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Easy Instant Pot Baked Ziti Recipe

Prep Time 15 mins
Total Time 43 mins
Servings 6 servings

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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.

overhead image of baked ziti on plate with fork stuck in
Table of Contents
  1. Instant Pot Baked Ziti ingredients and substitutions:
  2. How to make Baked Ziti in the pressure cooker:
  3. How to store leftover pasta:
  4. Instant Pot Baked Ziti Recipe

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰ (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!

baked ziti in the instant pot with cheese on top

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 (no Instant Pot? This Rigatoni Pasta Bake has the same cozy vibes).

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 ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • 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.
spoon taking a scoop of pasta out of instant pot

How to make Baked Ziti in the pressure cooker:

  1. Cook the ground beef and veggies on saute until the beef is browned.
  2. Add in the spices and cook for 1 minute, just to wake up the flavor!
  3. 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.
  4. Add the tomatoes but do not stir — this will help to prevent the tomatoes from burning on the bottom.
  5. Add the dry pasta in a thin layer and press into the tomatoes but do not stir.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.

instant pot baked ziti on plate

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

4.77 from 17 votes
Easy Instant Pot Baked Ziti is a classic Instant Pot pasta made with pasta, veggies and ground beef, all cooked in the pressure cooker!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Pressure building and releasing: 20 mins
Total Time 43 mins
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Servings 6 servings
Calories 363cal

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

*This recipe has been tested in a 6 quart Instant Pot but should work in any.
*One serving is roughly 1 ¼ cups.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 412grams | Calories: 363cal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 1171mg | Potassium: 984mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2182IU | Vitamin C: 46mg | Calcium: 226mg | Iron: 5mg
Keywords instant pot baked ziti, instant pot pasta

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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. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!!

  5. Mina says

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

  6. Sabrina says

    Looking forward to trying this recipe! I do have a question though, are you using low or high pressure?

    • 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)

    • 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 kidโ€™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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