This Instant Pot Sunday Gravy recipe is the perfect shortcut for making my Nana Lamancuso’s authentic Italian meat sauce using your electric pressure cooker.
In a past blog post, I shared this beloved recipe for my Nana Lamancuso’s authentic Italian Sunday Gravy aka “meat sauce.” My grandma (“Nana”) really knew how to cook, as did my grandpa (“Nanu”), especially authentic, passed down, Sicilian recipes – Cannoli, Carduni, Chicken Soup. I literally grew up in food heaven because we lived right next door to them.
Now, I’m not sure how my Nana would feel about me switching up her authentic Italian Sunday Gravy recipe and cooking it in the Instant Pot… But, this is definitely the more “modern” way of doing things – Making everything just a little bit easier and a little bit quicker.
I’ll start off by saying that this Instant Pot Sunday Sauce is definitely not done in an “instant.” What I will tell you is that by using the Instant Pot, this recipe is a teeny bit quicker, and definitely much more hands-off during the process.
You can basically get it going and then you’re left with about an hour of free time, meaning that you can go about your business – Hop on the treadmill, turn on the TV, or just unwind with a glass of wine… May I suggest a Chianti? It’ll pair perfectly with dinner later…
🛒 Ingredients Needed
The ingredients for this Italian gravy recipe are simple and available in all grocery stores:
- Olive oil
- Pork spareribs – Or, pork neck bones, pork chops, etc.
- Beef stew meat – Or a small steak.
- Italian sausage – Spicy or mild, based on personal preference. It’s my favorite ingredient in so many recipes!
- Garlic cloves
- Tomato paste – Helps to thicken your sauce and add a rich flavor.
- Crushed tomatoes – Or whole tomatoes (San Marzano tomatoes are best).
- Salt and Pepper
- Sugar – This goes in at the end. Add more or less based on how sweet your tomatoes are.
📋 How to Make It
- Brown the Meats: This really gets the flavors going and leaves your Instant Pot with a nice coating of those unctuous meaty browned bits – The perfect beginning for any pot of Sunday Gravy.
- Saute the Aromatics: Get your garlic nice and golden and then heat that tomato paste for a bit too – This is what gives you that flavor like the sauce has been cooked all day.
- Seal and Cook: Return the browned meats to the pot along with any accumulated juices and the canned tomatoes. Set the pot to seal and set it and forget it for about 30 minutes.
When the gravy is done cooking, those meats will be fall-off-the-bone tender. Pull them out of the pot and serve them for dinner that night and save the sauce for a pasta dinner the next, or serve the meats as a second course alongside your pasta.
Either way, you’ve got an amazing Italian feast on your hands with this Instant Pot Sunday Gravy.
I do have to say that because the liquids don’t really reduce in the Instant Pot, the final flavor isn’t quite the same as my Nana’s original recipe for Sunday Gravy, but, it’s still amazingly delicious and definitely more weeknight friendly.
The original version takes about 2 1/2 hours on the stove top (sometimes I’ll even cook it all day long). This Instant Pot Sunday Gravy cooks for only 30 minutes in the Instant Pot, but with the time for the pressure to build, and reduce, added in with the time it takes to brown the meats, you’re looking at close to an two hours. But, like I said, most of that time is down time.
This version doesn’t even need to be called “Sunday Gravy.” It could also be Tuesday Gravy, Wednesday Gravy or Thursday Gravy.
- Don’t have an Instant Pot? You can also make this Sunday Gravy on the stove top.
- Use whatever meats you have on hand. Often, our grocery store has a section in the meat department of mark downs. Stuff that’s still good, but needs to be used soon. I’ll throw in a combination of whatever I can find, steaks, beef or pork ribs, stew pieces. No matter the combination, it ends up delicious in the end!
ℹ️ Recipe FAQs
Why Do They Call it Sunday Gravy?
“Gravy” is another name for sauce, and typically it was served as a big family meal on Sundays.
How Do You Serve Sunday Gravy?
Typically the meats are removed from the sauce and served on the side. The remaining sauce is served with cooked pasta and parmesan on the side, with extra bread for sopping up the sauce, and parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top.
What’s the Difference Between Tomato Sauce and Sunday Gravy?
Sunday gravy is similar to tomato sauce, in the fact that it’s a tomato-based red sauce. However, Sunday Gravy includes meat. Typically flavorful cuts, that are on the bone, like pork ribs, beef, and sausages, are simmered in the sauce all day. It adds a ton of flavor that can’t be matched by a standard marinara sauce.
Is Sunday Gravy the Same as Bolognese?
No. Sunday Gravy is a sauce made from simmering whole meats, then the simmered meats are served on the side. Bolognese is typically made with ground beef.
How can I Thicken my Sunday Gravy?
If your sauce is too thin, try simmering it for a bit longer using the SAUTE function of your instant pot (being sure to stir to prevent burning). This will cook off some of the extra liquids. You can also add in more tomato puree if you have some on hand. Or, if you don’t mind a little extra texture in your sauce, you can stir in some plain breadcrumbs to thicken things up.
🍷 Wine Pairings
- With this authentic Italian Meat sauce, I like to serve an authentic Italian wine – Chianti, Barolo and Teroldego are all great options.
🍽 What to Serve with It
- Tomato Cucumber Salad
- Kale Caesar Salad
- Homemade Gnocchi
- Shaved Fennel and Celery Salad
- Arugula Salad
- Bread – for mopping up all that yummy sauce!
- More → EASY sides for pasta
- More → the BEST Italian desserts
🕕 More Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot Steamed Artichokes
- Instant Pot Glazed Corned Beef & Cabbage
- The Best Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Lentil Soup with Sausage & Kale
- Instant Pot Cheesy Southwestern Lentils & Brown Rice
Did you try this Instant Pot Italian Meat Sauce?
If you loved this pressure cooker Sunday Gravy I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
Instant Pot Sunday Gravy Recipe
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lb. meaty pork neck bones (or 1 lb pork spareribs)
- 1 lb. beef stew meat
- 1 lb. Italian sausage (spicy or mild, based on personal preference)
- 4 cloves garlic (peeled and left whole)
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 3 28-oz. cans peeled Italian tomatoes
- 1/4 cup water
- 6 leaves fresh basil (torn into small pieces)
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 Tablespoon sugar (more or less based on the flavor of your tomatoes)
- Parmesan shaved (for topping)
- Add olive oil to Instant Pot and hit “saute” button. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and add to the pot in a single layer. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer pork to a plate.
- Next, add the beef to the Instant Pot in a single layer. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer beef to the plate with the pork.
- Next, add the sausages. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the pork and beef, leaving the fat behind in the Instant Pot.
- Add the garlic to the Instant Pot and cook until golden, 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to let it burn. Remove and discard the garlic.
- Add the tomato paste to the Instant Pot and cook for 1 minute. Pour in water and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the Instant Pot.
- Puree the tomatoes in your blender and add them to the Instant Pot. Or for a chunkier sauce, just mash up the tomatoes with your hands and add them to the pot. Add salt, pepper and sugar to taste.
- Return the pork, beef, and sausages to the Instant Pot with any accumulated juices.
- Place lid on Instant Pot and make sure the release valve is in the “sealing” position. Hit cancel to stop the “sautee” function and then press “manual” button and set timer for 30 minutes. It will take about 15 minutes for the pressure to build, then the countdown timer will begin.
- Allow the pressure to release naturally for 15-minutes then do a quick-release by flipping the release valve to “venting.” Meanwhile, cook your pasta. Remove the lid and adjust your seasonings one more time, add basil leaves and serve over your favorite pasta, topped with shaved Parmesan.