This Instant Pot Buttered Noodles is a super fast way to make a fast and simple, hands-off meal. All you need is pasta, water, butter, and any seasonings you like and you have a satisfying plate of pasta.
» You will also like how easy it is to make this Instant Pot Cacio e Pepe (cheese & pepper pasta).
If you have kids, you likely have made buttered noodles a million times. It’s easy enough to make on the stove top, but once I started making it in the Instant Pot, it was a revelation. It’s insanely easy to do.
This is a go-to side dish for your meal, or a simple way to make dinner for the little ones. It’s as easy as putting any pasta you like in the Instant Pot with a cup of water and a few tablespoons of butter. It turns out super creamy and perfectly cooked in just 8 minutes.
The pasta used in my photos is spaghetti. I use spaghetti because I always have it on hand and it’s everyone’s favorite. But you really can use anything from fettucine to angel hair pasta, fusilli, bow ties, or macaroni. It’s all the same.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Uncooked spaghetti noodles – You’ll need 8 ounces of pasta for this recipe. You can double the recipe to serve more, if you want. Use any type of pasta you like.
- Butter – I use salted butter to add additional flavor.
- Water or broth – I use water most of the time, but you can also use low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth to add additional flavor.
- Salt and ground black pepper – This dish requires more salt than you might think to really bring out the flavors. If you like pepper, add as much as you like.
If you want to mix things up a bit, you can add any additional ingredients that you like. Here are a few ideas:
- Pecorino-Romano cheese – Try to find the best quality, preferably authentic Italian cheese for the best flavor.
- Parmesan cheese – I really prefer to shred my own Parmesan cheese from a block, but if you don’t have that option, at least use a packaged freshly grated Parmesan. Don’t use a finely ground cheese or the unrefrigerated kind in the green can. Quality matters here.
- Sharp cheddar cheese or Velvetta – If you want to make your pasta cheesy!
- Cajun seasoning
- Old Bay seasoning
How to Make Instant Pot Buttered Noodles
Note About Cooking Pasta in the Instant Pot
I’ve made dozens of pasta dishes in the Instant Pot and the ratio of pasta to water is always the same, with consistent results. It takes quite a bit of liquid to cook the pasta properly without it turning out dry and undercooked. That being said, once in a while someone comments that theirs turned out too liquidy.
As that has never happened to me, I can’t say exactly why it occurs, but if it happens to you, allow the pasta to sit on keep warm for at least 5 minutes after cooking (before adding additional ingredients) to soak up as much water as it needs. If it’s still too liquidy at that point, you can drain the excess water before adding the rest of the sauce ingredients.
Step One: Cook the Pasta
Set the spaghetti noodles in the pot. I find that to make sure they fit, it’s necessary to break them in half. Add the water or broth. Make sure the pasta is completely submerged.
Lock on the lid and set the vent to sealing. Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes. When the time is up, do a quick release of the pressure. Be careful when venting as this is a starchy pasta. You might want to drape a kitchen towel over the vent if yours doesn’t have a vent cover.
Step Two: Stir
Open the lid and stir the pasta. It will still be soupy at this point, like in the picture above. That doesn’t mean there is too much liquid. Stir it a few times and let it rest to soak up some of the cooking liquid.
Add the remaining butter, salt and pepper, and stir it. Stirring will help form the sauce from the starchy water and butter. It helps the noodles soak up the liquid too, so don’t be afraid to stir it! It should start to look like the image below after about 5 minutes.
Allow the pasta to sit in the Instant Pot on Keep Warm for a few more minutes to thicken up a bit more, if necessary. The longer you leave it, the more thickened it will become. So if it’s too soupy for you, just let it sit longer.
How Long to Cook the Pasta
Since everyone’s noodle preference is different, you might want to adjust the cooking time for the pasta. I personally think 4 minutes is the perfect time for spaghetti. It’s a great balance between al dente (with some bite remaining) and too soft.
This pasta dish also relies on the starchy pasta water to make the sauce, so you want to slightly undercook the pasta so that a lot of starchy water is remaining in the pot. It will continue to soak up the liquid as it rests. If you add cheese or extra butter, the remaining liquid combines with the cheese to make a creamy sauce.
Won’t the Pasta Be Too Liquidy?
You might think that adding 2 cups of liquid will make the sauce too watery in the end, but it doesn’t. The pasta will continue to soak up some of the remaining liquid as it rests. Don’t get worried and dump out the water.
Once you add the cheese and let it melt, stir it all up, and let it sit for a few minutes, it will be perfect.
If for some reason this doesn’t work or you and the pasta is still soupy, pour it into a colander and let it drain a little bit. Yes you will lose some sauce, but at least the pasta won’t be overcooked from trying to boil off more of the liquid. Now you know for next time that you need less water to cook your pasta.
Tips and Notes
- Break the noodles in half and add them to the pot, pressing down to fully submerge. Just make sure the noodles are under the liquid so they get cooked properly. Breaking them in half really helps.
- Sometimes spaghetti gets clumped together in the Instant Pot. If that happens, just use two forks to pull the strands apart and let them sit a bit longer to finish cooking through.
- If the sauce is still thin, allow the pasta to sit in the Instant Pot on Keep Warm for a few minutes to soak up the liquid. It will thicken as it sits. Just don’t let it sit too long or the sauce will become thick and dry.
- Add any type of cheese to the noodles to make cheesy pasta.
Other Pasta Recipes to Try in the Instant Pot
Once you see how truly easy it is to cook pasta in the Instant Pot you will want to try more.
- Simple Instant Pot Lasagna Soup
- Instant Pot Olive Garden Chicken Pasta
- Instant Pot Mac & Cheese
- Instant Pot Lasagna
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Instant Pot Buttered Noodles
Note: Made in a 6-qt Instant Pot
- 8 ounces spaghetti
- 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable or water
- 3 tablespoons butter divided
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Parmesan cheese for garnish optional
- Set the spaghetti noodles in the pot. Add the broth and 2 tablespoons of butter. Make sure the pasta is completely submerged.
- Lock on the lid and set the vent to sealing. Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes. When done, do a quick release (be careful when venting as this is a starchy pasta).
- Open the lid and stir the pasta. It will still be quite liquidy. Let sit on Keep Warm for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until liquid is halved. Add in the salt and remaining butter. Stir to combine. Allow the pasta to sit in the Instant Pot on Keep Warm for a few minutes until your desired consistency is reached. It will thicken as it sits. Stirring helps soak up the liquid.
- Garnish with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
- Add any type of cheese, if you want.
- Use any type of pasta you like. No additional cook time is necessary.
- You can double the recipe just by doubling the ingredients. No additional cook time is necessary.
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Laura spends a lot of her time cooking and creating recipes to share. She loves traveling and learning about new foods around the world to bring into her own recipes at home.