Creamy Instant Pot Baked Ziti with homemade red sauce and three types of cheese is a “dump and go” recipe made quickly in the pressure cooker.
I was challenged by my This Old Gal Cooking group to make my homemade Oven Baked Ziti recipe into a “dump and push start” recipe, using the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi or Pressure Cooker.
Although my TOG Cooking Group did not know exactly the recipe being voted on, the majority of people said they prefer a homemade sauce, rather than a jarred pasta sauce. Without overstating the obvious, any recipe with my Homemade Pasta Sauce is just going to be better, period.
While a lot of people opted for a dump recipe with jarred sauce, I was determined to satisfy both groups, so that everyone wins. Homemade sauce usually includes sauteing some of the ingredients, like onions and garlic, right? Busy people don’t always have time for this, even if it only takes five minutes.
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Ingredients for Instant Pot Baked Ziti
- Butter and Onion
- Tomato Puree
- Red Wine
- Ricotta Cheese and Mozzarella Cheese
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Red Pepper Flakes
See, no jarred sauce is used and the ingredients are few. With my Instant Pot Baked Ziti recipe, everyone definitely wins. The red sauce in Instant Pot Baked Ziti shouldn’t be thick and heavy, like you get from most jarred sauces. It should be a simple and lighter saucy sauce. 🙂 The sauce is homemade and very saucy.
Instant Pot Bake Ziti is so easy and there is no sautéing or chopping the onion. It is a true dump and push start recipe.
As this is a quick dump and cook recipe, I’m taking shortcuts from my usual whole peeled tomatoes, etc. But, this is important. For optimal results, use good canned tomatoes. Check the label and if it says “Imported from Italy,” you are good to go.
I’ve opted to use Fresh Water, rather than Pressure Cooker Chicken Broth in this recipe. Why you are thinking? Because I love a good vegetarian Baked Ziti.
Heavy cream has enough fat in it, so that it won’t break a part and curdle, so it is added in with the sauce, water and wine. If you don’t have heavy cream in the fridge, but you have a can of evaporated milk in your pantry, you can use that instead. If you prefer creamy baked ziti, then feel free to use more cream and less water.
Why use Wine in Instant Pot Baked Ziti Recipe?
- Wine adds a nice depth of flavor and adds richness. You will have an added robustness to the sauce.
- Dry red wine is generally the wine of choice for red sauces, however, some dishes might benefit better from a fruity wine.
- Chianti is very popular to use in Italian recipes. However, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is what I usually use.
Optional Seasoning Add Ins.
- Oregano – optional
- Basil – optional
- Italian Seasoning – optional
This is a super simple Ziti with a luscious tomato sauce, which does not need a lot of extra seasonings. However, if you want to add Italian seasonings, such as Dried Oregano and Dried Basil, that is fine. Maybe a pinch of Dried Thyme would be nice as well.
In my opinion, however, sometimes a simple sauce is really good.
The sauce hasn’t even cooked yet and already it is rich. My di Oro Living Silicone Spatulas Set is all I need for this job.
How do you lower the tomato acidity in Instant Pot Baked Ziti?
- Normally, I use a piece of carrot, shredded and finely minced.
- A teaspoon of sugar is probably the most used helper for this cause.
- In this Instant Pot Baked Ziti recipe, the butter is the one to do the job and get ‘er done!
- Butter also adds an extra layer of creaminess.
Here is where I get very particular.
Best Pasta for Instant Pot Baked Ziti?
- De Cecco brand pasta holds up very well in pressure cookers. It is a good and quality pasta.
- There is less of a chance of the pasta breaking a part. Plus, it tastes great!
- Amazon usually has the best prices for a pack of 5, so make sure to check out their prices.
- I always say, use the best you can afford and that often times, brand does not make a difference.
Pro Tip: For pasta, buying a good brand does make a difference, as does a good olive oil (but we are not using oil here).
When you open the lid, hopefully, the onion will float to the top. But, it’s easy to find. All you have to do is remove the onion. All the taste, no chopping or chunks!
Pro Tip: With the short cook time, expect the pasta not to be fully cooked. The hot tomato pasta sauce, will continue to be absorbed by the pasta, as you add the cheese.
We always buy blocks of cheese and shred the cheese ourselves. The pre-shredded cheese never seems as good and there is a starchy coating on it to keep it from sticking. This Microplane Artisan Ribbon Grater is very easy to use and takes little effort.
What kind of Cheese is used for Instant Pot Baked Ziti?
- The number one answer is Mozzarella, of course.
- Parmesan Cheese is also used, but often times, just on top.
- Ricotta Cheese makes this vegetarian Baked Ziti dish really special.
Pro Tip: Add a handful of cheese at a time and allow the cheese to melt on top of the noodles and then mix it in. This will help prevent the cheese from accumulating on the sides and bottom of the pot.
I happen to love Ricotta with pasta and have a tendency to go heavy. So, start with a little and work your way up.
If you would like to add in fresh parsley, do it in this step. I did not add it in and instead garnished my Instant Pot Baked Ziti. However, you might notice, that I reached for the cilantro, rather than the parsley and had to pick it out after taking photos.
Enjoy! I’d love to know how you like this dish.
More Instant Pot Pasta Recipes to Make:
- Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Blue Cheese Broccoli Butternut Pasta
- Instant Pot Spaghetti Dinner
- Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash Pasta
- Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff
Kitchen Equipment and Essentials
- Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi or Pressure Cooker
- Instant Pot DUO Mini Plus 3 Quart Pressure Cooker
- J.A. Henckels Classic 8 inch Chef’s Knife
- Amco Advanced Performance 18/10 Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons
- Simply Gourmet (Dry) Stainless Steel Measuring Cups
- Anchor Hocking Glass (Liquid) Measuring Cups
- di Oro Living Silicone Spatulas Set
- Alton Brown Salt Box
- Gravity Electric Salt and Pepper Grinder
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Here is the handy printable recipe:
- 28 ounces Pureed Tomatoes (Jersey Fresh)
- 1 cup Fresh Water
- 1/4 cup Dry Red Wine (or water or chicken broth)
- 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
- 1 medium Yellow/Brown Onion cut in half
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 3 cloves Fresh Garlic smashed
- 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning Blend optional
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Pinch Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- 8 ounces Ziti Pasta Noodles
- 1/4 cup Asiago or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese shredded
- 8 ounces Mozzarella Cheese shredded or sliced
- 1/2-1 cup Ricotta Cheese
- Peel and cut onion in half and add to cooking pot.
- Pour in pureed tomatoes, water, cream and wine (or water/broth).
- Add butter, Italian seasoning, garlic, salt, pepper and pepper flakes and mix through.
- Add Ziti noodles.
- Lock on lid and close pressure valve. Cook at high pressure for 2 minutes.
- When beep sounds, wait 3 minutes and then remove the rest of the pressure.
- Remove lid and retrieve the onion.
- Hit the sauté/browning button and slowly add in Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Wait for the cheese to start to melt and then mix it in.
- Mix in Ricotta cheese and add fresh parsley if desired.
How to add Cheese to Instant Pot Baked Ziti
- Add a handful at a time and allow the cheese to melt on top and then mix it in.
- his will help prevent the cheese from accumulating on the sides and bottom of the pot.
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