This Instant Pot Ziti is the perfect recipe for baked ziti fans who want to satisfy their ziti craving in even less time. Or for anyone who just wants an easy delicious dinner that can be on the table in almost no time.
We recently discovered just how easy it is to make pasta dishes in the Instant Pot when we fixed Instant Pot spaghetti. There was basically nothing to it — you add frozen meatballs, water, spaghetti, and pasta sauce to the Instant Pot and after a quick cycle…boom! Spaghetti and meatballs. When we realized how easy it was we knew we had to explore other pasta dished so we decided to try a baked ziti like dish in the Instant Pot.
Should you mix the pasta sauce with the noodles?
We have seen Instant Pot pasta recipes both ways — those that suggest you should mix the pasta sauce with the pasta prior to the cook cycle and those that say you should just add it on top. So which is the right method?
The right method is the one that works for you, but we have tried this both ways and found a middle ground strategy that we prefer. We add the water, the ziti, and half of the pasta sauce and stir them all together. Then we pour the remaining half of the sauce on top of the ziti mixture. We’ve found this method leads to fewer noodles sticking together and, at least for us, it has led to the most pleasing results.
What kind of cheese should I use?
Again, this is personal preference and there is no absolute right answer, but we used both ricotta and mozzarella which are fairly common choices for ziti. Both can just be mixed in after the cook cycle, but we prefer sprinkling the mozzarella on top and broiling in the oven for a minute to create a delicious browned cheese top layer. This is totally optional, but if you love that crispy top layer you get with traditional baked ziti than you might want to try the same method when making ziti in the Instant Pot. It’s worth it if you don’t mind just a little more work.
For the crispy cheese top layer just remember:
- transfer the ziti dish to an oven-safe casserole dish after the Instant Pot cook cycle and pressure release are complete
- sprinkle mozzarella on top and put under the broiler until cheese reaches the desired browned level
- let sit and cool for a few minutes before serving.
Additional Instant Pot Ziti Tips
To make it even easier, feel free to use your favorite jarred pasta sauce. You can easily make your own homemade sauce. But let’s be honest, when the goal is getting family dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time, homemade sauce isn’t always in the cards.
We like our noodles al dente and a 4 minute pressure cycle has worked perfectly for us. Especially since if you leave the noodles in the Instant Pot and don’t serve immediately, the pasta will continue to cook. Feel free to add an additional 1-2 minutes for your desired level of cooked noodle.
Can I add meat?
Of course. For the carnivores, feel free to cook your favorite sausage, ground beef, ground turkey, jarred meat sauce or whatever and mix it in.
Can you freeze Instant Pot Ziti?
You can, but I guess my argument against it would just be that Instant Pot Ziti is such a low prep, low mess, quick and easy meal that the idea of freezing almost seems to go against the idea of saving time. But if it’s just about preservation or you want to attempt freezing for whatever reason, here are some tips on freezing cooked pasta.
A few of our other favorite Instant Pot Recipes
Instant Pot Ziti
- 2 cups water
- 1 lb ziti
- 3 cups pasta sauce
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
- Pour water into Instant Pot.
- Add ziti and half the sauce and stir.
- Pour remaining sauce on top.
- Cook on manual for 4 minutes and quick release pressure after 2 minutes of natural pressure release. Updated: 4 minutes for al dente pasta, 5-6 if you prefer more cooked, softer noodles.
- Stir in ricotta and mozzarella cheese. If you prefer the melted layer of cooked mozzarella on top, transfer to a casserole dish before adding mozzarella, sprinkle mozzarella on top and broil.