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 and incredibly easy to make.
The past few weeks while I’ve been cooped up at home I think I have eaten more pasta than any other time in my life. I’ve eaten it for breakfast several days this week so I think that’s saying a lot about my current state!
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!
This recipe is made entirely with pantry staple ingredients! The base of this pasta is penne pasta, canned tomatoes, vegetable broth, onion and garlic.
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 2, 15 ounce cans of some tomato product.
For lots of extra flavor, you’ll need red pepper flakes, salt, basil (dried works perfectly if that’s all you have), nutritional yeast and black pepper!
How to make this recipe
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 6-7 minutes. 6 minutes for al dente, 7 for well done.
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 you 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 tbsp of flour to help absorb the extra sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
The best pasta to use
I highly recommend sticking with penne 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. If you’re using a gluten free pasta, you may need to add a touch more liquid and cook for longer. 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.
Tips for success
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.
Be sure to use plenty of oil or butter in this recipe to prevent the pasta from sticking. I do not recommend making this oil free.
Because we are creating both the sauce and the pasta with this recipe, 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 30 ounces of tomato sauce for every 16 ounces of pasta is ideal.
Try these next!
Spicy Vegetarian Instant Pot Pasta
- 16 ounces penne pasta*
- 28 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes*
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- 1 ½ cups chopped white or yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried basil or 1 tbsp chopped fresh (plus more for topping)
- 2 tbsp 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 6-7 minutes. 6 minutes will be al dente, 7 will be more well done.
- 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.
- Add more chopped basil, cashew parm, red pepper flakes and salt if desired and enjoy!