Hearty, delicious & healthy! This Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce is an easy meal-prep recipe that makes weeknights dinners a breeze. It's also a great way to use up leftover veggies, cheese and meats in your fridge. I call it my "Everything But The Kitchen Sink" pasta sauce.
Prep: In a food processor, throw in garlic cloves and pulse 5-6 times, to chop them fine. Add carrot chunks and repeat the process till carrots are finely chopped. Add mushrooms and pulse 5-7 times to chop them fine as well. Remove in a bowl. Add onion chunks and pulse 5-6 times to chop. Add to the chopped veggies. The reason I do onions separately is so that they stay chunky and don't release their juices.
Heat olive oil in instant pot on SAUTE mode (high). When display reads HOT, add ground meat and spread it in a single layer. Don't stir for 3 minutes. This allows the meat to brown on one side. After 3 minutes, stir the meat and brown another 2 minutes. If making this sauce vegetarian, skip this step.
Break up the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula and stir. Add chopped veggies and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
Add spices, crushed tomatoes and ½-3/4 cup water. Stir everything together. Close lid. Vent set to Sealing. Pressure cook on Manual/Pressure Cook for 10 minutes.
Once cooking time is up, wait 10 minutes before manually releasing pressure (NPR10). Open lid after pin drops. If the sauce looks thinner than you like, simmer for a few minutes on saute mode till it thickens to your desired consistency. Keep in mind that it will thicken more once you add cheese.
Stir in grated parmesan cheese and garnish with basil or parsley before serving.
This sauce can also be easily cooked in a big stock pot or sauce pot. Follow all steps above and cover and cook on medium-heat, for about 15 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes.
Tips for the Ultimate Homemade Spaghetti Sauce:
You can also use your favorite brand of marinara sauce instead of crushed tomatoes, and jazz it up using this recipe.
When using Parmesan cheese, freshly grated is always my first preference. But if short on time, use the grated fresh cheese from the cheese aisle. The green jar just doesn't come close to that, so I wouldn't recommend it.
Cooking pasta in your Instant Pot: I half the lower number in the suggested cook time on the box, and subtract 1 minute from that. So, if a box suggests the cooking time as 10-11 minutes, I cook it for 4 minutes in the Instant Pot (10/2=5; 5-1=4).
I use a pound of meat for this recipe. You can add any meat or a combinations of meats that you have on hand, like ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken), raw sausage, chopped cooked sausage, leftover mortadella, salami, shredded chicken, bacon and prosciutto.
The best choice for this Spaghetti sauce is crushed tomatoes. However, if you only have diced tomatoes on hand, puree it coarsely before adding to the pot for best results.
Instead of mushrooms and carrots, you can also add other vegetables like celery, eggplant, zucchini, squash, carrots, cabbage, spinach, kale, and bell peppers. The key is to chop each ingredient finely (using a food processor).
Freezing this sauce is a breeze. I would skip the parmesan cheese and freeze cooled sauce in air-tight containers, for up to 1 month. For serving, thaw the sauce, bring it to a simmer and stir in the parmesan cheese. Garnish with basil and serve with your favorite noodles.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates. If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.