Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce Recipe – Slow Cooker Times Included

This Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce is comfort food at its savoriest. Is that thing? It’s thick and delicious and it only takes 20 minutes to cook. Once you try it over your favorite pasta, I can almost guarantee you’ll never go back to jar spaghetti or marinara sauce again. I know I haven’t.

This Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce is thick and delicious and it only takes 20 minutes to cook.


According to Olivia’s Cuisine, Bolognese is a kind of ragù (the Italian word for meat sauce), original from Bologna, Italy. She says it’s a thick, creamy sauce that usually contains milk.

Today’s Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce recipe is milk-free so I’m not claiming this to be an authentic Italian recipe. However, when compared to jar sauces, you might think you’ve slipped away on an Italian getaway. 😉

There are no additives or chemicals in this amazing pasta sauce and even though the recipe calls for a little sugar to help cut the acidity of the tomatoes, you control the amount. I generally like a little zip to my sauce, so I often leave it out altogether.


Since Bolognese Sauce is ALL about the meat with a little tomato included, you’re gonna need meat. Duh! Use ground beef or sweet Italian sausage or a combination of both.

The rest of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry! How great is that?

This delicious Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce is so good, you'll never buy jarred sauce again. I've included a slow cooker option as well.


  • 1 pound ground beef or Italian sausage
  • 3 Tablespoons minced onion flakes
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon *fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

*All the seasonings are important but in my opinion, the fennel seed is what makes this taste so authentic. If you don’t think you like fennel seed, try half the amount to start.

Instant Pot Goodness

The beauty of an Instant Pot is that it’s a one-pot wonder. I use this Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Sterilizer, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Saute, Yogurt Maker, and Warmer.

Saute’ the meat, add the other ingredients, mix it up, and select how you want to cook it, and set the time. The sauce cooks in twenty minutes if you choose to pressure cook it.

Try this delicious Instant Pot Vegetable Soup for more comfort food goodness.


ONE: Turn Instant Pot to SAUTE’ setting and add ground beef or sausage when the pot is hot.

Brown the meat and break it up as it cooks. I like to use one of these Chop-Stir thingys to get a fine crumble. But a wooden spoon works too.

TWO: Add in other ingredients and stir to combine.

THREE: Place lid on your Instant Pot, move the valve to the SEALING position and press the MANUAL button. Set the timer for 20 minutes and wait for the magic to happen.

It will take a few minutes to come to pressure, then it will start the countdown.

Most bolognese recipes simmer all day, but the Instant Pot will give you that all-day simmered flavor and texture in just 20 minutes. (See slow cooker times below.)

Step 4: When the cooking time is done, do a QUICK RELEASE by moving the valve on top to VENT. (Use a towel or oven mitt to be sure not to burn yourself!)

Once all the pressure has released and the pin has dropped, remove the lid and stir the sauce.


Use the Instant Pot as a slow cooker or use your own Crock Pot. (I need a new slow cooker and I think this one looks like a great option.) Follow steps ONE and TWO above.

Then for step THREE: put the lid on but keep the vent UNSEALED. Select SLOW COOKER and set the time for 4-6 hours. (If using a traditional slow cooker, cook 8 hours on “low”.)

This delicious Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce is so good, you'll never buy jarred sauce again. I've included a slow cooker option as well.


That’s it! Simply enjoy this Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce with your favorite pasta or pasta substitute and a great salad.

We usually eat it with traditional spaghetti with the sauce on top for the first night. But then we mix it all together for leftovers, which is Mr. Dimples’ favorite way to enjoy it.

This sauce freezes well too.


Instant Pot Bolognese Recipe w/ Slow Cooker Option

If you're like me, you'll never buy jar spaghetti sauce once you taste this easy slow cooker bolognese sauce.


  • Slow Cooker or Electric Pressure Cooker


  • 1 pound Italian Sausage or Ground Beef
  • 3 tbsp Minced Onion Flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or 2½ tbsp minced garlic from a jar
  • 1 28 oz. Canned Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz. Canned Tomato Paste
  • ½-1 cup Water for thicker sauce, use l1ess
  • 1 tbsp Dried Oregana I like this brand
  • 1 tbsp Dried Basil I use this brand
  • 1 tsp Fennel Seed
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Pepper
  • 2 tbsp *Sugar (OPTIONAL) omit or use a lessor amount to taste,


  • Set the Instant Pot to SAUTE' and cook Italian sausage or ground beef in a skillet until browned (or use a skillet if using a traditional slow cooker). (If using a traditional slow cooker, transfer to a 5 qt. slow cooker.)
  • Stir in all remaining ingredients, mix well.
    TRADITIONAL SLOW COOKER or INSTANT POT set to Slow Cooker: 6-8 hours on low
    INSTANT POT: Set to SEAL. Then select MANUAL and use the "+/-" to set for 20 minutes. When timer goes off, manually release the SEAL, being cautious NOT to burn yourself on the steam.
  • ENJOY over pasta of your choice.


  • I prefer a less sweet sauce so I omit the sugar altogether. But if you need to cut the acidity, adjust the sugar to your taste preference.



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  1. Jessica Mullins

    Zach would love this…a meat sauce. Thanks for sharing!

    • Paula

      Do I sense a Valentines dinner made for your Love? 😘

  2. Yum!!!!! I love a good sauce, but I’ve never liked fennel so would probably leave that out, which is also why I typically don’t like Italian sausage (and I’m 1/2 Italian)…lol.

    • Paula

      It should still be delish without fennel!

  3. Diane Kurek

    I just printed the Recipe! I’m excited to try it!

  4. Tina

    This looks 5 star to me! I’m definitely making it soon!
    And you are brave eating that with a white shirt on ha!

    • Paula

      🤣😂🤣I wouldn’t venture it in a NEW white shirt. 😉


  5. /

    That looks great! I wonder if it would be good with gluten free noodles? I am sure it would! Thank you for the share. I will have to try this recipe!

    • Paula

      Thanks Cara! I think it would be great with any pasta (as long as it’s one you like to start with) or even zoodles or spaghetti squash. I hope you love it as much as we do.


  6. Rebekah D

    Today I discovered your blog. It is quite helpful on a variety of issues. Question, I’ve always rinsed the cooked meat , because Mom cooked it that way. Rinsing is supposed to make it less oily and less of a digestive issue. Why do you not rinse the meat? Am I missing something.

    • Paula

      Hi Rebekah, and welcome!

      I have rinsed the meat in certain applications, especially in the era of “low fat” dieting. However, I generally buy leaner ground beef and it doesn’t render a lot of fat; not enough that we’ve noticed digestion issues, plus we keep more of that rich flavor. You could certainly rinse it if that’s your preference.


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