Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

This hearty Instant Pot Bolognese sauce is packed with veggies and  freezes amazingly — so eat half and freeze the leftovers for a busy night! 

Instant Pot Bolognese pasta and sauce in a bowl with cheese and parsley for garnish


Bolo-nayze. Bolo-neez. Bolo-nyay-zay. Bolo-neezy-fo-sheezy. No matter which way you say it, someone will correct you — at least that’s been my experience. Personally, I prefer the Italian pronunciation, “bolo-nyay-zay” (and hello, it’s an Italian dish… why wouldn’t you say it that way?) but the hubs prefers the more Italian-American, “Bolo-nayze.”

Naturally, we both think the other person says it wrong so, after devouring our big bowls of bolo-nyay-zay and downing a couple glasses of wine last night, I did what all annoying spouses do during a heated dispute… I pulled out my iPhone and asked Siri. Of course, Siri had no friggin’ clue what I was talking about so I deferred to Google, but even Google couldn’t give me a straight answer.

Instant Pot Bolognese pasta and sauce in a bowl with cheese and parsley for garnish

So, what do you say we all agree to disagree? Bolo-nyay-zay, bolo-neez. Tomayto, tomahto, okay? Or, do like our toddler and just call it meat sauce. All that really matters is how insanely easy and delicious it is — and that your kids will devour it.

Believe it or not, this hearty meat sauce is also packed with veggies and freezes amazingly well, which is great because it makes a sh*tload. Like, unless you’re the Brady Bunch, you’re probably gonna have leftovers. We usually eat half and freeze half for another night when my mom game is off.

Instant Pot Bolognese pasta and sauce in a bowl with cheese and parsley for garnish

If you don’t yet have an Instant Pot (affiliate link!), you can absolutely still make this on the stovetop, or even in a slow cooker. It’ll just take longer and may require more pots and pans. The beauty of the Instant Pot Bolognese is that you can saute, pressure cook and simmer all in the same. damn. pan. This of course means less mess and a faster cook time which is EVERYTHING when you’ve got hangry kids hanging on your pant legs after a long day at work.

Put it over noodles, zoodles, or make lasagna with it. Heck you can even eat it with a spoon all by itself. Ask me how I know.

Instant Pot Bolognese sauce in a pot with cheese and parsley for garnish on the side

Ingredients for Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

Simple to make but complex in flavor, here’s what you’ll need to make a big batch of this delicious sauce:

  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Minced garlic
  • Tomato paste
  • Lean ground beef
  • Sweet Italian sausage
  • Salt & pepper
  • A generous splash or two of red wine (optional but recommended)
  • Crushed tomatoes (fire-roasted have the most flavor)
  • Canned tomato sauce
  • Italian seasoning, or a mix of dried basil, oregano, thyme, and/or rosemary
  • Heavy cream or half-and-half

How to Freeze Bolognese Sauce

This sauce freezes so well you’ll never know the difference once it’s defrosted! Here’s how to do it.

Let the sauce cool to room temperature, then divide into individual or family-sized portions.

When I freeze leftover sauce, I like to use large mason jars for family meals, and whatever is left in these smaller mason jars which are perfect for quick kid dinners on nights we eat separately.

When filling glass mason jars, be sure to leave some room at the top to allow the sauce to expand. I typically fill the jars to just below the rim.

More Favorite Instant Pot Recipes

Want more easy Instant Pot recipes? Here are some of our other favorites!


Instant Pot Bolognese Sauce

This Instant Pot Bolognese sauce is a hearty meat sauce made with both ground beef and ground sausage, and is loaded with veggies!

  • Prep Time:
    20 min
  • Total Time:
    1 hour
  • Makes:
    12 cups 1x
  • Prep Time:
    20 min
  • Total Time:
    1 hour
  • Makes:
    12 cups 1x
  • Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 cups diced yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
    • 3/4 cup diced carrots (about 3 large)
    • 3/4 cup diced celery (about 3 large stalks)
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 tablespoons tomato paste (½ small can)
    • 1 pound lean ground beef
    • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
    • Kosher salt to taste
    • Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
    • 3 (15-ounce) cans fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
    • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
    • 22 ½ teaspoons dried Italian seasoning (see notes)
    • ⅓ cup heavy cream or half-and-half (optional)


    1.  Sautè the onions, carrots, and celery, then add tomato paste & garlic. Set Instant Pot to SAUTE – NORMAL (MEDIUM). Add olive oil and, once hot, add onions, carrots, and celery, and cook until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic and cook until tomato paste is brownish in color, about 1-2 minutes.
    2. Brown the ground beef and sausage. Add ground beef and sausage and season with about ¾ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Sauté for 5-6 minutes, breaking up meat with a fork or spoon, until most of the meat lightly-browned with just a little pink remaining.
    3. Deglaze with the red wine. Turn the Instant Pot to SAUTE – HIGH, add the red wine (if using) and scrape any brown bits from the bottom. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until most of the wine has evaporated.
    4. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasoning. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and Italian seasoning (or dried herbs). Bring to a simmer.
    5. Cover and pressure cook on LOW. Put the lid on the Instant pot, seal, and set the unit to PRESSURE COOK – LOW for 10 minutes.
    6. Quick release the pressure and simmer. Switch the Instant Pot to SAUTE – LOW and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes more, stirring frequently until the sauce has thickened to the desired consistency.
    7. Add half-and-half and serve. Stir in heavy cream or half-and-half, or omit for a dairy-free sauce. Serve over cooked pasta or zoodles with plenty of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of parsley, if desired.


    Favorite Equipment

    Ingredient Notes

    • Fire-roasted tomatoes: Any fire-roasted tomatoes will do. Have diced or whole? Use an immersion blender to “crush” them before adding to the pot.
    • Leftover tomato paste: This recipe uses about ½ of a small can of tomato paste. Freeze the leftovers in an ice cube tray for another recipe!
    • Leftover parsley: Make this quick, nutritious and freezer-friendly Kale Parsley Pesto next!

    Ingredient Prep

    • Dice onion, carrots, celery & mince garlic; store in the fridge up to 5 days

    Little Helpers

    Involving little ones can decrease picky eating and increase appetite and willingness to try new foods. Here are a few ways they can help: 

    • Toddlers — Wash celery and carrots; remove sausage from casing; add ingredients to pot
    • Little Kids — Peel carrots; measure Italian seasoning, tomato paste etc.
    • Big Kids — Open cans; dice celery, carrots, and onion; chop parsley


    • Serving Size: 1 cup (1/12th of recipe)
    • Calories: 229
    • Sugar: 6 g
    • Sodium: 807 mg
    • Fat: 9 g
    • Saturated Fat: 3 g
    • Carbohydrates: 10 g
    • Fiber: 1 g
    • Protein: 15 g
    • Cholesterol: 39 mg

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    Author: Elle Penner M.P.H., R.D.

    I'm Elle, Registered Dietitian and minimalism-obsessed mama with a thing for simplifying, particularly when it comes to clutter, calendars, and family meals. Favorite things include carbs, cooking, kid-free workouts, and high-waisted yoga pants.

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    Recipe rating

    • Best Bolognese I ever made, and I make a lot. Don’t forget a pinch of nutmeg; not in the recipe but makes a difference. Freeze 1/2 for later. Made my pasta and added sauce to the pasta vs pasta to the sauce. Add a little pasta water to the pan and plate. Put more sauce on top. Add Parmesan cheese. Yum!

      • So glad you loved it, and thanks for taking the time to leave a review. I’ll have to try it with nutmeg next time. 😋 Yum!

    • My mom found this recipe on Pinterest, made it Without milk because my daughter has an allergy…and it was delicious. I then made it for my husband, and we always set aside a small amount for my daughter. Today I did not have fire roasted anything… So we will see how it goes, but I am sure it will be delicious! So this is my third time making it, and my fourth time enjoying it. I never thought I would make sauce this quickly LOL.

      • I’m so happy it’s become a family favorite! Thanks for taking the time to let me know. 🙂

    • So so good! I got a burn notice but I think I didn’t mix it well enough when I added the crushed tomatoes. I stirred it up and came out great! My toddler absolutely refuses to eat vegetables and he loved it. Definitely in the regular rotation now!

    • This recipe is DELICIOUS. So simple to make and plenty leftover to freeze for a busy night. My family scarfed it down. Thank you for a great recipe. It’s a new family favorite!