Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

Pappardelle with Bolognese sauce.
Diana Rattray
  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Pressure Build/Release: 14 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings

Bolognese sauce is a hearty Italian sauce chock full of meat and vegetables. The sauce frequently includes wine, as well as milk or cream. An Italian Bolognese— or Ragù alla bolognese— is traditionally used to dress wide pasta, such as tagliatelle, fettuccine, and pappardelle, and it is an excellent sauce to use in a meaty lasagna.

This Instant Pot version of Italian-style Bolognese sauce contains ground beef, red or white wine, and some cream, which is added just before the sauce is ready to serve. The sauce takes just 30 minutes to cook in the electric pressure cooker, yet it tastes as if it simmered for hours on the stove. Serve this sauce with the more traditional wide pasta or serve it with spaghetti.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups onion (diced)
  • 1/2 cup carrot (diced)
  • 1/2 cup celery (diced)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (or white)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons parsley (Italian flat leaf, plus more for garnish)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese (grated, for serving, about 1/3 cup)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Instant Pot Bolognese sauce.
    Diana Rattray
  2. Select the Instant Pot sauté button. When the display reads "hot," add the oil and chopped vegetables. Cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes, or until the onion is softened.

    Saute the vegetables in the Instant Pot.
    Diana Rattray
  3. Add the ground beef, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the meat is no longer pink. Drain and discard excess fat, if desired.

    Brown the ground beef in the Instant Pot.
    Diana Rattray
  4. Add the wine and chicken stock and stir, scraping up any browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pot.

    Making Instant Pot Bolognese sauce.
    Diana Rattray
  5. Add the bay leaves and crushed tomatoes to the Instant Pot.

    Instant Pot Bolognese sauce with ground beef.
    Diana Rattray
  6. Secure the lid on the pot and ensure the valve is in the sealing position. Choose the pressure cook or manual setting (high pressure), and set the time for 20 minutes. When the time is up, carefully release the pressure following the manufacturer's instructions for a quick release.

  7. Stir the tomato paste into the sauce and switch to the sauté function. Simmer the sauce for about 5 to 6 minutes, or until thickened.

    Instant Pot Bolognese sauce.
    Diana Rattray
  8. Add the parsley and cream to the sauce and heat through.

    Add cream to the Bolognese sauce.
    Diana Rattray
  9. Toss the sauce with about 1 pound of hot, cooked and drained pasta. Transfer the pasta and Bolognese sauce to a serving bowl.

    Closeup of Instant Pot Bolognese sauce with pappardelle pasta.
    Diana Rattray
  10. Serve the pasta and sauce with fresh shredded or grated Parmesan cheese and extra chopped parsley, if desired.

    Ragu alla Bolognese with pappardelle pasta.
    Diana Rattray

    Tips

    • Thick sauces can be a problem when they don't contain enough liquid to create the steam required to build pressure. Food or bits of food stuck to the bottom of the pan after sautéeing can also cause the burn notice. When you add the stock and wine, make sure you scrape up any food that is stuck onto the bottom of the pan. If you do happen to get a burn notice, scrape the bottom and add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of liquid to the pot before you proceed.

    Recipe Variations

    • Replace about 1/2 pound of the beef with ground pork or use equal amounts of beef, veal, and pork.
    • Saute a few ounces of finely diced pancetta or bacon along with the vegetables.