This easy Instant Pot Pasta Sauce has a deep, rich, all day simmered flavor, but takes just 25 minutes in your pressure cooker. Loaded with veggies, this healthy tomato sauce is vegetarian and easily made vegan. Perfect for spaghetti, lasagna, and other pasta dishes.
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For the longest time I couldn't understand the appeal of making homemade pasta sauce. I mean, what's the point when you could crack the lid on a perfectly delicious jar of marinara sauce and call it a day?
But then I tasted my friend's Italian nona's all day simmered tomato sauce and I wanted some privacy with it, it was that good.
I don't have an Italian nona, and don't have the patience to simmer things all day long. You know what I DO have? An Instant Pot! And it turns out that layering in the right flavours and pressure cooking the heck out of it will give you that same all day taste in just a fraction of the time.
And that, my friends, is why we're here today.
This Instant Pot Pasta Sauce is a game changer. It's made with simple, everyday ingredients, lots of love, and the magic of pressure cooking all those flavours together in a perfectly delicious way. Trust me, with a batch of this stuff in on hand in your freezer, you won't be going back to the canned stuff anytime soon.
Here's what you'll need to make Instant Pot Pasta Sauce:
- Canned, crushed tomatoes --> You can also start with diced or whole canned tomatoes if you prefer, but I like the texture of crushed.
- Onion --> A big yellow guy all diced up.
- Carrot --> About a cup of diced carrot.
- Celery --> For a little somethin' something'.
- Garlic --> Obviously.
- Red wine --> For building in deeeeeep flavour.
- Butter --> This creates richness.
- Tomato paste --> A bit of on brand umami.
- Honey --> To balance the acidity a bit.
- Spices --> We're using dried oregano, basil, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
You can't make Instant Pot Pasta Sauce without an Instant Pot! Of course any other brand of electric pressure cooker will be fine, but I have only tested the timings in my IP.
If you don't have a pressure cooker and you want to make this pasta sauce recipe stove top, I recommend a nice heavy bottomed pot like this one.
How do you make Instant Pot pasta sauce?
Easy peasy, my friends. I'll talk you through it.
Step 1: Turn your Instant Pot to the sauté setting on normal heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil, and add the onions. Sauté for a couple of minutes until they start to turn translucent. I love a wooden spoon for this.
Step 2: Add the carrots, celery, and garlic, and sauté for another 3-5 minutes until the vegetables are softened and just starting to take on a golden hue. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the pot well.
Step 3: Cancel the sauté function. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, butter, red wine, honey, herbs, and salt and pepper.
Step 4: Place the lid on your Instant Pot, seal, and set to "pressure cook, high" for 25 minutes. Make sure the vent is sealed. It will take about 10-15 minutes for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure.
Step 5: Once the pressure cooking cycle is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes, and then quick release the remaining pressure.
Voila! Your pasta sauce is ready.
If you prefer a super smooth pasta sauce (parents of picky eaters, I see you) you can always run it through a food mill or purée with an immersion blender at this stage. Be sure to remove the bay leaf first!
Can this recipe be made vegan?
Totes. Use olive oil in place of the butter, sugar in place of the honey, and be sure to use a vegan-friendly wine. Then you're good to go.
Do I have to use the wine in this recipe?
Red wine gives the pasta sauce a deep, rich flavour so I do recommend keeping it in. But if for any reason you can't or prefer not to use wine in your cooking, you can replace it with an equivalent amount of vegetable broth.
Can I freeze this pasta sauce?
You sure can! You can either portion it into wide-mouth Mason jars (be sure to leave adequate head space for freezing) or, I love freezing Instant Pot Pasta Sauce in these reusable silicon freezer bags.
Help! My sauce is too runny.
Worry not, your pasta sauce will thicken considerably as it cools (see the photo below, that's taken after an overnight stint in the fridge). However, if you'd like to thicken it up, switch your Instant Pot onto the sauté function on low, and let it simmer until it's adequately thick.
How should I use Instant Pot Pasta Sauce?
Spoon it on top of spaghetti or use it to make a cheesy Vegetarian Ravioli Bake. Use it to make a delicious veggie-packed Kale Lasagna. Mmmmm. Or, for a lower carb option, you can use your Instant Pot Pasta Sauce in these Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash Noodles. Or how about Vegetarian Baked Ziti? So, so good.
Hey Nutrition Lady, are tomatoes good for you?
Tomato toe-mah-toe. However you like to say it, there’s no doubt that the sweet summer fruits are juicy little bombs of nutrition, whether they're canned or fresh.
Tomatoes are known for their antioxidant content, notably lycopene. Good for your prostates, fellas; eating tomatoes may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
Other antioxidants include vitamin C, and beta carotene. As far as phytonutrients go, tomatoes are top of the charts. They contain flavonoids, carotenoids, and glycosides to name just a few.
Eating tomatoes has been shown to be beneficial for the profile of fats in our bloodstream. Specifically, tomato intake has been linked to reduced total cholesterol, reduced LDL cholesterol, and reduced triglyceride levels. This makes our hearts happy!
Tomatoes are also an excellent source of vitamin K, copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E, and phosphorus.
Other delicious recipes you might enjoy:
Red Lentil Stew
Creamy One-Pot Pasta with Peas
Orecchiette with Broccoli and Lemon
Vegetarian Pesto Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes
20 Vegetarian Instant Pot Recipes
Instant Pot Pasta Sauce
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 cup diced carrot
- 1 cup diced celery
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 3 cans crushed tomatoes three 14oz / 400g cans
- 4 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup dry red wine or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoon butter or olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey or sugar
- 3 small bay leaves
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup vegetable broth or water I rinse out the tomato cans and use this as the extra liquid
- Set your Instant Pot to the sauté setting on "normal" heat.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and add the diced onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, until just translucent.1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, 1 large onion
- Add the garlic, carrots, and celery, and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are starting to soften and just take on a golden hue.1 cup diced carrot, 3 cloves garlic, 1 cup diced celery
- Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, butter, honey, oregano, basil, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and extra liquid.3 cloves garlic, 3 cans crushed tomatoes, 4 tablespoon tomato paste, ½ cup dry red wine, 2 tablespoon butter, 1 teaspoon honey, 3 small bay leaves, 2 teaspoon dried oregano, 2 teaspoon dried basil, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1 cup vegetable broth or water
- Seal the lid, and set to manual pressure cooking on high pressure for 25 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes to come up to pressure.
- When the pressure cooking cycle is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally for 15 minutes, and then quick release the remaining pressure.
- Remove the bay leave, stir the pasta sauce, and purée if desired.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only.
- Pasta sauce can be frozen once completely cooled in glass jars (be sure to leave adequate head space) or silicon freezer bags.
- To make vegan pasta sauce, replace the butter with olive oil and the honey with sugar. Be sure to use a vegan wine.
- You can replace the red wine with vegetable broth if you don't want to cook with wine.
This recipe was originally published January 7th, 2020. It was retested, edited, and updated on February 4th, 2022.
I can't wait to try this along with your kale lasagna this weekend. In an 8 qt instant pot would it be feasible to double the recipe in your opinion?
Hi Jamie, to be honest I'm not sure about doubling this recipe. I have a 6qt Instant Pot, and when I make it the pot is quite full... so it kind of depends on where your fill line is in an 8qt, which is impossible to know unless you try it! If you do give it a go, please be sure to let us know how it turns out!
It did fit! And the recipe (as well as the kale lasagna) is delicious!!
Good to know!!!
Made a big batch of the sauce this weekend and we loved it. I didn't have red pepper flakes, so I substituted a small amount of chilli flakes which made it too spicy for my little kids, but the rest of us loved it.
A delicious and nutricious pasta sauce! I made it for use in Katie's kale lasagna recipe (https://www.heynutritionlady.com/kale-lasagna-with-cottage-cheese/), which was amazing, but will now start making it just as a pasta sauce as well.
I don't have an Instant Pot, but the recipe works just as well in a dutch oven. I gave it about 1.5-2 hours of simmering time until the celery started turning soft, first with the lid off for about 1 hour to reduce the sauce, and then with the lid on.
If you have an oven-proof dutch oven, you can let the sauce simmer in the oven at about 175°C (350°F) without and then with the lid on, for about the same time or longer. It's pretty convenient and doesn't require much attention. Just make sure there's enough liquid left to prevent the sauce from becoming to dry or burning.
This is a delicious pasta sauce. I really appreciate how you have inserted the ingredient measurements in along with the method!
I love having some of this sauce frozen instead of buying jars of marinara. So easy to put together
Super simple and tastes great...but: my Instant Pot gave me a 'burn notice' (?) after I stopped the saute function and started the pressure cooking. I had to stop, scrape, and start again. I suggest it might be a good idea to do a really good scrape and mix of the ingredients after the saute step.
I've had that happen a few times with recipes that are a bit on the thicker side, including my red lentil stew. Haven't had it happen with this recipe before, and I think it may vary from IP to IP (some tend to cook hotter than others).