If you’re up for a healthy and convenient dinner, this delicious vegan Instant Pot pasta recipe will be your new favorite. It’s creamy, easy to make, requires only 10 minutes of hands-on time and is made from cheap staple foods.
Let’s be honest: everyone loves pasta! So why not make it a nutritious weekly meatless meal, right here in your home?
Our veggie pasta marinara is bursting with flavor and essential nutrients. It also hides quite a few vegetables for those of you dealing with picky eaters – all of which can be swapped for the veggie du jour that your whole family will enjoy.
It’s basically a blueprint for a quick and lazy emergency dinner that can be made from basic pantry staples.
If you have some dry pasta (penne usually works best), tomato paste or canned tomato sauce as well as a few veggies… you’re already good to go.
The vegetables don’t even have to be fresh – frozen ones work as well!
And this tasty vegan pasta marinara is a perfect example of easily upping your vegetable intake. Not everyone on a plant-based diet or looking to eat healthier automatically loves every vegetable!
This comforting one-pot pasta is a great way to experiment with adding some finely chopped veggies that’ll only improve the dish.
That being said, we highly encourage you to use the vegetables you already like for this dish and simply swap out the ones you don’t. No need to follow our recipe 100%.
Mushrooms, eggplant, or bell pepper are relatively easy to love – that’s why we used them for this vegan pasta marinara. But you can also go for zucchini or carrots!
Not only will your kids devour this secretly healthy comfort dish, but every guest we’ve served this loved it, too (vegan or not)!
Oh, and can you imagine how easy the washing up will be? Let me just say this again: one pot.
Yes, comfort food can be healthy for you and easy to make! But first things first:
What Is an Instant Pot?
If you’re new to our blog, you’re probably not familiar with our long-running love and appreciation for the impressive kitchen tool known as the Instant Pot.
It’s an electric pressure cooker that allows you to speed up your cooking time and, most importantly, enables hands-off cooking that won’t result in any overcooking, burning or spilling.
Back when we started using it, we usually cooked beans or whole grains from scratch in about 20-60 minutes (depending on the food).
Now, we can just put everything into the Instant Pot, set a timer and walk away, returning to enjoy some warm, satiating starches a few minutes or even hours later (yep, it keeps food nice and warm once it’s cooked).
At some point, we started taking things to the next level and experimented with preparing not just one component, but a whole dinner with just the Instant Pot.
Lentil chilis, curries, pumpkin soups or one-pot pastas were on the menu pretty much every night!
Depending on the size of your Instant Pot, it works wonderfully for batch cooking, so you can have dinner for three days in a row.
Even different components, like pasta and veggies in this case, can be cooked at the same time. One-minute steamed veggies are our current obsession!
Yes, we’re seriously hooked!
Once you’ve experienced the convenience and freedom an Instant Pot brings, it’s hard to go back. Because more often than not, cooking rice, pasta or potatoes on the stovetop means spilling (at least in my case) and having to watch your hard work go to waste.
And even though we’ll still always have store-bought canned beans in our cupboards, cooking them from scratch and preserving all of their delicious flavors by using a pressure cooker just makes legumes so much more delicious!
If you’re curious, you can find our full guide to the Instant Pot, favorite uses and free downloadable guidebook below – along with our collection of the best vegan Instant Pot recipes.
Why This Is The Best Instant Pot Pasta
- Easy & convenient dinner
- Secretly healthy & veggie-rich
- Only 10 minutes of hands-on time
- Easily customizable
- Budget-friendly & fuss-free ingredients
- Super flavorful and herb-infused
- Kid-approved & family-friendly
- Great for meal prepping
- Only one pot to clean
Oh, and did we mention that the pasta doesn’t need to be cooked and drained separately?
Yep, all the inexpensive and delicious ingredients just go directly into the Instant Pot (sauteéing the veggies for just a minute, a function that’s included in the kitchen tool), then you just need to stir them around and set the timer.
Now, you can walk away and do whatever you like… coming back a couple of minutes later to a freshly cooked dinner.
Plus, if your living situation doesn’t allow you to have a full kitchen, cooking with an electric pressure cooker might be your way to enjoy home-cooked meals like a one-pot pasta (this goes out to all college students).
But there are even more great things to share about this recipe.
Health Benefits of Our Eggplant Mushroom Pasta
This is how you make a delicious comfort food totally suitable for an everyday dinner option that supports your health goals!
Yes, we’re aware of the fact that pasta is often seen as an unhealthy food choice or a reason why someone gained weight.
But it usually comes down to what you add to the pasta (and which pasta you use). Butter, cheese, cream, meat and copious amounts of olive oil are what support chronic disease and quick weight gain.
These ingredients are the culprits that give pasta in general a bad rep.
On the other hand, if you choose a whole-grain variety and add a few cups of vegetables, this easily becomes a nutrient-rich cozy dinner low in calorie density!
If you’re looking for a higher plant-based protein content, you could choose legume-based pasta or make a tofu bolognese along with the pasta and veggies – just like Nisha did in her vegan Instant Pot pasta bolognese here.
And have you tried making pasta with beans? Chris from Sweet Simple Vegan has a great recipe for it which you can find here.
How to Make Instant Pot Pasta
If you’re new to cooking with the Instant Pot, I totally get that this can seem a bit intimidating. You can test drive this device by just steaming some rice or potatoes first (find out how to do so in our free Instant Pot guide) and then moving on to a whole one-pot dish.
But since you’re here for our vegan Instant Pot pasta, let’s go over the ingredients, liquid ratio, cooking time and some extra tips for making this dish a success!
We’ll also mention a couple of different customizations you can make to this easy recipe so that it’ll be perfect for your family.
For example, depending on your taste, you can be more generous with the seasonings. But don’t go all-in right from the start since pressure cooking can intensify some of the flavors – it’s best to adjust just before serving the pasta.
Here are the basic components you need for this tasty vegetable pasta!
Ingredients for Instant Pot Pasta Marinara
- Dry pasta – we used whole grain penne but you can go for gluten-free or more protein-rich lentil and bean varieties, too
- Fresh veggies – the recipe calls for eggplant, tomatoes, spinach, bell pepper and mushrooms but pretty much any vegetable will do
- Spices – balsamic vinegar, Italian herbs, paprika and some salt and pepper build the basis for the flavor
- Tomato paste – to create the marinara sauce along with the spices and rest of the liquid
- Veggie broth and water – that’s where the pasta and vegetables will be cooked
If you’ve just been looking at the ingredients above and saw that you don’t have some of these on hand or don’t particularly like it – fear not, my friend.
This recipe is super duper versatile and I bet you can easily create a version that’ll be delicious and perfect for you personally, too.
Except if you don’t like tomatoes, that would be a tough one. But who doesn’t like tomatoes, anyway?
You could go for one type of vegetable only, swap the eggplant for zucchini, or add finely chopped carrots or cauliflower. Just keep the volume of vegetables used about the same.
Once you gathered the ingredients you want to use for your vegan Instant Pot pasta, you could theoretically just dump them all into the electric pressure cooker pot, give it a stir, set the timer and walk away.
But if you want to feel like you’ve actually actively cooked something, you can follow the step in our recipe that asks you to sautée some of the veggies with the herbs for a short time so that the flavors intensify.
Totally up to you!
How Much Water Do I Need to Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot?
First of all, the best cooking liquid to use for a one-pot pasta (made in the Instant pot or on the stop top) is water or broth. Heavy sauces make it hard for the dry pasta to get cooked which is why we only use two ounces of tomato paste for the flavor and texture.
You don’t want to end up with a pasta soup or half-cooked pasta, so following the exact ratio of water to dry pasta is important!
Also, make sure the pasta is completely submerged in the sauce or cooking liquid to ensure it gets thoroughly cooked.
Since our recipe calls for a whole bunch of veggies, which take up space in the pot but also release some liquid of their own, we recommend that you use 12 oz dry pasta and 3 cups of water.
The thing about using too much liquid is that during the quick release it can spill hot liquid out of the valve – but since pasta is a quick cook food, it does need a quick release.
If you notice that some foam or large water droplets are escaping from the valve, flip it back to the sealed position and wait for 20 seconds, then release again.
Most of the time, we can let it release quickly in one go, but I often just eyeball and freestyle with the ingredients which is why we end up with different amounts of pasta and liquid.
For a safer release, place a towel over the valve to avoid spraying your kitchen!
How Long to Cook Pasta Al Dente in the Instant Pot?
“Take the time listed on the box, cut it in half, then subtract an additional minute.”
Since you can’t simply try some pasta during the cooking process to see if it’s al dente, it might be a bit more tricky to get it to the perfect texture.
Usually, pasta cooked in the Instant Pot is definitely on the softer side, and you’ll probably need to make the same recipe a few times to figure out exactly how many minutes you need to cook it to achieve your preferred texture.
You’ll also get a feel for how much liquid you need, which vegetables release more water than others and what type of pasta gives you the preferred taste and texture.
Our recipe calls for 7 minutes of pressure cooking.
Here’s a little tip: sautéing some of the veggies before pressure cooking lets the Instant Pot heat up and reduces the time it takes to start cooking!
Which Pasta to Use?
Some types of pasta work better than others in this recipe. As a rule of thumb, shorter varieties like penne, farfalle, rotini or shells are better compared to longer ones like spaghetti or linguine which are harder to submerge and also tend to clump together.
But if you really want to make Instant Pot spaghetti (or another long-form pasta), it’s definitely doable!
We usually break them into halves and stir them around for a bit before cooking to minimize clumping. See how Nora makes her spaghetti with lentils in the Instant Pot here!
Delicate pasta like alphabet pasta will overcook easily, and stuffed or homemade pasta can fall apart. These varieties can be added to the veggies and sauce once they are done, and just let the mixture simmer for a few extra minutes to cook the pasta.
If you want to use a gluten-free variety such as brown rice pasta, the cooking time will increase; on the other hand, white pasta needs less cooking time compared to our recipe.
By the way, this mushroom eggplant pasta marinara definitely makes for great leftovers or packed lunches!
The cooked vegan pasta can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
You can also keep any leftovers in the freezer for up to 6-12 months! Transfer the Instant Pot pasta in freezer baggies or food containers and let thaw before warming it up again.5-Day Vegan Meal Prep (Download) →
Make It a One-Pot Stove Top Pasta
Don’t have an Instant Pot at home? While it would be more convenient to use a pressure cooker for this recipe, it’s definitely not a deal-breaker and you can also make it using a stove.
Some small tweaks will be required, though!
After sautéing the onion, garlic, eggplant and mushrooms in some veggie broth, you need to add the rest of the liquid and spices, stir in the tomato paste and then add the dry pasta.
Make sure it’s completely submerged in the liquid, then top with the bell pepper and tomatoes, adding the spinach on top (either right in the beginning or a couple of minutes before the pasta is al dente).
What’s important is that you add one more cup of either vegetable broth or water to your pasta when cooking on the stove top, making it 4 cups of liquid in total.
The cooking time over medium heat will vary a bit; for us it’s usually around 40 minutes until it’s done.
More Easy Vegan Dinner Recipes
Have your Instant Pot ready? We hope you found our tips helpful and were able to gather the ingredients you chose for this pasta so you can get started! Find the full recipe below.
Let us know in the comments how you made your Instant Pot pasta and rate our recipe! Did you try a stove top version? You can also pin this recipe for later and tag us on Instagram when you make it – we’d love to see your creations.
- 12 oz whole-grain pasta (340 g)
- 2.5 cups water (590 ml)
- ½ cup vegetable broth (120 ml)
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small eggplant, chopped
- 2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped (350 g)
- 2 cups fresh spinach (60 g)
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced (150 g)
- 1 tbsp balsamic or white wine vinegar
- ½ tbsp salt
- Few dashes black pepper
- 2 oz tomato paste (56 g)
- 1 tbsp Italian herbs
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
- Fresh basil to garnish
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Few crumbs of homemade cashew cheese
- Start by pressing the “saute” function on the Instant Pot and let it heat up. Then add the onion and garlic with a splash of vegetable broth.
- Sauté for 30 seconds, stirring occasionally, then add the mushrooms, eggplant and Italian herbs for another 30 seconds, adding more vegetable broth to prevent sticking.
- Hit the cancel button and add all of the other ingredients: the vegetables, spices, water, vinegar, pasta, and the rest of the vegetable broth to the Instant Pot.
- Stir around, mixing the ingredients - make sure the tomato paste dissolves and the pasta is pushed down as much into the sauce as possible.
- Then, place the lid on the Instant Pot and lock it in place. Check to make sure the valve is sealed.
- Press the Manual button and use + or – to adjust the time to 7 minutes. The Instant Pot will now start building up pressure, which usually takes a couple of minutes. It then cooks the pasta for you, counting down the minutes on the screen to zero.
- When the 7 minutes are up, you will hear the Instant Pot beeping. Carefully quick release the pressure by moving the valve to one side, keeping face and hands away. You can use a towel to do so, and can even place it over the valve to catch the steam and any liquid that might spray out.
- Once the pressure is released, you can open the lid and stir the pasta. Taste test it, and add more seasonings if needed.
- Place into a bowl and garnish with fresh basil and nutritional yeast if you like! (We used some cashew cheese in the picture)
- You can use any vegetables you like in this recipe.
- For a gluten-free version, simply swap the whole grain pasta for a gluten-free variety.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 3 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 400 Total Fat: 7g Saturated Fat: 2g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 9mg Sodium: 2563mg Carbohydrates: 74g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 16g Sugar: 18g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 19g