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Easy Instant Pot Baked Ziti Recipe + VIDEO

Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 27 mins
Servings 4 servings

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This easy Instant Pot Baked Ziti is a new twist on a classic favourite dish, made healthier with high fibre pasta, sneaky veggies, and extra lean ground beef. It’s made completely in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker, so no extra dishes, and the kids will love it! You can even use frozen ground beef! Includes step by step recipe video.

Here we are again. Let me just say that, yes, I cheated, again. And this Instant Pot “Baked Ziti” is made with penne pasta, but no one seemed to mind in this Slow Cooker Baked Ziti, so I’m breaking the rules all over again.

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metal spoon scooping some instant pot baked ziti out of pressure cooker

Besides, since we’re using Catelli’s Smart Penne Rigate, we’re getting 32% of our daily fibre just in the pasta alone, never mind all the other good stuff I’m throwing in here: spinach, red peppers, extra lean ground beef and cheese. Because my kids will eat just about anything when it’s hiding under a blanket of cheese 😉

My 3 year old has always been the feisty one — she’s constantly on the go and has an opinion about everything.

I know, I know.

Someday she is going to be a strong, determined woman who accomplishes great things, but today? She’s my biggest dinnertime critic.

I’ll admit, as much as we’d like to have this parenting thing down, there are still days we bribe her with treats/toys/anything if she’ll just have 3 bites, because there are no short order cooks here!

So somedays she has one bite and some days she devours anything on the table in front of her, and it’s all okay.

I know we all have those days when the family (okay, maybe just the 3 year olds) rolls their eyes at our creations, but this pasta is always a win here. Sometimes it’s nice to have a few meals in your back pocket that you can enjoy together without anyone complaining! (Plus, they’re still getting a whack of fibre, protein, and veggies under that cheese).

This homemade hamburger helper? It’s also a guaranteed win 😉

A recent poll conducted by Catelli uncovered that almost 50% of Canadian parents say their children refuse to eat the food they’re served at least once a week, so I know that we’re not alone! Share your dinnertime struggles and successes online with the hashtag #RealFeelsGood — and know that you are all rockstars, moms and dads (and that bedtime will come eventually 😉 )

Hang in there, parents of toddlers. Soon we won’t be able to keep enough food in the fridge to satisfy them!

overhead image of baked ziti on grey plate on grey background with catelli smart penne on the side

I’ve been absolutely committed to trying out my Instant Pot this year, throwing anything and everything in there to figure out what it does well and what is not so great. I will admit that I’m coming around, but only with certain things.

Baked Potatoes? Yes. Chicken breasts and ground beef from frozen? Yes. One pot meals, soups and tough cuts of meat? Yes, yes, and yes.

Having to strategically stack different parts of your meal on top of each other using wire racks and tin foil packs? I’m not there just yet.

This Instant Pot Baked Ziti is just so easy, you guys.

You can start with frozen ground beef and throw it straight in the pressure cooker, or start with fresh. Brown it, throw in some veg, some sauce, some pasta, and hit Go, then just come back when dinner is ready.

close up image of instant pot baked ziti on grey plate with shredded cheese and fresh parsley

Tips and Tricks for Making this Instant Pot Baked Ziti:

  • Feel free to mix up the meat in this recipe: try ground turkey or Italian sausage instead!
  • Feel free to mix up the veggies in this recipe: add mushrooms, zucchini, shredded carrots, whatever your family enjoys! (p.s. Shred or puree extra veggies and cook them with the ground beef, and your picky eaters will never know the difference!)
  • Any short cut of pasta should work just fine in this recipe, but I recommend choosing a high fibre variety like Catelli Smart.
  • I have actually made double this recipe in my 6 quart electric pressure cooker and it works just fine! It makes a ton though, which is why I’m sharing this smaller portion. If you like to have leftovers or you have a large family, you may want to double the recipe.
  • You can find more family-friendly dinner recipes over on the Catelli site here — check them out!
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Instant Pot Baked Ziti

4.74 from 15 votes
This easy Instant Pot Baked Ziti is a new twist on a classic favorite dish, made healthier with high fibre pasta, sneaky veggies, and extra lean ground beef. It’s made completely in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker, so no extra dishes! You can even use frozen ground beef! Includes step by step recipe video.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 7 mins
Total Time 27 mins
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Servings 4 servings
Calories 442kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach finely chopped
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes, sodium reduced
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato pasta sauce of choice
  • 1 1/3 cups water or low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups Catelli Smart Penne pasta dry
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  • Turn your Instant Pot (mine is the 6 quart with bluetooth) to saute. When the screen reads “hot”, add the ground beef, onion, salt, garlic, basil, parsley, pepper and pepper flakes and cook and stir until browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the water, and cook and stir, scraping the bottom until you have removed all of the brown bits — this will help to prevent the “burn” message.
  • Add the red pepper, spinach, tomatoes, and pasta sauce and stir to combine.
  • Add the pasta on top and press down until it is mostly submerged — not stirring should help to eliminate the “burn” message.
  • Place the lid on the Instant Pot, seal and turn the valve to sealing.
  • Press “Manual” and use the arrows to set a 4 minute cook time. It will take about 10-15 minutes to reach pressure and start counting down.
  • When the cook time has finished, turn the Instant Pot off and do a quick release of the pressure (I usually do a quick release because I’m impatient and the pasta has such a short cook time I don’t want it to get mushy!).
  • Top with the cheese, replace the lid and let sit 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve.

Notes

As in the video, I usually stir everything together, including the pasta, and cook without issue. However, I have updated the recipe with tips to help prevent the “burn” or overheating message, which seems to be common for those cooking in an 8 quart. This is a pretty small recipe for an 8 quart, so feel free to double and it will work just as well.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 442kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 1258mg | Potassium: 743mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 2555IU | Vitamin C: 30.7mg | Calcium: 254mg | Iron: 3.2mg

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Comments

  1. Litina carnes says

    Made this as my first recipe in my Insta Pot I got for Christmas this year. I doubled meat and that’s the only thing I did different. Used the broth instead of water like recipe suggested and it’s very good! Will be putting this on my rotating menu. Nice easy weeknight dinner idea

  2. Paige says

    Thia looks amazing…I wouldn’t have thought to use an Instant Pot for this, but it looks just as good as baking it! It looks mouthwatering!

  3. Christa says

    My first meal in my Instant Pot and it came out perfectly ? I added different colours of the peppers and snap peas. Really tasty. Thank you so much.

  4. Candice says

    I have made this a couple times and the last time was absolutely delicious. After it was done I mixed in some heavy cream, ricotta, and the powder parmesan and it was so good! I still put the mozzarella on top and sealed the lid for about 5 minutes and everything was perfect. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Carey Brackett says

    FABULOUS!!! I made this easy recipe for our Sunday dinner and it was so good! I love how it is so easy to change up the spices and veggies based on personal preference and the recipe turns turns out so well! I made a double-batch and did cut back just a tiny bit on the water and it was perfect! I will definitely be making this again and will recommend to all my friends and family who have Instant Pots! FIVE STARS!!

  6. Mina says

    First time on your page- I tried this recipe today and it was awesome!!! Easy to make and tasted good! Let’s hope my toddler likes it when she gets home from school!!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      I’m sorry to hear that! Did it look better after stirring and sitting for 5 or so minutes? I find that it looks like a lot of liquid left on top when you open it, but after you stir it it is just saucy enough.

      • John says

        Yes, a fair amount of it did re-absorb or evaporate off after letting it sit for a while/stirring. I think I might still cut back just a little bit on the water next time (there definitely will be a next time because this tastes great)

        • Ashley Fehr says

          So glad to hear that! One time that I made it I stirred in 2oz cream cheese that I had left in the fridge — that might thicken up the juices if you notice the same thing again!

    • Sally says

      I made this tonight and was not impressed. The meal was very watery and, I felt, kind of tasteless. It needed salt and more spices. If I do this again, I will add another cup of pasta (3 cups total) or cut down on the liquid and add more spices.

      • Ashley Fehr says

        I’m sorry you weren’t impressed Sally! Honestly, if you cut down on liquid or add more pasta you will likely have problems with the Instant Pot overheating and getting a “burn” message. There is a reason for the measurements! If you’d like to thicken it, try adding in some cream cheese at the end.

  7. Wendy says

    Can you make this recipe without a pressure cooker? It looks like an awesome recipe wondering if I could do it in the stove top and simmer covered?

  8. Jill Rass says

    Made the meat portion in a skillet and put in fridge before leaving for kid’s activity. Assembled in instant pot and finished recipe when I got home. Turned out delicious.

  9. Tani says

    I tried this with the measurements provided in my 8qt IP Duo, but before it even came to pressure, I kept getting a “burn” message. Three times, I had to add more water and scrape the bottom of the pot. I’m not sure where I went wrong. Are you able to help?

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Hi Tani! I’m sorry to hear that — pasta is such a tricky thing because you don’t want it too watery. I have never made it in an 8 quart — it would be a pretty small batch in the 8 quart so I’m not sure if that makes a difference or not. I would just try to make sure that you stir it well so there is enough liquid at the bottom of the pot.

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