Instant Pot Lentil Bolognese Sauce

Instant Pot Lentil Bolognese Sauce can be made in no time with the help of your electric pressure cooker. Plus, it’s vegetarian and packed with protein & fiber.

I’m always on the lookout for ways to eat more pasta while still keeping my nutrition a bit on track too… That’s because I could seriously eat pasta every single day of my life…

I recently passed by a question on Facebook where someone asked: “If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?”

I started off on the right foot:

  1. Poke
  2. Ceviche

And then, my carb-loving, half Italian-blooded self came through:

3.   Pasta 

Seriously, I think I lived my entire high-school life eating pasta every day… My nana lived next door, and every day after school she would walk us over some of her pasta with sauce. So it’s only habit…

Here’s a pasta recipe that makes me feel a little better about things. It’s vegetarian, packed with fiber and nutrients, and even the pasta is gluten free. And, I made it all with the help of my Instant Pot. It seems whenever I’m cooking bean-based dishes lately, I always use the Instant Pot – It saves so much time, and I love how hands-free it makes the cooking process.

Instant Pot Lentil Bolognese Sauce can be made in no time with the help of your electric pressure cooker. It's vegetarian and packed with protein & fiber.
Instant Pot Lentil Bolognese Sauce can be made in no time with the help of your electric pressure cooker. It's vegetarian and packed with protein & fiber.

This Instant Pot Lentil Bolognese is loaded with veggies – Crimini mushrooms, carrots, celery, and tomatoes… And of course, I had to a glug or two of red wine…

Even though the Instant Pot makes things quicker, this lentil bolognese sauce will still take about 40 minutes from start to finish… Leaving you plenty of time to drink remaining red wine and start your pasta…

I like to serve this Instant Pot Lentil Bolognese over the pasta in big bowls topped with plenty of fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese and a sprinkling of fresh basil. Highly suggested for not only Meatless Monday, but any day of the week.

Wine Pairings for Lentil Bolognese Sauce

  • Try an authentic Italian red wine with this hearty lentil bolognese –  Chianti, Barolo and Teroldego are all great options.

More Instant Pot Recipes

More Lentil Recipes

This Lentil Bolognese Sauce can be made in no time with the help of your Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Lentil Bolognese Sauce

This Lentil Bolognese Sauce can be made in no time with the help of your Instant Pot.
4.91 from 44 votes
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 people


  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 1 stalk celery (finely chopped)
  • 2 carrots (finely chopped)
  • 1 cup finely chopped Crimini mushrooms
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 cup dried lentils (rinsed)
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Coarse salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 pound Barilla Gluten Free Penne (cooked)
  • Pecorino Romano cheese (grated or shaved)
  • Fresh basil (chopped (optional))


  • Press the Sauté function key on your Instant Pot and heat the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Keep the lid off and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions are clear and the vegetables are soft.
  • Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft and have released some liquid and the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomato paste and stir to incorporate, let brown for 2-3 minutes. Add the red wine and stir, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, let evaporate.
  • Add the lentils, tomatoes, water, and spices to the Instant Pot, close the steam release knob and set to manual for 20 minutes. Now is a good time to cook your pasta. When the Lentil Bolognese sauce is done cooking, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve over cooked pasta and top with grated cheese and fresh basil.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Pressure cooker


Calories: 400kcal

64 thoughts on “Instant Pot Lentil Bolognese Sauce”

    • Thanks Catherine – I’m a huge fan of lentils and have noticed that this blog is become overwhelmed with all the lentil recipes lately!!! Do you have any favorite soup recipes that you enjoy with them?

  1. 4 stars
    This makes me want to get an Instant Pot! Love the idea of a bolognese made with lentils – such a great vegetarian option. I’m going to keep this in mind for the future.

  2. I don’t have an instant pot, so I made this recipe on the stove. The flavor was right on, but for some reason, my lentils never became fully tender ( I bought the lentils today and ended up simmering the sauce for an hour). When I make this recipe again, I will increase the amount of mushrooms and minimize or eliminate the lentils.. I enjoyed the excuse to open a bottle of wine when the recipe only called for 1/3 cup 😉

      • You can also soak the lentils overnight before cooking with them the next day, this will drastically reduce cooking time (though to what extent, I am unsure).

  3. I was very disappointed, I took all the time to prepare the meal and then got the “burn” error message on my instant pot. Thought maybe it was b/c I didn’t quite scrape everything off the bottom initially. Scraped it, added 1 cup broth to make sure there was enough liquid, tried again, and got the “burn” error message again. What a waste of 90 minutes.

    • I’m so sorry to hear that Christina! I’ve never gotten a “burn” message on my Instant Pot… I’ve heard of others having this problem too though. No idea what might be causing it… I’m going to do some research!

      • Exact same thing happened to me yesterday, and I was cooking for 15 people at a team retreat. Dinner was delayed by over an hour as I got the burn notice three times, and then eventually just simmered for 20minutes. Very frustrating. Flavours were amazing, but proportions did not work in the instant pot.

        • I’m so sorry to hear that you and others are having this issue Katelynn. I’ve made this recipe several times and have had no issues. I’m going to test this out again very soon and see if I can figure out what may be happening. Thank you for the feedback.

          • 5 stars
            I got a burn notice too, scrapped the bottom and added a little vegetable broth. It worked great after that and the recipe was delicious! I think you just need to practice with the instant pot more if you keep getting burn notices.

    • Just a thought but are you turning your Instant Pot off completely in between functions? I used to get the “burn” error. But I decided to turn off and actually unplug (perhaps overkill?!) in between sauté, and then setting the pressure part of recipe. This has totally fixed my problem. Have never gotten the burn indicator again.

    • Hi Christina this happens to me all the time since I switched from a Crockpot brand electric pressure cooker to the IP (I NEVER had to seglaze anything in the Crockpot one and never had a problem! )
      Very disappointing. I hate the extra deglazing step (because it doesn’t work most times anyway!). I work around it now by doing any sauteeing in a seperate pan before putting it in the pot. It’s the only fail-safe way I’ve found to prevent that annoying burn error. Bummer to have to dirty an.extra pan for what should be a one pot recipe, but beats spending hours having several goes at cooking something only for it to end up failing.
      I have seen you can now order a non-stick pot for the IP to use instead of the standard one. I think that m8ght help. I’m going to order it and give it a try 🤞

  4. 5 stars
    Delicioso! I didn’t have any celery, tomato paste or basil (used dried oregano), but this still turned out very well. (No burning. I have the impression that Instant Pots may not all be calibrated equally.) I will certainly check out your other IP recipes.

  5. I’m also frustrated. I have a brand new pressure cooker and I got a burn warning as well. It made a huge mess and I had to cook it on the stove. What kind of lentils did you use? They are many kinds maybe that’s the error?

    • I’m so sorry Jacqueline – I used brown lentils. I’m definitely going to re-test this recipe. I’m so sorry that so many people are having issues with it.

      • Hi Erin! I don’t have a pressure cooker but would love to try & make this on the stove. I know it will take a bit longer but that’s fine. Could you please give some insight on how to cook on the stove? Not too familiar with cooking with lentils but would love to start.

  6. 5 stars
    This was so good! I did get the burn notice once but opened the lid, really scraped the bottom well and pushed the bay leaf to the top so it wasn’t touching, it came right to presssure after that and cooked with no issues. Served with grated cheese over zucchini noodles. Will definitely go in the regular weekly dinner rotation!

    • I’m so happy to hear that it worked out for you Libby! I’m still a bit confused by the burn error though. That shouldn’t be happening. I will be giving it another test out soon!

  7. 5 stars
    This has become a regular in our household. It’s so easy to make and oh so delicious. Family fave! Thank you Erin for sharing it with us.

  8. 5 stars
    Hi Erin!

    I have made this recipe multiple times in my Instant Pot to great success! 🙂 I love lentils! 🙂

    Those getting a burn notice may have be not be adding enough “thin” liquid so when things are boiling, it thickens up too much and the IP shuts down. I do add more thin liquid (water/broth) myself to avoid this, Tomato paste thickens things up and once lentils start cooking, they also thicken the sauce. Also, deglazing needs a thin liquid. You use red wine and then specify that it be evaporated. I don’t drink alcohol so I use water. Evaporating a thin liquid will create a “dry” bottom leading to a burn notice. A couple of suggestions.

    • I’m so happy that it worked for you Viviana – I definitely need to test it again, because I didn’t get the burn notice in my Instant Pot. Thanks for these tips!

  9. I got the burn notice also but I didn’t follow the recipe exact. I added 3/4 broth instead of wine to deglaze and then 700g of Passata. I didn’t add the additional liquid as I though it was enough. I stirred and the lentils got stuck on the bottom. I scraped them and I’m trying again. Fingers crossed!

  10. 5 stars
    I’ve just made this as a lasagna filling and it turned out absolutely delicious! This will be my go to recipe from now on.
    I did notice that after 20 minutes on high pressure, the lentils were not as soft as I wanted them, so I added another ten minutes, but that’s just my preference.

  11. 5 stars
    I made this as a filling for lasagna, but replaced the thyme with basil, since I didn’t have any, and OMG it came out absolutely heavenly!!! This will be my go-to recipe from now on for bolognese and meat sauce.
    One thing I did notice, was that after cooking the lentils on high pressure for 20 minutes, they weren’t as soft as I thought they would be, but maybe that’s just personal preference. I added 10 more minutes, and it was wonderful.
    Love it!

  12. 4 stars
    Just made this tonight, planning on freezing half the batch for next week. I used green lentils as that’s all I had and they cooked perfectly. I didn’t have mushrooms but the flavour came out great. No burn message but I did scrape the bottom well before adding the tomato sauce.

  13. 5 stars
    What a fantastic recipe! I got a few brown bits, but nothing major. My MIL always said: never cook the lentils with salt because they won’t soften, so I suggest adding salt after the lentils are cooked. I omitted thyme but added fennel. Thanks for sharing!

  14. 4 stars
    I have advice for everyone getting the burn notice. I’ve found with sauce and tomato based recipes, DO NOT STIR THE INGREDIENTS. Add the lentils to the bottom of the pot with the veggies, add your liquid, then put the tomato products on top and do not stir it at all. I managed to get it to cook on the first go with no burn notice.

    I also replaced the red wine with water (I didn’t want to crack an entire bottle for just that and I’m not a drinker I keep wine for guests only) and this was still delicious.

  15. 5 stars
    Made this tonight when we were having friends over for dinner. I was a little hesitant due to all the comments about the burn warning, but I didn’t seem to have that problem. I added a little more water than the recipe called for (about 1 1/4 cups total) just to be on the safe side and it turned out perfectly.

  16. I don’t cook in an Instant Pot because it is metal which gets into all of the food cooked in it and especially acidic foods. I use Chantal cookware that is top quality porcelain on steel/ with also copper fusion instead. I won’t touch a coated pan of any type. I thew out all of my stainless steel and never have or will us aluminum pans. I began this 30 years ago and it is the only way to go. I never need to be in so much of a hurry that I have to cook anything that is instant. So I thew out my microwave 25 years ago. When one makes the decision to cook clean ousting coated or metal utensils, there arises so many options to cook well that were long forgotten. For indoor steaks I use cast-iron skillet. there are so many who are working hard toward good health but they don’t really understand their foundational needs.

  17. 5 stars
    Made this and was delicious! But was wondering have you or anyone else made this with the pasta in the instant pot? Would be great to have it all in one pot!

  18. 5 stars
    I didn’t have tomato paste or diced tomatoes, so I used a can of tomato sauce. My husband said it was delicious and we put it over spaghetti squash. I can’t wait to make this again with the right ingredients. Measurements were spot on. Thank you!

    • We have made spaghetti in the instant pot with the noodles. I would say you would just have to make sure you have the right amount of liquid. It is possible to do a pasta dish with all ingredients in the instant pot. I hope this helps.

  19. I just got some lentils, and was looking for something creative to do with them in my IP aside from soup and using them as a side dish. I am not vegetarian, but this recipe looks and sounds amazing. One comment – something odd is going on when I use your print button, it leaves a big white space, and prints on 2 pages. Just thought I’d let you know since I don’t use recipes without printing them so I don’t have to use a computer or phone in the kitchen, and I can make notes for the future. Thanks!

  20. 5 stars
    I’ve made this dish before. I have found that even though an IP has a sauté function I seldom use it BECAUSE of the burn warning I have read so many times. Honestly it’s just a convenience issue but not a game breaker by no means. Lentils do do so much better if soaked overnight or at least 5-6 hours then drained then cook at usual if cooking on a stovetop. Marvelous recipie. Flavors meld very well. Thanks so much!!!!!

  21. 5 stars
    I made it today and LOVED it! this is right up my alley. I followed everything exactly except I did 1.5 times all the ingredients to have leftovers! I did not put wine since I don’t drink much and had no open bottles right now. Next time if I make it again without wine I will add a bit of extra liquid to make up for it.

    For those experiencing burn signal, I’ve heard it happens often with dishes using lots of tomatoes for some reason. I don’t know if this is a myth. Definitely scrape the bottom really well after the sautée and add a bit of extra liquid if you are worried. That’s what I’ve done when it has happened to me with other recipes in the past.

  22. 5 stars
    Delicious! Because of the large quantity of tomatoes, I would call this a ragù, rather than Bolognese. To make it more like Bolognese, I used 2 cups water and only 1 cup of tomatoes. Then, at the end I added 1/2 cup half and half. Nut milk might work for vegans. I also soak and drain all my beans, for digestibility, and lentils only take about 10 minutes, which I did while the onions were sautéing. I’ve seen some recipes that add ground walnuts at the end, which I think would be fabulous for texture, if only we could eat nuts! Tomorrow I think I will mix the leftovers with wild rice and some chunky wild mushrooms and use it to stuff some acorn squash. So, a great and versatile recipe that will go into our repertoire!

  23. 5 stars
    This recipe is great. I add more water – just fill the can from the tomatoes, which also gets all the good tomato stuff that left on there into the pot. Can you make double this recipe in one go?


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