While hearty and meaty bolognese sauce is traditionally slow-cooked, I’m super excited to introduce you to this equally delicious Instant Pot Bolognese that can be made in just half the time!
My Instant Pot Bolognese recipe boasts all the classic ingredients of the flavor-packed Italian pasta sauce: browned ground pork, sautéed vegetables, white wine vinegar, cream, tomato paste, and seasoning!
Serve it over a sturdy pasta like spaghetti with grated parmesan and chopped fresh herbs to be enjoyed as is or pair it with a tasty side dish if you’re feeding a crowd or entertaining!
What Is Bolognese?
“Bolognese” is a traditional meat-based Italian pasta sauce that consists of ground pork (although beef is often used too), tomatoes and other sautéed vegetables, and dairy (milk or cream) which is then slow cooked and served over pasta.
Today, there are numerous variations of this hearty and meaty sauce, including various cooking methods such as this recipe where I’ve made my bolognese in an Instant Pot! Regardless of personal adaptations to this Italian sauce, the meat in the sauce remains the star of the show.
While I’ve used spaghetti as the choice of pasta for this dish, this Instant Pot Bolognese can also be used with lasagne, conchiglie (pasta shells), or any pasta of your liking!
Instant Pot Bolognese Ingredients
Most of these ingredients you probably already have, but just in case, get out your shopping list and jot these down.
- Ground pork: Be sure to get plain ground pork not sausage. Sausage has seasonings and spices in it that may not blend well with this recipe.
- Veggies: You will need an onion, carrot, and minced garlic.
- White wine vinegar: Do not substitute white vinegar for white wine vinegar. It is not the same.
- Seasoning: You will need italian seasoning, salt and pepper for seasoning.
- Crushed tomatoes: I like Red Gold crushed tomatoes, but you can get whatever brand you like.
- Tomato paste: You will only need a small can of tomato paste.
- Heavy Cream: If you don’t have heavy cream at home, you can make your own. Mix 2/3 cups of whole milk with 1/3 cup of melted butter.
- Spaghetti Noodles: You could also use thin spaghetti noodles or Alfredo noodles if you would like.
Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom for a full list of exact ingredients!
How To Make Bolognese In The Instant Pot
This recipe is so easy to make in your Instant Pot. Get out your ingredients and let’s get started!
Step 1: Set Instant Pot And Brown The Pork
Start by setting your Instant Pot to the sauté function. Add the oil till hot and then brown the ground pork.
Step 2: Sauté Onions And Carrots
Add the diced onion, carrots, and minced garlic while continuing to sauté for an additional 5 minutes.
Step 3: Add Vinegar And Tomatoes
Add white wine vinegar which is needed to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Follow on by adding in the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and stir to combine all the ingredients.
Step 4: Cook Pasta
Add the spaghetti pasta (or pasta of your choice) and then close the Instant Pot lid, sealing the pressure valve.
Step 5: Manual Release
After cooking the pasta in the sauce for 8 minutes on the high setting, manually release the pressure and check to see whether the pasta is al dente (firm to the bite).
Step 6: Add Cream And Serve!
Lastly, stir in the cream and allow the bolognese sauce with pasta to sit for 3 minutes before serving!
What Can I Use Instead Of White Wine Vinegar?
I’ve used white wine vinegar in this bolognese sauce. It adds a slightly tangy taste that is typically more mellow than red wine vinegar although red wine vinegar is the best substitute if you don’t have white wine vinegar on hand.
Some recipes also make use of white wine and that’s something you could use too as an alternative to the white wine vinegar. After all, white wine vinegar is just the fermented version of white wine that’s been strained before bottling.
White Vinegar Wine Substitutes
Now, if you need a substitute for white wine vinegar and don’t enjoy cooking with alcohol, consider the following options in order of suitability:
- Rice vinegar – a very similar taste to white wine vinegar and used a lot in Asian cuisine. Make sure that you don’t buy the seasoned variety of rice vinegar as this is used for sushi rice and Asian salad dressings.
- Sherry vinegar – slightly sweet with a medium body and typically used in Spanish dishes. It definitely has a more pronounced taste than white wine vinegar so you need to keep this in mind as it’s likely to alter the overall taste of the bolognese if used.
- Apple cider vinegar – a bolder taste than white wine vinegar but still works for this sauce.
- Champagne vinegar – much lighter and milder than white wine vinegar but still a good option.
- Lemon juice – this should only be used in place of white wine vinegar if you’re really in a pinch. While it’s also acidic and tangy like white wine vinegar, it definitely still tastes like lemon and not vinegar!
While this list should give you a good idea of the substitutes you can opt for, it’s also important to note what not to use. For example, balsamic vinegar or distilled white vinegar is definitely too overpowering in taste to be used as good substitutes for white wine vinegar!
What Does Manually Release Mean?
“Manual” release simply refers to letting the pressure out of the Instant Pot once the cooking is done. In other words, you are actively releasing the pressure in the pot instead of sitting back and allowing a “natural” release (which is where you wait for the pressure to be released by the pot naturally without stepping in and doing anything).
Manual release is also referred to as a “quick release”. To learn more about the differences between a quick-release versus a natural release, be sure to check out my comprehensive post: Instant Pot Natural Release vs Quick Release.
Recipe Tips And Tricks
- This bolognese sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. Use a glass container with an airtight lid so that any plastic containers are not stained by the sauce. Reheat it in a skillet on the stove or in a microwave-safe dish in the microwave.
- This sauce is also great for freezing. In fact, it can last for several months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
- It’s normal to include milk or cream in a bolognese sauce but this in no way makes the sauce “creamy”. It helps to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and white wine vinegar.
- This is a hearty sauce which means that you should pair it with sturdy pasta and not fragile, thin pasta such as angel hair. Consider lasagne, tagliatelle, or penne. Although not pasta, this bolognese sauce would also be delicious served over gnocchi.
- For a low-carb option, pair spiralized zucchini or spaghetti squash with this meaty sauce.
Side Dish Recommendations
Since this bolognese sauce is quite hearty and served with pasta, I recommend serving a simple leafy green side salad with it for a balanced meal. Other tasty side dish options you can try include:
- Garlic bread or homemade dinner rolls; or
- Roasted or steamed veggies such as broccoli, asparagus, and carrots.
- 1 lb. of ground pork
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/2 onion diced
- 1 carrot diced
- 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 28 oz of crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
- 1/3 heavy cream
- 16 oz of spaghetti
- Set the instant pot to sauté. Add the oil. Once the oil is hot add the ground pork. Brown the meat.
- Add the onion, carrots, garlic and continue to sauté for 5 minutes
- Add the white wine vinegar to deglaze the pot and then add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and stir.
- Add the pasta and close the lid and seal the pressure valve.
- Cook on high for 8 minutes
- Manually release pressure and make sure pasta is cooked al dente.
- Stir in the cream and let sit for 3 minutes.
Other Instant Pot Pasta Recipes To Try
- Instant Pot Vodka Penne
- Instant Pot Fettuccine Alfredo
- Bacon Carbonara in the Instant Pot
- Instant Pot Lazy Lasagna