Instant Pot Spaghetti (with or without meat!)

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!

instant pot spaghetti with tongs

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.

spaghetti noodles in the Instant Pot

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.

dirty Instant Pot valve and GF spaghetti

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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.

layered instant pot spaghetti noodles

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.

instant pot spaghetti on a plate with fork

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.

5 from 6 votes
instant pot spaghetti with tongs
Instant Pot Spaghetti (with or without meat!)
Prep Time
6 mins
Cook Time
4 mins
Pressurization
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

Here's how to make perfect Instant Pot Spaghetti two ways. You can make this with a classic meat sauce, or as a vegetarian dish, in under 30 minutes. It's the easiest one-pot meal!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: dairy free
Keyword: instant pot spaghetti
Servings: 6
Calories: 320 kcal
Author: Megan Gilmore
Ingredients
Meat Version:
  • 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)
Vegetarian Version:
  • 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)
Instructions
Meat Version:
  1. 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!)

Vegetarian Version:
  1. 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!)

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

Recipe Notes:

  • 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!

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My 6-quart Instant Pot

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Comments

Tricia

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.

heather

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!

Lonnie

This is awesome I love these dishes.

Natalie

Made this tonight and it was perfect and so delicious!!!!

MJ

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
00:14
Do not know what has happened

    Megan Gilmore

    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.

Andrea

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!

    Megan Gilmore

    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!

LB

Nice

Mina Alotri

Hello

Can you please make homemade gluten free pasta
Thank you

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