Spaghetti Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes – Pressure Cooker

The secrets to great sauce:

You really need to pressure cook spaghetti sauce.  The pressure cooker (or InstaPot) boils the sauce at about 250 degrees farenheit vs 212 degrees in a stock pot.  Cook times are cut in half for every 18 degrees rise in farenheit (10 degrees Celcius).  250 – 212 = 38 so items will cook in 1/4 the time in a pressure cooker vs. in a stockpot on the stove.   In addition to reducing the cooking time, the extra temperature actually “browns” the tomatoes.  The sauce will be darker and take on a richer flavor.  Unfortunately, the pressure cooker will overcook the meat so we cook it separately and add it at the end.

Fish Sauce! – Fish sauce is a salty sauce like soy or Worchestershire that adds an umami flavor (translates to satisfying like bacon) to lots of dishes.  You can substitute 3 parts fish sauce for 1 part salt.  So if the recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of salt, just use 3 teaspoons of fish sauce instead.

If you get in a hurry, you will burn the sauce.  This sauce is thick and it won’t create steam quickly.  You have to heat it slowly to avoid burning it.  Make sure you heat the sauce to almost boiling, stirring constantly, before you seal the pressure cooker.  This will reduce the chance of the sauce burning on the bottom of the pot.    


This recipe is very simple.  You brown the meat in a separate pan, throw the other ingredients into the pressure, stir, and cook.

This recipe makes a little over a gallon of sauce and is about the maximum you should put in an 8 quart pressure cooker.


  • 1-2 lbs Italian Sausage
    •  If you have to use hamburger, add about 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.
  • 8 lbs of fresh tomatoes.  I used romas. (you can substitute a #10 can of whole, peeled tomatoes – about 6.5 lbs)
  • 4 cloves of garlic.  I roast mine first.
  • 2 large onions – diced
  • 8 oz. sliced, washed mushrooms (canned in a pinch)
  • 12 oz. Tomato paste
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of dried oregano (double this if using fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried basil (double this if using fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried thyme (double this if using fresh)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup red wine (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons of Corn Starch (added at the end).
  • 2.5 Tablespoons of salt
    • or 1.5 Tablespoons of salt and 4 Tablespoons of Fish Sauce (recommended)


  1. Brown and crumble the meat, drain and reserve.
  2. Stem and seed the tomatoes.
    1. I do this by taking a knife and coring out the top of the stem then pushing my thumbs into the center of the tomato to tear it apart to dislodge the seeds.  Rinse under cold water and most of the seeds will wash out.
  3. For a chunky sauce, tear the tomatoes into quarters before adding them to the pot.  For a smoother sauce, chop the tomatoes in a food processor until they are less than 3/4″ chunks.
  4. Chop the onions.
  5. Add all the ingredients except the corn starch and the meat into the pressure cooker, stir  and seal it.
  6. Cook for 45 minutes after the pressure cooker is up to pressure (top weight is rocking, etc.)
  7. Cool the pressure cooker under cold running water in the sink or by whatever means your cooker manufacturer recommends.
  8. Remove the Bay Leaves and place the sauce back on the stove.
  9. Place 3 Tablespoons of Corn Starch in 1/2 cup of water and stir with a fork until the corn starch is dissolved.
  10. Add the meat to the sauce.
  11. Stir the corn starch into the sauce to thicken the sauce.
  12. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  13. Serve over pasta.  (I recommend serving with freshly grated parmesan cheese on top).


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