Broccoli Cheddar Pasta in Instant Pot

September 10, 2019 (Updated: September 11, 2019) By Aneesha |

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Rich, creamy and cheesy, this Broccoli Cheddar Pasta is comfort food at it’s best! This family-friendly one-pot meal is everything a Broccoli Cheddar soup promises, and more. Here’s a 30-minute dump-and-start recipe for your Instant Pot pressure cooker. Enjoy!

Creamy Broccoli cheese pasta with broccoli and carrots

Under 30-Minutes Dump & Start Recipe

This easy one-pot meal is very easy to put together. I prefer to make it in the Instant Pot versus on the stove, as it gets done in one pot in under 30 minutes, most of which is hands-off cooking time.

This Broccoli Cheese pasta works great for weeknights especially when all four of us come home late after a school game or an after-school activity. It’s very easy to put together with just a handful of ingredients. Here’s what we need to make this delicious pasta:

Ingredients needed to make Broccoli Cheddar Pasta

My Inspiration: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This recipe is inspired by one of my favorite soups at Panera- Broccoli Cheddar Soup. This is my effort to extend these delicious comforting flavors beyond soup 🙂 It’s such a convenient recipe where all the food groups meet in one dish!

Kids & Teen Approved Recipe

Oh, and this pasta is kid & teen approved too. My kids have a ‘hate-hate’ relationship with broccoli, and they LOVE this pasta dish. The cheese and pasta camouflage the broccoli really well. It becomes one with the creamy sauce and sticks to the pasta.

For little kids, this is a very clever way of sneaking in veggies in their pasta. This particular ratio of broccoli, carrots and pasta works great for my kids, but you can customize that to suits yours.

Add more broccoli if you like. Although, I must admit that when I added 3 cups broccoli instead of 2 during a test-round, I was ‘gently’ reminded by my kids that I was ‘pushing it’ 😉 You can even switch out or add grated zucchini in this and no one will know.

Creamy Broccoli cheese pasta garnished with basil

How to Cook Pasta in Instant Pot : Rule of Thumb

Since different pasta shapes require different cook times, here is what works for me:  I half the lower number in the suggested cook time on the box, and subtract 1 minute from that.  So, if a box suggests the cook time as 10-11 minutes, I cook it for 4 minutes in the Instant Pot (10/2=5; 5-1=4).

How to Cook Broccoli Cheddar Pasta in Instant Pot

Here are step by step instructions on how to make this easy meal in the Instant Pot, or any comparable electric pressure cooker like Mealthy:

Step 1: Pressure Cook (Picture 1)

  • Turn Instant Pot on Saute mode.  This will warm up the milk and water while we are adding ingredients and reduce the pressure building time.  This step is optional though.
  • Add milk (see notes for substitute), water, pasta, seasonings, carrots and broccoli in the pot.  Stir and close the lid.  Pressure cook for 3 minutes. This time works for medium shell pasta, check details in the description for cooking time calculations for different pasta shapes.
  • After cooking time is up, wait 5 minutes and then manually release the pressure in bursts. What that means is, release pressure 1-2 seconds at a time, then stop.
  • Repeat this till most of the pressure has released and its intensity has gone down. (Scroll down to read the detailed reason for this.)
  • Now, you can release the remaining pressure by turning the pressure knob to ‘venting’ position in DUO models, or push down the pressure valve in ULTRA models. Open the lid after the pressure pin drops.
Steps showing how to make Broccoli cheddar pasta in an Instant pot
Picture 1: Pressure cook pasta, broccoli and carrots, then quick release after 5 mins

Step 2: Stir in Heavy Cream and Cheese (Picture 2)

  • Stir in heavy whipping cream and cheddar cheese and stir till everything comes together.  By stirring, the broccoli florets will further break down and integrate in the sauce. 
  • If at this point, your pasta looks dry, add 1/2 cup of warm water. Add more or less cheese, depending on your preference! 
Steps showing how to make Broccoli cheese pasta in an Instant pot
Picture 2: Add cream and cheese and stir well till combined
Creamy Broccoli cheese pasta with carrots

Mess-Free Way to Release Pressure for Pasta

Earlier, whenever I did a quickly pressure release (QR) after making soups or pasta in the Instant Pot, I was always prepared with extra paper towels to soak up the mess it created.

Due to the thin liquid in soups and starchy liquid in pasta, it always sprays out from the pressure knob as soon as you do a quick release.

In order to avoid that, I altered the way I release pressure. I release the pressure in bursts. Which means, I press down or rotate the pressure knob gently to release pressure 1-2 seconds at a time, then stop. I repeat this till most of the pressure has released and its intensity has gone down.

After that when I do a full release of pressure, nothing squirts out of the knob. Easy and mess-free solution! However, if you want to completely avoid QR, here’s what my kids do:

How to Avoid a Quick Pressure Release in this Recipe

My teen kids aren’t big fans of Quick Pressure Release, mainly because it’s too loud and the steam is very impactful. So, here is how they avoid it:

Instead of releasing pressure after 5 mins, they wait for 10 minutes. By then most of the pressure has released naturally. So when they do a quick release after that, there is barely any steam left.

But since the pasta stays in the pot for 5 minutes longer, to avoid over-cooking it, they reduce the cooking time by 1 minute. So, for this recipe, they pressure cook for 2 mins instead of 3 mins.

More Pasta Recipes from my Kitchen

Tips to Customize Broccoli Cheddar Pasta

  • If you want to reduce calories in this dish, you can replace milk with broth or water, AND replace heavy cream with half ‘n’ half.
  • You can customize the cheesiness of this dish. Add 2 cups for extra cheesy sauce. 
  • I like the flavor of cheddar cheese in this recipe, but you can replace that with any melting cheese of your choice. 
  • You can make this recipe with frozen and thawed broccoli florets as well. 
  • Gluten-Free variation: Simply replace the pasta type with any gluten-free shape and adjust cooking time based on the pasta cooking formula mentioned above.
  • If the sauce looks dry after cooking add 1/2 cup of warm water. If it looks thin, you can saute for a few minutes. It will naturally thicken as it sits for a few minutes. 
Broccoli Cheddar cheese pasta garnished with basil

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Creamy Broccoli cheese pasta with broccoli and carrots

Broccoli Cheddar Pasta in Instant Pot

Rich, creamy and cheesy, this Broccoli Cheddar Pasta is comfort food at it's best! This family-friendly one-pot meal is everything a Broccoli Cheddar soup promises, and more. Here's a 30-minute dump-and-start recipe for your Instant Pot pressure cooker. Enjoy!
4.91 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
NPR: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 570kcal
Author: Aneesha

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk (I use 2%)(can replace with broth or water)
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ lb pasta, shells (roughly 2.75 cups) medium shells or macaroni
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt adjust to taste
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (skip or adjust to make this mild)
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded (I roughly chop matchstick carrots)
  • 2 cups broccoli florets (heaping cups) (about 1 large head)

After Pressure Cooking

  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • cups shredded cheddar cheese (add more or less to suit your taste)

Equipment

Instructions

  • Turn Instant Pot on Saute mode.  This will warm up the milk and water while we are adding ingredients and reduce the pressure building time.  This step is optional though.
  • Add milk (see notes for substitute), water, pasta, seasonings, carrots and broccoli in the pot.  Stir and close the lid.  Pressure cook for 3 minutes. This time works for medium shell pasta, check notes for different pasta shapes.
  • After cooking time is up, wait 5 minutes and then manually release the pressure in bursts. What that means is, release pressure 1-2 seconds at a time, then stop. Repeat this till most of the pressure has released and its intensity has gone down.
  • Open the lid, add heavy whipping cream and shredded cheddar cheese and stir till everything comes together.  By stirring the broccoli florets will further break down and integrate in the sauce. 
  • If at this point, your pasta looks too dry, add 1/2 cup of boiling water. Add more or less cheese, depending on your preference! 

Video

Notes

Tips to customize Broccoli Cheddar Pasta

  • Estimated Time includes roughly 10 mins for pressure build-up.  Cook time = Time to set for pressure cooking.
  • This recipe has been tested in a 3qt and 6qt Instant Pot. If making this in an 8Qt size, adjust the water quantity to meet the minimum requirement. 
  • If the sauce looks dry after cooking, add 1/2 cup of warm water. If it looks thin, you can saute for a few minutes. It will naturally thicken as it sits for a few minutes.
  • If you want to reduce calories in this dish, you can replace milk with broth or water, AND replace heavy cream with half ‘n’ half.
  • You can customize the cheesiness of this dish. Add 2 cups for extra cheesy sauce. 
  • I like the flavor of cheddar cheese in this recipe, but you can replace that with any melting cheese of your choice. 
  • You can make this recipe with frozen and thawed broccoli florets as well. 
  • Gluten-Free variation: Simply replace the pasta type with any gluten-free shape and adjust cooking time based on the formula below:
 

How to Cook Pasta in Instant Pot : Rule of Thumb

Since different pasta shapes require different cook times, here is what works for me:  I half the lower number in the suggested cook time on the box, and subtract 1 minute from that.  So, if a box suggests the cook time as 10-11 minutes, I cook it for 4 minutes in the Instant Pot (10/2=5; 5-1=4).
If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
How to avoid QR: Let the pressure release naturally for 10 mins (NPR 10 mins). In that time, most of the pressure has released naturally and if you do a quick release at this point, it won’t be that impactful and long.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 570kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 944mg | Potassium: 557mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 6715IU | Vitamin C: 42.5mg | Calcium: 475mg | Iron: 1.5mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: broccoli cheddar, broccoli cheddar pasta, broccoli cheese pasta, instant pot broccoli cheddar pasta
Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!

HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Betsy G.
    November 10, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    5 stars
    I substituted zucchini since I didn’t have any broccoli. Delicious!

    • Reply
      Aneesha
      November 10, 2019 at 9:36 pm

      Hi Betsy, thank you, that’s a clever variation! I’m going to try it with zucchini next 🙂

  • Reply
    Cam
    October 15, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    5 stars
    Amazing and simple! The family loves it! This is definitely a new go-to dinner in my home!

    • Reply
      Aneesha
      October 15, 2019 at 5:11 pm

      Hi Cam, Yay! SO glad to hear that. Thanks for sharing your experience with us!

  • Reply
    Sam
    September 19, 2019 at 10:08 am

    5 stars
    Delicious! And so unbelievably easy- thank you for this recipe!

    • Reply
      Aneesha
      September 19, 2019 at 6:01 pm

      Hi Sam, It’s always great to heat that. Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing!

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