Beef ragu is a meaty sauce made with white wine, beef stock, tomatoes and plenty of aromatics. This ragu sauce recipe less tomato-y than you might imagine, but trust me, this beef ragu recipe is the one you want on your favorite pasta dishes. To make this slow-cooking, all-day endeavor into an appropriate weeknight dish, I’ve turned it into an Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce (and have included instructions for slow cooker and traditional methods as well). If you’re looking for good Instant Pot ground beef recipes, you’ll love this quick and easy Instant Pot Ragu.
This is my go-to beef ragu recipe because it makes a lot (usually enough for several meals) and it’s really easy to make. My guy likes this ragu sauce recipe better than traditional beefed up marinaras because the meat is really the star.
Why Instant Pot Ragu?
Making the ragu sauce recipe in a pressure cooker takes less time than standard slower cooking methods, with only about 20 minutes of hands on prep and 45 minutes of actual pressure cooking as opposed to several hours of simmering and stirring, making this Instant Pot spaghetti sauce a do-able thing on a Wednesday night.
For this beef ragu, I actually start with BACON. Many traditional ragu sauce recipes call for pancetta, which is delicious, too. However, pancetta is cured, not smoked and I think the bacon adds a depth of flavor that goes beyond pancetta. Another unusual addition is a chopped roasted red bell pepper (you can use jarred) for a little sweetness.
Ingredients For Instant Spaghetti Sauce
- Ground Sirloin
- Roasted Red Pepper
- Bay Leaves
- Chopped Tomatoes
- Beef Broth
- White Wine
- Tomato Paste
It’s important to build the flavors in layers, adding the ingredients in the proper order to coax out the best of each one.
Layering The Flavors For Beef Ragu
- Cook the bacon until crisp and the fat has rendered.
- Add ground beef to the pot and cook until browned.
- Add the chopped aromatics (onion, celery, carrots and garlic) and cook until the vegetables are softened and fragrant.
- Stir in the remainder of the ingredients until combined.
- Cook in the method you’ve chosen (Instant pot or other pressure cooker, slow cooker, dutch oven).
The Difference Between Meat Spaghetti Sauce and Beef Ragu
There are several noticeable differences between your standard spaghetti sauce with meat and this hearty Instant Pot beef ragu recipe. Most notably, is the addition of white wine and beef broth. Instead of being a tomato-based sauce, this one is more balanced and meaty with the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste augmenting, but not overtaking the flavors. That single roasted bell pepper isn’t a dominant flavor either. It takes a supporting role, softening the acidity of the tomatoes.
How Long Do I Cook Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce?
In reality, it will take about 5-10 minutes to bring the Instant Pot Beef Ragu to pressure and 5-10 minutes to release the pressure naturally. So while the actual pressure cooking time is 45 minutes, you can plan on an additional 10-20 minutes.
Pressure Cooker Vs. Traditional Methods
That’s still quicker than the several hours of traditional stove top cooking or the 6-8 hours in a crock pot. That said, I won’t deny that the longer, slower simmers will produce an even thicker and richer sauce. If you’ve got the time, I’d go with one of the alternative methods. Not only will your house smell AH-MAZING, the evaporation process actually concentrates the flavors making them deeper and incredibly enticing.
What Do I Do With Leftover Instant Pot Ragu?
I mentioned that this recipe makes a lot of sauce, about 2 quarts worth. If you have a large crew, one batch should do it, but if you’re like me and only have a few mouths to feed, you’ll want to store the leftovers.
- The good news is, this Instant Pot spaghetti sauce, freezes beautifully. Transfer leftovers to a food storage container and freeze for up to two months. Defrost before reheating.
- If you’re planning on serving the sauce another time in the next week or so, store it in glass jars (I like the canning jars, because they’re pretty and you can heat up the sauce in the microwave without staining. (Just be sure to remove the metal lid first).
Instant Pot Ground Beef Recipes:
Instant Pot Spaghetti Sauce Recipes:
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Instant Pot Beef Ragu Sauce
- Instant Pot, Slow Cooker or Dutch Oven
- 2 slices smoked bacon diced
- 2 pounds ground sirloin
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 medium stalks celery diced
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 4 large cloves garlic minced
- 1 roasted red pepper chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 1/2 cups finely chopped tomatoes in their juice (or good quality tomato sauce)
- 1 cup low-sodium beef broth
- 3/4 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste.
For Instant Pot:
- Press the Saute function on the Instant Pot and add the chopped bacon. Cook until the bacon has rendered its fat and starts to turn golden.
- Add the ground beef to the bacon and break it up with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook until the ground beef is no longer pink.
- Stir in the chopped onion, celery, garlic, carrots and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until the vegetables are just starting to get tender.
- Add the basil and oregano, chopped tomatoes, beef broth, white wine and tomato paste. Stir to combine.
- Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and set to high pressure for 45 minutes. Let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally. Adjust seasoning and serve over pasta, zucchini noodles or gnocchi.
For Slow Cooker:
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the chopped bacon and saute for 2-3 minutes or until the bacon has rendered its fat and has started to brown, stirring occasionally.
- Add the ground beef to the skillet and break it up with the back of a spoon, cooking until the beef has browned. Stir in the chopped onion, celery, carrots, garlic and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are just tender.
- Transfer the ground beef mixture to the crock pot and stir in the basil, oregano, tomatoes, beef broth, white wine and tomato paste. Place the lid on the Slow Cooker and set to Low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Adjust seasoning and serve over pasta, zucchini noodles or gnocchi.
For Dutch Oven/Stovetop Method:
- In a large dutch oven set over medium high heat, add the chopped bacon and saute for 2-3 minutes or until the bacon has rendered its fat and has begun to brown. Stir occasionally.
- Add the ground beef to the pot and break it apart with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring frequently until the ground beef has browned.
- Stir in the chopped onion, carrots, celery and garlic cooking until the vegetables start to get tender, about 3-5 minutes. Add the basil, oregano, chopped tomatoes, beef broth, white wine and tomato paste and stir to combine.
- Place the lid on the dutch oven so that a little steam can escape and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning and serve over pasta, zucchini noodles or gnocchi.