Easy Instant Pot Baked Ziti will reward you with perfectly cooked ziti pasta in a delicious, savory Italian Sausage or ground beef based pasta sauce & a super cheesy crust. A perfect weeknight dinner with minimal efforts & pantry ingredients, picky eaters approved.
Instant Pot Baked Ziti with Ricotta Cheese
Pressure cooker baked ziti is in fact not baked at all like this Chicken Tetrazzini Instant Pot. It’s pressure cooked. You won’t miss the traditional baked ziti ever once you try this recipe!
Instant Pot unbaked ziti is an effortless and easy version of the traditional oven baked ziti recipe.
Perfect Instant Pot baked ziti – Tips & Tricks
- Avoiding BURN: Layering is the secret for today’s easy instant pot baked ziti recipe. Follow the recipe to the T to avoid the Burn. Also, de-glazing the pot is another secret. There should not be any food particles stuck at the bottom of the pot. This will prevent the Burn.
- Cheeses: We love our pressure cooker baked ziti with ricotta. However, you can sub it with cottage cheese as well. Also. the ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese makes the best instant pot baked ziti ever! This trio cheese combo is a killer.
- Perfect Ziti: Make sure the pasta is covered in the pasta sauce. If you prefer al dente ziti cook HIGH PRESSURE for 5 mins/NPR 4 mins. Softer Ziti cook time = 6 mins/NPR 5 mins.
- Italian sausage/ground beef: You can use either or even 1:1 ratio beef : sausage. Brown the meat well, allow the onions to soften up, saute the meat with the seasonings to build that complex depth of flavor. You’ll never have a bland instant pot ziti ever!
- Boost the flavors: The seasonings open up the flavor of the dish manifold. And our secret ingredient is red bell pepper. Do not miss it. It adds a subtle sweetness and takes the unbaked ziti a notch up. You can control the seasonings – we prefer a subtle kick & hence, we added red pepper flakes & cayenne.
Find the Ingredients with actual measurements at the bottom of the post. The list below is just a reference.
- Ziti Pasta: You can use your favorite brand. You can also sub the ziti with rigatoni.
- Ground Italian sausage or beef: We use Mild ground Italian sausage. You can also use the sweeter or spicier versions. You can even switch to ground beef or use beef and sausage in the 1:1 ratio.
- Pasta Sauce: Use whatever you have on hand. We picked Marinara Sauce.
- Aromatics: Yellow onion and garlic. Do not use red onion! Totally changes the flavor and the smell of the dish.
- Red Bell Pepper: Adds a subtle sweetness and an extremely good flavor to the instant pot baked ziti recipe. Do not miss it!
- Cheeses: Ricotta (may sub it with cottage cheese) , Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese. We love this trio combo. However, if you are not a fan of ricotta skip it.
- Seasonings: Italian seasoning, oregano, ground black pepper, cayenne and red pepper flakes. If making for kids skip the cayenne & red pepper flakes. For a spicier version increase there amount. Todays recipe is not spicy but has a subtle kick to it.
- Cooking Fat: Use light olive oil or any neutral oil.
How to make Instant Pot baked ziti with Ricotta?
Find the detailed step by step recipe along with measurements + Video at the bottom of the post.
Step #1 Saute Aromatics
Begin by sautéing the aromatics until translucent over HIGH heat on SAUTE function.
Step #2 Brown Ground Sausage or Beef
Add the ground Italian sausage or beef and saute until it begins to change color. Add the red bell pepper and the dry seasonings and brown the meat very well.
Sautéing the meat along with bell pepper and the seasonings will add incredible flavors to the dish. You can’t miss this step if you truly want the Best instant pot baked ziti ever 😀
Step #3 De-glaze Pot & Layer the ingredients
Add the stock, we prefer diluting better than bouillon paste in warm/hot water. It almost instantly builds that depth of flavor that we all dream about! However, if you do not have it handy just add regular chicken stock or water.
De-glaze the pot very well with the help of a spatula scraping the sides & the bottom of the pot to loosen any stuck food particles. This will prevent the BURN error. DO NOT rush this step. It’s super important! CANCEL the SAUTE mode.
Now, dump the ziti pasta and layer them in a single even layer. DO NOT STIR!
Add the pasta sauce in a single even layer. DO NOT STIR or MIX.
Step #4 Pressure Cook
Make sure that to cover the layer of ziti pasta with the pasta sauce. Now, scoop out the ricotta and dump the scoops in 4-5 batches on top of the pasta sauce layer.
Again, DO NOT stir or mix. Secure the lid and PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for 5 minutes for al dente pasta and 6 mins for tender pasta followed by 4 mins of natural pressure release (NPR).
Open the lid and do not be scared to see a lot of excess liquid on the top. Once the cooked ziti is mixed well all that excess liquid will be absorbed beautifully keeping the dish moist enough. We need that excess liquid as seen in the above picture!
Step #5 Add Cheese & Serve
Gently stir to mix well the unbaked ziti with the help of a spatula. Avoid over stirring or stirring briskly. You’ll notice that the excess liquid will be absorbed well.
Now, hit the KEEP WARM function and add the parmesan and mozzarella in a single layer on top of the pasta. Secure the lid and allow to rest for 10 mins. The residual heat will help the cheese melt to form a super cheesy crust just like the ones you get in an oven baked ziti.
Serve the Perfect instant pot baked ziti immediately and enjoy!
Fridge: You can store the Instant Pot Baked Ziti for upto 2 days in the fridge in an air tight container. Re-heat the Ziti with splashed of water stirring gently over medium heat, use a skillet. The pasta will turn tender and the cheesy crust will disintegrate.
Freezer: We do not recommend freezing the unbaked ziti recipe because the pasta does not hold shape. It’ll turn mushy when thawed and re-heated. Instant Pot Baked Ziti tastes best when served immediately from pot to plate.
Easy Instant Pot Baked ZitiPrint Recipe Pin Rate
Watch Recipe Video
- 1/2 pound Ziti Pasta (**8 oz / 227 grams)
- 1 pound Ground Italian Sausage (**or ground beef or 1:1 ground beef : ground sausage. We used only mild ground Italian sausage.)
- 24 ounce Marinara Sauce (**or any pasta sauce. 680 grams.)
- 1 cup onion (**yellow onion roughly chopped.)
- 1.5 tbsp garlic (**minced)
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper (**roughly chopped)
- 4 tbsp Olive Oil (**or any neutral oil.)
- Salt (**according to your personal taste preference.)
- 2.5 cups Mozzarella Cheese (**shredded. We used pre-shredded cheese.)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese (**shredded. We used pre shredded cheese.)
- 1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese (**can sub with cottage cheese)
- 1.5 cups chicken stock (**1 tbsp Better than Bouillon paste diluted in 1.5 cups warm/hot water.)
- Saute Aromatics: Set the instant pot on SAUTE function & set it on HIGH heat. Add oil & when the oil becomes moderately hot gently release the onion & the garlic and saute until they become translucent. Add salt to quicken the process.
- Brown the ground Sausage/beef: Add the ground Italian sausage or beef and saute until the color changes. Than, add the bell pepper and mix well. Also, add all the seasonings and brown the meat. This will add huge depth of flavor.
- De-glaze Pot: Now, add the chicken stock and de-glaze the pot very well scraping the sides and the bottom of the pot with the help of a spatula. There should not be any stuck food particles at all. This will prevent the BURN error. CANCEL the SAUTE function.
- Layer the Ziti & sauce: Now, dump the ziti pasta in a single and even layer. DO NOT stir or mix. Pour the pasta sauce on top of the ziti in a single and even layer. Make sure that the ziti is all covered in the sauce. DO NOT stir. Scoop out the ricotta cheese and add it on top of the sauce. DO NOT stir or mix.
- Pressure Cook: Secure the lid of the instant pot, seal the valve and PRESSURE COOK on HIGH for 5 minutes. Once, the cooking cycle is over the instant pot will begin to beep, wait for 4 mins natural pressure release. Than, release the rest of the pressure manually by moving the valve from the sealing to the venting position. Open the lid carefully. You’ll find excess liquid on top of the pasta, need not worry it will be absorbed well by the ziti.
- Stir cooked Ziti: Hit the KEEP WARM function of the instant pot. Now, gently stir to mix the cooked ziti in the instant pot. As you stir you’ll notice that the excess liquid is being absorbed by the ziti.
- Add Cheese & Serve: Now, add the parmesan and the mozzarella cheese on top of the pasta in a single and even layer. Secure the lid and allow it to rest for 10 mins. The residual heat will help melt the cheese to form a super cheesy crust. Serve the baked ziti right away. Enjoy!
- Making it for kids: Skip adding the cayenne and the red pepper flakes. They add a subtle spicy kick to the baked ziti.
- Can I freeze the baked ziti? No, the pasta won’t hold up very well. They will turn mushy when thawed and re-heated. This dish is best served from pot to plate 🙂
- Ziti Pasta: Always weigh the pasta before making the recipe. The pasta and the liquid ratio is very important and critical when made in the instant pot.
- Ground meat: You can use ground Italian sausage or plain ground sausage. You can even make the dish with 1:1 beef : sausage ratio or use only ground beef. It’s totally up to you.
- Cheeses: If you do not prefer ricotta skip using it or sub it with cottage cheese. The amount of other cheese can also be altered. Use less for a less cheesy version. Today’s recipe will yield a super cheesy crust!