Tomato sauce in an Instant Pot

Tomato sauce in an Instant Pot

A lot of recipes for the Instant Pot pressure cooker are just faster ways of doing the same thing, and add only a little advantage. We have found that you can not only make tomato sauce well in the Instant Pot, it’s a lot more efficient both in time and dishes used!

Previously, we made tomato sauce by cutting up the tomatoes into halves or quarters and then chopping them in a food processor. Then we cooked the sauce until all the pieces of tomato had softened before running it through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds. Then we cooked the resulting sauce with added spices until thickened.

The Instant Pot method is much simpler. Just cut the tomatoes in half or quarters and toss them into the instant Pot. Since the tomatoes collapse as they are pressure cooked, you can fill the pot right to the max if you have that many tomatoes. We didn’t have that many yet so our pot was really only loosely 2/3 full. We weighed about 4.2 lbs of tomatoes in this first run.

cookedThen pressure cook them for about 20 minutes.  We first tried 10 minutes and they weren’t quite soft enough, so we added 15 more. Probably 20 would have been plenty. Since the tomatoes in the pot are mostly in their own water and not near the steam release spout, you can safely use Quick Release. But letting the pot cool naturally won’t hurt anything.

food mill 1Then, place a food mill over another pot (sorry you still have to get two pots dirty) and scoop out the tomatoes.  They should mush up quickly in the food mill and go through to the pot below. The skins and seeds remain behind.

Add the following to the sauce in the pot. The amounts depend on your taste and the batch size.

  • 1 Tb salt
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • 1 minced onion
  • 2-3 Tb chopped parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Tb chopped basil
  • 1 Tb oregano
  • lemon juice (1 Tb per jar)

Cook until the sauce has thickened, about 30-40 minutes.


Sterilize mason jars and new lids in a pot of boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain them on a paper towel, add 1 Tb of lemon juice or 1/4 tsp citric acid, and then immediate fill with hot sauce. Wipe off the rims to make sure the lids will seal. Put on the lids and screw them down.

Put the jars back in the boiling water and sterilize for 30 minutes. Remove the jars and let them cool, Make sure each lid “pops” and is concave.


Now, while we didn’t have quite a full pot of tomatoes this time, we will soon. In fact, we usually can about 10 lbs at a time, and in this system, we would make one batch, run it through the food mill and then do another batch and run it through the food mill, and cook and can both batches of sauce at once. That’s way easier than the “old” way!



50 thoughts on “Tomato sauce in an Instant Pot

      1. So in the initial pressurizing you didn’t add water to the tomatoes to steam it to pressure? There wasn’t any problem with that?


  1. Just for safety, if you want to eliminate the citric acid component, you could pressure can them. I appreciate the initial technique to have the tomatoes release the water and loosen the skins. I had been coring them and putting them in zipper freezer bags in the freezer – then running through the foodmill (just the “meat” not the water in the zipper bags). But this year my freezer is way too full to use that pretty foolproof method!


  2. Pingback: Instant Pot Recipe: Tomato Sauce « WRCH Lite 100.5
  3. Couple of questions… is this meant to be like a marinara sauce or like the cans of plain tomato sauce you but in the store? Also, when transferring everything to the pot to reduce further, do you add the liquid the tomatoes released in the instant pot or just work with the milled tomatoes and reduce from there (what consistency are we looking for in the end)? Finally, I’m assuming manual, high pressure for 20 minutes?


    1. The thickness of the sauce rather depends on how much you cook it down. Mine is usually fairly thick. However, a marinara sauce has garlic and anchovies which are not in this recipe as I wanted to make it more general. I mill the entire pot, liquids and all, and then cook it down. Yes, manual, high pressure.


  4. Sorry I know this is an ignorant question but I am extremely challenged when working in the kitchen. When you put the filled jars back in the boiling water, how much water should be in the pan? Should the boiling water come halfway up the jars? More? Less? Does it matter?


  5. I found your recipe to be very good! I tweaked it with garlic and Italian seasoning for my own personal twist. However, after the first batch I decided to add the ingredients to the instant pot and found that the seasoning infused quite nicely.


  6. hi i am trying to start my business and i don’t know how to jar my food. Does your method work for all jar types? why do you have to boil the sauce after it has been jarred and the lid has been placed on it? please help…


  7. Regarding last step of 30 to 40 min on stove….. can I use a stick mixer in lieu of a food mill …and saute the tomatoes in the IP for 40 min?


    1. Probably not, because most immersion blenders don’t have the oomph to pulverize the seeds and skin. Some have suggested using a vegetable juicer for that, but that gets something else dirty, and you really don’t want the seeds in there anyway. The food mill is simplest. In theory, you could cook down the sauce in the IP, but a stove is way more efficient, and the pot would get pretty full when you added the onions and so forth.


      1. Actually, I have used a stick blender to break down the tomatoes & skins as much as I can, then strained it in a food mill, and that worked best for me. By blending, it seems that the sauce strained through the mill faster and the broken down skins thickened the sauce enough that I didn’t have to reduce it further.


  8. Thanks for the recipe. I’m thinking I can do this to make tomato juice and not sauce, too. When I make tomato juice I cook the cut up tomatoes until soft enough to put in a food mill. Then I ladle the juice into sterilized jars, adding 1tsp of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp of salt per quart. Then the filled jars with lids and rings on them go into the water canner. I don’t see why this wouldn’t work and make the process a lot faster.


  9. Oh my gosh! Game changer! Used ur instapot method today and my ninja…cut my prep time in half!! Thank u so much for posting this article!!!


  10. Hi, I tried your method of cooking the tomatoes in the instant pot once and liked the result, but kept experimenting. The second time I tried it, I released the pressure manually after the 20 minutes at high pressure, which greatly reduced the amount of liquid and left the tomatoes in the instant pot on slow cook overnight with the lid off. Result: nice thick sauce in the morning and less time needed to run the tomatoes through the food mill. I was able to package the unseasoned sauce straight from the food milk (I freeze mine).
    Do you think that we could sauté onions, garlic, etc in the instant pot, dump in the tomatoes and seasonings, cook and thicken in essentially one step?


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