This healthy instant pot pasta made with sausage and peppers brings easy weeknight meals to a whole new level. Have dinner on the table in 30 minutes, and with only one pot to clean! With whole grains and lots of veggies too!
This instant pot pasta meal has been on heavy rotation in our house, and for good reason. It’s quick, and tasty. I love instant pot pasta for that reason alone, but when you consider there are fewer dishes to wash than if you cooked this on the stovetop, I’m all in.
Finn loves this instant pot pasta too, so you have his seal of approval as a toddler friendly meal. Full disclosure, he will on occasion pick out the spinach and say he “can’t eat that” but other days he dives in and devours the whole bowl. And then more. No matter what mood he’s in (spinach or not) he’s usually in for three bowls of pasta.
Which is another reason I love this instant pot pasta – it’s healthy with whole wheat noodles, and loaded with veggies from the sauce and peppers. I use chicken sausage that is nitrate free and lower in sodium. But the beauty of this dish is that I can also use precooked chicken sausage if that is all we have on hand, and I just skip the saute steps and get to layering everything in the instant pot.
This is a lazy night kind of dinner – just put everything in the instant pot and set it.
How to make instant pot pasta with sausage and peppers:
Start by cooking your chicken sausage in the instant pot on the sauté function. If you’re using pre-cooked sausage, then you can skip this part and just dice it up and add it in with the sauce.
Once the sausage is mostly cooked through, I add in a bag of frozen pepper strips. The steam and liquid from the peppers helps the browned bits of sausage come up from the bottom of the instant pot when you scrape it.
Next, I add in a jar of pasta sauce. When shopping for pasta sauce, there are a few things I look for.
What to look for when shopping for a healthier jar pasta sauce:
- Lower sodium (around 10% or less per serving is what I look for)
- No added sugar or sweeteners
- Extra veggies are a bonus (roasted peppers, garden vegetables, etc.)
Once I add the sauce to the instant pot, then I add whole wheat pasta on top. Look for rotini, penne, or bowtie pastas taht are 100% whole wheat – I’ve use all of these in this recipe and they all work well.
Next, pour water over the top, but don’t stir it. Just poke the pasta down a little so that most of it is submerged under the water.
After that, seal it up and set it to cook for 5 minutes under pressure.
A healthy and fast pasta dish made in the Instant Pot – chicken sausage and peppers round out this one-pot meal. Perfect for a quick weeknight dinner!
3 links Italian chicken sausage, casing removed
1 bag frozen pepper strips (14 oz bag or about 3 bell peppers cut into strips)
1 jar pasta sauce (about 24-26 ounce jar)
1 box whole wheat pasta (16 oz box)
3 cups water
Optional: add a few dashes onion powder, garlic powder, basil
A few handfuls fresh spinach
Shredded Parmesan or Italian cheese
- Add olive oil to instant pot, turn on to sauté.
- Add chicken sausage, and cook, breaking up into smaller pieces.
- When chicken sausage is mostly cooked, add peppers. Scrape the bottom of instant pot to remove browned bits. If using fresh peppers, add a little water to help scrape the browned sausage from the bottom of the pot.
- Cook peppers and sausage for a minute or two.
- Turn off instant pot. Then add the next ingredients layered in the following order and DO NOT MIX.
- Pour pasta sauce on top of the sausage and peppers. Feel free to add any extra seasoning you like here or just before you seal the instant pot.
- Pour pasta on top of the sauce.
- Pour water on top of the pasta. I like to then gently poke the pasta down a little bit so that most of the pasta is submerged under water.
- Place the lid on and twist to seal. Be sure the valve is set to sealing.
- Press the pressure cook button and set to five minutes.
- Once the instant pot is finished cooking, let the timer count up for 2-3 minutes natural steam release.
- After 2-3 minutes, release the steam by turning the valve to venting. I find it helps to cover it with a towel and use a spoon to move the valve to keep my hands away from the hot steam.
- Once the steam is released, open the lid and stir.
- Add fresh spinach and stir to wilt it slightly.
- Serve with cheese.
The recipe is written for fresh sausage, but you can use pre-cooked sausage instead. Just dice it up and add it into the instant pot with the sauce layer.
You can try other veggies in here too – mushrooms and zucchini may add a bit of extra water after cooking, but would be delicious in this dish!
The timing on the recipe is approximate – I included the time the Instant Pot has to come to pressure in the cook time, so just know it will take about 30 minutes from start to sitting down to eat 🙂
Keywords: instant pot, pasta, spaghetti, whole wheat, healthy, quick, fast, weeknight meals