Instant Pot Baked Ziti

updated Jun 14, 2023
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Instant Pot "Baked" Ziti

This 20-minute pressure cooker pasta tastes just like baked ziti, but it's ready in half the time.


Prep10 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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Credit: Joe Lingeman

Pasta casseroles, such as baked spaghetti or lasagna, are often relegated to weekend-only cooking. That’s because most take a fair amount of time to prepare: You have to pre-cook the ingredients, layer them all in a dish, then bake until warmed-through and melty.

But by taking the same ingredients and using our favorite culinary time machine — the Instant Pot — we discovered that we can make a “baked” ziti that’s ready in just 20 minutes instead. That means that anytime the craving strikes (or we just need a warming bowl of comforting ziti), we can have it almost instantly.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

“Baked” Ziti in Just 20 Minutes

This ziti isn’t so much as baked as it is cooked under pressure using our favorite technique. You’ll layer the ingredients in the Instant Pot, which allows you to enjoy a pasta that tastes like it was slow baked in the sauce all day. You won’t find layers of ricotta here, but instead you’ll add the cheese after cooking, then cover and let it sit for a few minutes to allow the cheese to melt into the pasta.

Bulk Italian sauce is wonderful for boosting the flavor here with fewer ingredients, but any bulk sausage will do.

Instant Pot "Baked" Ziti

This 20-minute pressure cooker pasta tastes just like baked ziti, but it's ready in half the time.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 8 ounces

    uncooked Italian sausage, casings removed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 2 cups

    water, divided

  • 1 (22- to 25-ounce) jar

    marinara sauce

  • 8 ounces

    dried ziti or penne pasta

  • 8 ounces

    ricotta cheese

  • 1 cup

    shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


  1. Turn on an electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot to sauté. Once heated, add the olive oil, followed by the sausage. Break up the sausage into large pieces with a wooden spoon and season with the salt. Cook, stirring and breaking the sausage into smaller and smaller pieces, until cooked through and no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

  2. Turn the pressure cooker off. Add 1/2 cup of the water and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits. Add the marinara and stir to combine well. Scatter the pasta over the sauce-sausage mixture in an even layer. Do not stir from this point on.

  3. Rinse the pasta sauce jar with the remaining 1 1/2 cups water (pour the water into the jar, cover, and shake gently) and then pour the water over the pasta. Remember — no stirring here.

  4. Seal the pressure cooker. Use the manual setting to set the pressure cooker to cook for 8 minutes under HIGH pressure. It will take 10 to 12 minutes to come up to pressure.

  5. When the cook time is done, immediately do a quick release of the pressure. Turn the pressure cooker off. Open it, add the ricotta, and stir quickly to combine. Sprinkle with the mozzarella. Cover the pressure cooker again and let sit for 3 minutes for the cheese to melt and the sauce to thicken. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.