Easy Instant Pot Tortellini with Meat Sauce

Easy Instant Pot Tortellini with Meat Sauce served in a white bowl

My family loves my Instant Pot tortellini with meat sauce because it’s so hearty and savory, and easy to make. They remind me to share the recipe on Nut Free Wok so they can make it when it’s their turn to cook dinner on a busy weeknight.

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Easy weeknight dinner with leftovers for lunch

I’ve been obsessing over dry tortellini ever since I saw them at Price Club (now Costco) as a college student. Boil them and they become cheesy dumplings!

When I am super busy, I make this Instant Pot Tortellini with Meat Sauce for my family. It’s very easy to make with jarred pasta sauce. I know they like it too when they get seconds or ask me for the recipe, so I’m adding it to the blog for them. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

The stovetop method to cooking this recipe will require using two pots, one to boil the tortellini for 18 minutes and a second to cook the meat sauce. Cooking this recipe in an Instant Pot is easy because you don’t have to watch the pots while the tortellini cooks and the sauce simmers and cooks in one pot. The resulting tortellini is covered with beefy tomato sauce with veggies.

Easy Instant Pot Tortellini with Meat Sauce served in a white bowl

Is tortellini nut-free?

Tortellini is usually filled with cheese but it’s important to check for cross-contact if a brand also makes pesto filled ravioli. Trader Joe’s used to sell nut-free dried ravioli and dried tortellini until it was discontinued recently.

These days I buy dry tortellini from Target’s Good and Gather brand which doesn’t include any nuts in the ingredients nor has an allergen advisory. I called Target to ask them about potential cross-contact and the customer service representative told me that if there is potential cross-contact on their store brand products, they would include the information on the label. I recommend that you call and check for yourself.

If you know of other brands of dried tortellini that are nut-free and delicious, please share in the comments. I think Barilla is available in major supermarkets but I would like to try other brands as well.

collage of cooked tortellini with meat sauce in a bowl, ingredients, saute onions, and saute beef
I’m trying to do better to take some process photos for illustrative purposes.

How to Cook Tortellini in an Instant Pot

I am aware that people sometimes end up with a “burn” notice when they cook pasta in an Instant Pot. I have never experienced that making this recipe. Here are my top tips to avoid the dreaded burn notice.

  • In this recipe you will first saute the onions, garlic, and meat. Then it’s crucial you follow the step by step recipe instructions to layer the dried tortellini, sauce, and water.
  • Avoid pouring water over the sauce. Pouring water over the sauce could push the sauce to the bottom of the pot too early, and the sauce will burn. I recommend pouring the sauce on one side of the pot and then pouring the water on the other side.
  • The second thing to be aware of is that before you put the lid on, you will need to be sure to press cancel and switch from saute mode to pressure cook mode.
  • This recipe takes about 10 minute to pressure cook and then natural pressure release for 5 minutes. You don’t want to open it right away nor wait too long. Wait 5 minutes for the pot to natural pressure release and when the pin drops, use a large sturdy wooden spoon to gently stir the tortellini and meat sauce so that everything is evenly distributed throughout.

collage of the cooked tortellini in a bowl, dried tortellini layered on top of the meat, adding sauce and water on different sides of the pot, and how the dish looks when done pressure cooking
Top right, after sauting the meat, add the dry tortellini on top. Bottom left: add the sauce on one side and pour the water on the other side. Bottom right: this is how the tortellini will look when you open the lid. Add your baby spinach, if using, and gently stir.

Recipe Variations

Add some chopped carrots with the onions for more veggies. You can substitute the ground beef with ground turkey or ground chicken if desired. I also like to add a bag of baby spinach or super greens (baby spinach, baby kale, and baby chard) after pressure cooking. Gently stir it in with the meat sauce and tortellini.

I’ve tried other pasta shapes and results vary. Farfalle tends to be al dente accross the thickest part of the pasta. Penne ends up losing its shape because more water is necessary to cover them. And fusili falls apart.

Allergy Aware Tortellini with Meat Sauce

This recipe is free of peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and sesame as written.

Tortellini has wheat, milk, and egg ingredients.

A dairy-free variation is to use spaghetti (some are egg-free too) instead of tortellini. If the package says to cook the spaghetti for 10 to 12 minutes, then program your Instant Pot to pressure cook for 7 minutes. You will need to break the spaghetti in half so that pasta will fit in the pot. Be sure to spread it out so the pasta doesn’t clump together. When cooking spaghetti, you will not need as much water to cover the dry spaghetti (maybe 30-32 ounces).

Easy Instant Pot Tortellini with Meat Sauce served in a white bowl
5 from 5 votes

Easy Instant Pot Tortellini with Meat Sauce

My family loves my Instant Pot tortellini with meat sauce and remind me to share the recipe on Nut Free Wok because they want to fast and easy recipes for busy weeknight dinners.

Course Dinner entree, lunch
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword ground beef, instant pot, meat sauce, tomato sauce, tortellini
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
pressurizing and pressure release 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef 93% lean
  • 1 pound tortellini dried
  • 1 24-ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 4.5 cups water
  • 1 5-ounce bag baby spinach optional
  • parmesean cheese to serve at the table
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped


  1. Press saute (high) and preheat until the Instant Pot is hot. Add the oil, chopped onion and garlic, and saute until the onions are slightly translucent (5 minutes).

  2. Then add the meat and saute until the meat is browned (5 minutes). Press cancel to stop the saute mode while you layer on the ingredients. Add the dried tortellini.
  3. Then add a jar of marinara sauce only on side of the pot and do not stir. Fill the jar with water to rinse out the jar and pour it on the other side of the pot, do not stir. Fill the jar about halfway and add it to the watery side of the pot until the water covers all of the tortellini, do not stir.

  4. Cover the Instant Pot with the lid and lock. Press “pressure cook” and program the Instant Pot to cook for 10 minutes with 5 minutes natural pressure release.
  5. After 5 minutes natural pressure release, quick release the pot and carefully remove the lid. At this point, add the spinach, if using. Use a large study spoon or spatula to stir the meat sauce with the tortellini gently. Put the lid back on and wait 5 minutes for the excess liquid to be absorbed and if using, the spinach to warm up.

  6. Serve immediately, with grated parmesean cheese on the side as desired.

Related Recipes

Pasta with Chicken Sausages, Tomato & Brie Recipe – this is a great recipe for potlucks, picnics, bbq and light easy meals during the summer.

Garlic Noodles Recipe, Vietnamese Inspired – excellent side dish

Wonton Mein (Wonton Noodle Soup) Recipe – meat and noodles!

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About Sharon Wong 275 Articles
Welcome to Nut Free Wok, a blog about Allergy Aware Asian Fare. I hope that you will find my food allergy mom experiences helpful and enjoyable to read as I write about recipes, cooking techniques, Asian ingredients, and food allergy related awareness and advocacy issues. My professional experiences include education, teaching, and a little bit of science and computers. Thank you for visiting! ~Sharon Wong, M.Ed.


  1. 5 stars
    This is such a fantastic way to prepare tortellini–that homemade meat sauce is just perfect! Definitely one I’ll make again, thank you for sharing 🙂

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