The most delicious Italian ragu made with well-marbled short rib, cooked to tender perfection in just under an hour using the Instant Pot!
I’m happy to say that it is stretchy pants season, y’all. Time to get all hygge-ish and bring on the Hocus Pocus.
Or it’s time Mariah Carey comes out of her year-long vacation to sing All I Want for Christmas, depending on when you’re reading this.
Anyway, I’m so happy to be in comfort food season again. I really wanted an easy, luscious meal to kick off fall, and I knew my love for slow cooked short rib ragu was rearing its saucy head.
This Instant Pot short rib ragu recipe is everything you want in comfort food: rich, hearty, stick-to-your-ribs deliciousness in under an hour. What’s better than that?
Why use Short Ribs for Ragu (or Bolognese) Sauce
Ragu, or Bolognese Sauce, is typically made with ground beef, veal, and/or pork. But I love the sumptuous richness that short ribs bring to ragu sauce, especially bone-in short ribs.
Short ribs are a ‘tough cut’ of meat, meaning they have a ton of connective tissue and are best prepared braised or slow-cooked for a long time in order for all the connective tissues and fat to render and melt away and the meat is easily shred and tender.
Which is why I love a good Instant Pot recipe, especially when it comes to making a tough cut of meat like short ribs tender and tasty. Pressure cooking does the same thing slow cooking or braising does, it breaks down the connective tissues, the collagen releases, the fat renders down, and the flavor from the short ribs and their bones makes the sauce nice, velvety, and beefy. So good.
How to make Perfect Short Rib Ragu in the Instant Pot
First things first: sear the short ribs.
We want all that rich flavor from the browned beef. So on Saute Mode on your Instant Pot, give those short ribs a good browning on all sides.
Saute the veggies next.
That flavor from sauteing the carrots, onion, and celery in the fond (those good browned bits left on the bottom of the pot from searing the meat) and pulling some color and flavor out of those vegetables will boost the flavor of your sauce over all. Definitely not a step you want to miss.
Use good tomatoes and herbs
If you can find tomatoes imported from Italy (preferably San Marzano tomatoes!), snatch them up! They are just a little bit more pricey your usual brand’s tomatoes, but have better flavor, I promise you.
Italy has the best tomatoes; San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the rich volcanic soil of Mount Vesuvius, which gives them a sweet taste. They have low acidity, a low seed count, and the farmers must have a high quality product due to the strict laws from the D.O.P. in Italy.
Make sure you’re getting authentic San Marzano tomatoes (there are tons of fakes in America) by looking for the D.O.P. label. They also are only canned peeled whole, or cut in half. Not crushed, not diced, not pureed, honey.
I get mine from my local mom and pop Italian grocer, and I love using San Marzano tomatoes for any and all tomato-based sauces, especially pizza sauce.
So dump your good tomatoes in, put in those herbs and season with salt and pepper.
Now let that Instant Pot get to work, honey.
After the pressure cooking is done (literally after about half an hour) and you let the steam naturally release, you’re left with this awesome ragu sauce that slays the comfort food game every single time.
What to serve with short rib ragu sauce?
A classic wide pasta, from tagliatelle to papardelle works perfectly. But let’s get even more cozy: creamy mashed potatoes is a fantastic choice. The short rib ragu is like a beefy gravy that is just delicious over mashed potatoes.
Or if you can’t choose between pasta and potatoes, do what I did. Serve the ragu over tender, pillowy gnocchi.
The gnocchi is a great size to handle something as hearty as a meat sauce, and the bite sized gnocchi soak up the tomato sauce, too!
I love gnocchi so much, especially because it’s so easy to make at home with no pasta dye or special equipment needed. It’s simple to find at the grocery store, too. it’s in the past aisle (dried) or in the fresh, refrigerated section where you can get fresh pasta if your grocer has it.
So before you sit down for whatever holiday binge, whether it’s 31 nights of Halloween, Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving special, or Lifetime holiday movies, make this Instant Pot short rib ragu. There is seriously nothing more comforting and quick, it’s perfect for this time of year.
Can I freeze Ragu/Bolognese Sauce?
Absolutely yes, you can freeze this short rib ragu sauce. I suggest putting it in freezer safe zip top bags or keep in those food-saver vacuum bags if you have them, in portioned sizes. Frozen ragu/bologense sauce keeps for 4-6 months when stored properly.
Freeze them flattened out, so that you can simply thaw them quickly in a warm bowl of water, or simply reheat them in a simmer pot of water, if using one of the vacuum bags.
Looking for more comfort food recipes made in under an hour? Look at:
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- 1 tbsp (15 mL) vegetable oil
- 2 lbs bone-in short ribs (or 1 lb boneless short ribs)
- 1 small yellow onion, small diced
- 2 medium carrots, washed, peeled, and chopped small
- 3 stalks celery, washed and small diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes*
- 1 tsp dried basil (or a small handful of fresh basil)
- 1/2 cup (118 mL) beef broth
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- Fresh Parmesan cheese, for garnish
- Turn your instant pot/pressure cooker on to Saute mode, adjust to high heat. While it heats up, add in vegetable oil, then pat short ribs dry with a paper towel. Generously season the meat with kosher salt and pepper on all sides.
- Add the seasoned short ribs to the hot Instant Pot and sear the meat on all sides just until browned. Remove short ribs from pot and set aside on a plate.
- Add onion, carrots, and celery to the pot, and saute the veggies until the onions are translucent, softened, and golden, about 3-5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for one minute, stirring to ensure the garlic doesn't burn.
- Add short ribs, crushed tomatoes, beef broth, fresh or dried basil, salt and crushed red pepper to pot. Set Instant Pot to the stew/meat setting for 35 mins. When it’s done, let the Instant Pot release the steam for 10 minutes, then carefully turn the vent for manual release until there is no more steam and the pressure tab has fully lowered and the lid is safe to open.
- Remove the bones and any fresh herb stems, then use a pair of tongs or some forks to gently shred the short ribs in the pot. If desired, set the Instant Pot to saute again to thicken the sauce. Skim excess fat off the top of the ragu, taste for seasoning, then add kosher salt and black pepper as needed.
- Serve hot over pasta, gnocchi, mashed potatoes, etc. and garnish with lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months.
NOTE: If using San Marzano tomatoes, they'll be canned whole or halved and peeled, so give them a blitz in the food processor or blender until they are pureed and use them as instructed.
Because the Instant Pot is not non-stick, when searing the short ribs they will initially stick to the pot. When they gain that great, brown sear we're looking for, they'll release from the pan. Do not try to pry the meat off the pan prematurely, it will release when ready, don't worry.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 388Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 114mgSodium: 233mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 30g
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.