with Quick Pressure Cooker Ragu Recipe (Lesson 3)

pressure cooker sausage ragout
How quick?  Only 5 minutes under pressure quick! The rest of the cooking is done without the pressure cooking lid combining traditional cooking techniques with your super-fast pressure cooker.

You will want to serve this sauce with a “bumpy” or “grrovy” pasta, so that all the little sausage pieces can get stuck inside  and onto the pasta. I recommend Orechiette (pictured), Fusilli, or Miniature Penne. Any long egg pasta, which is naturally groovy, will also do.If you have a pressure cooking set with a smaller sauce or fry pan, this would be the pan to use for this recipe – though a bigger one will also work.  The smaller internal area will allow the pan to reach pressure faster, and help avoid any complications related to tomatoes in the pressure cooker.When making tomato-based sauces in the pressure cooker,  I always recommend using canned chopped or whole tomatoes, or fresh tomatoes roughly chopped with all of their juices and skin, instead of the puree because the liquid is available to vaporize immediately as opposed to a thick puree’ that needs to reach a boil to release it’s vapor.  This will result in a more rustic sauce. But, if members in your household  threaten to leave at the sight of  tomato pieces, you can always  smooth out the sauce later with an immersion blender.

Browning in Stainless Steel Pressure Cookers

For many, the pressure cooker is their first foray into the world of stainless steel pans – which work differently than non-stick so you will need to make some adjustments and tweaks to your cooking style:

  • Preheat the pan. This is a big no-no for non-sticks! Put the pan on medium-low heat completely empty, without the top, for 2-3 minutes.   Do not be alarmed if the pan starts making little clicking sounds while it is preheating – that is the metal expanding and is completely normal.
  • Add Cold Oil or Butter. A magical non-stick coating will form on your stainless steel pan once the cold  oil,  butter, or both, hit the hot pan and begin to “shimmer” – that is what happens right before they bubble and boil.
  • Adjust the cooking temperature. The bottom of  your pressure cooker is nice an thick and distributes heat very well.  So lower the temperatures you’ve been using to force food to brown in your non-stick pans. If you were using high heat, go medium, if you were using medium go medium-low. You will need to experiment to find just the right amount of heat for your food to begin browning and not burning.
  • Stir a little more. Don’t leave anything sizzling too long in one place give everything a good whirl a little more often than you’re used to.
  • Un-stick. If things start to stick, add a tablespoon of water and watch them magically peel off the bottom as you give them a light scrape.

Don’t walk away and forget a simmering pressure cooker!  Check back often and twirl everything around to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.

Browning in Electric Pressure Cookers

Most electric pressure cookers have a “brown” or “simmer” button that allow you to operate the pressure cooker without its lid (check your manual for details). In the case that you have an early or economical model without this function, you should follow these steps of the recipe in a separate pan, and then add the browned food to your pressure cooker and proceed with the recipe.

For electrics that don’t have a specific button, check the manual. You may be able to start any pressure cooking program without the lid – thereby heating the base (don’t worry, the cooker can’t reach pressure without the lid).

see also: Stovetop to Electric Recipe Translator

I’ve only heard of a couple of models of electric pressure cookers without a non-stick coated insert, if you have one of these, you don’t need to read further, otherwise:

Never preheat an empty non-stick pressure cooker!

    Specifically, do not put your pressure cooker on “simmer” or “brown” mode when it is empty. Add oil or butter first, then watch it carefully and quickly add the ingredients indicated in the recipe and begin cooking.


More flavor magic happens when you de-glaze – add liquid to a sizzling hot pan to un-stick and incorporate the caramelized (not burned) pieces of food into your recipe.  You can de-glaze your pressure pan with any liquid, including tomato sauce, broth, wine, lemon juice even balsamic vinegar  can give your recipe that extra zing.

When using high-alcohol liquors and wines for de-glazing on a gas stovetop, turn off the flame so that you do not flambe’ the contents of the pan, or yourself!


Nothing too complicated about reducing liquids in your pressure cooker.  First, open the pressure cooker in the quickest method possible – Normal Release for electrics. Then, put the pan back on medium to medium-low heat without the top to reduce the recipe to the desired thickness.

You can use the same setting on your electric pressure cooker that you used to brown.

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
2 L or larger none 5-7 min. High(2) Normal

4.3 from 3 reviews
Quick Pressure Cooker Ragu (Meat Sauce)
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Serving size: ⅙th
  • Calories: 171.2
  • TOTAL Fat: 11.7g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 6.0g
  • Sugar Carbs: 1.6g
  • Sodium: 501.8mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 0.4g
  • Protein: 9.3g
  • Cholesterol: 43.0mg
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This sauce is enough for one 16oz or 500g package of pasta. You can substitute pork for turkey sausage and use any herb, or combination of herbs you prefer!I like to put on the pot of boiling water for the pasta once I have everything locked in the pressure cooker. The sauce can stay warm in its covered pan for almost an hour, but pasta waits for no man!
  • 10oz (300g) Italian Sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • a few sprigs of fresh Oregano, or ½ Tbsp. dry lightly crushed
  • 14.5 oz (400g) of chopped tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Remove the sausage from it's casing and place it in the cold pressure cooker, with the top off. Now, put the pan on the heat at the lowest setting (keep warm for electric pressure cookers). When the sausage begins to sizzle, break it up further and stir it around with a spatula, or wooden spoon, to allow any liquid evaporate (about 4 minutes).
  2. Bring the heat up to medium and add the onions, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper . Continue browning the sausage and aromatics until the onions have softened (about 5 more minutes). De-glaze your pressure cooker by adding the chopped tomatoes and stirring well to scrape any delicious brown bits stuck to the the bottom of the pan.
  3. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker immediately so that the liquid from the tomatoes does not evaporate.
  4. For electric pressure cookers: Add ½ cup more water and cook for 7 minutes at high pressure.
    For stove top pressure cookers: If your pressure cooker is 6qt or larger or the older-style jiggle-top and weight modified valves you may need to add and additional ½ to 1 cup of water - use the least your pressure cooker will let you get away with so that you don't have to reduce too much after cooking! Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure (with the model I'm using, the pressure cooker has reached pressure when the indicator lifts to display two red lines), lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 5 minutes pressure cooking time.
  5. When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure through the valve.
  6. Check the thickness of the sauce, it will likely need to be reduced to thicken up a bit. If that is the case bring the contents of the cooker back up to a boil without the lid (hit the Saute' or Brown button on your electric pressure cooker )- if tomatoes are splashing out of the pressure cooker the heat is too high so lower it or turn off the Saute' or Brown program! Stir occasionally and check for consistency (about 5 minutes).
  7. When you are satisfied with the consistency of the sauce, pour it and mix it into a hot pot of freshly-drained pasta. Mix well, sprinkle with herbs and serve immediately with grated cheese.

Now that you can brown and de-glaze, you can try…

Try the next Beginner Basics Lesson: Cannelini and Mint Bean Salad The “quick soak” method or view the entire Beginner Basics Course outline!


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  1. Thank You! Great easy to follow instructions and photos. Gabieone

  2. Why do you say in the beginning to always preheat a stainless steel pan before adding food, but then in the recipe you say to put the sausage into a cold pan?

  3. This looks so hearty and comforting and i am sure with the pressure cooker is done in no time!

  4. Thank you for your quick response to my question about starting temps in stainless steel pans. Your explanation makes perfect sense. I am really enjoying these lessons!

  5. That is a great question. In general, when cooking in stainless steel, you need to preheat it. For this recipe, specifically, we are rendering the fat to use as oil, so we start with a cold pan and very low heat to melt the fat of the meat.

    Thanks for the feedback, I should mention this exception for sausages, pancetta and bacon in the “lesson” part of this recipe! Dropping any of these in hot oil would sear them and not render the fat – in addition to adding more fat!



  6. I’ve been using the pressure cooker for years, but not cooking anything special. Thank you so much for this course. I’m really learning and enjoying.

  7. What did I do wrong? My sauce burnt while I was pressure cooking it! I’m pretty sure I followed the directions. We were still able to eat it, and it tasted pretty good! Don’t know how I’ll get the pan clean

  8. Oh dear! First I need to know the following information: What kind of pressure cooker do you have (jiggle-top), what size is it, and what kind of cook-top do you have (gas, electric, ect.)?

    To clean: Add half vinegar and water up to the burnt line and let sit overnight. Then, tackle it with your strongest scrubby sponge (I have a stainless steel mesh one) going with the grain of of the metal – for example, the grain is usually in a “circle” shape on the bottom and horizontal on the sides.

    Usually the high-end pans just need one treatment, the less expensive ones with lower-grade stainless steel, may need two!

    I’m looking forward to hearing from you so we can see figure out what happened and have you making delicious, quick, pasta sauces!


  9. Never tried pasta in a pressure cooker. But it definitely caught my attention as I hate having to wait for the pasta to cook. This recipe seems wonderful. Will definitely try it. Loved your site and the step by step description.

  10. MH, this recipe is just for the sauce, but you can use this sauce and the pressure cooker pasta technique to cook them together.

    The flavor of both, will be unforgettable!



  11. is there any chance you could recommend a vegetarian recipe to practice the techniques for this lesson?

    terrific site, regardless.


  12. Bill, try browning and sauteeing artichokes as shown in the Artichoke Carbonara recipe.

    If you’re eating lactose and eggs, you can do the whole recipe without pancetta – add plenty of black pepper!

    If you’re don’t include milk and eggs in your diet, you can make a soy milk and olive oil besciamel and mix that in with the sauteed artichokes – this time spice with white pepper and nutmeg!



  13. This looks wonderful and I am anxious to try it next. Last try with pasta/sauce didn’t go well and I think the pot was too large. Now I am having trouble deciding between a 2.6 or a 5 qt. KR braiser…..any suggestions on which would be more functional? Family of two, but I like leftovers, too.

  14. The 2.5 qt, which I use in this recipe, is perfect for sauces – a cup of rice, or a cup of beans – two light eaters but really made for one. For the most flexibility (cooking pasta AND sauce) I recommend a 5 or 6 qt. Usually, you can halve my recipes in a 5 or 6 qt. without ill effects – just make sure that the minimum liquid is what that pressure cooker needs to reach pressure.



    1. Thank you so much! That settles it; 5 quart makes more sense.

      I had tried your http://www.hippressurecooking.com/pressure-cooker-pasta-casserole-a-cheesy-meaty-mess-mezzemaniche-pasticciate/
      and basically jumped ahead too far in skills. I ruined it by not adding the water, thinking it would create a thicker sauce. Now I have learned, from you (Amazing Pressure Cooker Soup Tips,) to thicken afterwards. I love the tips and tricks and am learning slowly and step by step. (I did learn how to clean the burnt stainless steel, though!)

      Thank you so much!

    2. Let me know how you like the Beginner series, and feel free to post ANY questions!



  15. Hi Laura, great site you have!

    I tried to addapt this to my moussaka. My idea was to steam the eggplant above the sauce during the pressure process. Thus my 6 liter pressure cooker was allmost filled to the brim with sauce and eggplant when I sealed the lid.

    Now I set to medium heat (saw afterwards you recommend high). I did newer reach anny preassure and the sauce got charred at the bottom.

    Did I stuff to much in the cooker (the sauce was 1000g minced lamb and 800g tomatoes + 4 sliced eggplants) or was it due to the medium heat? What do you think?


    1. Sebastian, the idea sounds great – now let’s figure out how to improve the execution.

      Can you tell me a little more about your pressure cooker (size and model) and stove top type?

      Also, did you use tomato puree’ or chopped tomatoes?

      Generally the more you fill your pressure cooker the longer it will take to reach pressure. So bringing it up to pressure means the tomatoes (and meat and eggplants) will need more time to reach a boil.

      Also the “thicker” the tomato puree – the more likely there is a chance of it to scorch. Chopped or “rustic” tomatoes have a fair amount of tomato water that can easily boil to make the necessary vapor to reach pressure.

      Another issue could be that the aluminum disk isn’t very thick on the base of your pressure cooker – this would cause most of your recipes with tomatoes to scorch.

      Let me hear more about your set-up and then I can give you more advice on how to work with your cooker to make that “perfect” pressure cooker Moussaka.



  16. I have a Demeyere, volume 6 liters. the stove I use an old electrical one.

    I used chopped tomatoes, and the sauce feltl quite watery. Maybe I could have stired a little until the sauce approached boiling temp and then put on the lid. Now the solids got stuck at the bottom with the water on top.

    Thank you

    1. Hmm.. I’m not familiar with your cooker. It could be the heating element. Next time, make sure to scrape the bottom of the cooker well before closing and use a sugar-free tomato sauce.

      Some water at the top when you open the cooker is normal. You just stir and let it sit for about 30 seconds and it will be perfect!



  17. Pat

    I was directed here via a newspaper article about pressure cookers and your site was mentioned. Very happy I found you. First recipe was chicken broth. Fast and the best tasting broth I’ve ever cooked. Just great!

    Second recipe was a few minutes ago and that was this meat sauce. I had about 6 oz hot Italian and added enough Jimmy Dean to get the 10 oz. Didn’t have oregano so used fresh thyme. Can of Muir Glenn fire roasted crushed tomatoes. I thought it was odd to add the sausage to a cold pan but went w/ your instructions. Well, it’s fabulous. The flavor is concentrated and wonderful. Thank you

    1. Welcome Pat! We’re starting this sauce with a cold cooker to coax the fat of the sausage to melt, instead of just fry. So glad you went with it!



  18. Hi Laura,

    First, this recipe still calls for cold water release in step 5. You wanted to eliminate these, right?

    Recipe is great. Good step through of some more techniques. The sauce came out great, we had it with ridged Ziti which didn’t look as beautiful as your picture but sure was good eating. I used an “Italian” sausage (spices anyway) I make with Venison and Pork Shoulder, good stuff.

    1. Great catch kolekam, I have updated the release method – just when I think I got all of the recipes changed an old one pops up. So glad yours turned out well and it’s great to read that you’re putting your cooker through the paces.

      Happy Holidays!



  19. Laura,

    Just finished up my basic meat ragu from your Hip Pressure cooking book. It was fantastic! Really brought me back to those old time flavors that I thought I had forgotten. The fresh thyme and oregano I have growing in my yard put it right over the top! Surprising that I was able to get fresh oregano this early here in NE WI.

    Love your book Laura! Everyting I have made so far has been perfection! Hope I get a chance to be able cook the majority of recipes in that book.

    JCN in GB WI

    1. That’s great to hear that you’ve had a great experience with the pressure ragu. The pressure cooker really excels at infusing flavors, so it deserves most of the credit. Thanks for your feedback!



  20. Hi–the link to the Quick Italian Paté Spread on this page redirects back to this page–just FYI (and I’d love to try that recipe!) Love your work–thank you. John

    1. Thanks, John! I have fixed the link. You can see the pate’ recipe here:



  21. Hi – I’m confused by this particular recipe. It seems to jump from pressure cooker to cooktop and back again. Or am I missing something and it’s all done in the pressure cooker? (See step #6) Thanks!

    1. I think what might be confusing is that the instructions were originally written for a stovetop pressure cooker and they were not fully updated for electric pressure cookers. I have just updated that step with the following text..

      “Check the thickness of the sauce, it will likely need to be reduced to thicken up a bit. If that is the case bring the contents of the cooker back up to a boil without the lid (hit the Saute’ or Brown button on your electric pressure cooker )- if tomatoes are splashing out of the pressure cooker the heat is too high so lower it or turn off the Saute’ or Brown program! Stir occasionally and check for consistency (about 5 minutes).”

      Ciao and welcome!


  22. Just bought my first pressure cooker. After reading your instructions I’m very glad I have.Can’t wait to get cooking…

  23. What did I do wrong?? So, we keep kosher, and I don’t eat red meat, so all I had available to buy was ground turkey (15% fat on the package) to substitute for the turkey sausage. I used the Instant Pot Duo60.

    It felt like the ground turkey released more juice than fat, so then I felt like the meat + onions were boiling more than they were browning. The more I tried to evaporate the juice before the browning step, the more juice it felt like the meat was releasing! Once I added the diced tomatoes and cooked the sauce under pressure, I opened it up and it looked pretty much like a bunch of large chunks surrounded by liquid. I tried to “reduce” the sauce but all that happened was the liquid just evaporated a bit – the sauce did not get any thicker; it just remained larger chunks now with less liquid. In other words, it wasn’t a coherent sauce, if that makes sense. I ended up using an immersion blender to try to bring the sauce together. The taste was pretty bland – I had had no idea how much salt to add, so I ended up adding a ton more salt and garlic powder in the end to give the sauce more flavor. My husband and I still enjoyed it, but it wasn’t quite as tasty or satisfying as I was expecting. Any tips? Was my downfall the ground turkey? Thanks!

  24. Such an easy dish to follow. Loved its presentation!

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