How to Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot
Cooking pasta in the Instant Pot is so easy! Get a printable chart for how long to cook pasta types and how to cook different types of pasta at once. I'm even sharing the easiest spaghetti recipe ever!
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The Instant Pot is great for complicated soups, rice dishes, and even tough cuts of meat; but there are so many individual elements of a meal that can be easily cooked with one as well. You guys know my love of cooking rice in the Instant Pot; I'll never willingly cook it without one again! Eggs are another easy thing to cook with an electric pressure cooker.
But I thought I'd share another one of my secret kitchen hacks that makes cooking so many dishes a breeze.
The Instant Pot makes cooking any kind of pasta 10 times easier. Rather than wait for water to boil on a stove, you can simply combine the pasta and water in one easy step. In just minutes, you have perfectly cooked pasta!
There are a couple of ways you can get perfect pasta dishes with your electric pressure cooker; let's start with the easy one.
Step by Step Tutorial: How to Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot
Step 1: Add pasta and water
All you need to do is place your pasta in the liner of the pressure cooker and fill with water just to cover the pasta. Not putting too much water in your pressure cooker will save you time and prevent having to drain your pasta before using. However, not using enough liquid will almost always burn the pasta.
A good formula to remember is to double the amount of water for the ounces of pasta you have. What you see above is 8oz of penne pasta. I added 16oz of water to the pot. It does need to be submerged, but just barely. It's ok if a piece or two of pasta is sticking out of the water (you'll see I have a couple sticking out).
And if you'd like a little flavor kick, use chicken broth instead of water! See how I make my own chicken stock with an Instant Pot.
Step 2: Add salt and olive oil
Next, give that water a good shake of salt (about a teaspoon per 4oz) and a little bit of olive oil (about a tablespoon per 8oz). Just estimate though – it doesn't have to be exact. This will help flavor the pasta and keep it from sticking together.
Step 3: Pressure cook
Now, the time you'll need to cook your pasta kind of depends on a few factors. Generally, my times range from 1-4 minutes. This depends on a couple of things…
- The amount of water in your pot: if the water line is towards the bottom (like I have pictured above), you'll want more time, closer to 4 minutes. If your pot is around half full, closer to two minutes; if it's almost full, go 1 minute. This is because it will take longer for your pot to come to pressure as it gets fuller, meaning there is more total cook time with more water.
- The thickness/amount of pasta: this kind of goes with the water rule, but the thicker your pasta, the more time you'll need. Angel hair would need less time than something like a rigatoni. Go closer to 1 minute for angel hair, closer to 4 minutes for penne or ziti, depending on your water level.
I made a quick reference chart below with a few popular types of pasta! These times will get you to al dente pasta – i.e. just a little bit of a texture/bite left to them.
Pasta Cooking Time Chart
|Type of Pasta||Cook Time|
|Angel Hair||1 minute|
|Standard Spaghetti||2 minutes|
Note: this chart is for standard pasta, not gluten free pasta. I've never had luck with gluten-free pasta in the Instant Pot, it always seems to get mushy quickly. Stick with the stovetop for any gluten-free varieties!
One more note: whole wheat pasta is totally ok! You'll see I use whole wheat pasta below. No need to adjust cooking times.
Step 4: Natural release, then quick release remaining pressure
Once your cook cycle is done, allow pressure to naturally release for 2 minutes. Then, quick release remaining pressure by turning the pressure valve on your Instant Pot lid.
Why does water shoot out while releasing pressure?
You'll probably notice that the pressure release valve spews a little bit more than normal when cooking pasta or rice. The starches in the water cause this; it's totally normal!
If this happens, you can carefully set the pressure release valve back to sealed for a few seconds, then try to re-release (wearing some kind of glove to protect your hands). Adding extra oil to your pasta water before cooking can also prevent this.
And just like that, perfect pasta. There might be a little bit of extra water, but as you stir your noodles over the next few minutes, the starch should get rid of any excess moisture.
Cooking Different Types of Pasta at Once
Now, let's get a little complicated! 🙂 I use steamer baskets to cook multiple types of pasta (or even veggies) at once. This is my go-to trick for pasta nights around here. (Unfortunately, they don't sell this kind of basket set anymore – the closest I could find is this one.)
I bet most of us have 4-8oz of uncooked pasta in a bunch of bags in our pantry, just because we didn't use the whole box when cooking a dish. Take those random leftovers and do a pasta night! You can give your family the option of a few different sauces, a few different kind of protein (like chicken, shrimp, sausage), and a few different pastas. My kids love doing this.
This time around, I had penne pasta, whole wheat rotini, and macaroni noodles. Simply place them in the steamer basket, put that in the Instant Pot liner, and fill until there is just enough water to cover it all. Give it that salt/olive oil shake, lock your lid on, and set for a lower time, since there is more water and pasta. For this batch, I would do 1-2 minutes.
Once it's done, use an oven mitt to simply drain the pasta from the water!
Cooking Pasta in the Instant Pot with Jar Sauce
And finally, let's cook a whole pasta dish! I'm about to introduce you to the absolute best dinner shortcut I have.
You can have spaghetti ready in about 15 minutes in the Instant Pot. Brown your meat, cook your noodles, and mix the sauce all in one pot. It doesn't get much easier!
Here's how to make the easiest Instant Pot spaghetti…
Step 1: Cook ground beef and onion
Set the Instant Pot to sauté function and add a little bit of oil. Once hot, add 1 chopped onion and a pound of ground beef. Season well with salt and pepper.
Ground pork, Italian sausage, or even ground turkey would all be great substitutions as the protein in this recipe! The name of the game is easy; use what you have.
Cook meat through and onion until translucent. Drain any grease.
Step 2: Add sauce and water
Next, add a 24 oz can of tomato sauce (about 3 cups). To this, add 2 cups of water. Stir until combined.
(Note: I wouldn't use an Alfredo sauce or anything cream-based for this. Creamy sauces and pressure cooking typically don't mix. If you do want a creamy sauce, cook without the cream base and add after pressure cooking.)
Step 3: Add pasta
Add spaghetti noodles into sauce mixture, making sure as many noodles are submerged as possible.
Lock on the Instant Pot lid.
Step 4: Pressure cook
Set the Instant Pot to manual, 2 minutes. Once cycle is over, allow pressure to naturally release for 2 minutes before quick releasing any remaining pressure.
Serve spaghetti topped with parmesan cheese.
I'm telling you, if I never have to boil a pot of water for pasta again, I'd be just fine. Cooking Instant Pot pasta is so easy!
Now that you're an Instant Pot pasta pro, go forth and serve all the carbs! 🙂 If you're interested in trying a few more Instant Pot pasta recipes, I'd recommend Smokey Penne (one of my favorites!) or Chili Onion Crunch Pasta (great if you love spice).
More Instant Pot Dinners
How to Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot
If cooking plain pasta…
- 8 oz pasta of your choice
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- water just to cover pasta
If cooking with sauce, add the following…
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 onion chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 24 oz spaghetti sauce
- 2 cups water
If cooking plain pasta…
- Add pasta of your choice to the Instant Pot. Add just enough water to cover the pasta.
- Add salt (1 tsp per 4oz) and olive oil (1 tbsp per 8oz) to the pasta water.
- Set Instant Pot for time in the chart below for your selected pasta.
- Once cook cycle is finished, allow pressure to naturally release for 2 minutes. Quick release remaining pressure.
- Stir pasta well to absorb any remaining water.
If cooking with sauce…
- Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and add a little bit of oil. Once hot, add 1 chopped onion and a pound of ground beef. Season well with salt and pepper.
- Cook meat through and onion until translucent. Drain any grease.
- Add a 24 oz can of spaghetti sauce (3 cups). To this, add 2 cups of water. Stir until combined.
- Add spaghetti noodles into sauce mixture, making sure as many noodles are submerged as possible.
- Set the Instant Pot to manual, 2 minutes. Once cycle is over, allow pressure to naturally release for 2 minutes before quick releasing any remaining pressure.
- Stir spaghetti well.
- If your Instant Pot spews water when releasing pressure, you can carefully set the pressure release valve back to sealed for a few seconds, then try to re-release (wearing some kind of glove to protect your hands). Adding extra oil to your pasta water before cooking can also prevent this from happening.
- I don't recommend cooking gluten free pasta in an Instant Pot. However, whole wheat pasta works wonderfully; no need to adjust cooking times.
- I use steamer baskets to cook multiple types of pasta (or even veggies) at once. Simply place them in the steamer basket, put that in your liner, and fill until there is just enough water to cover it all. Give it that salt/olive oil shake, lock your lid on, and set for a lower time, since there is more water and pasta.
- Follow this chart for estimated pasta cooking times:
Angel Hair 1 minute Standard Spaghetti 2 minutes Linguine/Fettuccine 3 minutes Rotini 3 minutes Macaroni 3 minutes Penne 4 minutes Ziti 4 minutes Rigatoni 4 minutes
We really enjoyed this recipe! It was so easy to follow!