Instant Pot Pasta with Sausage
See my guide on how to use an Instant Pot.
In this Instant Pot Pasta with Sausage, penne pasta, Italian sausage and veggies all cook together in marinara sauce in your pressure cooker. It’s one of our favorite easy Instant Pot meals for busy weeknights!
I’m always trying out more easy Instant Pot recipes, to help you get dinner on your table with less time and effort. This Instant Pot pasta is one of my family’s new favorites! It’s quick, flavorful, and you’ll only have one pot to wash after dinner.
I love one pot pasta dishes, like this one pot baked ziti. Not only are they super easy to make, but the pasta turns out so flavorful because it soaks up some of the pasta sauce as it cooks. My Instant Pot Spaghetti, Instant Pot Taco Pasta, Instant Pot Mac and Cheese and Instant Pot Beef and Noodles are family favorites because they’re so easy and tasty.
When you make this Instant Pot pasta, you can brown the sausage and onion right in the Instant Pot using the sauté setting. Then you’ll add bell peppers, pasta, water and marinara sauce and pressure cook. Finally, you’ll stir in fresh spinach and mozzarella cheese. This Instant Pot pasta is a family-friendly dinner that includes veggies, pasta and whole grains for a wholesome meal.
If you enjoy Italian sausage recipes, also try my one pan sausage and veggies. It’s another of my favorite quick meals for busy days!
How to Make Instant Pot Pasta with Sausage
Cooking pasta in the Instant Pot is so simple, you might not want to cook it on the stove again!
The first step to making this Instant Pot pasta is to brown the sausage and onion using your Instant Pot’s sauté mode. Then you’ll add chopped bell peppers, Italian seasoning, water and one cup of marinara sauce. At this point you want to give everything a good stir and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. This helps to prevent a burn warning during pressure cooking.
Next you’ll add your uncooked pasta to the pot. I used whole wheat penne pasta. See my notes below for how to cook other kinds of pasta in your pressure cooker. Press the pasta down into an even layer, but do not stir.
Finally, you’ll pour more marinara sauce over the pasta (again, do not stir), seal the Instant Pot lid, and pressure cook for 2 minutes. The Instant Pot will take some time to reach pressure and then the cook time will begin counting down. You want to pay attention to the pot so you know when the cook time ends. When the pressure cooking cycle ends the pot will beep and then begin counting up with an “L” in front of the numbers.
As soon as the cook time ends you need to quick release the pressure or your pasta will end up overcooked. You’ll do a controlled quick release, by carefully turning the steam release valve a little bit at a time so that the steam escapes slowly.
Once all the steam has escaped and the pin drops down you can open the Instant Pot lid. Stir in some chopped fresh spinach and shredded mozzarella cheese, if desired. The spinach will wilt down in the hot pasta and is a great way to sneak in some extra veggies. The mozzarella adds more flavor and creaminess to the dish, but is optional if you are avoiding dairy.
What kind of sausage to use
I recommend choosing Italian sausage because its flavor will best complement the other flavors in this pasta dish. You can use either cooked or uncooked sausage in this recipe, and chicken, turkey or pork sausage will all work. I often make this recipe with fully cooked chicken sausage, which I slice into rounds and add to the Instant Pot to brown. (I use and recommend Aidells brand – this post is not sponsored, I’m only sharing what I use and enjoy.)
To use uncooked sausage links, slit the casings open and remove the sausage from the casings before adding it to the Instant Pot. As you brown the sausage, break it up into smaller pieces using your spoon or spatula.
Can I make this Instant Pot pasta with white pasta instead of whole wheat?
Yes, white pasta will work well in this recipe. Since white pasta takes a bit longer to cook than whole wheat pasta, add one minute to the pressure cooking time if using white penne.
How long to cook other pasta shapes in the Instant Pot?
Pasta cooking times can be tricky in the Instant Pot, because it depends on how long the pot takes to reach pressure, which depends on the volume of liquid and other ingredients in the pot, among other factors. I always err on the side of under-cooking pasta in the Instant Pot because you don’t want to end up with mushy pasta. The pasta cooks not only during the pressure cooking time, but also while the pot is coming to pressure and while the pressure is releasing during the quick release. Always use a quick release for pasta to prevent over-cooking.
If your pasta package gives a stovetop cook time of between 6-9 minutes for al dente, I would cook it for 2 minutes in this Instant Pot pasta recipe. If your package gives an al dente cook time of 10-12 minutes, I would try 3 minutes of pressure cooking, and if your package says to cook 13+ minutes on the stove, I would try 4 minutes of pressure cooking when making this recipe.
Cooking Tips for Instant Pot Pasta
- I take a cooking shortcut with this recipe by using jarred marinara sauce. I recommend using a sauce with minimal ingredients and no added sugar. The jarred sauce that I use contains only tomatoes, olive oil, onions, salt, garlic and spices. The flavor of the sauce really impacts the flavor of this pasta dish, so it’s important to use a good quality sauce.
- When you first open the Instant Pot lid after the sausage and pasta pressure cook, you might see some extra liquid in the pot. Give the pasta a stir and the extra liquid will be absorbed as the pasta rests.
- You can easily make this pasta dish dairy-free by leaving out the mozzarella cheese.
- You can leave out the Italian sausage for a vegetarian pasta. You can add other veggies, such as cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini or green beans to this dish. The vegetables will become soft with pressure cooking.
Instant Pot Pasta with Sausage
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 pound Italian chicken sausage, see notes
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 3 cups water
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- 12 ounces whole wheat penne pasta, about 4 ½ cups dry
- 25 ounce jar marinara sauce
- 3 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
- 2 ounces (½ cup) mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Turn on the Instant Pot sauté function and add the olive oil to the pot.
- If using sausage that is already cooked, slice it and add it to the Instant Pot. If using uncooked sausage, remove it from the casings and add it to the pot.
- Add the onion to the pot and sauté the onion and sausage until sausage is browned and onion has softened (for uncooked sausage, break it up into smaller pieces as it cooks). Press cancel to turn off the sauté function.
- Add the bell peppers, water, Italian seasoning and 1 cup of the marinara sauce. Stir, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Add the penne pasta to the pot and do not stir. Press the pasta down into an even layer. Pour the remaining sauce evenly over the top of the pasta; do not stir.
- Close the Instant Pot lid and move the steam release valve to the sealing position. Set the cook time to 2 minutes at high pressure. (This 2 minute cook time is for whole wheat penne pasta with a stovetop package cook time of 9 minutes for al dente. You can adjust your pasta cook time as needed, see my tips in the post above.)
- The Instant Pot will take about 20 minutes to reach pressure and then the cook time will begin counting down. As soon as the cook time ends, quick release the pressure by carefully moving the steam release valve to the venting position. When all of the steam has escaped and the pin drops down, carefully open the Instant Pot lid. You may see a little bit of extra liquid in the pasta, but this will be absorbed as the pasta rests.
- Stir the pasta and then stir in the spinach, followed by the shredded mozzarella cheese. Serve.
- I usually make this recipe with fully cooked Italian chicken sausage, which I slice into rounds and add to the Instant Pot. To use uncooked chicken, turkey or pork sausage, remove from casings and add to the Instant Pot, crumbling and browning the sausage on sauté.
- I have found 2 minutes of pressure cooking to be perfect for whole wheat penne with a package cook time of 9 minutes. Follow these guidelines for other pasta types: Pressure cook 2 minutes for package cook time of 6-9 minutes, pressure cook 3 minutes for package cook time of 10-12 minutes, pressure cook 4 minutes for package cook time of 13 or more minutes.