Craving pasta but don’t really feel like cooking?! This instant pot pasta is a virtually hands off recipe made with pantry staple ingredients. It’s perfectly spicy, full of flavor, vegan and incredibly easy to make.
Despite being a food blogger, cooking elaborate meals just hasn’t been at the top of my list of things I want to do, nor it is really accessible right now.
This instant pot pasta has been a total life saver! It’s incredibly easy to make, naturally vegan, perfectly flavored and even kid approved.
If you’ve ever had the frozen penne arrabiata from Trader Joe’s, this taste just like that! If you love this recipe, try my chicken bolognese next!
Pasta: I used gluten free fusili pasta (I like the brand Jovial) for this recipe which works really well. You can use regular/not gluten free pasta, but I suggest using a shape similar in size such as penne.
I don’t recommend using a chickpea or legume based pasta here because those cook very differently than a brown rice or wheat based pasta.
Tomatoes: I personally like using fire roasted tomatoes which is what the recipe calls for, but if you only have regular chopped/diced tomatoes that will work just fine. Even canned tomato sauce is fine too! You will just need a total of one 28 ounce can of some tomato product.
Onion/garlic: Both of these will add lots of flavor to the sauce.
Broth: I used chicken stock, but veggie stock works just as well. I suggest low sodium stock, or reduce the salt called for in the recipe by half.
Tomato Paste: This will give it a nice rich tomato flavor.
Spices: I used basil (fresh or dried both work), black pepper, red pepper flakes and some cashew parmesan.
How to make instant pot pasta
Finely chop the onion and finely mince the garlic (I like to use a garlic press and vegetable press to get them small) and add to the instant pot with the olive oil.
Turn on the saute function and saute for about 5 minutes or until the onion begins to soften and look translucent. Add a bit more extra oil to the pan and stir.
This will ensure the pasta doesn’t stick and burn on the bottom while cooking.
Optional: add the tomatoes to the blender and process until smooth. You don’t need to do this, but I prefer a smooth sauce so I like to! The liquid will also help the pasta cook more easily, so I recommend blending at least 1 can.
Add in all remaining ingredients including the tomatoes and stir well to combine. The pasta should be submerged in the sauce, but the sauce shouldn’t cover the pasta by too much.
Put on the lid, set the valve to sealing and turn on manual high pressure for 6 minutes.
Once done, set the valve to venting after 5 minutes, let the rest of the pressure release naturally, remove the lid and stir. If the pasta isn’t as well cooked as you would like, set to the saute function and let simmer until done, adding more veggie broth if it needs it.
Add more chopped basil, cashew parm and red pepper flakes.
Can I make this recipe on the stovetop?
Yes! This method will be fairly similar to the instant pot method, just with a few tweaks to ensure the pasta cooks probably.
First step is to finely chop the onion and garlic and add to a large pot with the olive oil. Saute over medium/low heat until the onion looks translucent and the garlic is slightly golden.
Add all remaining ingredients plus 1 extra cup of veggie broth (so 3 cups total) and stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about 12-15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and pasta is cooked. Stir halfway to avoid burning.
If the heat is too high, the liquid will cook off faster without actually cooking the pasta, so keep it low and covered and add more vegetable broth and cook for longer if you find the pasta isn’t cooked all the way through.
On the other hand, if you find that the pasta is done cooking but the liquid hasn’t cooked off yet, stir in 1 tablespoon of flour to help absorb the extra sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Frequently asked questions
What kind of pasta is best? I highly recommend sticking with penne or fusili pasta or a similar size like ziti. This will ensure it cooks properly and you don’t need to adjust the ratio of liquid to pasta.
Different types of pastas cook differently. I recommend following the original instructions and then testing the noodles. If undercooked, add more liquid and cook on the saute function. If it’s really undercooked, set to high pressure manual mode and cook for 2 minutes.
Does it keep? Once prepared, this recipe will store in the fridge for 3-5 days. Heat it up on the stove with a splash of oil or veggie broth for best results.
What ratio of pasta to water is best? Because we are creating both the sauce and the pasta with this recipe (and not draining it like traditional pasta), the ratio of pasta to water is different than with other instant pot pasta recipes.
You want just enough broth that the pasta will cook, but not so much that you end up with a soupy pasta. 2 cups of liquid plus 28 ounces of tomato sauce for every 12 ounces of pasta is ideal.
Can I add ground meat? Yes! I like adding ground turkey or chicken to this recipe to make a sort of bolognese. You’ll want to saute it on the saute function after the onion and garlic. Let it brown, then proceed with the rest of the recipe as usual.
Try these next!
Spicy Vegan Instant Pot Pasta
by: claire cary
- 12 ounces penne or fusili pasta* by weight, not volume
- 28 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes*
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes more or less to taste
- 1 ½ cups chopped white or yellow onion about 1 large onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried basil or 1 tbsp fresh
- 2 tablespoons cashew parm or nutritional yeast
- Black pepper to taste
- Finely chop the onion and finely mince the garlic (I like to use a garlic press and vegetable press to get them small) and add to the instant pot with the olive oil.
- Turn on the saute function and saute for about 5 minutes or until the onion begins to soften and look translucent. Add a bit more oil to the pan and stir (about 1-2 tbsp). This will ensure the pasta doesn't stick and burn on the bottom while cooking.
- Add the tomatoes to the blender and process until smooth.
- Add in all remaining ingredients including the tomatoes and stir well to combine. All of the pasta should be submerged in the sauce, but the sauce shouldn’t cover the pasta by too much (it should be just covering).
- Put on the lid, set the valve to sealing and turn on manual high pressure for 6 minutes.
- Once done, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes (time this so you don't let it go for longer), then set the valve to venting to let it release any extra pressure. Remove the lid and stir. It may seem a bit saucy at this point, but as it sits, the liquid will continue to absorb into the pasta. See notes if the pasta is not cooked fully yet. Cook time can vary a lot by brand, shape, type etc.
- Add more chopped basil, cashew parm, red pepper flakes and salt if desired and enjoy!