Save weeknight dinner with this SUPER easy Instant Pot baked ziti recipe. It is creamy, saucy, cheesy, and so incredibly delicious! (Pro tip: you don’t have to use ziti! Any type of tube pasta will work.)

Well, this Instant Pot “baked” ziti is straight up incredible. Life altering, really, if you are like me and are constantly searching for ways to make weeknight dinners manageable and stress-free. 

White bowl with Instant Pot creamy baked ziti and piece of focaccia bread.

I think I’ve made this pasta at least six times in the last several weeks…in large part to get it totally perfected before posting the recipe, but also because it is so ridiculously easy. I’m finding I keep turning to it as a weeknight dinner solution when the night is busy and my coping skills are low. 

Bonus: it’s simple enough my kids can whip it up while I’m running everyone to where they need to be. Pretty much the most awesome thing ever.

Stirring Instant Pot creamy baked ziti with metal spoon.

The success of this Instant Pot spaghetti last year gave me the confidence to keep trying pasta in the pressure cooker. Which is a wonderful thing, because this “baked” ziti recipe (which clearly isn’t baked, but we’re going to pretend we’re “baking it under pressure” because the name sounds better) is phenomenal. 

Like, it’s definitely one of those recipes that could stand alone for proof of why owning the Instant Pot is worth it. 

Dump and go recipe

If you haven’t experienced the feeling of throwing dry pasta into the Instant Pot, walking away, and coming back a few minutes later to a saucy, creamy, delicious pasta situation…well, I’m not sure you’ve really lived. 

It’s an amazing feeling. And this recipe gives you exactly that. Layer everything in the Instant Pot (you don’t even want to stir until it’s done cooking) and you’re good to go. 

How to for Instant Pot Baked Ziti: pouring in broth, cream, and pasta.

Substitutions: Pasta, cream, tomatoes

Over the last few weeks, I’ve used ziti, penne, and rigatoni pasta in different batches – all have worked great! The larger pastas (like rigatoni) don’t hold their tube shape as well after cooking like penne pasta does, but we’re all so busy slurping up this creamy baked ziti goodness that we don’t care. 

The red sauce is simply a can of crushed tomatoes (with some dried herbs sprinkled on top). No crushed tomatoes? No worries. I’ve subbed in a can of diced tomatoes blended up with 2 tablespoons tomato paste. And…it’s amazing.

I love how adaptable this recipe has been as I’ve tested and tested and tested it out. 

The recipe calls for cream which I know will freak some of you out and have you looking for a lightened up sub immediately. Never fear! Check out the notes of the recipe below for some substitution ideas (that I actually tested and that actually worked).

I will say, though, using at least part cream (or all cream, go big or go home, right?) adds an amazing silky creaminess that is totally worth it. 

How to pictures: adding sauce, seasonings, setting time for 4 minutes.

How to figure out how long to cook pasta in the instant pot

Pasta cooks pretty darn fast in the Instant Pot. Most tube pastas will cook in 5 minutes or less. 

But different brands of pasta may have slightly different cooking times listed on the package, and that may make a difference in how long you should cook it in the Instant Pot.

My rule of thumb for pressure cooker pasta is to take the al dente cooking time on the pasta package, cut it in half and subtract two minutes (thanks to Marci at Tidbits and Jill at This Old Gal for teaching me this tip!). So for a pasta that cooks to al dente in boiling water in 12 minutes, the Instant Pot cooking time would be 4 minutes. 

How to: Instant Pot timer, releasing pressure, stirring ziti.

A quick note about the burn warning

You might be worried about adding cream/milk to the Instant Pot because of the dreaded burn warning. I have an older model 6-quart Instant Pot and have never gotten the burn warning. But I’ve heard that the burn warning happens much more often with the newer Instant Pot models (the ones that have the button that reads “pressure cook” rather than “manual” to start high pressure cooking time).

Adding the broth to the Instant Pot as the first ingredient is important to avoid this burn warning so that the cream and pasta don’t scorch on the bottom of the pot. And as the recipe instructions state: don’t stir while adding ingredients; layer them in the order given in the recipe.

If you do get the burn warning, hit cancel, open the lid, and use a spoon or spatula to dig across the bottom of the pot in case an ingredient is stuck overcooking there. 

Close up of creamy baked ziti in white bowl with basil and parmesan.

My kids preference is to add ground beef or sausage to this dish but it’s equally delicious as a meatless meal, in my opinion.

To add meat, just cook the meat of your choice in the Instant Pot, drain the grease, and then start in on the recipe. Make sure after adding the broth that you scrape up the bottom of the pot to get up any golden spots from cooking the meat (and avoid the burn warning on the Instant Pot). Otherwise, you can just proceed with the recipe as normal. Mmmm, so good!

And for observant eyes, that easy, cheesy, no-knead focaccia bread recipe in the photos is coming soon, promise! 

I honestly didn’t think I could love my Instant Pot any more than I do, but this baked ziti recipe has proven that all sorts of wrong. Made with so many of my already-stocked pantry staples, I wonder how many times I can serve this in a row without getting complaints? 

White bowl with Instant Pot creamy baked ziti and piece of focaccia bread.

One Year Ago: Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing
Two Years Ago: Make-Ahead Refrigerator Bran Muffins
Three Years Ago: Chili Lime Tacos with Mango Salsa {Grill or Instant Pot}
Four Years Ago: Simple and Delicious Sour Cream Muffins
Five Years Ago: Skillet Creamy Lemon Chicken Pasta with Broccoli

White bowl with Instant Pot creamy baked ziti and piece of focaccia bread.

Amazing Instant Pot Creamy “Baked” Ziti

4.86 stars (480 ratings)


  • 2 cups broth, I use low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups cream (see note)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)
  • 16 ounces uncooked ziti pasta or other tube-shaped pasta
  • 15- ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
  • ½ to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil, for serving (optional)


  • Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 6-quart Instant Pot with nonstick cooking spray. Pour in the broth and cream and add the salt, pepper and garlic.
  • Add the pasta; don’t stir, but if it’s mounded in the center, arrange into an even layer. Pour the crushed tomatoes evenly over the pasta and sprinkle the oregano and basil over the top. Don’t stir.
  • Secure the lid of the Instant Pot, set the valve to seal, and select “manual” or “pressure cook” and dial up or down to the minutes needed –> take the cooking time on the pasta package directions, cut it in half and subtract two more minutes. So for pasta that cooks to al dente in 12 minutes, the IP cooking time would be 4 minutes (add an extra minute if you like your pasta super soft).
  • Let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and then quick release the remaining pressure.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese and stir thoroughly (it's ok if there are some darker, cooked spots on the bottom of the pot/bottom layer of pasta). Serve the ziti immediately with chopped, fresh basil, and additional Parmesan, if desired.


Optional: adding a pound of ground beef or Italian sausage is fantastic with this recipe! Cook the meat on the saute function with a little salt and pepper, drain the grease, and proceed with the recipe (just make sure when you add the broth to scrape the bottom of the pot really well before adding the other ingredients).
Lighten it Up: If you want to lighten up the cream a bit, I’ve had great success making this with 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon cornstarch (whisked together) + 1 cup cream. I haven’t tried subbing all the cream for a milk + cornstarch mixture, but you could experiment!
For an Extra Saucy Pasta: add 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra broth, cream or crushed tomatoes. Any variety of tube pasta will work great here! When I can’t find ziti, I’ve used penne or rigatoni. Also, I’ve subbed in a 15-ounce can diced tomatoes blended with 2 tablespoons tomato paste for the crushed tomatoes with great results.
Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 360kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 45mg, Sodium: 566mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe