Instant Pot Creamy Italian Pasta: An electric pressure cooker version of baked rotini, this easy one-pot meal comes together in minutes creating the perfect family dinner.
I love pasta.
And so when I was asked by so many of you to perfect pasta in the instant pot–I gladly accepted the challenge.
I am happy to report that I have PERFECTED cooking pasta in sauce in the pressure cooker. BUT I am a bit sick of pasta at the moment–HA!!
Instant Pot Creamy Italian Pasta
In all seriousness, I tested this Italian Pasta in my Instant Pot more times than I can count.
- I experimented with 4 types of regular noodles and one type of gluten-free noodles.
- I tested this instant pot pasta recipe with homemade tomato sauce and with jarred tomato sauce.
- I made my Italian pasta creamy with the addition of ricotta and cheese and I made it without dairy for a vegan friendly pasta bake.
- I even tried this pasta bake with ground meat and Italian sausage.
I burnt a batch. I undercooked pasta. I overcooked pasta.
But I finally landed on success and now have one of the EASIEST meals you can make for your family on a busy weeknight–ps–you want to check out all my 30 minute family meals for busy nights!
I will walk you through the different variations, but first let me share with you my favorite version.
How to Make Easy Creamy Italian Pasta in your Instant Pot:
Step One: I like to make my own homemade tomato sauce, so I start by making my sauce.
And with the pressure cooker, my sauce is ready in minutes verses taking all time to simmer on the stove. The only difference with this sauce verses my traditional marinara is that I omit the tomato paste from my sauce, as it can easily burn in the pressure cooker.
Step Two: After I cook my sauce on high pressure for 10 minutes, I do a quick release (because there is a large amount of liquid in the sauce, be sure to cover vent with kitchen towel and stay away from steam). It will take about one full minute for the pressure to release.
Step Three: Once the pressure has released, stir in 16 ounces of dried pasta–for this recipe I use rotini but see notes below on other times of pasta you can use. You want to be sure to sumberge the pasta into the sauce.
Step Four: Dollop ricotta cheese on top of the sauce and grate Parmesan cheese over the top.
Step Five: Seal the lid and close the valve to sealed. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. Let release pressure for 5 minutes and then do a quick release and turn off Instant Pot.
It is SO important to watch that you don’t allow more time to pass than 5 minutes for natural pressure to release so you don’t overcook your pasta. I have found that 4 minutes for most pasta (see notes below) with 5 minutes natural release creates a perfect al dente pasta.
Step Six: Stir the sauce and pasta all together and serve up to your family.
You will notice when you remove the lid the sauce looks very liquidy, just give it a good stir and the pasta and sauce will be perfectly incorporated.
How to Perfectly Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot
Cooking pasta in the instant pot is about the easiest thing to do.
But just like all Instant Pot Recipes, there are a few important guidelines to remember when using your instant pot.
First, you need to be sure you have enough liquid for pressure to be reached AND enough liquid for your pasta to cook in and to leave a delicous sauce behind.
The magic number instant pot pasta to water ratio is about 6 cups liquid to 16 ounces pasta. I know that may sound like a lot of liquid, but that includes the liquid in the tomato sauce.
Secondly, you want to make sure you completely sumberge your pasta in the liquid to cook. I have seen many recipes that place the pasta on top of the sauce “to steam” the pasta. Every time I have tried this, my pasta cooked unevenly and had dried, crispy spots–yuck. I like to pour my pasta in on top of the sauce and then lightly push down the pasta until it is just sumberged. This will keep the pasta covered with liquid but not touch the bottom the inner pot in the Instant Pot.
Dried Pasta Instant Pot Cooking Times:
- Spaghetti Noodles: 3 minutes on high pressure, 4 minutes natural release, then quick release (break spaghetti noodles in half so you can sumberge in cooking liquid).
- Rotini/Penne/Cavatappi: 4 minutes on high pressure, 5 minutes natural release, then quick release
- Rigatoni: 5 minutes on high pressure, 5 minutes natural release, then quick release
- Linguine: I have NOT had success with linguine noodles, they all clumped together even when I tried to criss-cross them. I would just use spaghetti noodles.
- Elbow Noodles: 3 minutes on high pressure, 4 minutes natural release, then quick release
Can you cook gluten-free pasta in the Instant Pot?
You sure can. I experimented with Barilla gluten-free rotini noodles and my method still worked perfectly. If you use another brand of noodles, the timing could vary.
What if you want to use jarred pasta sauce instead of homemade pasta sauce?
If you have a favorite jarred sauce or already have some homemade marinara sauce made, this recipe for Instant Pot Pasta, just got a whole lot easier for you!
Place your jarred sauce, 2 1/2 cups stock or water, 1 can diced tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt in pressure cooker. Add in pasta and ricotta as directed and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes and do a natural release for 5 minutes before doing a quick release and serving.
Can you add meat to this Instant Pot Pasta recipe?
Absolutely! I stated that I have tried Instant Pot pasta with both ground beef and Italian Sausage.
For the ground meat, I sauteed the meat and then once it was browned, drained off the grease and proceeded with the recipe. You can either follow my instructions for how to make this with homemade sauce or jarred pasta sauce.
For Italian Sausage, I just dropped the whole links of Italian Sausage into my tomato sauce as it cooked. After the first release, I removed the sausage, cut it into slices and added back to the sauce along with noodles and ricotta to finish cooking.
Can you make this Instant Pot Pasta Vegan?
Absolutely. Just omit the ricotta cheese and Parmesan for an easy one pot pasta recipe.
A Few Final Notes on This Instant Pot Past Recipe:
- I add in a dry red wine, like Cabernet or Merlot for an extra rich flavor to my sauce. Don’t worry the alcohol cooks off for the kids, but you can leave the wine out and use 1/2 cup more stock or water.
- I highly recommend using stock instead of water for this recipe. The noodles absorb the liquid as they cook, so by using stock, you are imparting more flavor to the pasta.
- This is one time not to let your Instant Pot sit on keep warm after you release pressure. The pasta can become soggy and dry out quickly.
- Want more Instant Pot recipes? Check out my collection of easy healthy Instant Pot Recipes.
How to make Italian Pasta Bake in the Pressure Cooker
Instant Pot Creamy Italian Pasta
How to make homemade marinara with pasta in an electric pressure cooker
For the Homemade Tomato Sauce
- 28 ounce tomato puree
- 3 tablespoons dried parsley
- 5 garlic cloves peeled and smashed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 2 tablespoons honey or sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
For the Pasta
- 1/2 cup dry red wine or addtional stock
- 15 ounce diced tomatoes
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 recipe homemade tomato sauce or 28 ounces jarred pasta sauce
- 16 ounces dried pasta
- 8 ounces ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Place all ingredients for homemade tomato sauce along with diced tomatoes, stock, and wine in inner pot of pressure cooker.
Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes and then do a quick release.
Add in dried pasta and sumberge in sauce. Dollop with ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese.
Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. Let naturally release for 5 minutes and then do a quick release for remaining pressure.
Stir sauce, ricotta and pasta altogether and serve.
To Make Instant Pot Pasta You May Need
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