Weeknight Meat Sauce with Rigatoni

Last month I received an email from America’s Test Kitchen. They shared with me they have a BOOK coming out that’s all about pressure cooking. I almost deleted the email because to be completely honest pressure cookers SCARE me. Seriously scare me. For some reason I truly believed if I used one I was going to have an explosion in my kitchen. True story. But somehow curiosity got hold of me.

I replied and admitted that I’ve NEVER cooked with a pressure cooker and yet they still wanted me to give it a go. Why? Because they want to show people that pressure cooking isn’t as scary as we I think it is. They even shipped me one of their highly rated PRESSURE COOKERS to work with. Honestly I was still afraid of it. I read the instruction booklet front to back (and I NEVER read directions despite the fact I know I should) and back again.

I started with a recipe from the BOOK  for Osso Bucco. Long story short it was delicious but might have been the ugliest thing I ever tried to photograph so until I can figure out how to make that sparkle look appetizing I made a second recipe, this weeknight meat sauce with rigatoni. Pasta in a pressure cooker? Yes. Is anyone else hearing the song “under pressure” or is that just in my head?

It’s pretty straight forward you put things into the pot, brown them top with the lid, secure it and then wait for it to work it’s magic. I typically will do other things while one dish is cooking but honestly I wasn’t moving from the stove top, you know in case of an emergency. My worries were unfounded. I managed to make 2 recipes in the pressure cooker and didn’t blow up my house or burn myself. I’d call that successful.

My thoughts on the pasta? This is purely preference, It could have used a little more spice, I like a little something something in there. Also I wasn’t fond of the sauce to pasta ratio. There was too much sauce for my liking but that’s easily taken care of with a baguette. Overall, the family was happy happy happy.

A few things that I learned along the way is that pressure cookers have come a long way.  By putting contents under pressure, you raise the temperature and cut your cooking time dramatically. I can see a lot more pressure cooking in my future, especially meats. Maybe I’ll give that Osso Bucco another go and see if she’s any prettier ; )

Have you ever cooked with a pressure cooker?


Disclaimer: America’s Test Kitchen sent me a pressure cooker. I was not compensated for this post. Opinions are my own. Always have been. Always will be. This post contains affiliate links.

Recipe slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Weeknight Meat Sauce with Rigatoni

Total Time 0:00


  • 2 ounces cremini mushrooms,trimmed and halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion - minced
  • salt/pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves - minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 (28- ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5- ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 pound rigatoni
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


  1. Pulse mushrooms in food processor until finely chopped, about 8 pulses, scraping down bowl as needed; transfer to bowl.
  2. Heat oil in pressure cooker pot over medium- high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms,onion, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook until vegetables are softened and well browned, 6 to 12 minutes. Stir in garlic, pepper flakes, oregano, and tomato paste. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.Stir in ground beef and cook, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Stir in water, tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in pasta.
  3. Lock pressure- cooker lid in place and bring to high pressure over medium- high heat. As soon as pot reaches high pressure, reduce heat to medium- low and cook for 5 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to maintain high pressure.
  4. Remove pot from heat. Quick release pressure, then carefully remove lid, allowing steam to escape away from you.
  5. Bring to simmer and continue to cook, stirring often, until pasta is nearly al dente, 2 to 5 minutes.Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.


0.0 rating

Can I use other types of pasta in this recipe?
Another large tubular pasta, such as penne, ziti rigate, or rigatoni, will work fine here. Do not use strand pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine, because the strands clump together into a sticky mess when cooked under pressure.

Can I substitute other types of ground meat?
Yes. You can substitute ground pork or turkey for the beef. We don’t recommend using ground chicken or 99 percent lean ground turkey because they are just too lean and will taste dry and mealy in the final dish.

Do I need to alter the recipe for a 6-quart electric pressure cooker?
Yes, instead of relying on the cooker’s built-in timer to keep track of the pressurized cooking time, use your own timer and start the countdown as soon as the pot comes to pressure. After the 5-minute cooking time, quick release the pressure immediately; do not let the cooker switch to the warm setting. Use the browning (not the simmer) setting to simmer the pasta in step 5.


  1. 1

    That’s one fancy pressure cooker! The rigatoni looks wonderful too, can’t wait to try them!

  2. 2

    A book full of pressure cooker recipes – I love it! And this sauce sounds perfect!

  3. 3

    Paula, this looks so scrumptious and perfect for a quick weeknight meal. Love your sauce recipe… very similar to mine except for your addition of mushrooms. I’ve got to try that!

  4. 4

    This looks so great for busy weeknights!

  5. 5

    I am terrified of them as well! This does sound amazing, and it looks great! Will have to try the stovetop version!

  6. 6

    I’m scared too, but that looks so delicious! I might just have to get over my fear…

  7. 7

    I think pressure cookers are wonderful but they scare me! This looks like a delightful supper!

  8. 8

    Love my pressure cooker! I use it regularly to make chicken noodle soup and goulash, but I’ve never tried pasta in it.

  9. 9

    MAMA BEAR hold me and send me on to the heavens.

    In other words, yum.

  10. 10

    Your photos are so absolutely mind blowing. So light and gorgeous!

    Oh and this sauce ?I’d definitely do it. (that sounded dirty)

  11. 11

    Never have cooked pasta in our pressure cooker – but we sure love rice that way! This looks really yummy Paula!

  12. 12

    Pressure cookers scare the bajeebers out of me, but it looks like they’re much safer now. Congrats for breaking the boundaries of your comfort zone to inspire us!

  13. 13

    I feel the same way. There would surely be an explosion in my kitchen if I used a pressure cooker. And someone would probably be missing a limb or two. Mom used to have a big pressure cooker that I remember her using when I was a kid. But I’ve never used one myself. Thanks for being my guinea pig. This meal looks awesome!

  14. 14

    YUM. This might be every-night rigatoni!

  15. 15

    My mother in-law has her old fashioned pressure cooker and uses it all the time, but it scares the pants off of me.

    I am still intrigued, no matter how frightened I am especially if your telling me that I can make pasta with meat sauce in no time flat.
    Perhaps one day soon I’ll get the guts up to try it.

  16. 16

    Have to admit I use pressure cookers since I married back in 1970. The new digitals that are popular right now mean you don’t even have to regulae the burner under a regular stovetop pressure cooker, just add your ingredients, program the pot and go do something else until it chimes. When this type pressure cooker is finished cooking it switches to a keep warm setting or you can release the pressure immediately and serve dinner. Give short ribs a try in your cooker and you will be amazed at how tender they come out in no time at all, just remeber to season your foods a bit more than you usually do or add more seasonings after you open the cooker, for some reason using a pressure cooker seems to make the seasonings you use a bit weaker than cooking by any other method. I must still have about 10 pressure cookers here at home right now, and that is AFTER I gave a few away to make space in my cramped home!

  17. 17

    Paula this recipe looks amazing! What a great meal to eat throughout the week. Love the pressure cooker!

  18. 18

    I have the same fears of pressure cookers. Time to dust of the toy and try this recipe! Looks amazing!

  19. 19

    I’m scared of them too Paula! I wouldn’t even know what to do with one…except now make this pasta 🙂 gosh, this looks so good!

  20. 20

    I think this looks delish! I’ve never cooked with a pressure cooker…. I always envision it blowing up the house lol…

  21. 21

    I don’t have a pressure cooker, but I’ve used my mom’s a few times. Someday.

  22. 22

    I got a pressure cooker to review too and I’m also scared to use it! But I LOVE pasta with meat sauce, any day of the week, so I’ll have to dust it off and give your recipe a try!

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