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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…

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 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. Yes, it totally works, AND it’s a total weeknight gamechanger. 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
✔ because there’s no need to drain the pasta when it’s done
✔ is totally hands free, no stirring or worrying about it boiling over
✔ produces foolproof perfectly cooked al dente 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.

INGREDIENTS:

your preferred brand of short dry 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 spaghetti and fettuccine, require a slightly different treatment, which I’ll address in a separate post. Small delicate pasta (ditalini, acini de pepe, etc.) will likely overcook and is best prepared on the stovetop, as is gluten-free pasta, which can turn into a gummy mess.

cold water — just enough to cover the pasta completely. This works out to approximately 4 cups for one pound of dry pasta. You could also substitute stock, if you desire, but I recommend omitting the kosher salt if you do so.

kosher salt — if you need to use fine salt, I recommend using just slightly more than half the amount.

how to cook pasta in instant pot overhead view of pot

How To Cook Pasta In Instant Pot

Cooking plain pasta in the Instant Pot is as simple as adding your dry pasta, water, and kosher salt to the pot, pushing a button, and then walking away until it’s done!

NO stirring so the pasta doesn’t stick, NO watching to make sure it doesn’t boil over, and NO constantly checking 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 most of the water is absorbed during the pressure cooking process.

1| Add the dry 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. The pasta is ready to serve!

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. You can easily scale this up to a maximum of 2 pounds of dry pasta in a 6-qt. Instant Pot or down to as little as 4 ounces, depending on your needs. Just adjust the water and kosher salt accordingly.

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 was first searching for how to cook pasta in an Instant Pot, I found a lot of conflicting information on exactly how long to cook it — often accompanied by some complicated math equations. 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 release of the pressure, and I’ve never been disappointed with the results.

Of course, there’s definitely some leeway for personal preference. 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 pasta brand 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 dry pasta. Then add the water and salt and pressure cook according to the recipe directions.

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

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.

If you need a little inspiration, one of our faves is this super easy cream cheese pasta that can be made right in the Instant Pot insert once the pasta is done cooking. The little bit of pasta water left in the bottom helps emulsify the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese into a dreamy flavorful sauce. My kids ask for it weekly!

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...

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Place the insert pot into the Instant Pot base. Add the dry pasta, enough water to completely cover the pasta (approximately 4 cups for 1-lb. of pasta), and kosher salt to the insert.
  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

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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 this versatile and delicious Instant Pot salsa chicken!

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