Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef

Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef is pure comfort food. This easy Instant Pot dinner recipe is so creamy and cheesy. Pasta shells and ground beef are cooked in a tomato sauce and then Parmesan cheese, cream, and cream cheese get mixed in. Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef is a little like homemade Hamburger Helper, only much, much better.

Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef


To make Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef, first use the saute mode to cook a pound of lean ground beef and a chopped onion. Then add your flavors- dried Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes plus a tablespoon of tomato paste.


Once the ground beef is no longer pink, pour the uncooked pasta shells on top. Pour a jar of spaghetti sauce and 3 cups of water over the shells. Press the shells down into the liquid, but do not stir. Pressure cook on high for 5 minutes.

Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef is like a delicious homemade hamburger helper


The pasta soaks up so much flavor cooking this way rather than just being boiled in water and then mixed into sauce.

After pressure cooking, do a manual release. Stir in 1 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1 cup of heavy cream, and 2 ounces of softened cream cheese.

This Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef is so easy and so delicious. Your family will be fighting over the leftovers.

Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef


Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef is so cheesy and good!

More Instant Pot Recipes

Watch the video below to see how to make Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef

4.15 from 14 votes
Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef
Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
25 mins

Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef is pure comfort food. This easy Instant Pot dinner recipe is so creamy and cheesy. Pasta shells and ground beef are cooked in a tomato sauce and then Parmesan cheese, cream, and cream cheese get mixed in. 

Course: Main Dish
Servings: 6
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow or sweet onion, diced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (16-ounce) box medium pasta shells, uncooked
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar pasta sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks and softened
  1. Add olive oil to the inner pot of an Instant Pot. Turn on "Saute" mode. Add onion and cook until starting to get soft.

  2. Add ground beef and cook and crumble it with a wooden spoon until no longer pink. Turn Instant Pot off.

  3. Add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes and tomato paste and stir.

  4. Pour shells on top of ground beef mixture. 

  5. Pour pasta sauce and water on top of shells. Do not stir, but press shells down into liquid with the back of a spoon.

  6. Place lid on Instant Pot and make sure valve is in "sealing" position. Set to Pressure Cook on HIGH for 5 minutes.

  7. Do a manual pressure release and when the pin drops, remove the lid. Stir in Parmesan cheese, heavy cream, and cream cheese. Serve.

Recipe adapted from Meatloaf and Melodrama

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

36 thoughts on “Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef

  1. I usually don’t take the time to leave reviews for things but I am going out of my way to say TRY THIS!!

    I’ve made this recipe probably 5 times and it gets better each time. I use ground turkey instead of beef, substitute chicken stock for water, and go heavy on the seasoning. It is so good!!

    Quick, easy AND freezes well. You won’t be disappointed.

  2. Just made this. Made exactly how the recipe reads. I did add another minute to cook time after reading the comments. It was perfect and didn’t have one problem with the pot like others. I would definitely make this again.

  3. Used Penne Pasta since this is what I had on hand. Also used jar Alfredo instead of the heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Cooked 6 minutes and did 10 min NPR. perfect!

  4. This recipe turned out wonderful. I decided to pressure cook for 6min though based on previous comments regarding the noodles not being done- worked perfect. I also let natural release for about 12min, QR after to save time and it didn’t change anything with how this turned out. I also used mozz just because it’s what I had.

  5. Tried this for the first time tonight….my wife and I loved it. The pasta was under cooked after the 5 minute cook time but I didn’t taste it until after the cheese was mixed in. I put the instant pot on “Saute” and stirred it continuously for 1-2 minutes. I then put it on “Keep Warm” and continued stirring for another minute. I turned the pot off and placed the lid on, letting the pasta sit until it was just right. I had to let the pot soak because cheese was stuck to it. I’ll try 6 minutes next time and test the pasta before adding the cheese. This is destined to be a family favorite. Thanks!!

  6. I made this. Haven’t eaten it yet, but it smells wonderful. Problem is: I kept getting the “burn” error on my Instant Pot (pretty new—got it a couple months ago). Even though I followed the recipe, including pressing the pasta down rather than stirring, the stuff kept burning on the bottom of the pot, and then i’d Get that message. Tried three times, and it was fairly cooked, even though I never go to full pressure. Had to simmer on the stone top a bit to reduce the liquid. We’ll see how it goes…

    1. If there is anything stuck to the bottom of the pot after you brown your meat you will get that notice. In that case you may have to remove the meat, put the pot on sauté then add some of the water you’ll use from the recipe and scrape the bottom of the pot clean. Then add the meat back in then the other ingredients and cook as instructed. Hope this helps!

  7. Hi, you mention a tablespoon of tomato paste in your post, but not in the recipe portion. Is it supposed to be added? Thanks.

  8. I made this tonight in my instant pot, initially the shells were a lil hard so i put the lid back on and kept it on warm, and wow!!!! What a hit!!! Easy and five stars for sure!!!!

  9. i just made it and came out perfectly. I used a different type of noodle since I didn’t have shells handy. Crowd pleaser and good left overs. comfort food.

    1. It can be made in a regular pot just fine. Just be vigilant for burning, as it goes south quite quickly. However, it is just as delicious.

        1. I could be wrong so I hope, if i am, someone will chime in. On my instant pot duo it’s the “manual” button in place of the term “pressure cook”. Hope this helps 🙂 I had to search through videos to find this out since the manual isn’t very detailed in explaining.

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