Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

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This Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta is the perfect meal for a lazy afternoon or quick dinner, made with ground beef, pasta shells, and all your favorite taco flavors.

Cheesy taco pasta
Instant Pot cheesy taco pasta

I always find it so easy to make an Instant Pot pasta dish like this, because you really just put everything in the pot and cook it for a short amount of time, then add a few extra ingredients at the end and you have this perfect pasta.

Why You’ll Love It

  • This Instant Pot taco pasta is so creamy and delicious and it only takes minutes to make. It’s one of my best go-to meals that everyone loves.
  • Pasta is so easy to make in the Instant Pot. This recipe only requires a little bit of work and what you are left with is a delicious pasta dinner that is cooked perfectly!
  • You will want to try all kinds of pasta recipes in your Instant Pot after trying this recipes, I promise! Here are some great recipes to get you started.

» You might also like Instant Pot Birria Tacos.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Ground beef – Try to use a low fat ratio like 95% so you don’t have to drain so much fat from the pot
  • Onion and garlic – For flavoring, if you don’t like them you can leave them out
  • Beef stock – Use a premade stock or bouillon cubes and water
  • Salsa – Use whatever salsa you like best and this is where you can adjust the heat in the pasta, from mild to spicy
  • Tomato paste – It’s okay to substitute tomato sauce, if that’s all you have.
  • Taco seasoning – Buy a packet or use a homemade taco seasoning
  • Small or medium pasta shells – Don’t use extra large shells for this pasta or they’ll be overwhelming the other ingredients
  • Cheddar cheese – freshly shredded cheddar works really great. You could also use a spicy cheddar
  • Heavy cream – I like to use heavy cream because it adds a nice thickness and mouthfeel. You could use half and half, if you want, but it won’t be as creamy.
  • Extra cheese and cilantro – for garnish
Cheesy taco pasta

Equipment Needed

Instant Pot Duo Plus
  • Instant Pot – I use a 6-quart Instant Pot Duo Plus to make all of my recipes, but you can use any size or brand of electric pressure cooker. If you’re using an 8-quart pot, you will need to adjust the amount of liquid accordingly, as it requires more water to build steam.

Tips for the Best Pasta

  • It’s best to shred your own cheese from a block for this recipe because it melts better than pre-shredded cheese, which can make a gloopy mess.
  • If you like sour cream, you can stir that in with the cheese, rather than using heavy cream.
  • You can vary the heat in this recipe by using mild to hot salsa. If you like it really spicy, add some fresh jalapeno to the pot before cooking.

How to Make Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

Step 1: Sauté

browning the ground beef and onions

Turn on sauté mode on the Instant Pot. When it’s hot, add some cooking oil, then add the ground beef and break up the meat as it cooks. It takes about 2-3 minutes on high. Add the onions and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Turn off sauté mode. Add the garlic and give it 30 seconds to cook.

Step 2: Deglaze the Pot

Add the beef stock and deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the browned bits. You don’t have to use a low-sodium stock here. We don’t add extra salt because the stock does that. If you do use low-sodium, you might need to add some extra salt in the end.

Step 3: Add Pasta

Uncooked pasta with sauce in the Instant Pot

Add the salsa, tomato paste, taco seasoning and pasta. Stir to combine it all. Make sure all shells are all under water so they cook evenly.

Step 4: Pressure Cook

Cheesy taco pasta in the Instant Pot

Lock on the lid and set the vent to sealing. Set the pot to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. It will take 5-10 minutes to come up to pressure, depending on your machine. When it’s done, manually release the remaining pressure.

Step 5: Stir & Enjoy

A scoop full of Cheesy Taco Pasta

The pasta sauce will be thin at this point. No worries. Stir the pasta, then add in the cheese and heavy cream. Stir again to combine it all together. Then allow the pasta to rest for up to 5 minutes before serving. This time will allow the sauce to thicken up and you can let it sit until it reaches your desired consistency. Then garnish with some extra cheese and cilantro and serve.

How Long Does it Take to Cook Dry Pasta in the Instant Pot?

Every type of pasta varies, but it takes usually around 5-7 minutes to cook dried pasta in the Instant Pot on high pressure. If you cook it for 5 minutes, you’ll get an al dente pasta and for 7 minutes will give you a more well-cooked soft pasta.

For the shells, I think 5 minutes is perfect, but you might find you need an additional minute or two to get your desired bite.

Cheesy taco pasta

More Pasta Recipes to Make in the Instant Pot

Once you try pasta in the Instant Pot you will keep coming back for more. Here are some more great recipes you will love in the Instant Pot.

Can I use any type of pasta for Instant Pot cheesy taco pasta?

Absolutely! This recipe is quite versatile. Whether you prefer classic elbow macaroni, penne, or shells, you can use your favorite pasta variety without any issues. Small or medium size pasta is best. Don’t use extra large pasta or it can overwhelm the other ingredients.

Can I customize the level of spiciness in Instant Pot cheesy taco pasta?

Certainly! The beauty of this recipe lies in its adaptability. If you’re a spice enthusiast, feel free to increase the amount of taco seasoning or add some diced jalapeños for an extra kick. Conversely, if you prefer a milder flavor, you can reduce the spice elements to suit your taste.

Can I make this pasta vegetarian?

You can make this recipe vegetarian by leaving out the ground beef and substituting vegetable broth for the beef broth. It won’t have quite the same flavor, but it will still be very good. Sometimes I replace the ground beef with a can of chopped tomatoes and we all love it.

Can I substitute the type of cheese in Instant Pot cheesy taco pasta?

Yes. The cheese choice is flexible. While the recipe may suggest a particular type, feel free to experiment with your favorite cheeses or whatever you have on hand. Whether it’s sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a blend of Mexican cheeses, the dish is amenable to your cheesy preferences.

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Cheesy taco pasta

Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

This Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta is the perfect meal for a lazy afternoon or quick dinner, made with ground beef, pasta shells, and all your favorite taco flavors.

Note: Made in a 6-qt Instant Pot

4.93 from 42 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Pressurize Time 10 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 605 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) cooking oil
  • 1/2 pound (227 g) ground beef
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 3/4 cups (414 ml) beef stock
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) salsa mild to spicy
  • 4 ounces (113 g) tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon (3 g) taco seasoning
  • 8 ounces (227 g) dried small or medium pasta shells
  • 1 cup (113 g) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) heavy cream
  • Extra cheese and cilantro for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Turn on sauté mode on the Instant Pot. When hot, add the cooking oil, then add the ground beef and break up the meat as it cooks, about 2 minutes on high. Drain excess fat from the pot before moving on.
  • Add the onions and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Turn off sauté mode. Add the garlic and simmer for 30 seconds.
  • Add the beef stock and deglaze the bottom of the pan, scraping up all the browned bits.
  • Add the salsa, tomato paste, taco seasoning and pasta. Stir to combine. Make sure all shells are under water.
  • Set the pot to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. It will take 5-10 minutes to come up to pressure. When done, manually release the pressure. Stir the pasta.
  • Add in the cheese and heavy cream. Stir to combine and allow to rest for 2-3 minutes before serving with your desired garnish.

Notes

  • It’s best to shred your own cheese from a block for this recipe because it melts better than pre-shredded cheese, which can make a gloopy mess.
  • If you like sour cream, you can stir that in with the cheese, rather than using heavy cream.
  • You can vary the heat in this recipe by using mild to hot salsa.
  • If you like it really spicy, add some fresh jalapeno to the pot before cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 605kcalCarbohydrates: 54gProtein: 28gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 85mgSodium: 926mgPotassium: 904mgFiber: 4gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 1149IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 264mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Ground Beef, Pasta
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7 thoughts on “Instant Pot Cheesy Taco Pasta

    • Angela Morris says:

      Hi Ron, yes you can freeze this taco pasta. Make sure to wrap it tightly and it should last up to 3 months in the freezer. Allow it to thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating.

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