Instant Pot Spaghetti

4.75 from 8 votes
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This Instant Pot Spaghetti is an easy dinner! Savory chunks of ground beef and sausage brown alongside crushed tomatoes for a hearty sauce. Add pasta and pressure cook until al dente. That’s it!

Spaghetti and meat sauce in the instant pot.

My kids and husband always look forward to spaghetti and meatballs night. For this recipe, I experimented with the Instant Pot, which resulted in using fewer dishes and taking less time—a win-win! Pressure-cooking the sauce and dried pasta together is a great option.

Using a multi-cooker like the Instant Pot allows you to brown the meat, cook the sauce components, and tenderize the pasta under pressure. Lift the lid, and you have a hearty Italian dinner that’s sure to become a family favorite. Even my Italian husband, Jason, is amazed at the results and goes for seconds (and he’s a tough critic!).

“I’m kind of picky when it comes to pasta, especially at home. I always feel like no matter how many recipes I try, I can never master a restaurant quality Italian dish….until now! This was so simple and So flavorful! Highly recommend!!”—Allison

Recipe ingredients

Ingredients needed to make this instant pot spaghetti recipe.
  • Meat: I use 85 to 90% lean ground beef and mild pork Italian sausage. If you like it hotter, go for spicy varieties. I use 1 pound of meat in equal ratios. I find it’s just the right amount of protein-to-pasta.
  • Oil: Use extra-virgin olive oil to cook the meat and aromatics.
  • Seasoning: Chopped onions and minced garlic add a savory allium flavor. Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper flavor the sauce.
  • Wine: A few tablespoons of dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir, adds acidity and dimension to the sauce. This is optional but highly recommended if you have it.
  • Tomatoes: Tomato paste adds sweetness and thickness to the sauce, and crushed tomatoes are the base for the marinara. I prefer San Marzano canned tomatoes.
  • Water: Required to hydrate the dried pasta and build steam in the Instant Pot.
  • Pasta: Use regular dried spaghetti, not thinner varieties.
  • Garnish: The spaghetti is served with savory parmesan and freshly chopped parsley on top.

See the recipe card below for all ingredients and measurements (US and metric).

Brown the meat

Ground beef and onions sauteing in the instant pot.

Step 1: The advantage of using an electric multi-cooker is its built-in saute function. Add olive oil and cook the beef and pork, breaking it into smaller chunks. I let it heat until most of the moisture from the juices evaporates, then give it a few extra minutes to brown lightly. This process develops more flavor on the surface.

Saute the aromatics

Step 2: Add the chopped onions, minced garlic, and dried Italian seasonings before the wet ingredients. This releases the fat-soluble flavor compounds for a stronger taste. Some golden bits will stick to the bottom of the vessel. To prevent it from burning, deglaze the pot with red wine and water. Scrape the bottom to release those tasty juices into the sauce.

Add tomatoes and water

Making meat sauce in the instant pot.

Step 3: The key to a delicious red sauce is using two types of high-quality canned tomatoes to balance the sweet and low-acidic flavors. Concentrated tomato paste contains umami compounds that enhance the savory taste and thicken the sauce.

Vine-ripened crushed tomatoes are the base. They’re between a puree consistency and a chunky texture, not perfectly smooth, which is what you want. I don’t add extra sweetener because my chosen products are picked at their peak flavor.

Add the pasta

Spaghetti noodles inside a pressure cooker.

Step 4: The biggest challenge is preventing the cooked noodles from becoming too clumped together. Some sticking will occur since there is no stirring once the lid is on. The stickiness is due to the starches released as the flour hydrates.

I have a solution! Spaghetti noodles are long, so break them in half, then add ¼ at a time, creating a stacked crosshatch pattern. This reduces sticking, making it easier to stir the noodles and sauce. Pour 1 ½ cups of water to boil and steam the noodles in the enclosed environment. Make sure to press the pasta down to submerge and hydrate.

Pressure cooking the spaghetti

Step 5: Using high pressure for 8 minutes yields al dente noodles, similar to cooking pasta on the stovetop. You can always add more cooking time if needed. However, there is a step later, which allows the pasta to absorb the liquid for 5 minutes, to soften the noodles further.

Step 6: Cover the pressure release valve with a kitchen towel to prevent spraying, then quick release. This step prevents the noodles from getting overcooked and mushy.

Serve the spaghetti

Metal tongs lifting spaghetti out of an instant pot.

Step 7: Mix the pasta into the sauce and let it absorb the flavorful liquid for a few minutes. The sauce will thicken, and the noodles will slightly soften for the perfect bite. I like to garnish with salty parmesan cheese and parsley right before serving.

Flavor variations

Making spaghetti in the Instant Pot couldn’t be easier! Try these delicious ways to switch up the flavor:

  • Meat: Use all of one type of ground beef or pork. For a poultry swap, use ground turkey or chicken.
  • Pasta: Other types of pasta, like thick spaghetti or bucatini, can be used. Short-cut pasta, like elbows, penne, or cavatappi, are good options. If the pasta is not tender after 8 minutes of pressure cooking, add more time and water as needed, especially for thicker varieties. Avoid thin strands like angel hair, as they will become mushy.
  • Seasoning: The meat sauce can be seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, spicy red chili flakes, or herbs like oregano and fresh basil.
  • Cheese: Top with Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano.

Serving suggestions

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to cook spaghetti noodles in an Instant Pot?

For traditional dried spaghetti noodles, it takes 8 minutes under high pressure. Use the quick-release setting to prevent the noodles from overcooking.

Will spaghetti sauce burn in the Instant Pot?

If you don’t deglaze the pot after browning the meat, the juices and bits stuck on the bottom can burn as they heat during pressure cooking. Use a liquid to scrape it off before adding in the tomato products. There is another potential for burning if you use a jarred sauce that contains sugar. However, the risk is low.

Can I make the sauce meatless?

Yes, you can make it more of a marinara sauce by omitting the meat. I still recommend sauteing the fresh onion and garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Then add the rest of the sauce and pasta ingredients—there is no need to change any pressure cooking parameters or time.

Can I use jarred spaghetti sauce?

Use a 24-ounce jar (3 cups) of your favorite pasta sauce. You don’t have control over what goes into the sauce, but it’s a convenient swap. Most of these products already contain a mixture of puree, diced, or puree. Plus, they typically have herbs, seasonings, and sugar. I recommend unsweetened sauce, as the extra sugar may cause burning on the bottom of the metal cooking insert.

Spaghetti with meat sauce on a white plate.

Cooking dried pasta in a pressure cooker

It’s all about adding enough water. You need at least 1 ½ cups of water for a ½ pound of dried pasta. I use a similar ratio for Instant Pot mac and cheese. I use 2 cups for this recipe, plus additional moisture from the crushed tomatoes. There should be enough liquid to boil the noodles when submerged, plus the steam built up in the vessel hydrates the noodles. In just 8 minutes, the pasta absorbs the liquid, and no wasted water or draining is needed!

Instant Pot Spaghetti

Cook a family dinner all in one vessel with this easy Instant Pot Spaghetti recipe containing a meat sauce with ground beef and pork sausage.
4.75 from 8 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ pound ground beef, 85 to 90% lean
  • ½ pound Italian sausage, casings removed
  • ¼ cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine, optional
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 3 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 8 ounces dried spaghetti
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Instructions 

  • Brown the Meat – Select "Saute" on the Instant Pot and allow the device to heat up. When ready, it will indicate "Hot" on the display. Add olive oil. Once hot, add the ground beef and sausage. Immediately use a spoon to break the meat into smaller pieces. Cook and stir until most of the moisture evaporates and the meat lightly browns, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Cook the Aromatics – Add in onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until the onion is tender. Add the wine. Stir and simmer for about 1 minute or until the liquid evaporates.
  • Add Tomatoes and Water – Press "Keep/Warm/Cancel" on the Instant Pot to turn off the saute function and add ½ cup of water. Use a spoon to scrape any browned bits stuck to the pan. Add the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.
  • Add the Pasta – Break the spaghetti in half so that it fits flat in the pot. Place a ¼ in at a time on top of the meat sauce, making a stacked crosshatch pattern. Add 1 ½ cups of water to the pot, but do not stir. Lightly press down the pasta to submerge.
  • Pressure Cook – Make sure that the release valve is in the "Sealing" position. Place the lid on, turn and lock. Press the "Manual" button on high pressure, and then set the timer to 8 minutes using the "+" or "-" controls. It will take about 12 to 13 minutes for the pot to heat and build up pressure. You will see steam release from the lid, and then the time will start on the display. Once the cooking time is complete, press "Keep/Warm/Cancel" to turn it off.
  • Release Pressure – Cover the valve with a kitchen towel and "quick release." Use a spoon to carefully twist the steam release handle on the lid to the "Venting" position. Remove the cover, opening it away from you as steam will be released from the pot.
  • To Serve – Stir the spaghetti and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes before serving. Turn off the pot and remove the insert. Place it on top of a wire rack or kitchen towel. Stir and serve hot, garnished with parmesan cheese and parsley.

Recipe Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Recipe Yield: About 6 cups
  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Storing: Cool completely, then store leftovers in an airtight container or resealable bag for up to 5 days.
  • Using Jarred Sauce: Omit the tomato paste and add 3 cups (24 ounces) of your favorite jarred pasta or marinara sauce. I prefer unsweetened varieties.
  • Using Dried Aromatics: Use ½ teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon onion powder for the fresh ingredients.
  • Wine Substitute: Use 1 ½ teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 6 servings
Calories 458kcal (23%)Carbohydrates 40g (13%)Protein 21g (42%)Fat 24g (37%)Saturated Fat 8g (40%)Polyunsaturated Fat 2gMonounsaturated Fat 11gTrans Fat 1gCholesterol 59mg (20%)Sodium 865mg (36%)Potassium 723mg (21%)Fiber 4g (16%)Sugar 7g (8%)Vitamin A 437IU (9%)Vitamin C 15mg (18%)Calcium 121mg (12%)Iron 4mg (22%)

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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9 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Allison says

    The one pot spaghetti and meat sauce was ON POINT! I’m kind of picky when it comes to pasta, especially at home. I always feel like no matter how many recipes I try, I can never master a restaurant quality Italian dish….until now! This was so simple and So flavorful! I think the best part was having the noodles cook with the sauce, really tied everything together. Also, I didn’t have crushed tomatoes so I used the canned option and was very careful not to burn. Highly recommend!!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Thank you so much for your feedback, Allison! I’m thrilled to hear that you had success with the spaghetti recipe.

  2. Jules says

    How do I avoid getting the “burn” message on my instant pot ? I even tries sautéing in a separate pan on the stove before transferring to the pot so nothing was stuck on the bottom. I have added as much as one full cup of extra water and I still get the message…. What is going wrong?

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I this happening with every recipe or just the spaghetti? This happens when the bottom of the pot is getting a little too hot to prevent the complete burning of the food or particles stuck at the bottom of the pot. I would first make that there is nothing stuck in between the pot insert and the pressure cooker. Check the silicone ring to make sure there is a good seal, see if the floating valve is clean and moving, and the steam release valve is in the right position. It shouldn’t give you the burn notice if the bottom of the pot is clean or doesn’t have any charred food on the bottom.

    • Margaret says

      Are you making sure to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pot? & making sure to add the layers as instructed? Very important to also not stir the ingredients before placing the lid on! Hope this helps! I will def be trying this recipe soon!

  3. Rebecca Oakes says

    This looks so easy and delicious! Have you ever tried to use GJF Spaghetti noodles? I think I read somewhere that GF noodles would require more water. If I try this with GF noodles, I can let you know!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Rebecca- I have not tried gluten-free noodles for this recipe. They do tend to absorb more water, so you may need to adjust the liquid amount. Let me know if you try it out!