Easy Instant Pot Baked Ziti is a classic Instant Pot pasta made with pasta, veggies and ground beef, all cooked in the pressure cooker!
See the step by step recipe video down in the recipe card.
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Let me just say that, yes, I cheated, again.
This Instant Pot Baked Ziti is, in fact, not baked — but we have all of that some deliciousness going on in here, minus all the hard work!
We are big pasta lovers, and my kids will eat just about anything when it’s hiding under a blanket of cheese 😉 (Some other examples? This Healthier Skillet Lasagna, Healthier Hamburger Helper, and this Healthier Chicken Spaghetti Bake).
I love using high fibre (white or whole wheat) pasta, and extra veggies like spinach and red peppers to get as many good things into the family as possible!
I know we all have those days when the family rolls their eyes at our creations, but this Instant Pot 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).
Instant Pot Baked Ziti ingredients and substitutions:
- Ground beef: I use lean ground beef in here, but you can use regular or extra lean as well. If you use regular ground beef you may want to drain some of the fat after browning. (Tip: Check out my post on how to cook frozen ground beef in the Instant Pot!)
- Onions: Any onions will do, or you can leave them out if you don’t have any! For some onion flavor, add in ¼ teaspoon onion powder.
- Peppers: I love adding chopped red bell peppers in my Baked Ziti because they blend right in! You can use any bell pepper, or swap in some jalapeno or chili peppers for extra kick.
- Seasonings: this is an easy place to get creative! You can mix and match your herbs and seasonings to suit your tastes.
- Broth: I always choose low sodium broth. If you are using regular broth, you may want to reduce the salt to compensate.
- Spinach: Fresh or frozen spinach both work well in here! No one will even know it’s there 😉
- Diced tomatoes: I recommend diced tomatoes for this recipe because it adds some of the thin liquid necessary for pressure cooking (while crushed tomatoes are too thick). If you’re not a fan of tomatoes, you may not even notice them once everything is cooked down into a sauce.
- Pasta: Any short pasta will do! Penne, rotini, bow tie, or ziti — as long as it is a similar size and shape.
How to make Baked Ziti in the pressure cooker:
- Cook the ground beef and veggies on saute until the beef is browned.
- Add in the spices and cook for 1 minute, just to wake up the flavor!
- Add the broth and scrape the bottom very well with a wooden or steel spoon to remove any stuck on bits — this will help to prevent a burn message.
- Add the tomatoes but do not stir — this will help to prevent the tomatoes from burning on the bottom.
- Add the dry pasta in a thin layer and press into the tomatoes but do not stir.
- Add the pasta sauce on top, spreading into an even layer over the pasta, but (again!) do not stir. The layering is key to making this recipe work!
- Cook for 2 minutes, yes, TWO. Any more will result in mushy pasta. When you open the lid, it will look dry on top. Stir well so that everything is incorporated, then add the cheese.
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 selective eaters will never know the difference!)
- 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.
- Stir in ¼ to ½ cup cream when you stir the pasta after cooking, for a creamy baked ziti
How to store leftover pasta:
Got leftovers? Lucky you!
Let cool slightly before placing in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
To reheat, simply scoop out desired portion (or heat all of it) and add a splash of water or broth to the cold pasta. Microwave on high or heat in a skillet on medium, stirring occasionally until heated through.
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Instant Pot Baked Ziti
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, for a bit of kick)
- 1 ½ cups low sodium chicken broth, beef broth or water
- 2 cups fresh spinach finely chopped
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes, sodium reduced (798 ml)
- 1 ½ cups tomato pasta sauce
- 3 cups ziti or penne pasta (uncooked)
- 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Turn your Instant Pot (mine is the 6 quart with bluetooth) to saute. When the screen reads "hot", lightly spray with non stick spray and add the ground beef, onion and red pepper. Cook until beef is browned all the way through.
- Add the salt, garlic, parsley, basil, pepper and pepper flakes. Cook and stir 1 minute.
- Add the broth or water and stir, scraping the bottom until you have removed any brown bits stuck on the bottom — this will help to prevent the "burn" message.
- Stir in the spinach.
- Add the diced tomatoes on top of the beef mixture and spread into an even layer but do not stir.
- Add the pasta on top and press down until it is mostly submerged — not stirring should help to eliminate the "burn" message.
- Top with pasta sauce and spread in an even layer to cover the pasta as much as possible.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot, seal and turn the valve to sealing.
- Press "Manual" or "Pressure Cook" and use the arrows to set a 2 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 allow pressure to release naturally for just a couple minutes. Then hold the valve open slightly to slowly release the remaining pressure (a controlled release). When the pin drops, open the valve and remove the lid.
- Stir well, as most of the liquid is still at the bottom of the pot.
- Top with the cheese, replace the lid and let sit 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve.
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