Instant Pot Tomato & Meat Ragu

October 12, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: What would happen if Marcella Hazan had an Instant Pot? This is my attempt at an answer. I've adapted her recipe for Bolognese Meat Sauce from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, stopping only to add a few (likely blasphemous) twists along the way. Like the pancetta—which I'm not exactly sorry about. And the swap for red wine, which I'm pretty sure negates this ragu from being considered a bolognese. Toss it with a pound of your favorite pasta, cooked al dente, a splash of pasta water, and a whole bunch of grated parmesan, and you'll have a deeply satisfying weeknight ragu.Ella Quittner

Food52 Review: This recipe is featured in the story, 14 Cozy, Tomatoey Braises to Warm Your Stove Now Through March, sponsored by Muir Glen.The Editors

Serves: 6 or more
Cook time: 50 min


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 ounces pancetta, sliced about 1/4-inch thick and torn or cut into bite sized pieces (you can substitute bacon or guanciale)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 pound ground pork
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
  • 1 stalk of celery, finely diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 1/4 cups canned crushed or pureed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 pound your favorite pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1 hunk Parmesan, for grating over bowls to serve
In This Recipe


  1. Turn your multi-cooker on to its sauté setting (if your cooker has a timer component, set it to 45 minutes just to be safe, then hit cancel when you switch to pressure cooking mode) and add the olive oil. Heat until glistening, then add the pancetta and sauté for a few minutes until the fat has rendered, and it's tormentingly crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the ground beef and pork and brown on all sides, breaking up the meat—you can do this in two batches if needed; overcrowding will prevent proper browning. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. With the multi-cooker still on sauté, add the onion, carrot, and celery, and cook until onion turns translucent. Add back the ground meat and pancetta, and add the milk and nutmeg. Let the milk come to a simmer while stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn—scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan as you stir. Let the milk simmer for a few minutes until it has mostly evaporated.
  3. Add the wine, and let it simmer for a minute before adding the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, then put the lid on the cooker and turn to pressure cook mode on high for 20 minutes.
  4. Once the sauce has completed pressure cooking, let the pressure release naturally for a few minutes before turning your steam valve to allow a quick release.
  5. To serve, toss the sauce with al dente pasta, and a large splash of the pasta's cooking water to help it bind to the noodles. Grate plenty of Parmesan over the top.

More Great Recipes:
Pasta|Sauce|American|Carrot|Cheese|Dairy|Onion|Pork|Tomato|Olive Oil|Wine|Bacon

Reviews (12) Questions (1)

12 Reviews

Carolina R. February 7, 2019
I followed the recipe to the letter and it was fantastic. I've made a similar recipe in a Dutch oven but the instant pot method cut down on the long cooking time. A little bit of prep is required but it's worth it.
Author Comment
Ella Q. February 7, 2019
Hi Carolina,

So happy to hear that you enjoyed it!

Betty January 4, 2019
I just served this fabulous ragu for dinner to my family and OMG it is truly a wonderful dish. I highly recommend it as the flavors of the meat, wine and vegetables definitely shine and linger on your palate (along with a good glass of wine)! I do not have an instant pot but used my Staub cocotte to make the ragu, cooked it about 2.5 hours and it was to die for! Thank you so much, Ella, for bringing this recipe to us. It is a keeper!
Author Comment
Ella Q. January 5, 2019
Hi Betty,

I'm so pleased to hear that you enjoyed it! It's a favorite comfort go-to for me, as well :)

Elizabeth H. November 28, 2018
This sounds wonderful but without an Instant Pot I’m wondering how this might work in a slow cooker? My Cuisinart slow cooker allows me to sauté first so I’d love to try this using a low or high cook setting. Any advice is welcome!
Eve R. November 7, 2018
I made it with larger amounts of meat (because I had a prepackaged pound of ground beef) and 1% milk, and it was still delicious. My 9 year old told me he thought it was "magical."
Author Comment
Ella Q. November 20, 2018
So happy to hear you enjoyed this!
schenck65 October 23, 2018
I'm thinking it would make sense to do most of this in a Dutch oven on the stovetop before sliding it into the Instant Pot for the pressure-cooking phase. My biggest beef with Instant Pot recipes that call for sauteing is that the time and hassle you save by pressure-cooking is almost zeroed out by the batch-cooking and less-than-ideal stirring angle. Also, if I want to avoid loosing a cloud of ragu vapors into the house, I have to place the IP on my stovetop under the hood, which feels a little dicey. Any thoughts?
Author Comment
Ella Q. November 2, 2018
You certainly could do it that way! Personally, I'm a sucker for less dishes. :)
Eloise H. February 28, 2019
I always use my pressure cooker on my back porch to avoid the food vapors. There’s an outside outlet. Have done it that way for years.
Beverly S. October 21, 2018
This seems odd to me because all the Hazan recipes I have (a complete collection) use a third part veal. Food 52 are entitled to leave that out, but in the interest of accuracy they are not entitled to ignore it.
Author Comment
Ella Q. October 22, 2018
Hi Beverly,

The original recipe actually calls for all beef—it's on p. 204 of Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (with a headnote on p. 203). With that said, I've gone ahead and added in a few twists, as noted in the introduction to the recipe, including the addition of pork. I hope you like it! :)