kg
  • 4 cloves garlic diced finely
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg powder optional
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme or basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup dry white wine you could use red too
  • 1 cup chicken stock or beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 14 oz. tomato sauce 1 can or jar of tomato sauce or puree, also known as passata, about 400 g (we love this brand)

To finish:

  • 2 tablespoons flour all-purpose or gluten-free flour, tapioca/arrowroot for Whole30 or paleo
  • ¼ cup milk optional, to mellow out the acidity from tomatoes

To serve

  • Fresh parsley or basil
  • Cooked spaghetti pasta or zucchini noodles
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Prep. Dice onions, carrots, celery, bacon and garlic. Set garlic aside.

  • Sauté stage. Turn the Instant Pot on and press the Sauté function key (it will show Normal, 30 minutes). Once hot, add olive oil, onions, celery, carrots and bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times. In the meantime, prepare the rest of the ingredients.

  • After 3-4 minutes, add the beef, garlic, salt, pepper and spices/herbs and stir through breaking the meat apart with a spatula. Add ½ cup of white wine and stir into the beef, allow it to bubble for 30 seconds or so. Follow with the stock and press Cancel to stop the Sauté process. Mix the beef and stock through really well, keep breaking the meat apart if it's in large clumps. Use the spatula to scrape anything that might have stuck to the bottom.

  • Now, pour the tomato puree/sauce over the top and spread it evenly, don't stir through all the way. This will prevent any possible BURN error as tomato sauce can get caramelized on the bottom.

  • Set & cook. Secure the lid on top and turn to lock in place. If using earlier models, check that the steam releasing handle is pointing to Sealing. Press Manual/Pressure Cook button and use the + / - keys to adjust the time to 15 minutes. It should say HIGH pressure. If not, change to HIGH using the Pressure Level button. After a couple of seconds, the screen will show ON and the pot will start to heat up and build the pressure.

  • The Instant Pot will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure. The more liquid/ingredients you have in the pot, the longer it usually takes. Once the pressure is built up, the float valve will come to the UP position.Now, the 15-minute timer will show on the screen. Note that the cooking actually begins during the pressurizing stage.

  • Once the timer is done, the Instant Pot will change to a natural pressure release stage. Allow about 10 minutes to rest and then use the quick release to manually let off the remaining pressure (press the Quick Release button on the top). If Keep Warm is selected, you will see a new timer on the screen to let you know how many minutes the pressure cooker has been staying warm (you can use it as your timer for natural release).

  • Thicken the sauce. Open the lid and stir the sauce. At first, it may seem like it's got too much liquid but we're not done just yet. Press the Sauté button again. Allow the sauce to come to a simmering bubble and cook it for 5-7 minutes, stirring a few times. This will allow some of that liquid to evaporate.

  • In the meantime, mix 2 tablespoons of flour and 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl into a smooth slurry. Pour this liquid into the sauce and stir immediately. Press Cancel to stop the Sauté function. The sauce will now look more thickened and glossy. Taste for seasoning.

  • Optional: Many authentic Italian recipes call for a few splashes of milk at the end of cooking. Milk mellows out the acidity of tomatoes. Stir in ¼ cup right at the end if you wish.

  • The sauce can be served right away or stored in the fridge or freezer. Make sure to cool it down completely before storing. Serve with your favorite pasta (spaghetti is more traditional) or gluten-free alternatives. Zucchini noodles are great for Whole30, Keto, Paleo version.

Notes

Pressurizing time: 10 minutes | Cooking under pressure: 15 minutes (on HIGH) | Release: 10 minutes natural release + quick Release | Saute Time: 10 minutes | Total cooking time: 45 minutes

MEAT. We used grass-fed ground beef, but you can use half beef and half pork; also, ground lamb or chicken meat will work. Grass-fed meat is optional but it's more nutritious and really does taste so much better.

TOMATO SAUCE.Good, ideally organic tomatoes is another key to an amazing Bolognese. They tend to be sweeter and definitely better for you. We used tomato sauce (pureed tomato passata sauce) but you can also use chopped tinned tomatoes (we love this brand).

ADD-ONS FROM THE EARLIER RECIPE. For a bolder, more in-depth flavor, you can add any or all of the following: 1 teaspoon paprika powder, ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 2 tablespoons Tamari gluten-free soy sauce, 1 teaspoon fish sauce (don’t worry, you can’t taste it), 1-2 bay leaves and chili flakes or powder to spice it up. In this recipe, we have also added bacon which is optional.

Nutrition

Calories: 444kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 106mg | Sodium: 1183mg | Potassium: 867mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1786IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 5mg

CourseMain

CuisineItalian

KeywordBolognese, Bolognese Sauce, Gluten-Free, Ground Beef, Instant Pot, Italian, Paleo, Pressure Cooking, Spaghetti, Tomato Sauce, Whole30

Made this recipe?Mention @instantpoteats or tag #instantpoteats!

How To Make Bolognese Sauce In Instant Pot

Here are step-by-step instructions for making Bolognese sauce in the Instant Pot pressure cooker. We used Instant Pot Duo Nova 6-quart for this recipe. There are three stages to making this dish: the initial Sautéing, Pressure Cooking, final Sautéing & thickening of the sauce.

  • Step 1. Turn the Instant Pot on and press the Sauté function key. Once hot, add olive oil, onions, celery, carrots and bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times.
  • Step 2. Once the vegetables have softened up, add the beef, garlic, salt, pepper and spices/herbs and stir through breaking the meat apart with a spatula.
Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce (Step-By-Step Recipe) (5)
Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce (Step-By-Step Recipe) (6)
  • Step 3. Add the white wine and stir into the beef, allow it to bubble for 30 seconds or so. Follow with the stock and press Cancel to stop the Sauté process. Mix the beef and stock through really well, keep breaking the meat apart if it's in large clumps. Use the spatula to scrape anything that might have stuck to the bottom.
  • Step 4. Now, pour the tomato puree/sauce over the top and spread it evenly, no need to stir through all the way. This will prevent any possible BURN error as tomato sauce can get caramelized on the bottom.
  • Step 5. Secure the lid on top and turn to lock in place. If using earlier models, check that the steam releasing handle is pointing to Sealing. Press Manual/Pressure Cook button and use the + and - keys to adjust the time to 15 minutes. It should say HIGH pressure. If not, change to HIGH.
Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce (Step-By-Step Recipe) (7)
Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce (Step-By-Step Recipe) (8)

After a couple of seconds, the screen will show ON and the Instant Pot will start to heat up and build the pressure inside. You will see Heating & Pressure icons on top of the screen. The Instant Pot will now take about 10 minutes to come to pressure. The more liquid/ingredients you have in the pot, the longer it might take. Once the pressure is built up, the float valve will come to the UP position. Now, the 15-minute timer will show on the screen. Note that the cooking actually begins during the pressurizing stage.

Once the timer is done, the Instant Pot will change to a natural pressure release stage. Allow about 10 minutes to rest and use the quick release to manually let off the remaining pressure.

Tip: If Keep Warm is selected, you will see a new 00:00 timer on the screen letting you know how much time the pot has been resting at a warm temperature. You can use that timer for your natural release count.

Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce (Step-By-Step Recipe) (9)
  • Step 6.Open the lid and stir the sauce. At first, it may seem like it's got too much liquid but we're not done just yet. Now, press the Cancel button and change back to Saute function. Allow the sauce to come to a simmering bubble and cook it for 5-7 minutes, stirring a few times. This will allow some of that liquid to evaporate.
Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce (Step-By-Step Recipe) (10)
  • Step 7. In the meantime, mix 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl into a smooth slurry. Pour this liquid into the sauce and stir immediately. Press Cancel to stop the Saute function. The sauce will now look more thickened and glossy. Taste for seasoning.
Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce (Step-By-Step Recipe) (11)

Storage Tips

This recipe makes 6-8 servings because we like to make a big batch of the sauce to then use as leftovers and to turn into other dishes. The sauce can be served right away or stored in the fridge or freezer. Make sure to cool it down completely before storing it. Divide the sauce between Ziplock bags or containers and freeze the leftovers for up to 3 months.

How To Use Up Leftover Bolognese

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If you have leftover Bolognese sauce, there are quite a few ways to use it up. Obviously, you can reheat it for another spaghetti Bolognese meal.

  • Cold Bolognese is great in a Shepherd's or cottage pie.
  • You can re-fry the Bolognese sauce with added Tex-Mex spices and turn it into taco and burrito filling.
  • If you add some ginger, garlic and soy sauce, you can turn it into a more Asian-inspired dish and serve it with rice.
  • Pan-fry the sauce for 5-10 minutes to evaporate some of the liquid. Once it thickens, add some BBQ sauce and/or Worcestershire sauce and turn it into Sloppy Joes.

More Instant Pot Recipes You Might Like

  • Instant Pot Shredded Beef
  • Best Instant Pot Italian Recipes

SAVE THIS BOLOGNESE RECIPE TO PINTEREST

Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce (Step-By-Step Recipe) (13)
Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce (Step-By-Step Recipe) (2024)

FAQs

How do you make Bolognese sauce taste nicer? ›

You can cheat in more flavour by “seasoning” the tomatoes with a little sugar and lemon juice now too. During cooking, you can further improve your meat sauce by adding other flavourings to boost complexity; a splash of worcestershire or even some soy which are both especially good with beef mince.

How to make Bolognese sauce Gordon Ramsay? ›

Spaghetti Bolognese Gordon Ramsay Style
  1. Meat. • 500 g Beef mince, lean.
  2. Canned goods. • 2 tbsp Tomato puree.
  3. Condiments. • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Pasta & grains. • 300 g Spaghetti, dried.
  5. Baking & spices. • 1 pinch Salt and black pepper.
  6. Oils & vinegars. • 1 tbsp Olive oil.
  7. Dairy. • 4 tbsp Whole milk.
  8. Beer, wine & spirits.

What is Bolognese sauce made of? ›

Bolognese sauce is a classic Italian sauce for pasta made with ground meat such as beef or pork. It's slow cooked with a soffritto of onions, carrots, and celery, tomatoes, and milk to give it a creamy texture. Pronounced "bow-luh-nez," the sauce comes from the Bologna region of Italy, hence the name.

Why does my bolognese taste bland? ›

Your spaghetti sauce may taste bland due to insufficient seasoning. Try adding more salt, herbs (like basil, oregano, or thyme), and other flavor enhancers like garlic, onion, or red pepper flakes. Also, a dash of sugar can balance flavors and bring out the natural sweetness of tomatoes.

What makes bolognese taste like bolognese? ›

As far as its taste, it will have a meaty heartiness from the browned meats, a sweet tang from the rich tomatoes, as well as an herbal kick from the various Italian spices used. If you've ever enjoyed a pasta dish with meat and tomato-based sauce, it was likely a variation of a bolognese recipe.

Do Italians put sugar in Bolognese sauce? ›

Usually no. But putting (a very small bit) of sugar or even a tiny pinch of baking soda in the tomato sauce can help if it is too acidic, but this is only done if the person cooking it is really in a rush.

Why do you put sugar in Bolognese sauce? ›

The reason for sprinkling a pinch of sugar into a simmering saucepan of tomatoes is simple: sugar cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and creates an overall more balanced sauce. The exact acid levels in tomatoes can vary quite a bit depending on whether they're fresh or canned, the tomato variety, and the time of year.

How is Italian bolognese made? ›

Add Ground beef and ground Pork, and cook until meat loses red, raw color. Raise heat and add wine and consomme. Cook sauce until wine and consomme are mostly evaporated. Turn heat down to simmer and add oregano, salt, pepper, sage, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg.

What thickens Bolognese sauce? ›

Cornstarch: Make a slurry of half water, half cornstarch and whisk until smooth. Cornstarch is a powerful thickener, so start by whisking in no more than 1 tablespoon of the mixture per 2 cups of simmering sauce; stir and simmer for 2 minutes, check the thickness, and repeat with more slurry as needed.

What does adding milk to Bolognese sauce do? ›

According to our Food Director Amira, not only does milk add a rich flavour to the bolognese, but it also “helps cut through the acidity of the tomatoes and red wine”. She adds: “It also makes the mince meat nice and tender, creating that melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.”

Should you put butter in bolognese? ›

Put the oil, butter and chopped onion in the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the onion until it has become translucent, then add the chopped celery and carrot. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring vegetables to coat them well. Add ground beef, a large pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper.

How long should you simmer bolognese? ›

Let this sauce gently simmer and lightly bubble for at least two (2) hours, uncovered, stirring occasionally, tasting as you go because it already smells so good, you can't believe you have to wait that long, so may as well taste as you go.

What makes spaghetti bolognese taste better? ›

Just add seasoning and the flavour will be completely different from what you're used to. You can add various herbs, too. Try a teaspoon of dried Italian mixed herbs (added at the start) or a tablespoon of fresh, chopped oregano (added towards the end) in the meat sauce.

Should bolognese have tomatoes? ›

Hate to be the guy, but bolognese is not a tomato sauce but a meat ragu. Actually, if you make it authentic there should be no tomato in it at all. First you make a sofritto of carrots, onions and celery and fry it in a pan in some olive oil and some finely diced cured pancetta. Add beef.

Why add cream to bolognese sauce? ›

Bolognese sauce, also known as ragù alla bolognese, is a classic Italian meat-based sauce that is typically made with milk or cream to add richness and depth of flavor. However, it is possible to make a delicious Bolognese sauce without using milk or cream.

Does bolognese taste better if you cook it longer? ›

Like most recipes the longer you leave it to slowly cook the better the flavour will be but this can also be knocked up with in an hour.

How do you save a bland bolognese? ›

How to boost flavour in my bolognese?
  1. good quality mince (lamb or beef)
  2. onions/leeks & garlic.
  3. mushrooms.
  4. red peppers.
  5. carrots.
  6. a small amount of pasta.
  7. a small amount of stock (with a stock cube or homemade if I happen to have it)
  8. black pepper (not salt)
Sep 8, 2015

Why add milk or cream to bolognese sauce? ›

According to our Food Director Amira, not only does milk add a rich flavour to the bolognese, but it also “helps cut through the acidity of the tomatoes and red wine”. She adds: “It also makes the mince meat nice and tender, creating that melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness.”

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