Mom’s Best Italian Meat Sauce Made Easier with the Instant Pot

There’s nothing like an Italian red sauce for a comforting, filling meal. This Instant Pot meat sauce is a snap to make and excellent served over pasta, polenta, or in lasagna. 

Head over here if you’re looking for more recipes for the Instant Pot!

bowl of meat sauce with instant pot behind

My mom makes the best meat sauce. The best. It’s one of those meals that I just can’t quite replicate perfectly. Or at least I always feel like it’s not quite right.  My sons, on the other hand, will tell you that mine is as good as Grammy’s — maybe even better. (Mom’s is always best, right??)

This red sauce is an adaptation for the Instant Pot, for those of us who need to get dinner on the table in a hurry without stirring a pot on the stove for hours.

An easy meat sauce that comes together in under an hour in an Instant Pot, but tastes like it’s been simmering all day? It’s a winner.

Not sure what an Instant Pot is? Read my introduction to Instant Pot cooking here!

Notes on this Instant Pot meat sauce recipe

This recipe calls for Italian sausage and ground beef. If you prefer a different kind of ground meat, that’s perfectly fine. Ground chicken or ground turkey will make a little bit lighter red sauce. (I just wish they’d stop using Styrofoam to package it!)

red pepper flakes in a silver measuring spoon

Related: Easy Meals to Cook at Home (for Less!)

The red pepper adds a bit of sweetness to the sauce, the pepper flakes, a bit of spice. The red wine gives the sauce a richer flavor, but if you prefer to leave it out, the meat sauce will still emerge from the Instant Pot tasting great.

This recipe calls for canned tomatoes. If you’re a home canner, feel free to substitute your homemade version in equal amounts. Not everybody has tackled home canning yet, though, and I wanted this easy meat sauce recipe to be easy enough for everyone to make. You can also use fresh Roma tomatoes; use about eight cups of chopped Romas to replace the canned tomato products.

If you do not have an Instant Pot, no worries. Simply follow the instructions, but use a large stock pot instead. For a really flavorful sauce, cook over medium-low heat for two-to-three hours, stirring often to prevent sticking.

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red meat sauce on a wooden spoon

Meal Ideas

Of course this sauce is delicious on pasta. But with half of the people in my household avoiding wheat, we don’t eat it that way very often. Most of us have come to prefer eating it scooped over a hot bowl of polenta or cooked spaghetti squash. It’s a must in homemade lasagna, and it’s a tasty topping for baked potatoes.

red meat sauce in a white bowl from above

★ Did you make this Instant Pot meat sauce? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below! ★

bowl of meat sauce with instant pot behind

Instant Pot Meat Sauce

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This rich and flavorful meat sauce is easy in the Instant Pot. Serve it over pasta, polenta, or just alongside a loaf of crusty French bread for dipping!


  • 2 pounds ground Italian Sausage, mild
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups tomato sauce, 15 ½ ounce can
  • 1 3/4 cups diced tomatoes, 14 ounce can
  • 3 3/4 cups tomato puree, 29 ounce can
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup red wine, optional


  1. Turn the pressure cooker on to saute mode. Add in the ground beef, sausage and onion. Brown meat and drain any excess grease. browned meat in a silver pot
  2. Add remaining ingredients and close the lid on the pressure cooker. Turn the pressure valve to sealing. browned meat with tomatoes on top
  3. Set for a manual high-pressure time of 12 minutes, allowing for a quick pressure release at the end of the cooking time.


Serves 12

If you prefer a different kind of ground meat, that’s perfectly fine. Ground chicken or ground turkey will make a little bit lighter red sauce. 

This recipe calls for canned tomatoes. If you’re a home canner, feel free to substitute your homemade version in equal amounts. 

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 388Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 10gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 943mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 20g

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About the author: Kris Bordessa is an award-winning National Geographic author and a certified Master Food Preserver. If you want to send Kris a quick message, you can get in touch here.

17 comments… add one
  • Cynthia Mar 24, 2021 @ 10:06

    Also, if I don’t have any wine and only 2 lbs of ground meat would I adjust the other liquid amounts?

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 24, 2021 @ 15:42

      Changing a recipe will definitely change the end result, but try to keep the amount of liquid the same.

  • Cynthia Mar 24, 2021 @ 10:00

    If I only have crushed tomato cans and diced cans, would I just substitute equal parts or would it come out different?

    • Kris Bordessa Apr 24, 2021 @ 15:41

      Try to keep the tomato quantities the same.

  • J laguna Jan 18, 2021 @ 16:47

    I am excited to try this recipe. Do I understand this right? If I use 8 cups of cut up roma tomatoes I do not need the canned sauce, puree, and diced tomatoes? Need to cut some of the sodium down. Thank you.

    • Kris Bordessa Mar 11, 2021 @ 8:30

      I think that would work!

  • Stephanie Jan 11, 2021 @ 17:53

    Taste great. I doubled the recipe, added a chopped jalepeno and garlic. Looking forward to making lasagna with it.

  • Jean Servideo Oct 11, 2020 @ 10:39

    This truly needs some minced garlic!

    Sugar or honey, even carrots would cut the acid vs. chopped red peppers which are too pricey!

    • Kris Bordessa Oct 12, 2020 @ 8:42

      What I love about cooking is that we can all modify recipes to our own liking!

  • Melinda Aug 6, 2020 @ 12:59

    I’ve made this over and over and can’t believe I haven’t left a comment. Thanks for posting this recipe! It’s now our families favorite meat sauce!

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 6, 2020 @ 15:21

      Oh, I’m so glad! Thanks for telling me. 🙂

  • Peggy Jun 22, 2020 @ 12:19

    I freeze whole tomatoes and use them for sauces. Would I still need 8 cups for the sauce?

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 1, 2020 @ 8:25

      Yes, I’d use equal amounts of fresh tomatoes to the various tomato products.

  • Kari Jul 16, 2019 @ 3:23

    Made this tonight for dinner and it was a real hit. I work full time and just started using an instant pot for the first time. I loved how straight forward and quick this recipe was to make. The ingredients were simple but the sauce is full of flavor. We will be making this one again if we ever finish eating all of this batch. It makes a lot! Which is perfect if you want to put some up.

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 16, 2019 @ 16:56

      Glad to hear it!

  • EDDIE DYSON May 19, 2019 @ 1:58

    This sounds like a goooood recipe except cooking beef, sausage, and onions and then draining the “oil”.
    Where do all the seasonings from the sausage and the juice from the onions go. DOWN THE DRAIN!!!!!!!!!!

    • Kris Bordessa May 19, 2019 @ 7:25

      It depends some on how fatty the meat is. If it’s swimming in grease, I’ll drain. If it’s just a small or moderate amount, feel free to not drain.

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