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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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107 thoughts on “Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef”

  1. This was so creamy and delicious – I ate the leftovers for a few days afterwards and never got sick of it. Made it exactly according to the directions and it came out perfectly. I’m actually making it again tonight! It’s perfect for my pregnancy cravings

  2. Got a nasty burn notice even after I made sure to scrape the heck out of the bottom. I think it might be better to pour the water in and mix it a little while scraping any bit of food off the bottom, and then put in the shells and pour the pasta sauce over the top and not stir except to push shells into sauce.

      1. Just keep trying! Some Instant Pots are more sensitive than others. Try a bit more oil in the bottom too. I have made this recipe at least 10 times, and I do drain the meat and wipe the pot out well before moving on to all the other ingredients.

    1. Jenelle DesMarais

      I do. Sometimes I just double the meat and seasonings and leave the rest the same. Pretty much depends on if your instant pot is big enough.

  3. What is manual pressure release?? Does that mean I let it do it on its own like a natural release? Or does manual mean quick release??

  4. I had 2#s of ground beef that had to be used up so I put all of it into the recipe but the only thing I truly doubled was the cream cheese. I used 1 onion and stayed with the same amount of pasta, tomato paste, spaghetti sauce, and water. I added more seasonings though since I used more meat . I have a Crockpot brand instant pot so set my time to 7 min just in case. Then went back to work and I lost track of time until it was about 11 minutes after but the pasta was still perfectly al-dente after I opened it. Great flavor! Thank you!!

    1. Yes! I didn’t put any cream cheese and it was amazing and delicious. The heavy cream made it creamy enough so much so I can’t imagine it with the cream cheese. Even then I didn’t put the entire amount of heavy cream called for.

  5. Followed the recipe as written. Did forget to the scrape the bottom of the pan, so we got the burn error. Was very good!

  6. I used an 8Q IP. Followed recipe but added 2 mins as other suggested. Pasta was still undercooked. I might do 10 mins total next time. I didn’t get the burn warning; however, it was JUST slightly starting to burn when I opened the lid. Glad I opened it when I did. Great taste, though.

    1. Exactly same thing happened to me too, I opened as soon as it was done but was starting to burn! May be need more water.

      1. Jenelle DesMarais

        The 8 qt Instant Pot seems to burn a lot easier than the 6 qt. I would definitely recommend using more water as the 8qt seems to need it!

  7. I made this with penne instead of shells, and added some extra cheese (I’m from Wisconsin, what can I say) and it’s heavenly. I will definitely be making this again.

    1. I used the Barilla ProteinPlus Penne! It worked perfect! I typically pick high protein pastas since my daughters notoriously pick around meat.

      1. Jenelle DesMarais

        I always make it GF – just follow the box’s time for cooking and subtract 1 minute – you should be good to go! Works wonderfully!

        1. So I made this tonight and followed the instructions in my 6qt InstantPot and had problems. 😢 It didn’t pressurize the 1st time so I added more liquid. Did the same again and I added more liquid total of 2 1/2 more cups. Finally the 3rd time at least the noodles were cooked but the bottom of my pan was burnt and it never pressurized. HELP!! What could have happened here???

  8. I found this recipe when we got our instant pot 3 months ago for our wedding. I saved it and just came across it again today. Amazing! Great flavor and so creamy and delicious. Can’t wait to make it again!

  9. Made this exactly as written and it turned out delicious! I’d love to make it again but since I’m only cooking for two I wanted to only make a half recipe. Would I adjust the water and/or cooking time if I cut all of the other ingredients in half? Thank you!

    1. I always cook for my 7 year old son and myself. When I make dishes like this, I freeze half of it for a quick dinner later. Just a thought!

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