A dish is filled with pasta

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

I love my Instant Pot—the greatest time-saving, magic-producing, easy-to-use kitchen appliance known to [wo]mankind. I use it almost every day to make everything from eggs to pot roast and (wait for it …) cheesecake! Yes, the BEST cheesecake ever!

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 food, with Spaghetti and Sauce

Look, 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 whom 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 is going to turn out a mushy mess, lacking distinct flavor, texture, and visual appeal. Boy was I wrong!

This method for spaghetti with meat sauce is going to 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 pour 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’m predicting that 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)

Instant Pot Duo

Instant Pot

Available in a variety of models and sizes, the Instant Pot Duo 6 Quart continues to be the best value with its 7 functions—electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute, yogurt maker and warmer.


General Instructions

Here’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!

  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. Break noodles in half and layer on top.A close up of a bowl of soup, with Spaghetti and Sauce
  5. Do. Not. Stir
  6. Add the rest of the water.
  7. Set to High Pressure, then quick-release.
  8. Stir, plate, top with Parmesan, serve.

A dish is filled with pasta
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4.48 from 17 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 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Instant Pot coming to pressure10 mins
Total Time28 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 581kcal
Cost: About $6

Equipment

  • Instant Pot

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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29 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
  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
    • 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
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