This Creamy Beef and Shells in the Instant Pot is a perfect 20 minute dinner. The pasta is cooked in a tomato and cream sauce that mixes deliciously with the beef in the recipe! It is thickened up with parmesan cheese and ready to serve so quickly. You’re going to love it!
Matt’s mom makes a dish that his family has loved forever. They call “One Pot Pasta”. It’s basically shell pasta with beef in a creamy tomato sauce. And they call it one pot because… you guessed it… it comes together in one pot!
I’ve been loving my Instant Pot recently, so I decided to take the concept of their favorite meal and transform it into an Instant Pot recipe!
The perks of cooking pasta in the Instant Pot is that I just feel like the pasta is so much more flavorful than it is when simply cooking on the stove. The pasta cooks in the chicken broth and tomato sauce, which makes it infinitely more scrumptious.
Plus, I can throw it all together in a pot and not have to worry about continuing to check my pasta to figure out if it’s done.
What Ingredients are in this Instant Pot Recipe for Creamy Beef and Shells?
Tomato sauce, canned
Medium Shell Pasta
Heavy Whipping Cream
How to Make Creamy Beef and Shells
Turn your Instant Pot to the saute function. Add some olive oil to the Instant Pot and saute the onions until translucent and soft.
Add the beef into the pot. Break apart the meat with a wooden spoon and allow it to brown completely.
Once the meat is browned, add the chicken stock into the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. This is an important step as you don’t want to cause a burn notice effect later.
Add the tomato sauce into the pot, then the shells, then the italian seasoning, then salt to taste in that order.
Set Instant Pot to manual for 5 minutes. Once the pasta finishes cooking, do an instant Release. Open the lid to the Instant Pot and add in the cream and the parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Enjoy!
What if I Don’t Have Shells?
If you don’t have shells, have no fear! You can use any type of pasta of similar size. This includes mostaccioli, larger shells, or anything else of the variety.
If your pasta is similar in size, do not change the cooking time. If the substitute pasta is larger than medium shells, you may need to increase cooking time by a minute.
Can I Use Marinara Sauce Instead of Tomato Sauce?
Yes! If you’d like, you can use marinara sauce instead of tomato sauce. In fact, I use this combination in my Instant Pot Pasta with Palomino Sauce, and it is a delicious combination!
I like plain tomato sauce more in this pasta recipe because the Italian seasoning flavors it up nicely. However, feel free to use whatever recipe you’d like.
What Kind of Meat Should I Use to Make this Dish?
My recommendation is 80% lean ground beef. I’ve found that this combination gives a wonderful flavor to the meat that can’t be beat!
If you don’t eat red meat but still want to make this dish, feel free to substitute ground chicken or ground turkey instead. The result will be fairly similar and definitely delicious!
Can I Freeze my Creamy Beef and Shells?
Absolutely! If you’d like to freeze your Creamy Beef and Shells, simply spoon the pasta into a freezer safe container. You can store the pasta in the freezer for up to 6 months.
If you liked this recipe, make sure to take a photo and share it on Instagram or Facebook and tag @TheForeignFork. For more recipes like this, check out the other Instant Pot Pasta recipes I have on my site:
Creamy Beef and Shells in the Instant Pot
- Pressure Cooker
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 lb ground beef, 80% lean
- 1 ½ cups chicken broth
- 1 ½ cups tomato sauce, canned
- 8 oz shell pasta
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp salt, or more to taste
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- Turn your Instant Pot to the sauté function. Add some olive oil to the Instant Pot and saute the onions until translucent and soft.
- Add the beef into the pot. Break apart the meat with a wooden spoon and allow it to brown completely.
- Once the meat is browned, add the chicken stock into the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. This is an important step as you don’t want to cause a burn notice effect later.
- Add the tomato sauce into the pot, then the shells, then the Italian seasoning, then salt to taste in that order.
- Set Instant Pot to HIGH for 5 minutes. Once the pasta is done cooking, do an instant Release. Open the lid to the Instant Pot and add in the cream and the parmesan cheese. Stir to combine. Enjoy!
Keri Turner says
I made a few edits based on what ingredients I had on hand. I wanted to double the recipe so did double all ingredients except the hamburger, I stayed at 1 lb there and didn’t double Parmesan cheese, I stayed at 1 cup. I added 4 oz cream cheese and 1 cup half and half since I didn’t have heavy cream on hand. I also added three cloves of fresh pressed garlic when cooking hamburger and onion, used 16 oz Rotini noodles. Cooked for 5 mins and quick release. At that point added the half & half, cream cheese and Parmesan cheese. Family loved it.
The Foreign Fork says
Thank you for your comment Keri, your adaptations sound delicious. I’m sure the cream cheese added a great flavor and texture!
Tasty but I need to do natural release next time because the pasta did not get done. Super easy recipe!
Melissa Torres says
This was an easy, delicious recipe to prepare. I prepared it 1.5x the ingredients for our family and it went fast. I like my pasta a little al dente and I have an 8 qt pot so I set mine at 4 minutes. I added some red pepper flakes, a little more salt and we enjoyed it. I might use mozzarella if that’s what I had on hand vs going out and getting parmesan. I also think mushrooms or chopped sweet peppers or chopped spinach would be a great addition too!
The Foreign Fork says
Thank you so much for the review Melissa!! I LOVE mushrooms so I’m always open to trying those in recipes. So glad you liked it 🙂
If I wanted to add a vegetable to this, like frozen peas or corn, would I add when I add the pasta? And would I need to increase the amount of liquid?
The Foreign Fork says
Yes you can add it when you add the pasta! I have not tested it myself, but I think the amount of liquid would be fine unless you add a ton.
Made this for dinner tonight..it was a hit with EVERY MEMBER of the family. A rare thing when hubby and BOTH kids love a dish.
Usually when I try something new 1-2 of them love it (always hubby because he’s not a picky man, 😆) and one or both of the kids will either tolerate it because it’s what’s for dinner, or will make themselves something else. 😂 Not this dish though, they all loved it. This will definitely go into my regular rotation of meals.
Some adjustments I made:
– added minced garlic to saute with the onions
– added some red wine to deglaze the pot after cooking the onions and meat, then added the chicken stock as directed. This added just another depth of flavor.
– seasoned the ground meat with adobo while sauteeing
Otherwise, followed according to directions and it cooked well. Pasta was well cooker in 5 minutes, and the liquid level was perfect. I did double the recipe too.
This was yum
The Foreign Fork says
Hi Jennifer, wow! That’s a win in my book! I’m so glad your family loved the recipe and your adaptations sound delish! Thanks for leaving such a kind and helpful comment 🙂 Have a great day!