How To Avoid Mushy Pasta When Using An Instant Pot

As anyone with the wonder-appliance the Instant Pot probably knows by now, the combination pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice maker, and yogurt maker produces mostly hands-off dishes for a range of palates, taking on spicy salsa chicken, juicy prime rib, and creamy mushroom risotto, with ease. But even some devoted Instant Pot owners might not know that the appliance is extremely well suited to making pasta, which typically requires a big pot of boiling water and at least some stirring over a hot stove.

Making pasta in the Instant Pot is super easy, typically involving adding liquid — such as water, broth, wine, or crushed tomatoes — to the appliance's steel insert, along with dried pasta. Then, all you have to do is lock the lid, set the appliance to the pressure cook function, cook for about five minutes, quick release the lid, and, finally, sit down to pasta whose self-created sauce is nice and thick from the pasta's own starch (via Inquiring Chef). Interested in cooking some pasta the Instant Pot way? There are a few key pointers to remember in order to avoid making a mushy pasta and instead ensuring a perfectly al dente dish.

Calculate your liquid and abide by a five-minute wait time at the end

Making Instant Pot pasta for the first time? Never fear, according to America's Test Kitchen, this modern day pasta-cooking method is more hands-off, less messy, and way faster than the traditional water approach. But to ensure that you won't end up with mushy pasta — seeing, after all, as how the pasta is pressure-cooked at a temperature that's higher than boiling water — it's important to pay attention to two key factors (via Instant Pot).

First, you're going to want to nail down exactly how much liquid to use in your recipe. If you add too much, the pasta will likely turn out mushy. If you add too little, the pasta will be too dry, or even set off the appliance's BURN error, per Kitchn. America's Test Kitchen recommends a specific ratio of 5:1. That's about five cups of liquid — water, broth, wine, or tomatoes, or some combination thereof — per pound of dried pasta. Check your recipe, though, because the outlet notes that the ratio can vary depending on which pasta shape you use and whether or not it's whole wheat.

Another timing rule you'll want to keep track of? America's Test Kitchen recommends a five-minute wait time after you've released the Instant Pot's steam. By leaving the lid ajar for five more minutes, the pasta will absorb any excess liquid, and will be perfectly sauced and ready to eat.