We’re talking about perfectly cooked pasta today that involves no stirring, watching, or foamy overflows all over your stove top. All made possible by my true love, the Electric Pressure Cooker, AKA Instant Pot.
Why make Perfect Pressure Cooker Pasta when the most common method is simply a matter of boiling water? Let me tell you.
Nothing drives me more crazy in the kitchen then dealing with a pot of pasta on the stove that WILL NOT STOP FOAMING! You stir, stir, stir, and when that doesn’t work, you take it off the heat, let it settle, only to put it back on the heat and have it quickly foam to the top and you repeat the entire process all over again.
I’ve tried all the gizmos, the wooden spoon trick, the oil trick, etc etc and I have resolved to loose the stove top pasta battle.
To my rescue, totally awesome pressure cooker!
I can throw the pasta, salt, and water in and walk away. In fact, I can even have my daughter do it while I take a nap!
There are several different times and water to pasta ratios out there, and after a lot of experimenting, I’ve finally narrowed it down to my ideal time.
Let me leave a caveat here and say that this method may not work on every single pasta variety out there. There’s lentil pasta, quinoa pasta, buckwheat pasta, and on and on and on. HOWEVER! I do think this is a perfect starting place for all of these kinds of pasta. If you find your favorite version of pasta was slightly under or overdone, than just make a note to add or subtract a minute the next time. Easy Peasy.
Here’s my method:
2 CUPS OF LIQUID FOR EVERY 4 OZ OF PASTA
This is enough liquid to cook the pasta, but not so much that it takes the pot forever to reach pressure-thereby preventing overcooked pasta. The liquid could be salted water (I like 1 teaspoon of kosher salt for every 4 cups water) or broth.
COOK PASTA FOR HALF THE LOWEST PACKAGE COOKING TIME, MINUS 1 MINUTE
This can get a little confusing since there are often ranges of time on the package. So here’s a few examples so you can get the idea.
The Whole Wheat Spiral Pasta here said to cook for 7-9 minutes. I took the lowest time (7 minutes), decreased it to 6 to get an even number, divide in half (3 minutes) and subtract 1 minute = 2 minutes cooking time.
The Brown Rice Macaroni Pasta here called for 15-16 minutes. I took the lowest time (15 minutes), decreased it to 14 to get an even number, divide in half (7 minutes) and subtract 1 minute = 6 minutes cooking time. By the way, this Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta is my FAVORITE pasta of all time. It’s whole grain and gluten-free and has the best texture of any pasta I’ve ever had!
The Whole Grain Penne pasta here had a cook time of 10-12 minutes. I took the lowest time (10 minutes), divide in half (5 minutes) and subtract 1 minute = 4 minutes cooking time.
ADD OIL TO DECREASE FOAMING
This tip helps, but it’s not bullet proof. I still get some foaming when I add butter and oil, but it definitely helps.
QUICK RELEASE THE PRESSURE-CAREFULLY!
My favorite method for pressure release is to flip the valve open and let the pressure come out until some of the foamy, starchy water starts coming through the knob, at which time I’ll quickly flip the knob back to a sealed position. Then I will either release the pressure in 2-3 second spurts by bumping the knob with my finger, or I turn the knob so it’s just letting out a light amount of pressure/steam at a time. This part takes a bit of babysitting, but will prevent over cooked pasta.
I’ve tried every trick I can think of to get rid of the foaming that comes out from the valve on a quick release. If you know the secret, do tell and I will name this recipe after you! Some people throw a towel over the lid and let er’ rip, but that makes such a big, starchy mess, I’m not a fan (and most manuals discourage this as well). Some flip the valve to seal and let it cool down more until everything settles (but by that point my pasta is overcooked).
Drain your pasta and it’s ready to go! Depending on your recipe you may want to reserve some of the starchy cooking water. If not using the pasta right away, rinse it with cold water to stop it from cooking anymore.
And that’s it! Perfect Pressure Cooker Pasta without the babysitting.
There are some pastas that are discouraged when it comes to the pressure cooker. Here is a great read on that by Hip Pressure Cooking.
Here are a couple of my own rule of thumbs:
– Small delicate pasta like alphabet pasta, overcook too easy
– Gnocchi and stuffed pasta like tortellini and ravioli end up breaking apart too much. Same with homemade pasta – don’t even go there!
-Long strand pasta like fettuccine and spaghetti work okay, but you need to break them in half and go ahead and plan on them sticking together a bit. But when I need a quick and easy dinner on the fly, slightly stuck together spaghetti with store-bought marinara and meatballs is JUST FINE!
So there is my Perfect Pressure Cooker Pasta spiel! Hopefully I’ve made eating carbs somewhat more enjoyable 😉.
And now that you’re a master at pressure cooking pasta, put this flavor bomb Healthy Whole Grain Mac and Cheese and this Pizza Mac and Cheese at the very tip-top of your menu! I taught a pressure cooking class this past weekend and people just go bonkers over this Mac and Cheese!
For my favorite pasta sauce of all time, see this Sweet Corn and Tomato Sauce.
Perfect Pressure Cooker Pasta
Cook your pasta to perfection without stirring, watching, or spilling starchy water all over your stove top! Pressure Cooker to the rescue!
- water – 2 cups for every 4 oz of pasta
- kosher salt – 1/2 teaspoon for every 2 cups of water (can increase to taste)
- 1/2 tablespoon oil or butter for every 4 oz of pasta
- Add pasta, water, kosher salt and oil or butter to the pressure cooker pot (see ratios in ingredient list).
- Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position. Cook at high pressure for half of the pasta package cooking time minus 1 minute (see post for examples of this).
- When pressure cooking is complete, use a quick release. If liquid sprays from the knob, close knob. Continue to release pressure in 2-3 second spurts or just barely turn the knob so it’s releasing a small amount of steam.
- Use pasta immediately or rinse with cool water to stop the cooking.