Instant Pot Penne Vodka Recipe: How to Make Instant Pot Pasta

Instant Pot Penne Vodka Recipe

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Sometimes you just need a big, delicious bowl of creamy, rich pasta. Make it in the pressure cooker and you only have one pot to clean! I actually like this recipe better in the Instant Pot than on the stove top – it’s easier, faster, and infuses the pasta with the flavor of the sauce while still keeping it a perfect al dente texture.



2 tbls olive oil
1 onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup vodka
1 lb uncooked (dry) penne pasta (stick with penne for this recipe to work properly)
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
1 tbls tomato paste
2 cups water
2 tsp salt
3/4 cup cream
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tbls fresh basil, chopped or torn (add more or less to taste)
Optional: Cooked chicken, sliced or diced (I use leftover breasts from previous meals)


1. Set pressure cooker to sauté. Add olive oil. When shimmering, add onions and stir to coat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes if using (adds a kick of spice, so maybe avoid if you are serving kids). Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes, until translucent.
2. Add vodka. Cook for approximately 3 minutes, for alochol to burn off and liquid to reduce.
3. Add penne, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, and salt. Stir to combine. Cover, turn Instant Pot to sealing. Use manual function to cook at high pressure for 4 minutes. When complete do a quick release of pressure. Do not let it NPR or sit on the “keep warm” function, this will overcook the pasta.
4. Set Instant Pot to sauté mode. If using chicken, add cooked chicken now. Stir and cook until chicken is warmed through and sauce is slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Use your judgement for the timing of this, you want to reduce the wateriness of the sauce a bit, but you don’t want to overcook the pasta. Keep on eye on it, and taste it so it doesn’t get overcooked. You may prefer the sauce thinner or thicker, but keep in mind the sauce will thicken once the cream is added and again as it cools.
5. Turn Instant Pot off and stir in cream, parmesan, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

We like protein in every meal, so I serve this with leftover chicken (almost any flavor will do, grilled, roasted, as long as it isn’t breaded). So I slice or dice a chicken breast from a previous meal and warm it during the final saute phase (step 4). You can also warm it in the microwave and just stir it in. I serve this with a mixed green and goat cheese salad and garlic bread. It’s always a hit. Also, you can make this without vodka if you desire (FYI this recipe won’t make you or your family drunk, the alcohol burns off in step 2). Just eliminate the vodka. The flavor will change sightly, but it will still be extremely yummy. Garnish with basil leaves and enjoy!