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How To Cook Plain Instant Pot Pasta

If you’ve ever wondered: “Can you cook pasta in an Instant Pot?”, the answer is YES!! Cooking pasta in the Instant Pot is the quickest and easiest way to perfectly cooked al dente pasta every time… AND this method works with your favorite regular pasta!

cooked instant pot pasta in a black and white enamelware bowl with a black & White kitchen towel

Can You Cook Pasta In An Instant Pot?

I’ve been an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker owner for 4+ years at this point, but it occurred to me recently that I haven’t really been utilizing it to its fullest potential. So I’ve decided that 2021 is going to be the Year of the Instant Pot

I’ll be exploring a variety of different Instant Pot basics and the ways they can be used to create quick and easy recipes that help get dinner on the table fast — starting with PASTA!!

Honestly, I can’t believe that it took me so long to try cooking pasta in the Instant Pot, but it’s quickly become one of my favorite recipes. YES, it totally works, AND it’s a total weeknight game changer. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking: “But it’s already so easy to just boil a pot of water on the stovetop…”

But seriously, pasta in the Instant Pot:

✔ shaves precious minutes off of meal prep
✔ dirties just ONE pot
✔ uses less water than the stovetop version so no need to drain
✔ is totally hands free, no stirring or worrying about it boiling over
✔ produces foolproof perfectly cooked delicious pasta
✔ just set it and forget it!

Who’s ready to make some Instant Pot pasta with me?! Let’s get started…

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instant pot pasta ingredients arranged on a marble surface with a black & white kitchen towel

Instant Pot Pasta Ingredients

For the purposes of this quick & basic tutorial, we’re going to be cooking plain pasta in the Instant Pot. So really all you need is pasta, water, and kosher salt.

Basic Ingredients:

your preferred brand of short dry pasta — like the regular kinds of pasta you find in a box or cellophane bag, NOT a refrigerated fresh pasta. In this case, I’m specifically referring to hearty short pasta varieties, such as penne pasta, bowtie pasta, rigatoni, shells, etc.

Long thin pastas, like fettuccine and spaghetti noodles, require a slightly different treatment, which I’ll address in a separate post. Small delicate pasta shapes (ditalini, acini de pepe, etc.) will likely overcook and are best prepared on the stovetop, as is gluten-free pasta, which can turn into a gummy mess.

cold water — just enough liquid so that the the pasta is barely covered will be enough to cook the pasta through without triggering a burn notice. This works out to approximately 4 cups for one pound of dry pasta. You could also substitute chicken broth, if you desire, but I recommend omitting the kosher salt if you do so.

kosher salt — I use 2 teaspoons per pound of pasta. However, if you need to use fine salt, I recommend using just slightly more than half that amount.

how to cook pasta in instant pot overhead view of pot

How To Cook Pasta In Instant Pot

With this easy method, overcooked pasta is a thing of the past. Cooking plain pasta in the Instant Pot is as simple as adding your dry pasta, water, and kosher salt to the inner pot, pushing a button, and then walking away until it’s done!

Versus the traditional stovetop method, there’s NO stirring so the pasta doesn’t stick, NO watching to make sure it doesn’t boil over, and NO constantly checking while the pasta cooks to see if it’s perfectly al dente yet… In fact, you don’t even have to drain the pasta when it’s done, since all but a little bit of water is absorbed during the pressure cooking process.

To Make Instant Pot Pasta:

1| Add the dry uncooked pasta, water, and kosher salt to the Instant Pot insert. Don’t stir the ingredients. Just place the lid on top and turn the steam release knob to “sealing”.

2| Use the Manual Pressure function to cook the pasta on high pressure for 5 minutes. The Instant Pot will take about 11-12 minutes to come to pressure before the actual cooking time begins.

3| When the cook time is up, perform a quick release with the pressure valve.

Voila, your perfect pasta is ready use in your favorite pasta dishes! Top it with your favorite tomato sauce, stir in some butter, Parmesan cheese, and black pepper (one of my childhood faves!), or use it in a pasta salad, mac and cheese, and more…

The Instant Pot Pasta Water Ratio

I typically make a pound of pasta at a time, so the ratio I use is a pound of dry pasta, 4 cups of water, and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. However, you can easily scale this Instant Pot pasta formula up to to a maximum of 2 pounds of dry pasta in a 6-qt. Instant Pot or down to as little as 4 ounces of pasta, depending on your needs. Just adjust the water and kosher salt accordingly.

Note that it’s perfectly normal for there to be a little bit of water left in the bottom of the pot after the pasta is done cooking. This super concentrated starchy water is pure gold when it comes to thickening a simple sauce!

See the table below for a quick pasta/water ratio reference:

SHORT DRY PASTA WATER KOSHER SALT
4 ounces 1 cup 1/2 teaspoon
8 ounces 2 cups 1 teaspoon
1 pound 4 cups 2 teaspoons
1.5 pounds 6 cups 3 teaspoons
2 pounds 8 cups 4 teaspoons

Instant Pot cooked pasta in a large enamelware bowl with a pinch bowl of red pepper flakes

How Long To Cook Pasta In Instant Pot

When I first searched for how to cook pasta in an Instant Pot, I found a lot of conflicting information on exactly how long to cook it. Often the directions were accompanied by some complicated math equations to determine different cook times based on the type of pasta and original cooking instructions on the pasta box… NO THANKS, I’d rather keep things simple!

I always cook the pasta on high pressure for a flat 5 minutes, followed by a quick pressure release, and I’ve never been disappointed with the results.

Of course, there’s definitely some leeway for personal preference. My general rule of thumb would be to set the pressure cook time for 5 minutes the first time, and if you find that you’d prefer the pasta be slightly less cooked, next time you make it just cook it for 4 minutes. On the other hand, if you prefer it to be slightly more done, you’ll know to add an additional minute and cook it for 6 minutes in the future.

How To Prevent Foaming During Quick Release

A common complaint when making Instant Pot pasta is that you may experience sputtering and foaming upon performing a quick release of pressure when the pasta is done cooking. To be honest, I’ve only had this happen once, and it was when I used a brand of pasta other than my normal one — which leads me to think that it could be brand dependent.

If you do experience this issue, there are a few tactics you can use to minimize and/or prevent it:

  • Add some olive oil to the ingredients before pressure cooking. About one tablespoon per pound of pasta should do the trick.
  • Release the pressure more slowly by turning the steam release knob just slightly instead of full open.
  • Similar to the wooden spoon across the top of the pot stovetop trick, place a trivet over top of the pasta. Then add the water and kosher salt and pressure cook according to the recipe directions.

PRO TIP: Or you could just do what I did — turn the steam release knob to full open and throw a towel over top to contain the overspray! #whateverworks

easy instant pot penne pasta with cream cheese sauce in a matte grey bowl with a silver serving spoon

Instant Pot Pasta Recipes

Once you master cooking pasta in the Instant Pot, the possibilities are endless! Use this plain pasta in ALL of your favorite pasta recipes, or just toss it with some jarred marinara sauce or meat sauce for a super simple weeknight dinner..

If you need a little inspiration, one of our faves for busy nights is this super easy cream cheese pasta that can be made right in the Instant Pot insert once the pasta is done cooking. The small amount of remaining starchy pasta water left in the bottom of the pot helps emulsify a little butter with some cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and a touch of garlic powder into a dreamy flavorful pasta sauce.

My kids ask for this crazy simple one pot meal weekly. Add a simple green salad and this super easy 15-minute garlic bread recipe to have dinner on the table in under 25 minutes — TOPS!! (Not even joking — I’ve timed myself, LOL.)

PIN IT NOW! CLICK HERE TO ADD THIS INSTANT POT PASTA TO YOUR INSTANT POT RECIPES BOARD ON PINTEREST!

plain instant pot pasta recipe in a black and white enamelware bowl

Plain Instant Pot Pasta

Yield: 8 cups cooked pasta
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 16 minutes

If you've ever wondered: "Can you cook pasta in an Instant Pot?", the answer is YES!! Cooking pasta in the Instant Pot is the quickest and easiest way to perfectly cooked al dente pasta every time... AND this method works with your favorite regular pasta!

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place the insert pot into the Instant Pot base. Add the dry pasta, enough liquid to completely cover the pasta (approximately 4 cups for 1-lb. of pasta), and kosher salt to the insert. If using chicken broth, omit the kosher salt.
  2. Lock the lid on top of the Instant Pot, and make sure the steam release knob is turned to “sealing”.
  3. Press the Manual (Pressure Cook for the new IP-DUO60) button on the front. High pressure should automatically be selected, but if it’s not for some reason, press the Pressure button to toggle it to high.
  4. Use the plus or minus buttons to set the cook time to 5 minutes. Wait a few seconds and you should hear a beep. At this point, the display will read “on”, indicating that the Instant Pot is pressuring up. Once it comes to pressure (about 10 minutes), it will switch to the timer to cook the rice for 5 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off, perform a quick release (QR) of the pressure. Use a thick towel or a pair of tongs to turn the steam release knob to “venting”. If you’ve never experienced this before, it can be pretty forceful, so pull your hands away quickly, stand back, and allow the steam to escape.*
  6. Once the pressure is released, press the Keep Warm/Cancel button to turn the Instant Pot off. Then remove the lid and stir the pasta.

Notes

*If you experience sputtering or foaming during the quick release of pressure, simply throw a towel over top to contain it. Refer to the tips within the blog post to help prevent this from occurring in the future.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 servings Serving Size: 1/2 cup cooked pasta
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 200Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 580mgCarbohydrates: 41gFiber: 2gSugar: 13gProtein: 7g

Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

Have you tried this recipe?

Leave a comment below and share a photo on Instagram. Tag it @unsophisticook and hashtag it #unsophisticook!


More Instant Pot Basics To Try

If you like making pasta in the Instant Pot, you might also enjoy these other time-saving Instant Pot basics:

And when you’re ready to graduate to something just slightly more difficult, I always recommend one of my favorite Instant Pot recipes — this versatile and delicious Instant Pot salsa chicken!

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @unsophisticook on Instagram and hashtag it #unsophisticook.

Charity

Saturday 23rd of April 2022

I do this all the time and it's perfect for busy moms and single people alike because you can make whatever serving you need. Top with one can of meat (tuna,chicken,beef even) or 1/2 bag frozen meatballs and one jar of premade sauce/soup for each box/bag noodle and this recipe is an endless supply of quick one pot dinners. I currently have 2 boxes of rigatoni going with tuna, a jar of cheese sauce, and a can of cream of chicken. If using canned meat go ahead and pour the water from the can in for added flavor.

Tim B

Monday 21st of March 2022

While I didn't try your method, it's basically what I found doing searches on the subject. Yes, 5 minutes seems to work well instead of dividing the original cook time in half and minus a minute more. I like the methods to combined the sauce in at the same time. I recently added, sauce, sausage and mushrooms into the pot. I should have increased the amount of water as I did burn some but did not get a burn notice...still turned out great for my work lunches.

Tara Kuczykowski

Tuesday 22nd of March 2022

I will have to try that, Tim! I need to experiment more with an all-in-one pasta dish. In case you missed it, I do have this easy cream cheese pasta where you make the sauce in the Instant Pot insert with the pasta as soon as it finishes cooking.

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