Instant Pot Recipes from a Chef's Wife and IP Enthusiast

Instant Pot Veggie Meat Sauce & Pasta

Start to finish cook time: 37 minutes (2 prep + 8 saute + 14 pressurization + 10 high pressure + 3 pressure release)
Effort Level: Low
Servings: 6
Yields: roughly 4 cups pasta (once cooked)

Once you get the hang of pasta in your Instant Pot, it's pretty hard to go back to cook on the stove (extra pots and effort ahh!). I'm trying to eat more veggies these days, so sometimes I will try and sneak in veggies like I decided to with this recipe. If I was trying to not be healthy, I would omit the mushrooms and spinach to make my famous meat sauce but those are for cheat days or days where I just need comfort food. Either way, I may never go back to stove top, this is so easy!

You can use the pasta of your choice, most will be right around the cook time of this recipe. We had a bunch of left over pasta so we did a mix of penne and cellentani. I've also even tried a quinoa penne and that turned out perfectly cooked too! The only pastas I would caution you on are spaghetti and fettuccini, pastas that are long, because they tend to stick together in the IP. It's not that you can't do these kinds of noodles, but you will notice the difference in an IP vs stove top unless you got the extra mile of unsticking them.

If you prefer more beefy pasta sauce, you can do up to 2 lbs ground beef without having to really adjust recipe (we added 4 extra ounces tomato sauce but don't think it was necessary). I've enjoyed both at 1 lb and 2 lb, I personally prefer it with 1 - 1 1/2 lbs ground beef but my husband likes a little extra meet and preferred 2lbs. 

If you want to jump straight to the recipe, no need to keep scrolling it's right below. If you want step-by-step pictures though, I've included those below the recipe. And as my Chef husband says, "Food is love". Enjoy!

  • 1 pound ground lean beef (90 or 93% lean) *If prefer beefy meat sauce you can do up to 2 pounds ground beef without adding any other items in recipe, although you could add a few extra ounces tomato sauce*
  • 3 cups uncooked Penne pasta (can sub in most shapes of regular or quona pastas)
  • 33.5 oz box of Hunt's Tomato Sauce (4 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 of a 10 oz bag of baby spinach
  • 8 oz container of sliced white mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp olive oil (1 for water, 1 for cooking vegetables) 
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt (1/2 for water,  3/4 for sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red peppers


  1. Dice onion into small squares. Dice garlic. 
  2. Add onions, garlic, sliced mushroom, and 1 tbsp oil to your pot. Turn Instant Pot to high saute for 12 minutes (likely won't use all this time, but set to this so it doesn't turn off on you). Stir frequently to prevent burnin, break down beef into small chunks. Cook until until onions are translucent and beef is brown (this should take 5-7 minutes). 
  3. Turn off saute. Remove IP contents, strain excess liquid/fat, and put in large bowl or pot. Add tomato sauce and all seasoning with your cooked meat, mushrooms, and onions (again in separate bowl or pot, not in IP yet).
  4. Pour 1 1/2 cup water and 3 cups pasta in your Instant Pot. Add remaining 1 tbsp of oil and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix.
  5. Top with your sauce mix. Top with baby spinach. This is important, DON'T change order and DON'T STIR. Red sauces will set off the burn seasoner if they get to close to the bottom of the pot, keep your spinach from not overcooking, and also you want pasta to be mostly covered so it cooks without drying out.
  6. Seal and set to high pressure for 10 minutes, be sure steam vent is in the sealed position. Also hit "keep warm". Allow for 14 minutes to build pressure.
  7. Once Instant Pot beeps it's done cooking, let natural pressure release for 3 minutes before releasing remaining pressure. 
  8. Mix pasta and sauce, top with grated parmesan cheese or provolone. Enjoy!

Dice onion and garlic.
Set to high saute. Add oil, onions, garlic, mushrooms, and ground beef.
Break ground beef into small chunks.  Cook until onions are translucent
and ground beef is brown. Turn off saute.
In a separate bowl combine tomato sauce, meat mushroom mix,
and all seasoning together. Mix.
Add 1 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 cups pasta, and 1 1/2 cups water
to your instant pot. Stir.
Add pasta sauce on top of pasta, DO NOT MIX.
Add spinach on top of sauce, DONT MIX. Seal and set to 10 minutes,
allow for 14 minutes to build pressure. Once done, let sit for 3 minutes
before releasing pressure.
Mix together, as your spinach will be still sitting at the top. Use a wooden spoon,
freeing any pasta that may be stuck to the bottom (it will be minimal).
Garnish with grated parmesan cheese, shredded provolone, dried parsley.