Make a rich and luscious homemade Instant Pot bolognese sauce that even Italian grandmothers would envy!
Thanks to the Instant Pot, instead of all day stirring, it’s ready in about 30 minutes, including prep!
What is Bolognese?
- Bolognese is a hearty red meat sauce (the Italians call it ‘gravy’) that’s full-bodied and robust with tomato flavor which comes from the ‘low and slow’ method of cooking. It’s best served with heavy pasta like spaghetti, bucatini, penne, or rotini that the sauce can cling to.
- Here, we get all the flavor of a Bolognese in far less time using the Instant Pot. No extended cooking on the stovetop but the same wonderful aroma!
- Prep and use all week with pasta in lieu of meatballs, sloppy joes, in omelets, as a topping on baked potatoes, or to dip thick slices of bread.
- This is an easy recipe to double or triple and portion in zippered bags for freezing!
Ingredients for Instant Pot Bolognese
MEAT: Ground beef and Italian sausage are the perfect blend of proteins for flavor and fat. Ground turkey can be used instead of beef, but keep the sausage in the recipe for the incredible flavor it adds. Or go meatless entirely and use cooked lentils or black beans.
VEGETABLES: The secret to the depth of flavor in this recipe is the sauteed veggies deglazed with the red wine so don’t leave them out. Feel free to add extra whole veggies like sliced mushrooms, diced zucchini, bell peppers, black olives, or spinach to add some extra texture.
SEASONINGS: Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and a bay leaf are best for infusing Bolognese with that hearty depth of flavor. If fresh herbs aren’t available, use one-third of the amount of dried herbs or spices. Even a splash of cayenne pepper or sriracha will zest it up a bit!
How to Make Instant Pot Bolognese
- Pulse the vegetables with garlic in a food processor until finely minced
- Saute the meat until browned. Remove the meat, but leave behind the liquid.
- Add olive oil to the Instant pot and saute the minced vegetables until browned. Stir in tomato paste and deglaze the pot with red wine (as per the recipe below).
- Add the meat back to the Instant pot with the herbs, seal the lid, and cook. Allow venting.
- Set Instant pot to saute and stir in the cream and cook until thickened. Remove bay leaf before serving.
Keep leftover Bolognese sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat on the stovetop and refresh the flavor with a little salt and pepper. Freeze portions in zippered bags for up to 3 months. Or freeze the sauce in ice cube trays and pop one or two out to add flavor to soups and stews.
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Instant Pot Bolognese
- 1 small onion quartered
- 2 large carrots cut into chunks
- 2 stalks celery cut into chunks
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ pound ground beef
- ½ pound Italian sausage
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 leaf large bay leaf
- 1 piece parmesan rind optional
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Add quartered onion, carrot pieces, celery, and garlic to a food processor. Pulse until the vegetables are minced.
- Heat the Instant Pot with the saute function on normal. Add ground beef & sausage. Brown the meat stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes. Remove meat with a slotted spoon, leaving the liquid in the pot.
- Add the olive oil and minced vegetables, then brown the vegetables on the saute function for about 10 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
- Deglaze the Instant Pot with wine, scraping up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
- Tie the rosemary and thyme into a bunch with kitchen twine. When the wine has reduced slightly, add the water, herbs, bay leaf, and parmesan rind, if using.
- Attach the Instant Pot lid with the valve in the seal position. Set it for 25 minutes. When timer rings, switch the valve to the “venting” position to manually vent. (Be careful to stand well back from the steam!)
- Turn the Instant Pot back to the "saute- normal" function. Stir in the heavy cream and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often until the sauce has thickened and the cream has cooked into the sauce.
- Serve with pasta or polenta with extra parmesan shaved on top.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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