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 food, with Spaghetti and Sauce

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 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)

 


Instant Pot Duo

Instant Pot

Available in various 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

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. Break noodles in half and layer on top.
  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
Print Recipe
4.60 from 22 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

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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49 replies
« Older CommentsNewer Comments »
  1. Nancy/AZ says:

    5 stars
    This is seriously one of the family’s favorite recipes. It couldn’t be simpler and with the pasta cooking in with the beef and sauce, it is absolutely delicious. Thanks, Mary

    Reply
  2. Brooke Kingston says:

    5 stars
    This recipe is a real winner! My family adores it! Thank you, Mary! It’s so nice to have a super-easy, fast, family favorite dinner for my instant pot! I sometimes have leftovers, which I put into a casserole dish along with mozzarella and sliced olives. It’s a fantastic baked spaghetti pie the next night!

    Any tips on ensuring the pasta doesn’t clump together? I usually have a few spots of chunky pasta in the pot. No big deal, but I figured if anyone had a solution for clumping IP pasta, it would be this awesome community!

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Make sure you spread out the spaghetti in layers in that criss-cross pattern. The slowly pour the water over all of it making sure it is all wet. I even gently push the pasta down into the liquid (without stirring at all!).

      Reply
  3. Sharon says:

    5 stars
    It smelled so good the whole family ate it! A miracle recipe because my daughter very seldom eats meat and never hamburger opted to taste the noodles and sauce. She picked out the meat and she ate it and enjoyed it! Thank you so much!

    Reply
  4. KATHLEEN E BURGE says:

    5 stars
    This was amazing in taste and also the way it cooked and in one pot!!! I used the very cheapest sauce and next time I’ll a more expensive since it worked so well.

    Reply
  5. Jo Ann says:

    5 stars
    Excellent recipe-so easy and delicious.
    My family really enjoyed it. I agree the best
    part is all of the pasta being infused with
    the sauce, as opposed to the old method
    of just pouring sauce on top.

    Reply
  6. Debbie says:

    5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was so good! I wasn’t sure if it would really make a difference to cook in the instapot vs stovetop, but it is like the pressure cooker “infuses” the sauce into the pasta or something – will definitely make it again!

    Reply
  7. Elaine says:

    3 stars
    I use half hamburger and half sweet Italian sausage. I also use linguine instead of spaghetti. My husband says it’s the best he’s had!

    Reply
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