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Easy Instant Pot Shells and Beef

Need another quick weeknight dinner idea? Try our Instant Pot shells and beef recipe! Seasoned ground beef and pasta served in a cheesy tomato sauce.

It’s Monday again and for most people that means going back to work. We understand your pain and that’s why we’re here to help with simple Instant Pot ground beef and pasta recipe.

Our Instant Pot shells and beef is easy to prepare, delicious, and perfect for a chilly Monday evening. It’s full of cheesy beef and shells, tomatoes, and seasonings.

This is one of our favorite kid friendly Instant Pot meals. It’s right up there with Creamy Tomato Pasta and Ranch Chicken and Rice.

A bowl of the creamy shells and beef garnished with parsley.

How to make Instant Pot shells and beef:

First, go ahead and dice the onions, shred your cheese, and open all the boxes, cans, and jars. Basically, prep things and get them ready.

Ground beef and other ingredients sauteed in the pressure cooker.

After that, place the liner into the pressure cooker and turn the cooker on to saute. Let it get hot, then toss in the oil, ground beef, onions, Italian seasonings, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Next, let everything saute until the beef has browned. Use your spoon to stir the ingredients as they cook so nothing sticks.

The ingredients have been layered and are ready to cook.

Once the beef has cooked, turn off the machine and layer in the following ingredients: shells, water, chicken broth, canned tomatoes, and heavy cream. If needed, use the spoon to press the shells below the liquid.

Furthermore, it’s important that you place the ingredients into the pressure cooker in the order described above and do NOT stir anything. Otherwise, the creamy shells and beef may burn.

Now, pour the marinara on top of everything else. Put the lid on the cooker and set the valve to, “sealed.”

The shells have cooked and mozzarella cheese has been added.

Then, press the manual (high pressure cook) button and set the timer for five (5) minutes. When the timer goes off, use a towel the cover the valve, and preform a quick release (open the valve to release the steam).

Last, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese onto the shells and beef and stir the pasta dish.

That’s it your Instant Pot shells and beef recipe is done! Simply serve it hot and store any leftovers in a sealed container in your fridge. They’ll hold for about three days.

Kim and I hope you enjoy the pressure cooker pasta recipe and wish you all the best 🙂

Instant Pot shells and beef in white bowls.

Instant Pot shells and beef Tips:

  • The noodles in this dish cook on the softer side (more than al dente). If you prefer the shells closer to al dente, reduce the cook time by 1 to 2 minutes. 
  • If you are concerned about pressure cooking the heavy cream, simply add it along with the cheese after the ingredients cook.
  • We do not recommend using milk in place of the heavy cream, because it can curdle. If you need to make a swap, try half and half.
  • We don’t drain the grease off the meat before adding the other ingredients. However, that’s an option. Simply remove the meat and onions from the stainless steel liner. Drain off the grease, wipe the liner clean, and return the meat to the liner.
  • Before adding the noodles to the stainless steel liner, check to see if the liner needs to be deglazed. If so, use ¼ cup of the broth or water and a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the liner. This is essential before adding the noodles in order to avoid a burn notice. We’ve never had an issue with the meat sticking, but it’s always a good idea to check.

Other Instant Pot pasta recipes you may enjoy:

Don’t forget to check out our Instant Pot Shells and Beef web story!

A close-up photo of the finished pasta topped with parsley.

Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef

5 from 3 votes
Print Save Pin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Come to Pressure: 20 minutes
Total Time: 39 minutes

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  • 1 Tablespoon Cooking Oil canola, vegetable, etc.
  • 1/2 Cup White Onion diced
  • 1 Lb. Ground Beef (we used 93/7)
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pepper or to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups Water
  • 1 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 16 Ounces Uncooked Shell Pasta (we used medium-sized shells)
  • 1 24.5 Ounce Jar Marinara Sauce, choice your favorite
  • 1 14.5 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 Ounces Mozzarella Cheese (about 1 cup by volume, shredded)

Optional Toppings

  • Shredded Parmesan
  • Extra Shredded Mozzarella
  • Fresh Parsley


  • Turn on the Instant Pot using the sauté function. Wait for the display to read “Hot,” then add the oil, onions, ground beef, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook the ground beef until no longer pink while breaking up into small pieces.
  • Press the “Cancel” button, and layer the following ingredients in the order listed. DO NOT STIR. Add the shell noodles on top of the ground beef. Then pour in the water, broth, canned tomatoes, and heavy cream. Use a spoon to gently press the noodles down below the liquid if necessary. Next pour the marinara on top of the noodles and liquid.
  • Close the lid, and ensure the valve is set to “sealing.” Press the manual (pressure cook) button, then adjust the time to 5 minutes.
  • When the time is up, press “Cancel,” and open the valve to complete a quick release. Add the shredded mozzarella cheese, and stir to combine.
  • Serve hot. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients and a serving size of 1 cup of the shells and beef. Actual calories will vary.
*Please see post for tips and additional information regarding the recipe.
Recipe inspired by Spicy Southern Kitchen.


Serving: 1Cup | Calories: 409kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 75mg | Sodium: 653mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g
Recipe Rating


Friday 29th of May 2020

Heavy cream alternative? Or can I omit? Bf is lactose intolerant, takes pills so he can handle small amounts of cheese but heavy cream is too much. Thanks.


Saturday 30th of May 2020

Good Morning Stephanie, that's a good question. You have a few options. You could use milk, if it doesn't cause issues with the lactose intolerance. Another possibility is to use almond milk or coconut milk. With that being said, coconut milk will change the flavor of the pasta and give it a coconut aftertaste. Those are the only alternatives that we are aware of. I hope this information helps. Have a lovely day :)