This Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce is made using an easy bolognese sauce with ground beef, carrots and celery, and comes together in 30 minutes. It’s the BEST Instant pot pasta!
How long should you cook spaghetti in the Instant Pot?
Just like everything else, making pasta is much quicker in an Instant Pot.
Once the Instant Pot comes to high pressure, it only takes five minutes to cook this Instant Pot spaghetti dish. To help the pasta to cook evenly, make sure it’s completely covered with liquid before you start pressure cooking.
With a little adjustment of the time, other pasta shapes can be cooked in the Instant Pot as well. Fettuccine and linguine need six minutes to fully cook. Smaller pasta such as alphabets and orzo only take three to four minutes.
This spaghetti recipe is pretty versatile! You could substitute ground turkey, chicken, pork or lamb for the ground beef and this should still result in a pretty tasty meat sauce. If you’re going with a leaner protein such as turkey or chicken, I recommend adding one extra tablespoon of olive oil to ensure it doesn’t get stuck to the bottom of the pot. Other types of meat will have enough fat to ensure that sticking isn’t an issue.
You can also add extra veggies or leave out the ones you don’t care for. If you’d like to make a true bolognese sauce, you do need the celery, carrots and onions minced up with the beef, but if you don’t have one of those ingredients on hand you can always just leave them out.
As for adding extra veggies, mushrooms are a great addition and can be added with the meat and cooked under pressure. You can stir in baby spinach or arugula after the pasta is done cooking for an extra nutritional boost.
Can you use whole wheat pasta?
Yes you can! Just be aware that the cook time will change a little bit. In this case, you will want to cook the pasta for just four minutes, not five. This is because whole wheat pasta is slightly more delicate and will break apart easier if cooked for longer.
Which size Instant Pot?
This spaghetti recipe will work in a 6 quart or 8 quart Instant Pot. You may have to press down on the pasta a bit more to get it fully submerged in the liquid if using the larger sized Instant Pot, but other than that you should have no issues!
Browning the meat first
For this Instant Pot spaghetti with meat sauce, everything is cooked together. First, you’ll use the saute or browning feature to brown the ground beef and saute the veggies. After that, the liquid and pasta noodles are added. The meat will be fully cooked and still retain its texture, moisture, and flavor.
Ensuring noodles absorb liquid
Make sure to press down on the noodles slightly to ensure they are submerged under the liquid. Since we are using tomato sauce and beef broth, this should be easy enough as there will be more than enough liquid to ensure this is the case. See the picture below (far left image) of what your pot should look like before pressure cooking.
What type of tomato sauce?
I just use my fave store-bought sauce for this Instant Pot spaghetti. Make sure to use a high-quality sauce that you love. I used Classico’s Sweet Basil Marinara Sauce (no, this is not a sponsored plug for them, haha). You can use whatever type of spaghetti sauce that you’d like.
You can also buy a can of crushed tomatoes or a jar of strained tomatoes (make sure it’s 655mL) and then add some seasoning to it. In this case, you’ll want to add 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp Italian seasoning and 1 tsp salt to ensure it tastes similar to a jarred spaghetti sauce. That’s an easy hack using ingredients from your pantry at the last minute.
3 Tips for Perfect Instant Pot Spaghetti
- Do not stir the mixture once the pasta is added – this is especially important for any Instant Pot recipe as stirring everything can result in the burn message. It is ok to stir the meat before adding other ingredients, just not after you’ve added the tomato sauce, broth and noodles.
- Ensure the noodles are under the liquid completely – even though you shouldn’t stir, you do want to ensure that the beef broth in particular is completely covering the noodles.
- The noodles will be clumped at first after pressure cooking – you will need to stir for a good couple minutes then let sit another 3-5 minutes so the pasta can absorb the sauce completely.
How to Avoid Burning Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce
Instant Pots have a burn protection feature. The Instant Pot monitors the temperature of the food on the pot and if it reaches 284 degrees F., it will stop the cooking process and relay an error message on the control panel. This indicates that the something inside is drying out and possibly burning.
This happens pretty often with thick tomato-based dishes because it is difficult for the Instant Pot to come to pressure. In this recipe, we avoid the potential to burn the dish by thinning the sauce with beef broth.
If you ever get a burn message from your Instant Pot, don’t panic. Because of a built-in safety feature, the Instant Pot turns itself off before any damage can be done. If it does happen, follow these steps:
- Cancel the cooking and release the pressure quickly.
- After the pressure releases, remove the lid and look inside of the pot.
- Gently scrape to remove anything stuck to the bottom, then add more liquid to the dish.
- Allow the Instant Pot to cool before proceeding with the Instant Pot spaghetti.
Can you reheat spaghetti in an Instant Pot?
Surprisingly, spaghetti can be reheated in the Instant Pot, as well as cooked in it. This is a great tip for those who want to avoid using microwaves. It’s also perfect in small kitchens where you may not have space for other appliances.
To reheat Instant Pot spaghetti with meat sauce
- Before reheating thick dishes like this Instant Pot spaghetti, thin them a little bit first, using some water or broth.
- Place a trivet into the bottom of the Instant Pot, then add at least a cup of water to the pot.
- Add the leftovers to a heatproof dish, cover it with foil, and place it directly onto the trivet. Glass meal prep containers are perfect for dish-in-dish cooking.
- Set the Instant Pot to vent so that it won’t be able to build up pressure. Then manually set to the desired reheating time.
Reheating spaghetti in the microwave
If you do want to use a microwave to reheat your leftovers, let me tell you the best trick ever for reheating old pasta! Add 1-2 tbsp of water overtop of your pasta, stirring to coat. Cover pasta with a wet paper towel in a bowl, then reheat for 2 minutes, stirring halfway through and then stirring again afterward. Stir in a tiny pinch of salt if desired after it has done cooking, and BOOM you’ve got pasta like new!
Freezing Instant Pot Spaghetti
You can totally freeze this recipe – pastas tend to reheat really well as long as you follow the microwave instructions above. To freeze, add individual serving sizes to glass bowls with lids. Let the food come down to almost room temperature before freezing. This recipe can be frozen up to 3 months.
Defrost in the fridge overnight when ready to serve and reheat in the microwave for 2 minutes, or you can reheat from frozen (adding 1-2 tbsp of water overtop) for 6-7 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Can you make this spaghetti vegetarian?
This spaghetti recipe will work even without the meat! Leave out the meat, but saute the veggies ahead of time just as you would do with the beef. Continue on with the rest of the steps as usual. You will still have a really great pasta dish. Be sure to sub in vegetable broth for the beef broth if you require it to be totally vegetarian.
I like to add a little bit of fresh basil, chili flakes and grated parmesan cheese to the top of my spaghetti just to add extra flavour, but these are all totally optional. Make sure to use a block of parmesan and not the pre-shredded container.
Side dishes to serve
Here are some easy, delicious side dish ideas in case this pasta alone is not enough for you.
- Garlic bread
- Side salad
- Minestrone soup
- Caprese salad
Other Instant Pot pasta recipes
Here are some other faves from my site below:
Meal prep tools for this recipe
- Grab some glass meal prep bowls if you plan on turning this Instant Pot Spaghetti into your weekly lunches
- I get all my grass-fed ground beef from Butcher Box, conveniently delivered to me frozen
- Freeze this recipe in glass microwave-safe bowls up to 3 months
Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb extra-lean ground beef
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 (650mL) jar tomato sauce
- 2 cups beef broth
- 1 lb spaghetti, broken in half
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional, for garnish)
- Add olive oil to Instant Pot and select saute mode. Add ground beef, carrots, celery, onions and garlic, sauteeing for 4-5 minutes until meat is lightly browned. Add salt & pepper and tomato sauce, mixing well to combine. Add beef broth and spaghetti, pushing pasta under liquid as much as possible. Place lid on Instant Pot and make sure valve is set to seal.
- Press the pressure cook button and set to high, then cook for 5 minutes. Instant Pot will take about 10-15 minutes to come to pressure then pressure cook the 5 minutes.
- Do a quick release of the pressure on the Instant Pot by flicking the switch at the top with a spoon. Open the lid when pressure gauge has dropped and the lid opens easily.
- Mix pasta well and serve with fresh parmesan (optional). Enjoy!