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Instant Pot Baked Ziti

This Instant Pot baked ziti is a modern take on an old-fashioned classic recipe. Made in one pot with easy cleanup in mind, you’ll have a wholesome and easy cheesy ziti on your table in no time!

Love easy Instant Pot recipes? Try Instant Pot spaghetti, Instant Pot chicken noodle soup and Instant Pot minestrone, too!

Ziti with cheese in instant pot.
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Easy Baked Ziti Instant Pot Style

Instant Pot baked ziti takes all the best things about my cheesy baked ziti and does it in a fraction of the time. While baked ziti is a pasta casserole this baked ziti Instant Pot recipe isn’t actually baked at all but it still gives you the cheesy, saucy, comforting flavors of the amazing Italian-inspired dish.

It’s one of my favorite ways of making pasta in an Instant Pot. The pasta is cooked right in the pot, along with broth and cream, Italian seasoning, and marinara sauce. Instant Pot ziti is literally a one-pot meal that rivals any traditionally baked ziti recipe!

Serve with a basket of garlic bread or a chopped salad to complete this Italian-themed menu and have a restaurant-quality dinner at home and within budget!

Recipe Ingredients

Sauce on top of noodles in instant pot.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Pasta: I prefer ziti noodles for this dish because they hold sauce and cheese really well.
  • Broth: You can use chicken, beef, or vegetable, but the liquid is necessary to help cook the noodles.
  • Half-and-half: This adds a creamy texture to the cooked pasta.
  • Seasoning: Italian seasoning, ground garlic, salt, and pepper are key to adding a nice flavor.
  • Marinara: Pasta and tomatoes are truly meant to be together, and this sauce is an important addition for flavor and finishing the noodles.
  • Cheese: To finish the dish, a sprinkling of parmesan or mozzarella goes a long way.
  • Herbs: Fresh basil adds a brightness to the dish and helps enhance the flavor.

Variations

  • Don’t have ziti? Use any medium to short pasta you have on hand. Now we’re really playing fast and loose with the term baked ziti ;)
  • Used crushed tomatoes in place of marinara sauce.
  • Double the dose of veggies by using sauté mode before adding any of the liquid. Add a Tablespoon of olive oil and cook up 1/2 cup diced onion, bell peppers, or mushrooms, or a combination of all three.
  • Once ziti is done cooking, add 1 or 2 cups of chopped spinach along with the cheese. The residual heat will wilt the spinach and it will add a very nice flavor and a few extra greens.
  • To add ground beef, ground turkey, or Italian sausage to this dish, brown it on sauté ahead of time and drain the grease from the pot. You can cook the veggies in at this time as well.
  • You can also add meatballs like I do in ziti with meatballs!
  • You can substitute half-and-half for heavy cream as they are both thick and rich. Do not substitute for milk as it will not result in the same consistency.
  • If you want to omit the half-and-half, replace it with an extra cup of marinara sauce.

Why Make Ziti Pasta in the Instant Pot?

If you’re new to the Instant Pot world, first of all welcome! You’re in for a life-changing experience with the magic of this pressure cooker. Once you know how to use the instant pot you’ll have access to so many time-saving, easy, and one-pot meals, at your fingertips!

There will always be room for cozy casseroles, but when time is of the essence, and kids have their activities, work ran late, or you’re just not feeling like heating up the kitchen with your oven, using a pressure cooker to make your un-baked baked ziti is a game-changer.

The pressure cooker is set up so that it takes the guesswork out of most of what you’re doing. It weighs the contents of the pot and knows when it’s come to pressure. It’s crazy! It’s an easy way to get dinner on the table quickly and makes complete meals in a fraction of the time as other methods.

How to Make Instant Pot Baked Ziti

Ziti in instant pot.
  • Layer. In the Instant Pot, add the broth, half-and-half, and seasonings. Add the ziti in an even layer without stirring. Pour the marinara evenly over the top.
  • Seal and set. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to seal. Cook on High pressure for 4 minutes. Once the time is up, let the pressure naturally release.
  • Stir and serve. Stir in parmesan. Sprinkle with extra cheese and fresh basil to serve.

Ways to Serve

My family loves a simple garlic bread or a chopped salad on the side. Sometimes I like to switch up the salad option for a change!

Spoonful of baked ziti.

Recipe FAQs

Why did I get the burn notice when making Instant Pot Baked Ziti?

To avoid the burn notice do not stir the pasta and add the full amount of liquid called for.

If the pasta gets stirred in too much with the liquid it will start to absorb the liquid faster than needed. If there is not enough liquid in the pot, it can start to burn. As long as the noodles are evenly layered and are submerged in the liquid, you’re golden.

Why should I do a natural release vs. a quick release on the Instant Pot?

Simply put, to avoid a mess. The natural release will allow any foamy liquids to settle by letting the pressure to fall slowly. A quick release can lead to a lot of those liquids spurting out all over the place.

Can I freeze baked ziti leftovers?

No. The pasta will turn mushy when thawed.

Can I use a different pasta?

Easily substitute ziti pasta for any other similar sized pasta shape like penne or rigatoni. Elbows are bow ties may work, too!

More Easy Instant Pot Dinners

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spoonful of baked ziti

Instant Pot Baked Ziti

5 from 10 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
This Instant Pot baked ziti is a modern take on an old-fashioned classic recipe. Made in one pot with easy cleanup in mind, you'll have a wholesome and easy cheesy ziti on your table in no time!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Pressure time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 34 minutes
Servings: 8 people

Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups broth
  • 1 ½ cups half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt , or 3/4 teaspoon table salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound dried ziti pasta , or penne
  • 3 cups marinara sauce , I used Kirkland brand
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

For serving: Parmesan or Mozzarella cheese and Freshly chopped basil

    Instructions

    • Pour the broth and half-and-half into the bottom of the Instant Pot (I used a 6 quart). Stir in the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
    • Evenly add the ziti into the liquid (do not stir). Pour the marinara evenly over the ziti.
    • Place the lid on the Instant Pot and set the valve to seal. Select pressure cook on High pressure. Set the time to 4 minutes. It will take about 20 minutes to build pressure. Once the time is up, let the pressure naturally release, about 5 minutes.
    • Using hot pads or a towel, turn the valve and remove the lid. Stir in the parmesan.
    • Sprinkle extra cheese and basil on top, if desired. Serve while warm.

    Notes

    Variations:
    • If you don’t have marinara sauce, you can also use crushed tomatoes.
    • If you’d like to add extra vegetables, you can turn the pressure cooker to sauté mode before adding the liquid. Add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and sauté 1/2 cup diced onion. You could also add 1/2 cup diced bell pepper or mushrooms. 
    • After the ziti is cooked, you can add in 1 to 2 cups chopped spinach with the cheese. 
    • If you’d like to add meat, cook 1/2 pound on the sauté mode and then drain the grease. Add the liquids after. 
    • You can sub the half-and-half for heavy cream but I wouldn’t use milk. If you’d like to cut the half-and-half, you could add an extra cup of marinara sauce. 
    Storage: The leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days. 

    Nutrition

    Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 1102mg | Potassium: 480mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 746IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 2mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: Main Dish
    Cuisine: Italian

    Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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