Instant Pot Sausage & Shells

Nothing makes (cooks) pasta as efficient as an Instant Pot. You never have to boil it separately and then strain it and EVERYTHING is done IN. ONE. POT.

So it’s only fitting I’m obsessed with dreaming up pasta dishes that aren’t only a breeze to make, but GOURMET in flavor. My Sausage & Shells is no exception to the level of excellence I strive for and is hands-down one of my favorite things I’ve ever created not only in my Instant Pot, but in my lifetime.

And so, my sausage and pasta loving friends, you are in for one of the best culinary experiences of your lives. Anyone you serve this to will fall in love with you.

I kid you not, this dish could be served at a 5-star restaurant while Jeeves is pouring you $300 water from the mythic glaciers of Iceland blessed by Björk. Except you can wear schlubby clothing while you eat it right in your own kitchen!

Here’s How I Made It!: 

Because about 75% of my recipes start with the onion family, take some shallots…

…and dice ’em up.

Take a can of artichoke hearts…

…and drain them and rip ’em up coarsely by hand.

Now this would be a mighty sad sausage party without sausage. So let’s make sure we take some sweet Italian sausage…

…or hot Italian sausage…

…or, WHY NOT?! BOTH! (By the way, you can totally use any sausage you wish, but I feel that Italian works best for this dish)…

…and slice it up (in its raw state) into bite-size pieces. (It’s okay if some of the casing falls off while slicing).

Now let’s go to the Instant Pot and add in some butter and give it some heat.

Once the butter’s melted and sizzlin’, add in the shallots…

…stir it into the butter and allow it to cook for a few minutes.

Then, add in the sausage…

…along with some garlic…

…and stir everything together for a few minutes (but don’t fully cook the sausage – that’ll happen when it’s pressure cooking).

It’s time to add in some liquid. Pour in a dry white wine…

…as well as some garlic broth (or chicken broth if you don’t have garlic base).

Now add in some cherry or grape tomatoes…

…Italian seasoning…

…dried parsley…

…and our pasta: medium shells! This is absolutely my pasta of choice for this dish and I suggest using it (but make sure you use MEDIUM shells and not the large ones).

DO NOT STIR the pasta (it may have issues coming to pressure if you do), but rather smooth it out with a mixing spoon so it’s mostly submerged in the liquid. It’s okay if some is still “ice berg-ing” above it.

Top it off with some baby spinach and it will likely go right to the brim. And, like the pasta, DO NOT STIR. Secure the lid and cook at high pressure.

When done, the spinach will have significantly cooked down into nothing.

NOW you can give everything a good stir. Most of the liquid will have been absorbed by the pasta but there will still be some left which is what we want.

And now a few final (magical) touches to make this sausage party orgasmic. Add in some half & half…

…grated parmesan (make sure it’s grated as it melts/blends far more easily than shredded)…

…and, my secret ingredient to the most deluxe, creamy and rich pasta – some Boursin!

For a lovely final touch, add in some artichoke hearts…

…and give everything a REALLY good stir for a few minutes until all of the Boursin has completely melded and blended into the sauce! Allow it to set for a moment and it will really thicken.

Transfer to a serving dish…
…and prepare yourself for one of the finest, most gourmet pastas you’ve EVAH HAD.

This was a real nice sausage party!

ENJOY!

Yield: 6

Instant Pot Sausage & Shells

Instant Pot Sausage & Shells

This pasta dish is my claim to fame. It's so popular and lauded that I was invited to make it on Good Morning America where George Stephanopoulos ate it with his hands right out of the pot.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) of salted butter
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 1 lb of Italian Sausage (sweet, hot or mixed), sliced into 1/2″ pieces while raw (use 2 lbs if you want it to be SUPER sausagey)
  • 1 tbsp of crushed garlic
  • 3 cups of garlic broth (I used 1 tbsp of Garlic Better Than Bouillon + 3 cups of water but you can just use 3 cups of chicken broth instead if you don’t have this and it will still be great)
  • 1 cup of white wine (any dry one, such as a Chardonnay, will do and you can use white cooking wine too if it’s all you have. If you don’t wish to use wine, add another cup of broth)
  • 1 tsp of Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp of dried parsley
  • 10 oz (approx) of Cherry or Grape Tomatoes (you can double these if you wish)
  • 1 lb (1 box) of medium shells (I strongly suggest using this exact kind of pasta)
  • 5 oz of baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup of half & half or heavy cream
  • 5.2 oz package of Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese (or Boursin Shallot & Chive Cheese), cut into small crumbles (SECRET INGREDIENT! This is usually always found in the deli/cheese/cured meat section of any market and Costco sells it in packs of 3. If you cannot find it, 5 oz from a brick of cream cheese will do)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping if desired (make sure it’s grated and NOT shredded as it melts/blends into the sauce properly. Also, the more cheese, the thicker the sauce!)
  • 14 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained and roughly ripped up by hand

Instructions

  1. Add butter to the Instant Pot (I used a 6qt), hit “Sauté” and “Adjust” so it’s on the “More” or “High” setting. Once the butter’s melted and sizzling, add in the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then, add the sausage and garlic and stir for another 2 minutes (the sausage should not be fully cooked by this point)
  2. Next, add in the wine, broth, Italian seasoning, dried parsley and the tomatoes. Stir well
  3. Lastly, add in the pasta shells BUT DO NOT STIR. Just allow them to be as submerged under the liquid as possible by smoothing out with a mixing spoon (it is okay if some of the shells are sticking out above the liquid). Top off with the spinach and, again, DO NOT STIR. (Note: It’s going to feel like there’s a LOT of spinach in there and it will come up to the brim of the pot, but don’t worry – it cooks down into nothing!)
  4. Secure the lid and hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” and then hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 6 minutes (5 minutes if you want the shells more “al dente”). Quick release when done.
  5. Stir in cream, Parmesan, Boursin and artichokes for about 2 minutes until the Boursin is completely melded into the sauce. Let it rest for another 5 minutes and it will have thickened perfectly. Transfer to a serving dish
  6. Enjoy!

Jeffrey's Tips

Although I think 1 lb of sausage is totally sufficient, if you want this to be REALLY full of it, increase it to 2 lbs instead of 1.

Speaking of sausage, I definitely think Italian sausage (sweet, hot or both) works best for this recipe, BUT since there are SO many different kinds of sausage options available to bring to this sausage party, feel free to use any sausage of your choice!

Store any leftovers in some Tupperware and refrigerate for up to 5 days. The microwave will work fine for reheating when the time comes (about 30-60 seconds).

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Gretchin Clifton

    Making this tonight, I can’t wait! My question is that I recently got a new instant pot, not realizing how large the 10 qt is. Can all your recipes be made in the 10 qt?

  2. Denise Slaughter

    I’ve been instructed by my two 14-year-olds that this dish HAS TO BE MADE every week. It’s now a weekly staple dish in our house.

  3. Debbie Buchholz

    This is one of my favorite recipes! Everyone that has tried it is in love with the flavors. Leftovers are delicious too!

  4. Anita

    This recipe made us fall in love with you when you were just venturing out. Since we’ve made made many many of your recipes & they’ve all been delicious. I bought the cookbook both for us & our son. He also loves your recipes. Thank you!

  5. Sonja Cowsert

    Made this for the first time tonight. So good! Well worth the 3 days it took me to gather the ingredients because I forget stuff. I also may have consumed the rest of the wine not need for the recipe.

  6. Wendy

    Since we aren’t doing our usual big Christmas meal this year, my family suggested we have your wonderful sausage and shells! It’s their favorite plus it’s red and green!

  7. Krista

    Jeffrey I love you!!! My Marine son just came home for the first time since basic training. It’s been 6 months. This made the list for must have dinner!!. I’ve tried several of your recipes and I’ve never been disappointed. They are all in my row tow folder!! Thank you so much!!!

  8. Jessica J

    Made this tonight with two pounds of sausage – one hot, one sweet and it’s very delicious! Not much we’d change except smaller cuts of sausage. Thanks, Jeffrey!

    • Jeffrey

      For this recipe, I’m not sure you want to know that 🤪. But feel free to plug into a nutrition calculator to determine!

  9. Richard Klein

    Hey, this meal looks great and I’m anxious to try it but I’d like to know if uneaten portions can be frozen. I live alone in the desert (in exile from NYC) and like to make meals I can reheat at a later time.
    Thanks,
    Richard

    • Kelly

      Hi,
      Although I just made this for the first time today, I would think it is okay to freeze. I have frozen similar ingredients and they seem to reheat well!

  10. Logan

    You made this in a 6-quart IP, but we have an 8-quart. Do we need to increase the liquid any, or is what is in the recipe enough even in an 8-quart?

  11. Julie

    I’m so very curious if this could be made in a croc pot instead of an insta pot?? I saw you on the Rachel morning show and need this meal in my life!! But I don’t own an insta pot & don’t have intentions of buying one.

  12. Christina R.

    This was pure comfort food joy!!! This turned out so good!! I didn’t use all the pasta, prob 2/3 pound and omitted the artichokes and parmesan, just added parmesan to individual plates. The sauce wasn’t as thick but with crusty bread it was perfect!!
    Thanks so much!!

  13. Bonnie J Schuljak

    Made this last night for dinner after watching you on Rachael Ray. Yummy!! Big hit with the family. Thank you for another enjoyable meal. Can’t wait for your next book.

  14. Sheila

    I want to make this with half the pasta but use 1 lb sausage. Would I cut everything else in half? How long should I pressure cook it?

    • Tracy White

      Sheila, that’s exactly what I did and it came out great! Half the pasta, 1 lb sausage, half of everything else (except some extra Boursin!) and the pressure cook time stays the same. I made it in my 3 qt. Instant Pot.

  15. Kathryn

    This was positively delicious! My husband said it was top restaurant quality, and a “keeper”. I even had some of the leftovers for breakfast. Thank you so much!

  16. Krys

    Listen, I know this is called SAUSAGE and Shells, and it. is. delicious. exactly as written! BUT I have a vegetarian daughter and I was wondering if I left out the sausage would I need to change any other ingredients? I think she would love the flavors of this dish (spinach, tomatoes, artichoke, cheese – what’s not to love??) but alas, she doesn’t eat meat. Suggestions anyone??

    • Melissa

      I am a pescetarian who lives with a meat-eater. I told her I’d like to make this, but I hate cooking for just one person. She suggested using vegetarian sausage, and I think that’s what I’ll do. Perhaps that will work for you and your daughter, too.

    • Brenda

      I’m Keto and I just tried using Palmini noodles (made with heart of palm) and it came out great. I was worried they would disintegrate but they didn’t. I did cut back on the broth a bit since they wouldn’t be absorbing the liquid. Great

  17. Gary Coon

    We just made it. It’s wonderfully rich! The sausage turns into little meatballs. My wife doesn’t like wine so we added that amount of broth. We’ll be making this again.

  18. Melissa

    Just wandered over here to let you know that this is the first dish I’ve made from your cookbook. I ordered it this week solely because someone posted a picture of this dish and raved about it. I’m hooked! This was so stinking delicious that I was eating it out of the pot when no one was looking (don’t tell). I’ll be purchasing your lighter cookbook soon. And I plan to gift a copy of your first cookbook to my parents who are a little scared to try new things in their IP. Such a wonderful resource! I’ve been an IP user for 3 years and rarely does a day pass that my IP isn’t in use.

  19. Maureen Woods

    I have an instant pot, how does one quick release do not see that in my instruction booklet, I have used a wooden spoon and stood back, (with fear) and released it myself, but is there a proper way to instant release that I am missing?

  20. Nancy

    Made this tonight for the first time (with kale instead of spinach),
    and Hubby declared it “restaurant-quality” and gave it 5 stars! I agree! Yummy! I was concerned it would be too rich, but it’s just right. It took me about 50 minutes from start to finish, but I am sure it will be a little quicker next time, now that I know what I’m doing 🙂 Delicious!

  21. Tara

    Made this for the first time tonight. The only thing I did differently is I took the sausage out of the casing and cooked it that way. OMG, I’m so mad at you! I cannot stop eating this! I’m so stuffed! It is absolutely delicious! Thanks for another GREAT recipe.

  22. Jeanie

    AMAZING dish!! Thank you for sharing. My daughter who is a better cook than I had to have what was left to take home. This is a delicious 10* meal.

  23. Lulu

    Help…I’ve got five hungry men about to commit mutiny. I’m looking forward to making another one of your tried and true recipes. I have purchased everything for this recipe except the artichokes. Should they be in oil, marinade, or water? I have jarred in oil, but the recipe doesn’t state what they should be in and I don’t want to ruin this dish. Thanks!

  24. Morgan

    This was AMAZING! I made this last night for my whole family and every single last one said it was delicious, including my super picky, no vegetables husband! My 5 year old asked if we could have it all year long and my almost 2 year old said “mmmm”! Next time I will probably double the sausage, but other than that, it was perfect! It was so nice trying something new for dinner!

  25. Susie

    Oh my goodness gracious!! Found this recipe in your cookbook and it is DELICIOUS!! I used hot Italian Sausage and the garlic herb Boursin. I am so full right now I want to die, but I keep sneaking more bites anyway. THANK YOU

  26. James

    Made this recipe this afternoon – very tasty! I used the PLC recipe for faux-Boursin and it came out well. The sauce is super creamy and has just the right mix of flavors to keep the taste buds happy. I like using a dry vermouth for deglazing, although it was really needed here. I did rinse the artichoke hearts really well to clear as much of the brine as I could.

  27. Arlene

    This was a wonderful dish to clear out my fridge. The only changes I made was I used whipped chive cream cheese, lentil cavatappi, added sautéed fresh mushrooms and red pepper flakes. I also used both parmesan and locatelli. Ground hot sausage and sweet links.

  28. Andrea

    Can this be made with a can of diced tomatoes instead of cherry/grape tomatoes? For some reason, we don’t like fresh tomatoes cooked. Would I drain them first?

    • Jeffrey

      Even drained, the canned tomatoes will make it a bit watery. As a man who hates raw tomatoes, trust me. They are perfect once cooked into the pasta.

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