the secret to AL DENTE pressure cooker pasta!

UPDATE: Since a lot of pressure cookers don’t have two pressure settings (should have read my buying guide ; ) I have included a note in the article and sample recipe on how to execute this technique in these kinds pressure and multi cookers.

PRESSURE COOKER Pasta absorbs sauce - not water!
The literal translation of Arrabiata is Angry but that what Italians call something hot and spicy like this pasta!Cooked in the sauce, and not just coated with it, the pasta changes color and promises to be flavorful, spicy – and also al dente! Here is the recipe and “secret formula” to always get perfectly cooked pasta from your pressure cooker.

Determine the correct timing for pressure cooking pasta

Since the cooking time for each brand, and shape, of pasta, vary always refer to the pasta package to determine the correct cooking time. Then, cut that time in half to determine the LOW pressure cooking time. If the pasta would normally need 12-13 minutes cooking time, it should be pressure cooked at LOW pressure for 6, 10-11 minutes pressure cook for 5, and 8-9 minutes should be pressure cooked for 4. If the pasta needs 7 minutes or less to cook using the traditional method, the shape is not a good candidate to pressure cook. This timing formula also works on specialty grain and gluten-free pasta.

Note: For lower-end pressure cookers which only cook at one pressure, which is usually “high”  the pasta cooking time as indicated above, and then shave off a minute or two from the resulting cooking time.

In Italy the cooking time of pasta is almost always printed on the front of the package – Italians take this number seriously- but in other countries, the cooking time could be written on the side or back of the package or box.

Use a digital timer, cell phone or microwave clock to keep track of such a short cooking time.

Figuring out the liquid is easy (no sputters)

The hip method for pressure cooking pasta does not actually measure any of the cooking liquid.  As noted in the recipe, only the amount of water that is needed for the amount of pasta to be cooked is used.  This ensures that there is almost no liquid left in the cooker by the time the pasta is finished cooking – nothing left to foam or sputter when pressure is released.

The kinds of pasta you can pressure cook

Any short to medium cut hard semolina pasta can be pressure cooked.  Nests of dried egg fettuccine can also be pressure cooked they should be strained since they require more water to cook than they will absorb. Frozen or dried stuffed pasta, like ravioli or tortellini, may work – follow a specific recipe to be sure you don’t get a watery sauce.

You SHOULD NOT pressure cook

  • Any pasta that requires 7 minutes or less will not give you al dente results.
  • Spaghetti.  You cannot break Spaghetti it in half to fit it in your pressure cooker.  Ever.
  • Orecchiette. They have a tendency to fall into little stacks and will turn into a solid mass in the pressure cooker.
  • Very small pasta intended for soups like Stelline, Quadratini, Orzetto could clog the safety mechanisms of your pressure cooker. However, they can be added after pressure cooking the sauce or soup in the open pressure cooker – follow a specific recipe.
  • Fresh pasta will fall apart if pressure cooked
  • Potato Gnocchi needs to stop cooking when they float, if you cannot see them you cannot stop your pressure cooker.  However, there is a pasta “shape” called Gnochetti which is made of semolina flour and they are ok to pressure cook.
Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
5 L or larger none 5-6 min. Low (1) Normal

4.7 from 18 reviews
Spicy Pressure Cooked Pasta Butterflies Recipe
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Serving size: ⅙th
  • Calories: 300.6
  • TOTAL Fat: 1.6g
  • TOTAL Carbs: 64g
  • Sugar Carbs: 5.4g
  • Sodium: 1,108mg
  • Fiber Carbs: 4.3g
  • Protein: 10.7g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0mg
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
This recipe can easily be halved or increased by 50% .Doubling it is tricky because of the extra time the pasta will need to cook while the fuller pressure cooker reaches pressure. Don't do less than half of this recipe, unless you can meet your specific pressure cooker's minimum liquid requirements with the tomato sauce and water!
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 fresh hot chili peppers, chopped (or 1 tsp. of hot pepper flakes)
  • 1 pinch oregano, dry
  • 16 oz. (500g.) Farfalle or Bow-Tie Pasta
  • 14.5 oz can (or 2 cups or 400g) Tomato Puree (Passata)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Olive Oil
  1. In the cold (not-pre-heated) pressure cooker, on low heat without the lid, add two swirls of olive oil, the smashed garlic cloves, hot peppers/flakes and oregano (grinding it between your fingers as you sprinkle it in the pan). Allow the ingredients to infuse the oil until you hear the garlic cloves sizzle and turn lightly golden.
  2. Pour in the pasta, the tomato puree, and just enough water to cover the pasta- it's ok if a few points stick out here and there - and the salt (do not omit this since you would ordinarily add salt to the pasta cooking water). Stir everything together and flatten the pasta out in an even layer with your wooden spoon, or spatula, to make sure as many farfalle are immersed as possible.
  3. Close the lid and set the valve to pressure cooking position.
  4. Electric pressure cookers and stove top pressure cookers: Cook for 6 minutes at LOW pressure (or half of the time indicated on the pasta package). NOTE: For pressure cookers with just one (high) pressure, also half the tie indicated on the pasta package, and then subtract 1-2 minutes more.
  5. When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure.
  6. Give the contents a stir and let the pasta sit for about a minute while you gather the bowls and utensils. The pasta is still cooking from the heat of the pressure cooker so don't leave it longer than that. Then, serve and caution your guests that the pasta is very hot and to test out the temperature before taking a big bite!
  7. Top each bowl with a small swirl of fresh olive oil.

kuhn rikon duromatic pressure cooker

Pressure Cooker Pasta in Spicy Tomato Sauce


Similar Posts


  1. I know someone already asked about boiling water ahead of time. However, do you think it would be advisable to microwave the water (it’s usually just two cups for me, so only 2 minutes) instead of preheating the pressure cooker? I am happy to try this on my own, but I’d like to get your feedback first.

  2. Adding boiling water, and pre-heating the pressure cooker are two different things.

    If you add boiling water to the cold pressure cooker the metal still needs heat up and will absorb the heat from the water and stop it from boiling.

    Perhaps, you can put the cooker on a low flame to pre-heat while you microwave the water to have even faster pasta!

    Either way, don’t forget to add a little oil to keep it from foaming!



  3. Laura, this is the first I have heard of your site, and I tried this recipe right away. Absolute success @ five minutes for the pasta, and fantastic flavor. I added some mushrooms cooked on the side.
    While reading Tips and Tricks, your “Quick Release Method” says “Do number two in the sink.” While this gave ME a big laugh, you might be able to re-word that so other juvenile types don’t make sport of it.

    1. Oh, wonderful!! So glad you liked it.

      What a great catch on the T&T Page! I’ve changed that and will update the whole page. I have a new tip & trick coming up tomorrow so it’s a great time to re-visit a page I wrote almost a year and a half ago.

      Thanks for stopping by to let me know it worked out!



  4. I use my pressure cooker a lot, but never for pasta. Made this tonight and it took 14mn at 5000ft. I like the method, but next time I would use a homemade roasted tomato sauce for more flavor. Thanks!

  5. Sorry, I meant at altitude of 6000, not 5000.

  6. I just got a pressure cooker and it only cooks on HIGH pressure. What do i do??? Thanks.

  7. Has anyone tried this recipe using boiling water from a kettle?

    1. I tried it with boiling water. It was al dente but did not taste too “firm”. Best to keep the heat lower when cooking the pasta under pressure, otherwise the liquid will boil-up into the escaping steam and spray some of the foamy liquid. I had that happen, but it stopped when I lowered the heat a little.

  8. I cook “broken” spaghetti often in my Lagostina for 6 minutes and it works perfectly. only has one setting.

    I must see if I have bad luck on those days… ;)

    love your site:)

    1. Older Lagostina’s operate at the equivalent of low pressure – so you’re fine there.

      The bad luck for breaking spaghetti is actually very practical – short spaghetti will splash you with sauce as you attempt twirl them around your fork!



  9. I live in Italy and make pasta almost every day. This is the first time that I have ever made it in a pressure cooker. I used low pressure and left out the hot pepper flakes; but would add a little more salt and oregano the next time for our taste. It was al dente, and we all liked it! I used an induction plate and a 6 1/2 liter pressure cooker. The timing called for was 11 min., I cooked it for 6 1/2 min.
    I will be trying more pasta recipes! This is a time saver!

  10. If I use boiling water from the kettle will the pasta cook properly? Was the cooking time devised using cold water at the beginning?

    I use boiling water from the kettle for cooking because it saves a lot of time bringing it back up to the boil on the stove.

    1. I don’t think it should be a problem. The cooker will just reach pressure a teeny bit sooner – but not enough to negatively affect the pasta cooking time.

  11. You don’t recommend doing spaghetti in a pressure cooker because spaghetti should not be broken before cooking. I thought spaghetti was always cooked whole, without being broken first, by softening the ends in the boiling water and then gently pushing down or curling the softened strands in the water first, followed by immersing the rest of the spaghetti? Is that correct?

    Maybe it’s possible to cook spaghetti in the pressure cooker with less water than needed in a saucepan – to really save time? What do you think?

    1. To answer your question about how Italians cook spaghetti without pressure: Yes, the water is brought to a rolling boil and salted abundantly. Then, the spaghetti stack is lightly twisted and placed in the middle of the pan this gets them all to spread out evenly. 10 seconds later it can all be pushed down under the water and you can start timing the conventional cooking based on what’s on the package – I would shave off a couple of minutes from the times given on US and UK packages for al dente results.

      I have not done any pressure cooker experiments with spaghetti because adding more water to the cooker means the cooker needs more time to reach pressure – so getting the water up to a boil would not have any time savings over the conventional method. Plus, spaghetti’s short “pressure cooking” time (3 minutes) is not long enough to ensure al dente results or make the whole process any easier than just doing it conventionally.

      If a pressure cooker recipe has no time savings or improvements over the conventional method I won’t publish it.

      However, I will share my absolutely favorite non-pressure cooker spaghetti recipe – that I make when the veggie drawer is empty and the clock is ticking. While boiling the water for the pasta, in a small pan I sautee’ lots of garlic, a few anchovies and a pinch of hot pepper in olive oil. Once the garlic has started to turn golden I add two handfuls of breadcrumbs and a teaspoon of salt. The bread crumbs soak-up the oil and start to fry and toast a little bit.

      When the spaghetti is strained I mix it all together and serve. Fantastically delicious with a little crunch and without the pool of oil at the bottom of the bowl.



      1. Thanks for your replies. I like your non-pressure cooker spaghetti recipe. :)

  12. I finally got around to trying this. Absolutely wonderful. I added a mild Chorizo chopped in chunks at the beginning and tossed in some kalamata olives when I lifted the lid at the end.

    I also tried the method with fusili and just water, oil & salt. Not entirely successful. I think some of the spirals were too far out of the water.

    1. Glad to read that the first try worked.

      For the second, not-so-great attempt, be sure to smooth out the pasta so it’s all covered with water – add more water if needed. A few points may stick out, but whole pieces, even half of a piece is too much. As you discovered these “steamed” pieces become unpleasantly chewy!



  13. Releasing the pressure; cold water release?

    1. Normal or Cold-water-quick, whichever you are more comfortable using.



  14. UPDATE

    I was lowering the heat too much when the pressure cooker was up to pressure, fearing the pasta would create lots of foam – WRONG; lowering the heat too much means the pasta does not cook properly. The olive oil will stop the water from frothing and bubbling, so no need to worry about that.

    Now I keep the stove heat at MEDIUM when the pressure cooker is up to pressure and keep the heat at medium until the end. I have a ceramic glass cooktop and use the halogen burner for the pressure cooker (this burner is the most powerful of the 4).

    If you are finding the pasta (and other recipes) seem to be a little undercooked, try keeping the heat at medium when the pressure cooker is up to pressure, but no higher than medium. I thought I’d share my experience to help other readers. I will be cooking my pasta in the pressure cooker from now on because it really does SAVE TIME. :)

  15. “Spaghetti.  You cannot break Spaghetti it in half to fit it in your pressure cooker.  Ever.”

    I believe you, this is a warning on every pressure cooker manual I have downloaded.

    Amazingly, one well known site says to just put the spaghetti in the pot let it sag while heating uncovered, as the water heats, or just break it in half to get it in. I am assuming since long spaghetti is a no-no, because it foams, breaking it in half isn’t solving the problem. Right???

    Typical examples of the manuals, taken verbatim:

    “8. never pressure cook applesauce, cranberries, rhubarb, cereals, pastas, split peas or dried soup mixes containing split peas . These foods expand so much as a result of foaming and frothing that they should never be cooked under pressure.”

    “9. Be aware that certain foods, such as applesauce, cranberries, pearl barley, oatmeal or other cereals, split peas, noodles, macaroni, rhubarb, or spaghetti can foam, froth, and sputter, and clog the pressures release device (steam vent). These foods should not be cooked in a pressure cooker.”

    Interestingly while researching pressure cookers almost all the horror stories, recalled third person,  involved applesauce. 

    Can you expand of these warnings, ex, spilt peas bad, whole peas good, both just as bad? Many recipes call for peas added in at the end, pressure off, peas in, lid just put on, residue heat/steam cooks them without pressure, this sounds good.

    When they say cranberries they mean pot full of only cranberries , what about cranberries used as a minor ingredient in a dish?

    Just don’t want a big boom. :)

    1. Any pressure cooker that has been UL certified for use in the US needs to carry a standardized or similarly warning against the cooker being used for pressure cooking certain ingredients. You can see the recommended standard wording repeated nearly verbatim on page 2 of the All American pressure Cooker/Canner manual:

      Some manufactures choose to word their warnings differently and do not include all of the items recommended by the Underwriters Laboratory.

      With the proper precautions applesauce, beans, cranberries, barley, oatmeal, rice, split-peas, macaroni and rhubarb can be pressure cooked successfully.

      The proper precautions being to add oil or other fat to reduce foaming (about a teaspoon per cup of ingredient), never fill the cooker more than half-way, and only open it with the natural release method. I have personally pressure cooked each of the ingredients listed (with the exception of oatmeal, rhubarb and split-peas) without incident.

      However, I am obliged to tell you that if your pressure cooker manual warns against cooking a specific ingredient I recommend you not do so. If the cooker were to be damaged (or you should become injured) during the cooking of said ingredient the manufacturer can void the pressure cooker warranty.

      Your pressure cooker manual should always trump any advice you read online or elsewhere.



  16. I made this pasta in my Electric 7-1 Instant Pot using brown rice pasta for a gluten free meal. It was delicious. The pasta called for 14-15 minutes cooking so I divided the 15 min. by 2 and rounded it to 8 minutes on low pressure. This wonderful website is helping me get past this hard and brutal winter in Atlantic Canada. I am making so many awesome recipes. Having a great time. THANK YOU.

  17. While I enjoy anchovies, I noticed that most recipes require only 2-3 fillets. Here in America I can only find the “tin” of anchovies in oil. Can you suggest a good way to store the leftover anchovies from the tin? Freeze them? Or would using anchovy paste be a good alternative? Thanks….

    1. I tried some anchovy paste and it burned during saute’. I would say transfer filets to a small jar, cover in olive oil and keep in the refrigerator for up to a month. Otherwise, freeze flat in wax-paper so you can take the filets as you need them and you can toss the flat-frozen filet straight in the cooker. BTW, when I lived in California my local Italian grocery sold anchovies in small jars.

      I just a jar that is nearly identical to what I buy here in Italy on amazon, too:



  18. The new Instant Pot IP-DUO60 states not to pressure cook pastas. Will it be okay to cook pasta in it if you only fill it to1/2 way maximum with water & pasta and add oil to reduce the foam and cook it on low pressure? Thanks….
    P.S. I’m new to pressure cooking and I’m learning a lot from your website…thank you so much!

    1. I am compelled to tell you that you should always follow your pressure cooker’s guidelines. However, myself and many readers have successfully pressure cooked pasta. The same fill rules as grains apply since pasta also expands and foams: No more than half-full.

      Personally, I have not gotten this recipe to work in the Instant Pot LUX – have not tried again with their newest model – the DUO.



  19. This recipe worked perfectly for me in the Instant Pot duo 7 in 1. I think the key is low pressure plus the oil in the recipe. Cooked pasta with just water and some olive oil and water to cover turned out perfectly. I had to drain it as the pasta didn’t absorb all the water. Just like normal cooking but no huge pot of water. Love it.

    1. Yes I am doing this now too. Just don’t forget the salt.
      Pasta meal on the table faster than my old method came to the boil. Also I am on tank water, so water is precious. What’s not to like!

  20. Thank you for this! It was delicious! Who’d think you could cook UNCOOKED pasta and have it turn out so well. Will make it again for sure!

    1. So glad you like it – yes it’s revolutionary. My family does not eat short pasta made any other way! BTW, be sure to come back and leave a recipe rating with your next comment – it’s a new feature we just implemented and it would be great for you to be the first rating for this recipe.



      1. Hi Laura, the kitchen will FINALLY start this week so the PC will come in handy. Do you think I can use jarred sauce in this recipe? I’m trying to keep the steps to a minimum since I’ll have no kitchen sink. Thanks again!

        1. Absolutely! Be mindful of the quantity and ingredients in the sauce. I’m in the US now and see these GIANT jars of pasta sauce (it would be too much if you were to empty it in the pressure cooker). Also don’t use one of those creamy or cheesy sauces – go with straight tomato with veggies and herbs or a little meat. No thickeners!!



  21. Just wanted to add 5 stars. This is a regular at our place. We halve the recipe and cook in a 2.5L PC as for this we are cooking for two. We also add a hot chorizo at the beginning and some kalamata olives at the end.

  22. I have the Instant Pot Duo50. I’m a bit confused as to how to set it. Start with Low pressure, but put it at high, then low again? Please help a newbie! thanks

    1. Hi Stitches welcome to the forum.
      The instant pot is an electric PC. The recipes here are written for both electric and stove top pcs. As a result the directions can be confusing for a newbie.

      With an electric, just set it to low pressure, set the timer and walk away. Not forgetting to hit “go” first of course. The PC will do the rest. For this recipe you will need to hover around it as you need to reduce the pressure quickly at the end. That will mean unplugging the unit and turning a valve of some kind on the top to release pressure manually.

  23. Thank you very much Greg!

  24. I have made this many times and we love it!

    Question: wondering if I could sub quinoa or brown rice pasta for the wheat pasta. Has anyone tried it?


  25. Finally, a use for my 4 quart cooker! I love this. I can make sauce from scratch and cook the pasta in less than an hour and only dirty one pot! What could possibly be better than that? The pasta, that’s what! Great flavor and texture. I’ve made this twice and it is already my go to method for cooking hearty pasta. First time I made shells, which was great using this method because the shells hold the sauce. Last night I made rigatoni which is my favorite pasta shape. Can’t wait to try farfalle next!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: