a hand with a fork twirling a bite of spaghetti on a plate

Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce

By Rachel Tiemeyer
January 6, 2021

With only 6 main ingredients, this Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce couldn’t be easier or tastier! Serve over pasta, zoodles, or spaghetti squash for a delicious and healthy dinner. Freezing instructions included.

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Instant Pot Meat Sauce = No Whining at Dinner

You know those meals you make for your family where everyone is content? (I know, I had to sit and think for a minute, too.) It’s not easy cooking for 5 different people with different palettes. But, I can safely say, this meaty marinara sauce makes the “winner dinner” cut for us!

a hand with a fork twirling a bite of spaghetti on a plate

Here’s why I make this recipe at least once a month:

  • Hearty, delicious, and versatile!
  • A well-rounded and healthy dinner. Serve over whole grain pasta, zoodles, spaghetti squash, or even quinoa. Sometimes I toss in some chopped spinach, too, and no one even knows!
  • Requires only 6 main ingredients, including a short-cut from the store (jarred marinara sauce).
  • Freezer-friendly! Just double and freeze the second batch for another meal. (See our freezing instructions below.)
  • Gluten-free and dairy-free.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a simple-tasting sauce just because the ingredients are simple. Check out the heavy-hitting line-up of complex flavors…

ingredients for meat sauce for pasta on a cutting board

Yellow Onion – You’ll start building big flavor right off the bat by sauteing diced onion in the Instant pot. The high heat brings out the sugars in the onion.

Fresh Garlic – What pasta sauce can go without garlic? Add this in at the end of sauteing the onion for a little pungent kick.

Lean Ground Beef – I use grass-fed, organic lean ground beef, but you can easily sub ground turkey or ground chicken. Here’s where Polly and I both get our grass-fed beef.

Ground Italian Sausage – Oh man, sausage takes this sauce to a whole new level! You can use mild or spicy Italian pork sausage, but make sure it’s ground (not pre-cooked in a link). You can also substitute ground turkey or chicken sausage here. I get my Italian sausage from ButcherBox, because it’s hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and has no icky additives.

Red Pepper Flakes – This is a favorite pantry seasoning for me. It easily adds a little heat to sauces, soups, and dry rubs. Feel free to add more than the recipe calls for if you like your food spicy. (I’m looking at you, Mom and Dad.)

Marinara Sauce – Woo hoo for store-bought short cuts! This is one you can feel good about if you select a sauce that’s organic or all-natural. Be sure to read the ingredients and try to avoid “natural flavors”, a lot of added sugar, and other weird ingredients you’re not familiar with. I personally love Newman’s Own Marinara Sauce. Or, try making your own with our Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce recipe. It’s cheap, budget-friendly, freezable, and amazing!

We’ll talk more about what ingredients you’ll need to serve the sauce a little later.

How to Make Spaghetti Sauce in the Instant Pot

Watch this 1 minute video to see how easy it is to make meat sauce in your electric pressure cooker…

How Long Do I Cook Spaghetti Sauce in the Instant Pot?

Once you’ve sautéed your veggies and meat, which takes about 15 minutes total, you’ll pressure cook the sauce for 5 minutes. Then, use a quick release of the pressure.

spaghetti sauce being ladled out of the Instant Pot

Did you know we’ve published an Instant Pot cookbook called From Freezer to Cooker? During our two years of research and testing, we learned EXACTLY how long to cook meals in the Instant Pot both from fresh OR from frozen. Be sure to download and print off our Cheat Sheet here.

How to Make This Recipe Into a Freezer Meal

When you combine the magical powers of the Instant Pot AND freezer cooking, you practically set yourself up for hands-free cooking. That’s because you can dump your frozen meal directly in the Instant Pot and cook it from frozen! Here’s how…

meaty marinara sauce in a freezer bag in the Instant Pot

Freeze for Later: Follow steps 1 and 2. Pour the meat sauce into a gallon-size freezer bag or round container. Seal and freeze (if using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen; see page 20).

Prepare From Frozen: Note: You will need to have cooked whole-grain pasta, zoodles, etc and (optional) Parmesan on hand to complete this meal. Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Transfer the frozen sauce to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Follow step 3, but cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Follow step 4.

Fully Cook and Freeze It” Option: Another option is that you can fully cook and cool the sauce and then freeze it. When you’re ready to use it, throw it in the Instant Pot from frozen, saute the frozen block of sauce for 5 minutes to release some liquid, and then pressure cook for 3 minutes, or until warmed through.

Can I Cook Spaghetti in the Instant Pot with the Sauce?

Yes, you can cook spaghetti in the Instant Pot with your sauce!

  1. After you saute the onions, garlic, and meat (Step 1), add 1 cup of water and scrape the bottom of the pot. This will help prevent the burn signal later.
  2. Then, break one package (16 ounces) of spaghetti noodles in half. Layer them in the pot in a few crisscrossing layers over the meat and veggies.
  3. Cover the noodles with 2 more cups of water and all the marinara sauce. Do not stir!
  4. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes. When the cook time is up, quick release the pressure and stir the pasta and sauce together. Serve with Parmesan cheese on top, if desired.

How to Serve Instant Pot Pasta Sauce

This sauce works to serve over any pasta, zoodles, spaghetti squash, or even quinoa. It’s super versatile like that! Here are a few ideas of side dishes to serve along with your main dish:

Strawberry Avocado Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

Oven Roasted Broccoli

Garlic Bread (Done Right!)

Cheesy Pesto Bread

Bottom Line

Whether you want a healthy, kid-friendly dinner or a freezer meal on hand for later, we think you’ll love the simplicity of this Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce!

Whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce and parsley on top
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a hand with a fork twirling a bite of spaghetti on a plate

Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 8
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 13 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

With a few simple ingredients, this hearty Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce couldn’t be easier or tastier! Serve over pasta, zoodles, or spaghetti squash for a delicious and healthy dinner. Freezing instructions included.


Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1⁄2 pound mild ground Italian sausage or Italian turkey sausage
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 (24-ounce) jars marinara sauce (or make your own)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Set the 6-quart Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Pour the oil into the pot and heat until shimmery. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes, until softened, stirring in the garlic during the last 30 to 60 seconds of cooking. Add the ground beef and sausage and cook, breaking up the meat as it cooks, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes, seasoning lightly with the red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper while it cooks. Using pot holders, carefully lift the inner pot and drain off the grease.
  2. Add a 1/2 cup of water and scrape the bottom with a spatula to help prevent the burn signal. Add the marinara sauce to the meat mixture and stir to combine. Press “Cancel.” (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 5 minutes, then quick release the pressure.
  4. Serve the sauce over whole-grain pasta, zoodles, spaghetti squash, or quinoa, topped with Parmesan, if desired.

Freeze For Later:

Follow steps 1 and 2. Pour the meat sauce into a gallon-size freezer bag or round container. Seal and freeze (if using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen; see page 20).

Prepare From Frozen:

Note: You will need to have cooked whole-grain pasta, zoodles, etc and (optional) Parmesan on hand to complete this meal. Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Transfer the frozen sauce to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Follow step 3, but cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Follow step 4.


Notes

To Make With Spaghetti Noodles in the Sauce: Complete Step 1. Add 1 cup of water and scrape the bottom of the pot. (This will help prevent the burn signal later.) Then, break one package (16 ounces) of spaghetti noodles in half. Layer them in the pot in a few crisscrossing layers over the meat and veggies. Cover the noodles with 2 more cups of water and all the marinara sauce. Do not stir! Follow Steps 3 and 4.

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