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Learn how to cook pasta in the Instant Pot with this delicious Vegetarian Pasta recipe. Make a healthy and delicious plate of pasta everyone will enjoy in under 30 minutes!
Table of contents
Soft tender spaghetti coated in a garlic basil marinara sauce topped with shreds of fresh parmesan, ready and on the table in under 30 minutes almost sounds too good to be true!
With the help of your Instant Pot, you can make this dream into reality any night of the week!
Here’s why – you just have to add water, pasta of your choice along with the marinara sauce, set the time, and walk away.
No more watching the pot or waiting for the water to boil like you have to do while cooking over the stovetop – it is seriously life-changing to cook anything in the Instant Pot 🙂
Why this recipe works
Not much beats a hearty plate of pasta but here are a few more reasons to love this vegetarian pasta recipe!
- One-pot pasta recipe. From start to finish this whole recipe comes together in one pot making clean up a breeze.
- Easily adaptable. You can easily swap out the spaghetti for other kinds of pasta you might already have on hand. Swapping homemade marinara for a jar of sauce is also an option.
- Pantry staple ingredients. This recipe uses easy to find, wholesome ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.
- Ready in under 30 minutes. From start to finish you can have this healthy pasta dinner on the table in under 30 minutes making it the perfect weeknight dinner recipe!
How to make pasta in the Instant Pot
For this vegetarian pasta recipe the pantry staple ingredients you will want to use are:
- Water – This liquid cooks the pasta and prevents the marinara sauce from burning in the inner pot.
- Pasta – While I use spaghetti in this post you can use any pasta. The cooking times will change, of course, see ‘Cooking time’ for how to calculate the cooking time based on the pasta.
- Marinara Sauce – A homemade marinara sauce or store-bought marinara sauce can be used to make this one-pot pasta dinner. I prefer the ones with basil.
- Spinach – An optional addition to the pasta but adds a healthy amount of vitamin A and iron to the dish.
- Parmesan Cheese– Top your finished Instant Pot pasta with a little shredded parmesan cheese, you won’t regret it!
Pasta cooking time = recommended cooking time on the box divided by 2 + 1 minute. Wait for 5 minutes after the cooking cycle is complete and then release pressure.
For example, if the guideline on the box says to cook the pasta for 11 minutes, you would round it down to 10 minutes. Divide it into 2 gives 5 minutes and now add 1 minute to it to give a total cooking time of 6 minutes.
If the pasta box shows a range say 11-13 minutes, pick the even number in the range which is 12. Then as per the formula above (12/2 +1 ) cook the pasta in the Instant Pot for a total of 7 minutes.
Water to pasta ratio
Always start with adding 1 cup of water to the heated inner pot followed by the pasta. Then add as much water as you need to submerge the pasta.
It usually comes around to between 2 to 2.5 cups of water for 8 oz pasta.
Step by Step Instructions
Preheat the Instant Pot – add water and pasta
- Begin by preheating the pressure cooker. Select ‘Sauté’ then adjust the mode to ‘Less’.
- When the inner pot is hot, or after about 30 seconds, add 1 cup water.
- Break the spaghetti noodles in half and place them in layers inside the Instant Pot.
- Next, pour the remaining cup of water over the pasta. The pasta should be completely submerged in water. If it is not, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of additional water into the pot.
Add marinara sauce and pressure cook
- Add the marinara sauce on top and do not stir.
- Pressure cook on high for 7 minutes. When cooking completes, wait 5 minutes then pressure release. [See note above about calculating the cooking time for pasta.]
- The pasta will be a little watery at this time, that’s okay. It will soak the remaining liquid in a few minutes. If you are using spinach in the pasta, add at this time. It should soften and wilt in a minute or two.
Season and enjoy with parmesan cheese
- Mix the pasta well and add salt as needed.
- Next, remove the inner pot carefully from the Instant Pot or the pasta will begin drying up.
- Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Some tips I have found helpful to keep in mind while cooking this vegetarian pasta in the instant pot include:
- Preheat the inner pot and always add 1 cup of water first followed by pasta.
- Make sure the pasta is completely submerged in the water or else you’ll end up with undercooked pasta
- Add marinara sauce last and do not stir it in
Frequently asked questions
8 minutes. Penne pasta takes 14 minutes to cook on the stovetop. Following the cook time formula mentioned above, you divide the stovetop cook time by two and add 1 minute to get the total cook time in the Instant Pot.
This varies based on the pasta used in the Instant Pot.
Every pasta begins with 1 cup water followed by the dry pasta, then top with water until completely submerging the pasta. Typically this should be between 2-2.5 cups total for about 8 oz of pasta.
Continue cooking undercooked pasta using the sauté mode. Add additional liquid as needed until pasta cooks through.
Yes, you can add pasta sauce to the Instant Pot as long as it cooks with additional liquid. One common mistake people make is not adding enough liquid and the sauce creates a burn notice in the Instant Pot.
Other Instant Pot recipes you’ll love
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese – Impress your guests with this creamy pasta recipe that is quick, easy, and has a secret ingredient to amp things up.
- Instant Pot Lasagna – Classic Italian lasagna gets an Instant Pot upgrade with this easy to make vegetarian lasagna recipe.
- Healthy Instant Pot Brown Rice– Master the process of making brown rice in the Instant Pot and get perfect results every time!
- Instant Pot Basmati Rice – You’ll love how Instant Pot cooks Basmati rice – fluffy and with each grain distinct and so much faster than a rice cooker.
- Fool-proof Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes – Make these Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes for all of your busy weeknight dinners or holiday meal prep!
Recommended Resources for Instant Pot
If you are new to Instant Pot then check out this beginner’s guide to Instant Pot. Here are some of our popular posts from this series.
Instant Pot Pasta Recipe
- 2 cups water divided
- 8 oz spaghetti or any pasta of your choice
- 2.5 cups homemade marinara sauce or storebought tomato and basil
- 1 cup spinach
- salt as needed
- shredded parmesan cheese
- Preheat the electric pressure cooker by selecting sauté. Adjust the mode to 'Less'.
- When the inner pot is hot, after about 30 seconds, add 1 cup water.
- Break the spaghetti in half and place it into the pot in layers.
- Pour the remaining cup of water. The pasta should now be submerged in water. If not, add 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of additional water into the pot.
- Add the marinara sauce. Do not stir.
- Pressure cook on high for 7 minutes. When the cooking cycle is complete, wait for 5 minutes and release pressure. [see note on how to calculate cooking times for pasta]
- The pasta may be a little watery, but it will absorb the liquid in a few minutes.
- If you are using spinach, add at this time. It should soften and wilt in a minute or two. Mix well and add salt as needed.
- Carefully remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot, or the pasta will start drying up. Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Water to pasta ratioAlways start with adding 1 cup of water to the heated inner pot, followed by the pasta. Then add as much water as you need to submerge the pasta. It usually ends up at a total of 2 cups of water for 8 oz pasta.
Tips for a perfect pasta
- Preheat the inner pot and always add 1 cup of water first, followed by pasta.
- Make sure the pasta is completely submerged in the water, or else you’ll end up with undercooked pasta.
- Add marinara sauce last, and do not stir it in.
Troubleshooting pastaGot undercooked pasta? Cook it using the saute mode and add more liquid if needed.
Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.