I don’t think anyone can deny that I can be a bit of a food snob now and then. That’s made me avoid making certain dishes in my Instant Pot. Namely, Instant Pot Spaghetti. I took the plunge after visiting my daughter. When I got home, I decided to put out a little series of super easy, family-friendly Instant Pot meals to help Jess feed her hungry hoard. I gotta say, I’m eating my words over this recipe! Or I would be if I weren’t stuffing my mouth with this Simple Instant Pot Spaghetti!
The Instant Pot, with the right recipe and correct proportions, truly makes pasta dishes like this spaghetti, the Macaroni and Cheese I posted a while back and the Easy Cheesy Chili Mac that went over so well, one pot meals. They’re cooked fast, cooked perfectly al dente, with no fuss, no mess or sputtering, and hardly any cleanup. And need I mention no waiting for and straining hot steaming pasta, no pots of boiling water to steam up your kitchen and dump out? No gummy strainer to clean? The IP works so well for so many things but when it comes to family-friendly pasta dishes like these, it’s a game-changer.
About Simple Instant Pot Spaghetti:
And when I say family-friendly about this spaghetti, it is, but this pasta sauce has enough interest (and by that I mean flavor and spice) to keep the adults happy, too. You can always be the judge and vary the ingredients a bit to suit your family’s taste.
I start out like I do when I make my from scratch red pasta sauce, with a little ground beef, a little Italian sausage and a bit of onion. Then when that’s cooked, in goes a little garlic. If you want even easier, you can skip the onion and garlic and just use a bit of garlic and onion powder. And if Italian sausage, even the mild, is too “hot” for your littles, just use all ground beef. Drain this mixture when it’s finished, if desired.
Sounds pretty normal so far, huh? Well, here’s where the big departure happens. Your next step is to layer in your pasta, dump in a jar of store-bought sauce, your favorite if you have one (or if you have homemade, feel free to use it) along with some tomatoes and water. Finish with a few herbs and spices to doctor things up a bit. Close the lid and tada! In just a few minutes, you’ll have “homemade” Instant Pot Spaghetti. And it is going to taste fantastic! Trust me, it will even please any hold-out food snobs that might or might not be me!
You might want to serve your spaghetti with a little garlic toast. You just can’t go wrong with our family’s Parmesan Toast. Make it on sliced Italian bread, on Texas toast, or if you want something even your smallest can easily eat, try making it with hot dog or hamburger buns. They’ll be crispy on the top and warm and soft on the bottom.
Making Simple Instant Pot Spaghetti:
When you make your spaghetti, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. You can vary some things but the amount liquid to pasta needs to be pretty precise. And that includes the pasta sauce and the tomatoes with their juices as well as the water.
You can vary the amount of ground beef, Italian sausage and/or eliminate either or both. You can vary the onions and garlic and replace with powder. You can vary the spices. (You might want to try my Homemade Italian Seasoning Blend.) You can even vary the type of pasta sauce, replacing homemade for the store bought if you keep the amount the same. But whatever you do, use the same amount of pasta and the same amount of total liquid.
This recipe is super simple, but follow the instructions to the letter. That means don’t mix unless instructed. And when you open up the pot and see your spaghetti swimming in a bunch of liquid, don’t be dismayed! You’ll need to stir the spaghetti, breaking up any clumps (and there will be some clumping) and it will turn out just perfectly.
Saving Money on Simple Instant Pot Spaghetti:
I think plain old spaghetti and tomato sauce has been a staple in the kitchens of budget-minded Moms (and Dads) for ages. Actually, it’s probably a staple for many parents, budget-minded or not! This recipe is truly a game-changer, taking a little pasta, a little ground beef and sausage, and a few tomato products and making them taste like you’ve used a long-simmered, homemade sauce.
Buy any pantry items, the pasta and tomato products, whether canned tomatoes or pasta sauces, on special. Keep track of the items you use in your regular recipes (if not a list, at least in your head) and know the normal price, a good sale price, and the absolute rock bottom price. That way you’ll know when the sale at your store is a great one and you’ll know when to stock up. In most grocery stores, you’ll find items will drop to a rock bottom price about once a quarter.
The same goes for freezer items like ground beef and Italian sausage. Sales priced ground beef is usually in larger family placks. Divide them into amounts to suit your family and freeze; most recipes (this is an exception) call for a pound. Italian sausage can be a little trickier. You may find the links go on sale more often than the bulk sausage, grouped in sales with other types of sausage links like bratwurst, etc. I don’t hesitate to pick them up, open the links and use them. Italian sausage won’t stay fresh tasting in the freezer for a very long time, six to seven months in a deep freeze, three or so in a fridge/freezer, and the casing helps to protect the sausage.
Just a note about my photo of the spaghetti on the platter – I came across a photo from another blogger, the very talented Chungah from Damn Delicious on her post for Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs. I was inspired to get fancy with my spaghetti. I have a way to go but wanted to credit her for the fun styling idea!
Simple Instant Pot Spaghetti
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound (or close to it) Italian sausage
- 1 onion, diced or 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 12 ounces dry spaghetti noodles (usually 3/4 of a package) broken in half
- 1 (24 ounce) jar of marinara or spaghetti sauce (2 1/2 cups)
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes with juices
- salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper)
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- a pinch red pepper flakes, optional
- 2 2/3 cups warm water
- Shredded or grated parmesan cheese, for serving
- finely chopped basil or parsley for garnish
Set Instant Pot to Saute, and if needed, use the adjust key to set to Normal. Add the ground beef, Italian sausage, and onion. Brown, breaking up the mixture as it cooks until cooked through. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Drain if there is an excess of grease, but leave about a tablespoon behind. If there is any build up of color on the bottom of the pan, add about 1/4 cup of water and scrape well. Allow the water to evaporate. Press the Cancel button.
Layer the spaghetti by placing small handfuls at roughly right angles to each other in even layers (to prevent sticking) Gently pour the marinara over, then the tomatoes and finally the water. Sprinkle over the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes, if using.
Seal the lid of the Instant Pot and set to “Pressure” “High” for 7 minutes. Quick release when finished. If there is excess sputtering or if anything other than steam comes out of the valve, stop the release and wait for one minute, then proceed.
Open the Instant pot and allow to sit for about 2 minutes. Gently toss with a large fork (like a serving fork) breaking up any spaghetti that has clumped together to mix the sauce and pasta together. Serve as desired, garnished with Parmesan cheese and any desired herbs.