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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 recipe 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!

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

Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef

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. 
PREP: 10 mins
COOK: 15 mins
TOTAL: 25 mins


  • 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


  • Add olive oil to the inner pot of an Instant Pot. Turn on "Saute" mode. Add onion and cook until starting to get soft.
  • Add ground beef and cook and crumble it with a wooden spoon until no longer pink. Turn Instant Pot off.
  • Add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes and tomato paste and stir.
  • Pour shells on top of ground beef mixture. 
  • Pour pasta sauce and water on top of shells. Do not stir, but press shells down into liquid with the back of a spoon.
  • Place lid on Instant Pot and make sure valve is in "sealing" position. Set to Pressure Cook on HIGH for 5 minutes.
  • Do a manual pressure release and when the pin drops, remove the lid. Stir in Parmesan cheese, heavy cream, and cream cheese. Serve.
Course: Main Dish

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Recipe adapted from Meatloaf and Melodrama

Creamy Shells & Beef made in an Instant Pot

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110 thoughts on “Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef”

  1. Delicious! I’ve made it twice since Christmas (when I got my 8 qt. Pot). I skip the red pepper flakes and follow the rest of the recipe and it has turned out perfect every time. We are having a great time with our Pot – it has really changed up our options, especially during the week. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. This was good! I did find it a bit spicy, so I will cut the red peppers by half next time. And as others have said, increase the cook time by 2-3 minutes. My noodles were still hard the first time.

  3. This was good! I would, as others have suggested, increase cook time by 2-3 minutes. I did find it somewhat spicy, so I would cut the peppers by half.

  4. I’ve made this twice and keep getting the burn notice. I’m wondering if the meat, water, and sauce should be mixed first? Hen put the pasta on top and press pasta down into liquid/meat mixture. Anyone try that? I definitely scrape the bottom after
    sautéing the meat, so it’s not that.

    1. After I saute the onions and the hamburg and add the seasonings, I deglaze with a little bit of the water. This removes any of the burned on bits on the bottom of the pan. I’ve made this several times now, and it always comes out perfect…knock on wood!

  5. April Hyson

    This was a hit. We enjoyed it. However, like many have mentioned, the “burn” notification came on. Would be interested to know if others who got it were able to fix the issue if they made it again.

  6. Wonderful! I made it with 2 pounds of beef and all the rest as written. And put timer on 6 minutes. . This will be a regular dish now family loved it and it was so easy. Next time tough I may use half beef and half Italian sausage for a hint more flavor.

  7. I’ve made this several times. It’s one of my favorite Instant Pot dishes. Love it! Could eat it every week. It’s rich, creamy and very easy. Add a salad and garlic bread and it’s a great dinner.

  8. Love Instant pot

    Very good! I did get a burn message and the ground beef part was sticking. There was plenty of liquid in the pot so I’m not sure why? I have an 8 quart so maybe needed to add more then 3 cups water?? Either way it tasted great and very easy to make.

  9. I made this dish and it was very good. Almost like lasgna without all the cheese, but I liked it a lot because it was very creamy. We will definitely be making this again!
    I always make my own pasta sauce and didn’t want to cook something separate on the stove so I altered the recipe just a bit. I sauteed the meat in the pan and added the tomato paste and spices as called for, deglazing the pan with the tomato paste. I added the pasta (whole wheat) and then I placed all of the ingredients for my homemade pasta sauce on top (pureed crushed tomatoes, more Italian seasoning, onion and garlic powder and more salt and pepper.). I added the 3 cups of water, plus a bit more to clean out the tomato from the can. While I did receive a burn notice, I knew there was plenty of liquid in the pot so I just let it continue to cook. To my surprise everything was just fine when I opened the pot after the quick release. There was a bit of meat and tomato paste getting a little burnt/stuck to the bottom but after a good stir you could not tell it all mixed in and didn’t effect the flavor. I think my meat and tomato paste was a bit thick and needed more moisture at the bottom so I plan to try that next time and see if that helps. However, I would suggest to just continue cooking if you know there’s enough liquid (3 cups should be plenty) because your dish will still finish. It made me nervous since this is only my 3rd Tim to cook in the instant pot and I didn’t know what would happen. Very happy with the end result though and I hope this helps some one else.

    1. You’re defInitely helping me out, jar sauces just don’t appeal to my taste, I would like to know what size can of tomatoes you used? Thanks

  10. A friend told me about this recipe when I was searching for something to do as my first IP attempt. It was so great! The whole family loved it! I followed the recipe exactly.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Followed the recipe exactly and kept getting a burn error. I made sure the bottom was scraped.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

    1. I did this recipe for first time and followed these alternate instructions. Turned out great!

  16. John Buisson

    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!!

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