This simple and quick Whole30-friendly Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese recipe is a riff on Meghan Markle’s original version, but a whole lot meatier!
An overhead shot of a bowl filled with zucchini noodles topped with Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese. The red label says paleo, whole30, and keto.

A meatier version of Meghan Markle’s recipe!

Have you heard of Meghan Markle’s genius zucchini bolognese recipe? The one that takes OVER FOUR HOURS to make? Of course you have—that’s why a bunch of you have asked me to make a speedier Instant Pot version! At the request of those persistent Nomsters, I’ve created this simple and delicious Whole30-friendly Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese recipe that takes just a fraction of the time, and is a whole lot meatier. (Because PALEO.) So if you’ve got a bumper crop of zucchini in your garden, this recipe is perfect for you!

An overhead shot of a bowl of Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese, a simple Whole30 and Paleo make-ahead dinner.

Before she became a fairytale princess, Meghan Markle wasn’t just a Hollywood actress—she had a side gig as a food and lifestyle blogger. One of her recipes that went viral after her wedding was a simple pasta sauce that she made with zucchini (or courgettes, for you proper Brits), onions, olive oil, water, and a bouillon cube. According to Meghan, the trick for a creamy, dreamy sauce was just to cook everything low and slow for 4 hours.

Instant Pot to the rescue!

But who has 4 hours to babysit a pot on the stove? (Certainly not Meghan Markle—at least not these days.) When one of my readers asked me if I knew of an Instant Pot hack for Meghan’s recipe, I started brainstorming ways to make this recipe Whole30-friendly and significantly cut down the cooking time. Plus, to add some protein to this dish and make it a complete meal, I wanted to beef up the sauce (pun intended).

Whole30-, Keto-, and Family-Friendly!

After numerous attempts, I finally arrived at this simple and delicious Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese recipe. I replaced the chemical-laden bouillon with my umami-packed Magic Mushroom Powder, and tossed in a pound of bulk Italian sausage for extra protein. Best of all, this recipe can be made from start to finish in an hour in an Instant Pot. I’m super chuffed!

A side shot of Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese on a bed of zucchini noodles in a shallow bowl.

How do you serve the zucchini bolognese?

You can serve this meaty sauce on your favorite veggie noodles, gluten-free noodles, or even regular old pasta (I won’t tell anyone of your Paleo heresy), and you’ll be amazed at how tasty and simple it is. I normally make this recipe when I have a glut of zucchinis in the fridge, so I simply spiralize one per person and toss the raw zoodles in the hot sauce before serving!

Can you make this in a slow cooker or on the stovetop?

Yes, but it’ll take several hours for this dish to hit the table!

Slow cooker instructions:

If you want to cook this in a slow cooker, sauté the onions and sausage  before adding them with the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker. Program your Crockpot to cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until the zucchini is super tender.

Stove-top instructions:

Follow my directions below but cook the zucchini bolognese in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat on the stovetop.  Once all the ingredients are in the pot, bump up the heat to bring everything to a boil. Then, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cover and cook on low heat for 3 to 4 hours or until the zucchini falls apart. Stir occasionally, and add a splash of broth or water if the pot looks dry while it’s cooking.

Time to make Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Equipment:

Method:

Grab your Instant Pot or pressure cooker and turn on the Sauté function. When the metal insert is hot, pour in the olive oil.

A shot of someone turning on the sauté function on an Instant Pot Ultra and adding some olive oil into the insert.

Toss in the diced onions…

Someone adding diced onions to an open Instant Pot.

…and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly softened.

An overhead shot of diced onions sautéing in olive oil in an open Instant Pot.

Add the Italian sausage and break it up with a silicone spatula.

Bulk Italian sausage is added to an open Instant Pot and stirred in.

Cook the sausage until it’s no longer pink.

An overhead shot of cooked Italian sausage and onions in an open Instant Pot.

Dump in the zucchini, minced garlic…

A shot of cut zucchini and minced garlic being added to an open Instant Pot.

…and 1 teaspoon of Magic Mushroom Powder or Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt. (The salt won’t add extra umami, so you may want to add a few drops of fish sauce or a couple of dried mushrooms to the pot for extra savoriness.)

A spoonful of Nom Nom Paleo's Magic Mushroom Powder is added to an open Instant Pot.

Stir well.

An overhead shot of someone stirring Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese in an open Instant Pot.

You don’t need to add any extra liquid. Trust me—the zucchini will release enough liquid for the contents to reach high pressure. Lock the lid and program the Instant Pot to cook for 35 minutes under high pressure.

A woman leaning over to program her Instant Pot Ultra.

When the sauce is done cooking, you can wait for the pressure to release naturally or you can manually vent it if you’re impatient.

The pressure is manually released on the Instant Pot and the cooked Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese is shown on the right.

The zucchini and onions should be fork-tender and easily mashed with a spatula…

A pink silicone spatula is used to mash the cooked zucchini to make a sauce in an open Instant Pot.

…to form a chunky sauce.

An overhead view of Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese ready to serve out of an Instant Pot.

Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with additional Magic Mushroom Powder, salt, or freshly ground pepper. Stir in the juice from half a lemon and taste it again. (Always, always, ALWAYS taste your food and season accordingly!)

A woman is shown adding additional Nom Nom Paleo Magic Mushroom Powder and lime juice to Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese

When the sauce is ready, grab a spiralizer to prepare some zucchini noodles (or grab some ready-to-go spiralized veggies at the store).

A person is spiralizing zucchini to make zucchini noodles.

If I’m serving this sauce on zoodles, I drop the raw spiralized zucchini straight into the pot and toss ’em around until the hot sauce softens the zoodles to my liking.

Raw zucchini noodles are added to Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese to heat up.

Top with your favorite herbs and dig in! This sauce freezes really well so make a batch whenever your vegetable crisper is overflowing with zucchini!

A closeup shot of Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese on top of zucchini noodles.

Want more Instant Pot recipes?

Check out my ever-growing roundup of Instant Pot recipes here!

[Originally posted on August 12, 2018. Updated with new details and photos on June 8, 2020.]


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2021).


PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese (Paleo, Whole30, Keto)

4.71 from 27 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings 4 servings
This simple and quick Whole30-friendly Instant Pot Zucchini Bolognese recipe is a riff on Meghan Markle's original version, but a whole lot meatier!

Ingredients 
 

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • pounds zucchini diced into ½-inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • Magic Mushroom Powder or Diamond Crystal kosher salt with added umami boosters detailed in the instructions
  • Juice from ½ lemon

Instructions 

  • Grab your Instant Pot or pressure cooker and turn on the Sauté function. When the metal insert is hot, pour in the olive oil.
  • Toss in the diced onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly softened.
  • Add the Italian sausage and break it up with a silicone spatula. Cook the sausage until it’s no longer pink.
  • Dump in the zucchini, minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon of Magic Mushroom Powder or Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt. (The salt won’t add extra umami, so you may want to add a few drops of fish sauce or a couple of dried mushrooms to the pot for extra savoriness.) Stir well.
  • You don’t need to add any extra liquid. Trust me—the zucchini will release enough liquid for the contents to reach high pressure. Lock the lid and program the Instant Pot to cook for 35 minutes under high pressure.
  • When the sauce is done cooking, you can wait for the pressure to release naturally or you can manually vent it if you’re impatient. 
  • The zucchini and onions should be fork-tender and easily mashed with a spatula to form a chunky sauce.
  • Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with additional Magic Mushroom Powder, salt, or freshly ground pepper. Stir in the juice from half a lemon and taste it again. (Always, always, ALWAYS taste your food and season accordingly!)
  • When the sauce is ready, grab a spiralizer to prepare some zucchini noodles (or grab some ready-to-go spiralized veggies at the store). If I’m serving this sauce on zoodles, I drop the raw spiralized zucchini straight into the pot and toss ’em around until the hot sauce softens the zoodles to my liking.
  • Top with your favorite herbs and dig in! This sauce freezes really well so make a batch whenever your vegetable crisper is overflowing with zucchini!

Video

Notes

Slow cooker instructions:

If you want to cook this in a slow cooker, sauté the onions and sausage  before adding them with the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker. Program your Crockpot to cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until the zucchini is super tender.

Stove-top instructions:

Follow my directions below but cook the zucchini bolognese in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat on the stovetop.  Once all the ingredients are in the pot, bump up the heat to bring everything to a boil. Then, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cover and cook on low heat for 3 to 4 hours or until the zucchini falls apart. Stir occasionally, and add a splash of broth or water if the pot looks dry while it’s cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 498kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 43g | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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16 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Amazing! Substituted ground beef, liver and heart added a few tablespoons of Harissa spice (chili pepper, garlic, caraway, parsley , coriander) and tomato paste. The sauce had extra time to simmer in the instapot and we served it over spaghetti squash. Each time that I think there can’t be a better Nom nom paleo recipe, I’m proven wrong. Thank you once again!

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe is always a winner. I think that the people who felt sick from the fat may have difficulties digesting fats, which is rampant today. I haven’t found it an issue. But one can always drain out a little of the fat.