The Best Moment To Add Cheese To Instant Pot Pasta

Where would we be, as home cooks, without our beloved Instant Pots? A pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice maker, yogurt maker, and so many more things all in one easy-to-use countertop appliance, the Instant Pot truly makes life in the kitchen easier — especially when we're short on time or want a set-it-and-forget-it, hands-off type of dish. We love the Instant Pot for creating a huge variety of recipes, ranging from creamy hummus to herby pork tenderloin with pan sauce to chicken pot pie soup accompanied by a golden square of puff pastry.

And although you may not have thought that cooking pasta could get any easier than it already is, Instant Pots have streamlined that process, too, allowing you to dump uncooked dried pasta into the pot, right along with its sauce and additional flavorings, set the appliance to the pressure cook function, and enjoy perfectly cooked, already sauced pasta (via Food Network).

Producing an easy, flavorful pasta meal in the Instant Pot is pretty foolproof, but there's an order to adding the ingredients that you're going to want to follow to ensure the best results. Among them is when to add cheese to your Instant Pot pasta, in order to prevent the cheese from separating and leaving a grainy, oily mess.

Add your cheeses after the pasta has pressure-cooked

If you've ever stirred together a quick, simple Instant Pot pasta such as spaghetti with meat sauce, then hopefully you've added your favorite cheeses into the dish only after the pasta has pressure-cooked in the liquid. As explained by The Kitchn, almost every kind of cheese you can think of needs to be added to Instant Pot pasta after it has been pressure-cooked and the steam has been released, at the stage when you add other garnishes such as fresh herbs or a final drizzle of oil. That's because actually pressure-cooking most cheeses will cause them to curdle, with their proteins separating from the fat in the cheese and leaving a lumpy, oily puddle. So if you love tossing your pasta with Parmesan, Grana Padano, mozzarella, or, in the case of an Instant Pot mac and cheese, cheddar or Gruyere (via Food Network), hold off on doing so until after the pasta has cooked and you've taken the lid off.

Kitchn explains that there are a few exceptions to this rule: Creamy, milky cheeses such as cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, fromage blanc, and mascarpone, for example, can be added before pressure cooking if you're creating a cheese sauce for your pasta. But for all other cheeses, think of them as a garnish and add them post-cooking.