Instant Pot Spaghetti is the ultimate one-pot meal when you want to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less. The pasta, water, and sauce cook together in the same pot, all at the same time, so the process is almost completely hands-off!
I typically use store-bought marinara sauce on busy weeknights, but you can make spaghetti sauce in your Instant Pot, too! I make it with fresh tomatoes and no added oil or sugar, for a healthy, but still flavor-packed sauce.
How to Cook Spaghetti Noodles in a Pressure Cooker
The strange thing about cooking spaghetti noodles in your Instant Pot is that you can’t stir the mixture while it cooks. That means you can’t break up the noodles, preventing them from clumping together, during the cooking process.
To avoid clumping, it’s essential that you break the noodles into smaller pieces, and arrange them in a criss-cross manner as you add them to the pot. (Similar to that childhood game, pick-up sticks!) You can simply break the noodles in half, but I like to go a step further and break them into thirds for maximum non-clumping.
If your noodles to stick together for some reason during the cooking process, it is relatively easy to pull them apart with a fork when the cooking cycle is complete, but it’s nice to avoid having to do that as much as possible. I almost never have an issue when I break the noodles into thirds!
How Long Does it Take to Cook Spaghetti?
There are several methods and formulas out there for spaghetti, but I’m going to let you in on my method, which I developed while writing The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook. The thing you need to know about pasta is that it creates a lot of foam as it cooks under pressure. That foam will shoot out of the vent in the top of your pressure cooker if you perform a “quick release” immediately after cooking it. (If you don’t know what a quick release is, read my How to use Your Instant Pot guide for a quick overview + video tutorial!)
Many recipes will have you cook spaghetti noodles for 6 to 8 minutes, then perform a quick release, but that can lead to a messy counter covered with starchy water that shoots out of your vent. The whole point of using an Instant Pot is that it’s supposed to make your life easier, and cleaning up a messy counter isn’t going to help matters.
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Instead, I prefer to cook my spaghetti for a shorter time, and then I allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes. This lets the foam settle in the pot while the pasta finishes cooking, so when you’re ready to open the lid, there’s NO mess. It’s a win-win.
Here are my general spaghetti cooking times for the Instant Pot:
- Regular or Whole Wheat Spaghetti: 3 to 4 minutes at high pressure; 10 minute natural release
- Gluten-Free Spaghetti: 0 (yes, zero) minutes at high pressure; 8 minute natural release
How to Make Gluten-Free Spaghetti in the Instant Pot
If you need to make gluten-free spaghetti, I recommend cooking the pasta in the Instant Pot without the sauce. I’ve tested this method using gluten-free noodles, and the resulting one-pot pasta is way too thick and gluey in texture for my taste. (I wouldn’t dare serve it to company!)
However, if you want to use the Instant Pot to cook your spaghetti noodles, it’s still helpful to make the process totally hands-off. Simply cook the pasta and water together using the timing I mentioned above, then drain and rinse the noodles under cold running water to remove the starch.
You can add the rinsed-off noodles back to the Instant Pot bowl (so you only have one dish to clean) and stir in the sauce, and if you need to heat it up further, use the Sauté function on your machine. If you’d like to use ground turkey or beef, sauté it in the pot before adding in the sauce and cooked pasta.
Which Instant Pot Is Best?
I own the 6-quart and 8-quart Duo, and I love them both! I like that the Duo model has the yogurt function (so I can make my own coconut milk yogurt) and how it comes with a trivet, which I use often for making things like an Instant Pot Fritatta and Brownies.
Keep in mind that you can use practically any pressure cooker to use this recipe, but I developed this one for my 6-quart Instant Pot and the pressurization for an electric pressure cooker is different from a stove-top pressure cooker. Feel free to experiment if you have a stove-top model to see if the timing is similar.
If you have an 8-quart Instant Pot, try using 1 minute less on the timing since the pot takes longer to come to pressure. In my experience, the 8-quart Duo is more prone to giving you a burn error when cooking pasta and tomato products so be sure to follow the directions closely, so that you layer the ingredients in the correct order. You don’t want tomato products touching the bottom of the pot, or they may burn.
Burn Error Tips & Tricks
In many cases, if you get the burn error and your Instant Pot has already come to pressure (meaning, the floating valve in the lid has already popped up) you can do nothing and your meal will still turn out well. If the pot is pressurized, set a timer for 10 minutes, or wait until the floating valve in the lid drops, signaling that the pressure has released.
This gives your food the chance to cook, and allows whatever burnt on the bottom of your pot to rehydrate. As a result, food is usually NOT stuck to the bottom of your pan when you use this method. If your pot has not pressurized by the time you get the burn error, you’ll probably have to open the lid, scrape the bottom of the pan with a spoon, add a little extra water and try again.
Tips for Perfect Pressure Cooker Spaghetti
When it comes to cooking pasta in the Instant Pot, the order that you add in the ingredients is important. If you’re making this with a meat sauce, you’ll saute the ground beef first, then you’ll add the noodles, water, and sauce on top of that.
For a vegetarian spaghetti, skip the meat and start with the dry noodles right away. Cover them with water, then pour the marinara sauce over the top, without stirring. You don’t want tomato products to touch the bottom of your Instant Pot, or it could trigger the “burn” error.
If you follow these directions closely, you should end up with perfect spaghetti! Keep in mind that this recipe uses one pound of pasta and one jar of sauce, but if you want more tomato flavor, I sometimes add a few spoonfuls of tomato paste and extra seasonings to boost the flavor.
How to Make Instant Pot Spaghetti (4-Minute Video):
Note: I’ve updated this post since making this recipe video, so please disregard the 4-minute cooking cycle shown in the video. That works just fine, but I prefer a shorter 3-minute cook time now so the pasta has a little more tooth to it.
Instant Pot Spaghetti (with or without meat!)
- 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 16 ounces dry spaghetti noodles (regular or whole wheat; see gluten-free note)
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1 (25 oz.) jar marinara sauce
- 2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
- 16 ounces dry spaghetti noodles (regular or whole wheat; see gluten-free note)
- 1/2 cup dry red lentils (optional)
- salt, to taste
- 5 cups water (use 1/2 cup less if you omit the lentils)
- 1 (25 oz.) jar marinara sauce
- 2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)
- Press the Sauté button and allow the Instant Pot to heat up. (This helps prevent sticking.) Drizzle a bit of olive oil into the bottom of the pot, and add the ground meat, salt, and oregano. Stir and break up the meat until it is browned and cooked-through. Drain any grease, if needed, then continue with the following directions, adding the noodles directly on top of the cooked meat. (Don't stir!)
- Break the dry spaghetti noodles into thirds, so that they will easily fit into the Instant Pot. Add them to the pot in a criss-cross manner, so that they won't stick together and clump as they cook. (Remember, you can't stir the pot as they cook!)
- If you would like to add lentils, pour them in as you add the spaghetti noodles. This is optional, so if you omit them, use only 4 1/2 cups of water for this recipe. I like to add a teaspoon of salt at this point, too, so the noodles will have a little extra flavor as they cook.
- Pour the water over the noodles, then pour the jar of marinara sauce on top of that, covering as much of the top layer of noodles as you can. Add the tomato paste on top, if using, and don't stir.
- Secure the lid, and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Use the Manual or Pressure Cook button on your machine to cook at high pressure for 3 minutes. It will take roughly 10-15 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, so when the floating valve in the lid pops up, that's when the cooking countdown will begin.
- When the cooking is complete, allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes. The screen will read LO:10. Move the steam release valve to Venting to release the remaining pressure. When the floating valve in the lid drops, it's safe to remove the lid.
- Use tongs to stir the spaghetti, mixing the sauce throughout evenly. If the spaghetti looks a little watery at first, stirring the pasta will hellp the rest of the water absorb. Season to taste, and serve warm with your favorite toppings.
- Leftover spaghetti can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (per serving): Calories: 401, Fat: 9g, Carbohydrates: 58g, Fiber: 1g, Protein: 26g
Vegetarian Spaghetti (per serving): Calories: 320, Fat: 1g, Carbohydrates: 67g, Fiber: 5g, Protein: 15g
- To use gluten-free spaghetti, break the noodles into thirds and add them to the pot in a criss-cross manner. Pour 5 cups of water over them, and secure the lid without stirring. (Don’t cook gluten-free pasta with the sauce.) Use the manual or pressure cook button to cook at high pressure for 0 (zero) minutes. Yes, this is a real setting. Let the pressure naturally release for 8 minutes, then move the steam release valve to venting to release the remaining pressure. Drain and rinse the cooked noodles, then return them to the Instant Pot and stir in the sauce. You can use the Sauté button to reheat, if neeed. (If you want a meat sauce, you can saute the meat and tomato sauce together, then add in the cooked noodles.)
I hope you’ll enjoy this easy one-pot meal the next time you need to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes! If you try this recipe, please leave a comment below letting me know how it works out for you. And let me know if you have any other tips to share, too! We can all benefit from your experience.
Reader Feedback: Have you tried cooking pasta in your Instant Pot yet? My Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese and my Vegan Instant Pot Mac n’ Cheese are two other favorites you should try!
Questions and Reviews
OMG, I can’t believe how easy this is! I made it tonight because we always have spaghetti ingredients on hand. It was possibly the easiest thing I’ve ever made, and my husband loved it, too! This will definitely become a weekly staple for us.
You always have the best Instant Pot recipes! Thank you for the detailed notes in this post, because I’ve tried this with gluten-free spaghetti before, and I thought it was just me who didn’t like it that way. Your explanation makes sense, and now I know how to make perfect spaghetti with it!
This is awesome I love these dishes.
Made this tonight and it was perfect and so delicious!!!!
LO:10 is not appearing. The pin hasn’t dropped. It has been several minutes. Do not know why it is not functioning.
the screen reads
Do not know what has happened
If the screen reads 00:14 that sounds like you still have 14 minutes left in the cooking cycle, especially if it keeps counting down.
mine keeps counting up not down! Lo 25and rising/
That means it’s done, and has been off for 25 minutes so far.
The Keep Warm feature can be set to on, or off. If the Keep Warm is set ON, then, at the end of cooking time, the display will show the letters Lo and count UP the number of minutes since the cooking time expired. IF the Keep Warm feature is NOT on, then, at the end of cooking time, the display will show “OFF” and NOT count up time since cooking expired.
This came out really well! I made the vegetarian version, including the lentils. I didn’t have spaghetti noodles but it worked perfectly with whole wheat rotini, no clumping! It was certainly not mushy, but I might try cooking for 3 minutes/10 min release next time for just a little more bite to the pasta. Thanks Megan!
I used a 3 minute cooking time yesterday and it worked really well! I think I might actually change the recipe to that timing. Glad you enjoyed the vegetarian version, and thanks so much for letting me know!
Can you please make homemade gluten free pasta
I got the “burn” error message before the counter started. I didn’t stir, but maybe I tried to spread the sauce out too much? I thought it was mostly inedible, but my kids ate the top layer…
I’m getting ready to try your recipe above (Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat). I noticed the ingredients for the meat indicate a 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil, but in the instructions you mention adding oregano. Which would you use for best results?
Thank you! Love all of your recipes I’ve tried.
I love both! I think dried oregano can sometimes tastes “soapy” so I usually use basil more often in my home, but I know a lot of people prefer oregano, so you can use whichever you like– or both.
I got the burn notice before coming to full pressure, so I quick released and scraped bottom of pot. I turned it back on and it happened again. I unplugged IP and natural released for 10 minutes. Spaghetti was ok when I opened lid. Slightly over done, but not bad.
I made the vegetarian version of this tonight (with the lentils, without the tomato paste), and it was great! My husband, 4 year old and 1 year old all enjoyed it =)
I used 6bmeatballs…8 oz. spaghetti…1/2 cup water…1 24 oz. Jar sauce…high pressure 3 minutes…natural release
Gives me the burn warning and a terrible outcome each time. I’ve tried it three times already.
Your recipe is great, so this time I tried the vegetarian spaghetti, and gluten free since it was for company. I did as suggested, and then added some lentils.
I have Mt. Vesuvius for awhile….I am not sure what happened….maybe the lentils? Had white like lava coming out of the overflow in the back, as well as spilling out the top. I don’t know if it was the pasta and the lentils together, or if this just happens with gluten free pasta. It was more like a casserole because it was so thick. I added the sauce as you wisely mentioned after I cooked the pasta. Although it was very thick, everyone ate it up and there was not a smidgen left….what did I do wrong???? I love your original recipe.
How long did you let the pot naturally release before moving the vent to “Venting?” How large is your pot? Did the overflow start happening during the cooking process? I tested this in my 6-quart pot, and haven’t had that happen with these directions, but it’s possible that overflow could happen if you use a smaller pot or double the recipe. Let me know and I can try to help you trouble-shoot for next time!
It was not your recipe. It was me. When I received your email-and thank you for sending it!-I went back and read the recipe again, in order to reply. I was helping to feed 22 people that night, and was a bit stressed, since usually I just cook for my husband and myself, and I reread the recipe quickly. First of all, I put some of the water in, then did the dry spaghetti because I thought it might burn…then I did as you suggested, and broke it up into thirds-great idea! After adding a cup of lentils(see? It is starting to go wrong), and 5 cups of water, I closed the lid and put it on high pressure for……8 MINUTES! Then I did a QR for 1 minute. And because your recipe was so good, it did not burn, and the pasta cooked fine. The lentils disappeared and became the sludge along with the white lava of starch, I am sure. And even with all this, a couple of stirs and the pasta was OK to eat. I then took the warmed up sauce and combined it with the pasta, and all 22 people-kids included-ate it up.
So it was ME, not your recipe. Which means I will be using more of your recipes, because-1-for me to mess up so badly, it still came out fine and -2-You answered right away. THAT means a lot! Thank you!
Can you substitute green lentils for red lentils?
Hmm… I think you would have to cook green lentils longer, which may over-cook the spaghetti. Sometimes green lentils are done in 5 minutes of cooking, but depending on the age of the dry lentil, some take closer to 8 minutes– with a 10 minute natural release. Maybe whole wheat spaghetti could withstand that length of cooking without being too mushy, but gluten-free pasta would probably dissolve!
Just made the spaghetti with marinara sauce. No meat. Came out Perfectly. Side note. I hit keep warm on the IP by error. Cancelled. Did a quick release. Set again. All good. Thank you. Such an amazingly easy to make a pasta meal
This turned out perfectly! Husband and I both loved it. Can’t wait to make again! (I made the vegetarian version without lentils.)
Would the recipe work to halve? Half the noodles, have a hard of sauce, and half the water.
I would think so! The cooking time would remain the same, I believe.
Hello, I have a question regarding the Instant Pot spaghetti recipe. I made the meatless spaghetti per your instructions, and as the Instant Pot was coming to pressure, the Food Burn indicator message came on. When preparing the meal I broke the noodles into thirds, placed them crisscross into the Instant Pot, and added the salt, water, and sauce in that order. Should I have added water to the bottom of the Instant Pot before adding the spaghetti noodles to prevent the noodles from burning on the bottom?
Sorry, pasta in the Instant Pot is one of the trickier things to cook because the noodles can sometimes stick to the bottom and trigger the burn error. You can try adding the water first, or try adding some small amount of vegetable to the bottom that may keep the noodles from touching the very bottom of the pot. (Vegetables almost never stick, unless you saute them first.)
THANK YOU! I usually cook from scratch and go all out with pasta but needed something quick tonight, I might use this for my go-to method going forward. Best part one only one pot to wash and you don’t have to supervise the cooking process.
A few changes. I sautéed some garlic and onion (no meat) before adding anything.I also broke the noodles into 3rds and did what I usually do which is putting them in the pot spread out like you’d do to build a bin fire, this prevents sticking and let’s the sauce slowly deep through. I am not a huge fan of a lot of red sauce so we only added half a jar and did the full 5 cups of water (no lentils). Whenever I make pasta I also add bullion to the water and a packet of Sazón Goya seasoning, but any seasoning works well as the noodles soak them up so it’s a good balance if using less sauce like me.
Topped with fresh basil and Parmesan and it was a huge hit with the hubby and kids!
Thank you for sharing all your tips! I’m glad it was a hit with your family.
I just got a instant pot and I am going to try this recipe,this will be my first..can you had seasonings to pot before cooking or do you have to wait till end? Thanks
If you add dried seasonings, I’d sprinkle them over the top before you pressure cook, so they don’t get stuck to the bottom and trigger a burn error.
So for the 8qt do u still do 3 mins or do 2 mins since you changed it?
I always recommend shortening by 1 minute or so for the 8-quart, since it takes longer to come to pressure and for the pressure to release– so food cooks in there a little longer because of that.
This did not turn very well. Spaghetti was ok, but some of it was not cooked all the way and the sauce was WAY to watery and not flavorful. I feel like if I decided to try again, I think half the water would be sufficent and slightly more cooking time.
I cut my ingredients in half and you’re right it was really watered down. Her video showed very little water but directions showed much more.
I usually don’t leave bad comments but ts fair to be warned. This was truly disgusting, overcooked, messy. My 2yr old who will eat anything asked what was wrong with his sketti? This was the worst pasta I’d ever had, takes way too long and leaves just as much washing up as the regular way. The only pasta that belongs in an instant pot is for minestrone soup.
This turned out delicious but I used ingredients which were varied. Homemade sauce and precooked brown lentil/veggie mixture from the fridge that I had to use up went in(I blended this and was out of red lentils). I added artichokes and 4 blended sundried tomatoes, 5 cloves of garlic and an onion, and some olives. I put the ingredients layered throughout the pasta and all the thick tomato stuff on top, I used 3 cups water because I had a higher ratio of other liquids and was not surprised that I got the burn signal close to the pressure time. So I stirred really well and got the bits off the bottom and reset to zero minutes. Then released after 6 min and was delighted to see it was perfectly cooked!I did this because a shorter time works better if you get the burn signal and are trying to salvage something.You can always saute at the end if its not enough. Next time I may put a little water or broth on the bottom before adding the ingredients.
This is one of my favorite instant pot recipes! It’s so easy and tastes so delicious! I’ve tried with ground beef and with lentil alone and also made with both ground beef and lentil for extra protein. I sometimes also add some diced onion and mushrooms. The first time my husband brought the leftovers to work he got so many comments on how good it looked and smelled.
Could I do penne for this recipe? If so how long??
Used whole grain spaghetti and the red lentils with a 24 oz jar of sauce and followed the directions exactly (except I cooked for 4 minutes instead of 3 because we like a softer texture). It was perfect! We liked this much better than saucing the pasta after cooking it, The only things I will do differently next time are to cut the recipe in half (it makes a LOT for my small family of three) and to add some veggies, such as mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, etc.
Wow! This was VERY easy and well explained. We just made this in our 6qt. and adjusted for the 3 minutes as you stated in the comments.
I was a little worried about all that water, and the sauce being too much liquid. When we opened it after the 10 minutes of natural release there was still some pressure inside, but it did not make a mess.
It looked watery so I got nervous. However, we stirred it and let it rest while we had our salad and when we came back to check it…perfect!
We didn’t even have leftovers, it was that good. Looking forward to trying the GF version also.
Thank you for another winner! We appreciate all of your hard work and amazing videos as well.
Thank you for letting me know, Linda! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
If I’m using fresh button mushrooms, in place of the meat, should I use them as the bottom layer… Just lime I would for a meat sauce?
This was delicious! I want to make the vegetarian version for a kids’ soccer party. Can I double the recipe?
I was amazed I didn’t end up with mushy spaghetti or runny sauce. (cooked regular spaghetti at 3 minutes and let pressure naturally release for 5 minutes) This is a great way to get a meal done quickly and in one pot. Thank-you for sharing your technique!
I wanted to leave a comment for those with different ingredients on hand. All I had was 12oz of pappardelle and a 25oz jar of bolognese.
I only used 4 cups water and followed the rest of the directions as written.
This was some of the best pasta we’ve ever had. If I make it again I would probably reduce the water. It was quite watery and I’m sure that’s due to the 12oz vs 16oz
Overall it was fantastic and we loved it. Thanks!
My husband and stepson now ONLY want spaghetti this way! We keep it simple, vegetarian, no lentils, cook 3 minutes on high pressure then after 10 minutes of counting down we manually release the pressure. We stir and let it rest to absorb the extra moisture and it is delicious!! It makes a lot so I’ll usually have this a night or two them bake it with extra sauce and motz cheese on top to make it less “repetitive” through the week and my family eats it with no complaints!! My step son even asked for the recipe to give to his mom and maternal grandmother, it is his new favorite! 🙂 Thank you for making my weeknights so much easier with a recipe I don’t have to sit in the kitchen with! 🙂 Spaghetti is super simple, but this is mindless, no stirring involved!
I never leave bad comments but do not make this. SOOOOOO watered down. The sauce was practically tomato soup and the noodles are so over cooked. I wasted so much food and dinner was ruined. I followed the recipe to the T.
Review is for the vegetarian version with lentils and whole wheat spaghetti. I got the burn warning before it came to pressure. I am using the larger sized instant pot; might that have something to do with it? The lentils disintegrated which gave the whole thing a grainy texture, and I needed to season it better. Overall not great, maybe it can be built upon but this combination didn’t work for me as written.
I make this almost once a week. I love it. Sometimes I add a bunch of fresh herbs to the meat. Cilantro,parsley,spinach. It’s delicious. I however let it release for 6 minutes instead of 10. I like mine Al dente. So good.