A dish is filled with pasta

Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce—So Good, Easy & Cheap, It’s Insane!

I love my Instant Pot—the greatest time-saving, magic-producing, easy-to-use kitchen appliance known to [wo]mankind. But I have to admit the idea of making Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce in a single pot, all at the same time sounded fabulous. But the process just did not sit well with me.

A dish is filled with pasta

I use it almost every day to make everything from eggs to pot roast, steel-cut oats, and (wait for it …) cheesecake! Yes, the BEST cheesecake ever! But haven’t we learned that pasta and pressure cooking do not play well together? Pasta will turn to mush, breaking down in ways that make it not particularly edible. No wonder I was suspicious!

Listen to the real experts

Rave reviews from cooks and food enthusiasts I respect highly kept haunting me. I had to give it a try if only to prove once and for all that pasta in a pressure cooker will turn out a mushy mess, lacking distinct flavor, texture, and visual appeal. Boy was I wrong!

This spaghetti method with meat sauce will knock your socks off! What’s so great is that the pasta turns out perfectly, but more than that it comes out infused with the flavors from the meat sauce. And it hugs each strand of spaghetti, clinging to it the way it’s supposed to! I find this so much better than preparing the pasta in a separate pot, then pouring the meat sauce over the top to serve.

I’ve been making this once a week for a couple of months—first for dinner and then reheating the leftovers for lunch the next day (even better the next day!). And I have to say is this is the best thing to come out of my kitchen in a long time. I’ll never make spaghetti and meat sauce any other way. And once you try it, I predict you won’t either.

 

Ingredients

A close up of food on a table, with Spaghetti and Sauce

To make Instant-Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce,  you will need:

  • olive oil
  • chopped onion (optional)
  • minced garlic (optional)
  • ground beef
  • salt
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • water
  • your favorite jarred marinara, spaghetti, or tomato-based pasta sauce
  • dry spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional and not pictured)

 


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General Instructions

A close up of a bowl of soup, with Spaghetti and SauceHere’s the critical issue. You must follow the specific instructions exactly, and I’m talking about how you layer and add the ingredients to the Instant Pot. At one point the recipe instructs “Do not stir!” so please, don’t do it! Here’s the “Clifs Note” version for how to do this, with the complete recipe and full instructions in the printable recipe card below.

  1. Set Instant Pot to “saute,” adding olive oil, chopped onions and garlic. Cook until tender.
  2. Add ground beef, salt, and powders, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or spatula and continue cooking until no longer pink.
  3. Add part of the water and all of the spaghetti sauce.
  4. Stir well to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
  5. Break noodles in half and layer on top.
  6. Do. Not. Stir
  7. Add the rest of the water.
  8. Set to High Pressure, then quick-release.
  9. Stir, plate, top with Parmesan, serve.
A dish is filled with pasta
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4.60 from 15 votes

Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

This is the best thing to come out of my kitchen in a long time. I'll never make spaghetti and meat sauce any other way. And once you try it, I'm predicting that you won't either.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time8 minutes
Instant Pot coming to pressure10 minutes
Total Time28 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 581kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped fine (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 24 ounces marinara, spaghetti or tomato-based sauce
  • 8 ounces dry spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese, grated for serving

Instructions

  • Set Instant Pot to "saute." Add olive oil, optional chopped onions and optional minced garlic. Allow to cook until tender and slightly translucent.
  • Add ground beef, salt, onion powder and garlic powder, breaking up the beef and stirring until it is no longer pink.
  • Turn Instant Pot Off.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of water and all of the pasta/marinara sauce into the pot. Stir to combine well, making sure to scrape any stuck-on bits from the bottom. 
  • Place broken spaghetti on top, half going north and south, half east and west in a criss-cross pattern.
    A close up of a bowl of soup, with Spaghetti and Sauce
  • Pour remaining 1 ½ cups water over the top of the spaghetti. Do. Not. Stir!
  • Apply Instant Pot lid, setting the pressure valve to "Seal."
  • Set Instant Pot to High Pressure for 8 minutes. It will take 10 to 12 minutes to come to pressure.
  • Open the pressure lease valve (quick release) as soon as the 8 minutes cook time is complete.
  • Open the pressure cooker and gently stir the spaghetti into the sauce. Look at that!
  • Serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese, as desired.

Notes

  1. Chopped onion and minced garlic are optional. However one or both will add fresh, additional flavor.
  2. I have made this with regular spaghetti, thin spaghetti, and angel hair. All come out just great! 
  3. Use your favorite jarred marinara or other tomato-based pasta sauce. My favorite is Prego brand, however I have tested this recipe with a number of sauces (whichever one is on sale!) and find that the sauce does make a big difference in both color and taste. Some sauces are thicker than others, some more poignant in flavor. This is totally up to you. 
  4. The DO NOT STIR! instructions will keep the meat at the bottom and the pasta at the top of the pot for the entire 8 minutes of cook time. This is key! In a way the meat and pasta cook separately without you having to do any kind of separation technique. Just set the spaghetti on top. 
  5. Because I live at 5,280 ft. altitude, I adjust cooking time by one minute to 9 minutes. 
  6. Suggestion: Serve with a green salad and garlic bread. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 581kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 1559mg | Potassium: 1016mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 737IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 64mg | Iron: 5mg

 

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61 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. Chris says:

    Also I would not double recipes for the 6 qt. when it calls for a lot of liquid. You do not want it to splatter when releasing the pressure. And I would not double any recipe for the 3 quart because it is just too small to do more than specific recipes that are written for the smaller Instant Pot

    Reply
  2. Connie Jordan says:

    All the receipes I see for the instant pot are for the 6 qt. Mine is a 3qt. Do you know if this needs to be halved? I haven’t used mine for anything but hard boiled eggs because I don’t know how full it can be to cook OK. Think I will give this a try hoping the full amount will fit.

    Reply
    • Kathy D says:

      I too have the smaller 3qt. I have made this several times. Tonight I used large elbows in place of the spaghetti, meatballs instead of ground beef, small can of mushrooms, and a regular sized jar of sauce. I used the same amount of water in the recipe (total of 2 cups). It was perfect. So you don’t need to halve the recipe unless you just want to make a smaller amount.

      Reply
      • Polly Deal says:

        2 stars
        I also tried with success with meatballs and farfalle noodles. This is such a good formula! Just get the amount of water and sauce right!

  3. Mary Lou says:

    I’m assuming you drain the grease from the ground beef. Even lean ground beef would leave some grease.
    Other than that it sounds good and easy!

    Reply
  4. Alice Byrd says:

    Just wondering, I purchased a 3 qt. Instant pot snd most recipes call for a 6 qt. Hie can I adjust this recipe for 3 qt? Just half everything? HELP

    Reply
  5. Ann Wiess says:

    I tried this but used ground turkey instead of beef. Let me tell you, that was a mistake! always make sure you have plenty of FRESH BEEF in your fridge.

    Reply
    • Sally Renna says:

      5 stars
      Delicious I’ve made this many of times with ground turkey and if you use beef better than bouillon with the water no one could tell that it was ground turkey, even the turkey haters, I’ve fooled many lol

      Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      I’m hesitant to respond here, although this would be an interesting experiment. The beauty of this method is the speed and that it uses only one pot! I’m hoping other readers might weigh in with some ideas for you.

      Reply
      • Karen M. says:

        3 stars
        I would think simmering the spaghetti for 10-12 minutes (to the al dente stage or your preference) in the sauce, stirring occasionally, would work. I’m thinking of recipes in which I use macaroni, such as in my version of goulash, in which I simmer it with the rest of the ingredients. I don’t have an Instant Pot, either, so I just might try this.

    • Kathy D says:

      You can make skillet spaghetti the same way. It just takes longer for the pasta to cook in the sauce. Just make sure your skillet is deep enough for all the liquid. I put the pasta in the skillet first with enough water to cover, add the sauce and seasonings and bring to a boil. Then reduce to low to continue cooking. Cover, checking once or twice to make sure you don’t need a bit more water.

      Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Carol … I have not tried doubling. However, and I say this cautiously, my experience is that halving or doubling does not change the cook times in an Instant Pot. I’d sure love for you to give that a try and then let us know how that goes!

      Reply
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