Instant Pot Unbaked Ziti

You may know me and my love of creating outrageous pastas for the Instant Pot by now.

And because I’d hate to let you down, I’ve done it again.

I’m just going to say that I’ve taken classic Baked Ziti to the next level because 1) we’re going to make it one of the richest, most flavorful sauces that has ever come together in a harmony of cheese and tomatoes (no boring, skimpy sauce here) and 2) because it’s UNbaked!

This is my ridiculously simple Unbaked Ziti and it will win over any pasta lover’s affections.

Here’s How I Made It!: 

Take a lovely onion…

…and dice it up

Then add some olive oil to the Instant Pot and give it some heat.

Add the onions in the hot oil…

…as well as some garlic and sauté for a few.

WHERE’S THE BEEF?! Right here! Add it in…

…and cook until it crumbles and browns.

Now pour in some marinara sauce…

…and water.

Feel free to also add some hot sauce to give it a kick (totally optional, of course)

Now let’s add in our ziti (I prefer Ziti Rigati since it has ridges which scoops up the sauce nicely)

Take a spoon to smooth the ziti out in the sauce…

…so that it’s submerged (it’s okay of some peaks above the sauce). Just DON’T stir it! Secure the lid and cook at high pressure.

As the ziti’s cooking, prepare the ricotta cheese mixture by adding together the ricotta, an egg, dried parsley and kosher salt…

…so it looks like this when done!

When the lid comes off the pot, it may look a bit watery. That’s GOOD. But don’t be fooled. This is all about to change.

Take a mixing spoon and mix the pasta up with the sauce and meat to make way for our quartet of cheeses!

First, add in that ricotta cheese mixture…

…and stir it in good.

Then, take some Boursin cheese (you know me and my loving discovery of the magical things Boursin can do to a pasta. If you can’t find Boursin, use cream cheese).

Stir it in.

And then add in a bunch of shredded mozzarella!

This is going to give the sauce some serious and amazing stretch!

And finish it off with some grated parmesan!

Give it a real good stir so all the cheeses are totally melded and combined.

So it looks super creamy and rich when done.

Now serve it into bowls..

…top with additional parmesan cheese if you wish…

…and stick a fork in it, because this Unbaked Ziti’s DUNZO! (If you want to bake it, see the “Jeffrey Sez” section of the recipe)

Now let’s try this out, mmmkay?


There are no words. Sheer perfection.

ENJOY with my amazing garlic bread (follow steps 3 and 4 of this recipe to make it!)

Instant Pot Unbaked Ziti
Yield: 6

Instant Pot Unbaked Ziti

Instant Pot Unbaked Ziti

Baked Ziti is one of my favorites things ever. But who says you have to bake it? The option is still there to give it a finishing "al forno" touch with the air fryer lid, but the choice is yours.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 13 minutes
Total Time 18 minutes


The Ziti:

  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of crushed garlic
  • 1-1.5 lbs of ground beef (I used 90% lean as this is best for ziti meat so it doesn’t get too oily as we won’t drain the meat)
  • 4 cups of a marinara sauce of your choice – just make sure it’s not TOO thick (I love the Victoria brand)
  • 3 cups of water or chicken broth (add 1 more cup if using an 8qt over a 6qt)
  • 1-2 tbsp (or more) of hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 lb box of Ziti (I used Ziti Rigati because I like the ridges)

The Cheese:

  • 1 cup (8 oz) of ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp of dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp of kosher salt
  • 5.2 oz of Boursin cheese (either Garlic & Herb or Shallot & Chive flavors will work. This can be found in the cheese/cured meat deli section in most markets and Costco also sells it in 3 packs for a great price. If you cannot find Boursin, 5 oz from a brick of cream cheese will work well too)
  • 8 oz bag (2 cups) of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese


  1. Add the olive oil to the Instant Pot and then hit “Sauté” and adjust so it’s on the “More” or “High” setting. Let the oil heat for about 2 minutes
  2. Next, add the onion and cook for 2 minutes until lightly softened and lightly translucent/browned and then add in garlic and cook for another minute
  3. Then, add in the ground beef. Stir constantly as it cooks so it crumbles and browns for 2 mins. Make sure you deglaze (scrape) the bottom of the pot as it cooks so nothing sticks to it
  4. Pour in the marinara sauce and water (and hot sauce if using). Stir well
  5. Lastly, add in the ziti noodles and just smooth them out so they’re submerged in the sauce (DO NOT STIR)
  6. Secure the lid, hit “Keep Warm/Cancel” and then hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure for 6 minutes. Quick release when done
  7. While the pasta’s cooking, combine the ricotta, egg, dried parsley and salt in a mixing bowl
  8. When the lid comes off, stir in the ricotta mixture (don’t worry – the raw egg will quickly be cooked by the heat from the pot’s contents), Boursin, mozzarella and parmesan
  9. Stir everything until well combined, top with some extra parmesan if desired and serve with my amazing garlic bread (follow steps 3 and 4 of this recipe to make it)! (Note: If you wish to make this a baked ziti, check out the “Jeffrey Sez” section of the recipe)
  10. Enjoy!

Jeffrey's Tips

If you want to bake the ziti, simply transfer the finished ziti with the finished cheesy marinara sauce in a casserole dish, cover with another 8 oz bag of shredded mozzarella and pop it in a pre-heated oven at 400 degrees, uncovered, for about 5-10 minutes until the cheese lightly bubbles and browns (keep an eye on it as all ovens vary). OR, if making in Ninja Foodi, closing the TenderCrisper lid, hit “Broil” and go for 3-5 minutes until the cheese is golden-brown and bubbly!

The longer you let the ziti set in the finished sauce in the Instant Pot on the “keep warm” setting, the thicker the sauce will get. So you have control there! Both ways are awesome, but I prefer it when it’s just been mixed and is super creamy.

ENJOY with my amazing garlic bread (follow steps 3 and 4 of this recipe to make it!)

Reader Interactions


  1. Cheryl

    Easy and absolutely delicious! Did not have the Boursin cheese on hand so I just used that amount of ricotta. Worked perfectly. Thank you for the added water tip for the 8 quart.

  2. Francis

    Just received my 3 lighter books (I already had ordered the 3 ‘classic’ books). Thank you so much for the inspiration you gave me in the last 2 years.

  3. BRAD

    If they have Boursin in Kansas, they must have it anywhere. I spiced this bad boy up, 1 lb hot italian sausage, 1 lb. sweet italian, 2 cups of water , 1 cup of burgundy. Sliced up and wrapped in foil 1 small zucchini, 1 small yellow squash, and 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, salt and pepper on this and italian seasonings. Doubled the ricotta. This was the best, period. I’ll add artichoke hearts next time. put the vegetables on top just like the roast recipe, they were perfect. 6 quart instapot, and 4 meals gone, I still have enough for 4 more meals.

  4. Jean

    Now I can’t tell you personally how it tasted (I don’t eat meat) but much to my absolute surprise my 13 yr old ate it. I am always on the hunt for easy meat dishes I can make for her and then have leftovers for lunches. Never thought she would go for this one because of the ricotta and herb cheese but she did!!! Winner winner pasta dinner!

  5. Maryland Girl

    This was very good! The only changes I made was that I used 3 C. of marinara and 1C crushed tomatoes for texture. I also cut the mozzarella cheese by half b/c I didn’t want to have all the calories. I added in 2 crumbled links of mild Italian sausage bc my family likes sausage. I would like to cut the cheese back a little more next time for calories sake. But the flavor was spot on. Nice recipe Jeff, thanks!

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