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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

Made from simple ingredients, it is perfect for a busy weeknight meal and is sure to be a family favorite.

How To Make

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

What readers are saying

This quickly became a family favorite. The kids could probably eat it every day and be happy. Leftovers are good for lunch the next day. And it’s very easy to improvise if I’m out of an ingredient or 2.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Make is spicier. Double the amount of crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Use ground turkey or ground Italian sausage instead of ground beef.
  • Mix in 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • To make it vegetarian, use Impossible 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

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 minutes
COOK: 15 minutes
TOTAL: 25 minutes



  • 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.


Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 days.
Nutritional info is provided as a guide only and will vary based on brands of products used. Not to be used for specific dietary needs.


Calories: 684kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 1341mg | Potassium: 922mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1426IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 245mg | Iron: 4mg
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: ground beef, pasta

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Originally posted June 6, 2018.

Recipe adapted from Meatloaf and Melodrama

Creamy Shells & Beef made in an Instant Pot

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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140 thoughts on “Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef”

  1. Madison holmes

    This is so great!!!!! My family loved it! Only thing I added extra was some garlic salt for taste! Thank you! ❤️

  2. Wanted to get a jump start on dinner as I have lots of errands and yard work to do. BIG MISTAKE! I started this at 10:00 AM and by 10:30 I couldn’t resist the aroma. So I tried a sample. Then I said “early lunch”, then my daughter came in and wanted some, then her boyfriend came over and well, you can guess the rest. By 11:00 the pot was half empty. This is sooooo good! I even recommend this for breakfast, brunch or early lunch. But I don’t recommend starting this as early as I did , so now I have to figure out what’s for dinner. There’s not enough leftovers.
    By the way I followed the directions as written, no changes.Yummy!

  3. Gayla Skates

    This came together really quickly and was delicious !!! I used two partial boxes of two different kinds of pasta and was only about 12 ounces..and I used approx. 1 and 1/2 pounds of ground beef…only other thing I did outside the recipe was to add about 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese…..this one is a keeper! And for working moms this is a great weeknight come together quickly meal.

  4. I’ve made this 3 times and my sister 2 times. It’s very good but we always get burn food notice. I’ve tried adding a bit more water and also stirring to get the liquid to the bottom. Instructions say not to stir but this makes no sense seeing liquid needs to be at bottom. I’ve tried not stirring and following instructions carefully, but no success.

    1. Once the meat is browned, turn the Instant Pot off by hitting cancel. Remove meat from the inner pot, return the inner pot back to the Instant Pot add in ½ cup of broth or water to the inner pot and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the inner pot to prevent a burn warning.

    2. My understanding from reading about instant pots in the past is that jarred or canned spaghetti sauces that you buy in the stores have thickeners in them, and they tend to cause a burn warning. I think the solution is either to make your own sauce, or add the jarred sauce on top of everything else, without stirring. Other commenters here seem to have success making this recipe without the burn warning.

  5. Always requested by my 10 yo grandson! Been making it 5-6 times a year for three years. I follow the recipe exactly; use Vodka sauce which makes it a little creamier and can get away with a little less half and half and parmesan. This recipe makes a lot and excellent as leftovers.

  6. One of our favourite pasta dishes in the Instant Pot. We don’t eat pasta very often but when we do, this is our go-to. Easy and delicious!

  7. Very good. Used gluten free noodles and dairy free milk and cream cheese and it was delicious. So creamy.

  8. I used raos four cheese pasta sauce and left out the shredded parm. Just as good. I also used 2 lbs of ground beef to boost the volume a bit nothing else changed. Cooked perfect still. I got one burn error but a quick scrape of the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon and lid back on fixed it. Not the recipes fault

  9. I’m always confused when a recipe calls for grated parmesan cheese. Do you I use the cheese that is in the little refrigerated plastic tubs or the cheese that is in a shaker/jar that is not refrigerated?

    1. You should use fresh Parmesan. The pre shredded and grated versions sold contain anti-caking ingredients.

  10. My family and I make this once every two weeks. Our 15 month old absolutely loves it and it doesn’t last but a day and a half! Big hit in this family!!

    1. Jody Borghetti

      Just made this with Vege Crumbles. This recipe is fabulous! So creamy! So good! I might add a green pepper next time.

  11. It turned out perfect. The pasta was perfectly done at 5 min and a 10 min natural release in my 8 quart instant pot. I put the tomato paste on top to prevent the burn notice. All 4 of my kids and my husband liked it.

    1. I think you’re right about the extra 10 minutes for the release time. I manual released like the recipe said and the shells were a bit underdone but still good sitting in the hot sauce after mixing everything else in and dividing into lunch containers they softened up a touch. Might even be good with a different pasta like rotini or cavatappi

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