Flip-The-Trivet Mess-Free Pasta Method

Cooking Pasta in the Instant Pot Can Be a Mess – Let’s Fix That

Tired of the sticky mess that pasta leaves when performing a pressure release in the Instant Pot. Learn how to use the Flip-The-Trivet method to make cooking pasta in the Instant Pot much less of a mess.

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Does this sound familiar?

You’ve recently gotten a sparkly new Instant Pot and you’re excited about making your first batch of pasta in it.

You’ve heard that making pasta in the Instant Pot is fast and easy.

But…

you’ve also heard stories of hot starchy liquid spraying all over the kitchen leaving countertops covered in an ooey-gooey mess.

You make a decision to ignore those warnings. You think to yourself: I’ll find a recipe that avoids this mess. Plus, those stories are probably overexaggerated anyway. Those people are probably doomsday, alarmists in their downtime. So, you march on!

You find a pasta recipe that looks absolutely amazing! You don’t see a mess in any of the photos – score! It can’t be too bad. Can it?

how to make instant pot pasta
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You gather your ingredients and study the recipe.

You’re ready!

You throw the pasta in the Instant Pot, set the time, close the pot and wait. With much anticipation, you wait.

Then it happens… the Instant Pot beeps! You’re startled back to the reality that the time has come to release the pressure.

You’re slightly nervous!

This is the big moment! The moment you prove that the doomsday scenarios were flat wrong!

With a little hesitation and a lot of hope, you release the pressure and…

Your excitement quickly turns to horror as your kitchen countertops receive a fresh coating of ooey-gooey, sticky mess.

Ok, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but cooking pasta in the Instant Pot can get pretty messy sometimes. If you’re one of those unfortunate souls that get a wild batch of pasta; the mess, and the ensuing cleanup can sure amp up the anxiety meter.

Pasta in the Instant Pot Can Be Less Messy

It can. I promise.

After many nights of cleaning up a sticky mess covering our Instant Pot and countertops, Ryan and I had had enough. We were determined to find a way to make the process of cooking pasta in the Instant Pot less messy.

Why a Controlled Pressure Release Isn’t Ideal

We had tried all the tricks.

One of the tricks that are most often recommended to avoid a mess when doing a pressure release on pasta is the slow and controlled pressure release method. This is the method that I’ve recommended in some of my pasta recipes – like my Mac and Cheese recipe, for instance.

It certainly does help minimize the mess. However, I have found that the slow and controlled method can take quite a while to release all the pressure from the pot. During this time, the pasta continues cooking which can lead to overcooked, mushy pasta.

Who likes mushy pasta? I don’t.

A Better Way to Pressure Release With Pasta

There is a better way! And it utilizes an Instant Pot accessory that you likely already have.

The trivet.

Most, if not all, Instant Pots come packaged with the trivet. If for some reason, you don’t have a trivet then you should pick one up because there are many other uses for it.

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Spread the word! Mess-free pasta in the Instant Pot is possible! Save this Pin for Later.

flip the trivet mess free pasta method instant pot
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A Messy Kitchen Is the Mother of Invention

We run a pretty tight ship in the evenings around here and a messy kitchen can throw off the entire night. It’s the proverbial wrench in our evening routine.

We’re up against the clock in the evenings. We’ve got deadlines to meet. Kids have to be in bed at precise times. Otherwise, Ryan and I may have to forgo our date night at the Netflix theater upstairs. One unexpected mishap and the night may be totally lost. We just don’t have time to deal with a big pasta mess.

Kitchen Prep Tools, Utensils & Appliances

Here is a list of the kitchen prep tools, utensils, and appliances I used to make this recipe.

Instant Pot Accessories

Make sure to check out my post on Must-Have Accessories for the Instant Pot. You’ll find a complete list of all the top accessories that can be used with your Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Cookbooks

I have put together a complete list of Must-Have Cookbooks for the Instant Pot. If you’re looking for more amazing Instant Pot recipes, make sure to check this list out.

So, after, as my seven-year-old would say, the millionth time (it sure felt that way) of having our date night replaced with quality time together cleaning our counters and Instant Pot, Ryan and I were done.

We needed a solution.

I could tell that Ryan had put his thinking cap on for this one.

And then, like an epiphany, it came to him. He shouted: “the spoon!”

I replied: “yes, I put the spoons in the dishwasher.”

“No”, he responded, “the wooden spoon!”

I was a little lost at this point because we hadn’t used any wooden spoons to prep the meal. “What wooden spoon?”, I asked.

“The wooden spoon trick! The one where you put the spoon on top of the boiling pot of pasta to keep the water from boiling over. There must be a way that we can use that.”

How would we be able to get the wooden spoon into the pot?

After a few moments of deep thought, it came to him. “The trivet! We can use the trivet!”

Brilliant!

The Flip-The-Trivet Method

First, you’ll place your pasta, water, and salt in the Instant Pot like you normally would when cooking pasta. However, before closing the pot, you will be placing the trivet inside.

So, here’s how this works. It’s very simple.

You know how you usually put the trivet in the pot? Like this:

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Well, you’re just going to flip it. Like this:

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When flipped, the handles of the trivet will act as legs.

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Make sure to push the trivet down into the pot so that it is standing securely on the bottom.

flip the trivet mess free pasta from above
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Now you can close the pot and set the cook time as you normally would.

how long do you cook pasta in an instant pot
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Once the cooking time has completed, hit ‘Cancel’ and do a quick pressure release. When you release the pressure, you should notice a considerable difference in the amount of mess that’s made.

instant pot pasta pressure release
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When you open the pot, remove the trivet. It will be hot, so make sure to protect your hands.

use mini mitts to remove the trivet
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We’re Not Actually Sure Why It Works

After doing some research, we don’t really know why this method works but we have some guesses.

Based on the explanations of why the wooden spoon trick works – it doesn’t seem that the trivet trick should work.

But it does.

Our best guess as to why it works:

As the pot comes to pressure, a sticky bubbly foam starts to build up inside. Once the pressure release valve is opened, the foam begins to expand looking for the nearest exit – finding it’s way out of the pressure release valve and all over your Instant Pot and countertops.

The trivet acts like a bouncer, standing at the exit, not allowing any of those sticky foamy bubbles to get out the door. Essentially, as the foam expands, the bubbles that make up the foam begin to pop as they hit the trivet. But without being able to see into the pot, we have no idea what’s actually going on in there.

This sounded like a plausible explanation – so we’re going with it.

And It’s Not Actually Mess-Free

While this method is not 100% mess-free, the amount of stuff that spews out of the pot is so significantly reduced that it feels mess-free by comparison. It’s really no messier than doing a pressure release on any other food.

Testing the Difference

We have tested this method numerous times to make sure that it actually works and it wasn’t just a fluke. Each and every time, there has been significantly less mess.

For this post, we set two 8-quart Instant Pots side-by-side and cooked the same pasta in each pot. We did this twice so we could test two different kinds of pasta. We placed the trivet in one of the pots and left it out of the other.

flip the trivet mess free pasta comparison
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The Instant Pot on the left has the trivet placed in it and the one on the right does not have the trivet.

Comparison #1: Elbow Pasta

The first comparison we did was elbow pasta. In each pot, we placed 1 lb of elbow pasta, 4 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt. We set both pots to cook on High Pressure for 0 minutes. As soon as the pin popped up, we hit the ‘Cancel’ button and immediately did a quick pressure release.

The only difference is that we placed the trivet in one pot and left it out of the other.

The pot without the trivet:

After releasing the pressure from the pot without the trivet, we ended up with the usual mess that comes with doing a quick release on pasta. The cook time on this pasta was very short, so there wasn’t much time to build up a lot of pressure. Yet, the pot without the trivet still made quite a mess.

flip the trivet mess free pasta first comparison without trivet 1
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After most of the pressure had been released, this is as bad as it got.

flip the trivet mess free pasta first comparison without trivet mess 1
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The pot with the trivet:

With the trivet placed in the pot, the mess is much less. Really, no different than releasing the pressure for any other meal.

flip the trivet mess free pasta first comparison with trivet 1
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After most of the pressure had been released, this is as bad as it got.

flip the trivet mess free pasta first comparison with trivet no mess 1
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Comparison #2: Rigatoni Pasta

For this comparison, we did rigatoni pasta. This one has a much longer cook time giving the pot plenty of time to build up a lot of pressure.

In each pot, we placed 1 lb rigatoni pasta, 4 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt. We set both pots to cook on High Pressure for 6 minutes. As soon as cooking had completed, we hit the ‘Cancel’ button and immediately did a quick pressure release.

Again, the only difference is that we placed the trivet in one pot and left it out of the other.

The pot without the trivet:

Look at that pot go! That gooey mess is spraying all over the place.

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Here’s a closeup of the action.

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The pot with the trivet:

The pot with the trivet created far less of a mess in this comparison. It didn’t spew sticky, gooey stuff all over the counter like the other pot did.

flip the trivet mess free pasta no mess with the trivet
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Side By Side:

You can see below that the pot on the left (without the trivet) made quite a large mess while the pot on the right (with the trivet) made much, much less of a mess.

flip the trivet mess free pasta mess comparison
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Looking from the back, the Instant Pot on the left does not have the trivet placed in it. The one on the right does have the trivet.

Notice how the countertop behind the Instant Pot with the trivet is dry while the countertop behind the one without the trivet is wet.

flip the trivet mess free pasta side by side comparison
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Try It For Yourself

Now it’s your turn to give it a try. I really hope it works as well for you as it has for us.  I know we all sure could use a little less mess in our lives.

Please let me know in the comments below how this method worked out for you.

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  • Sarah says:

    I can’t wait to try this tomorrow! I’ve always thrown a towel over the valve as I release with pasta, so most of the mess is on it, but the rim around my pot still gets icky.

    • Valerie Cooper says:

      Hi Sarah! I’ve heard of people doing that but it’s not recommended by the Instant Pot company since it can be dangerous. Let me know how this goes for you! We’ve been trying it for several weeks and it’s been great. I’m excited about others trying it! Thanks for stopping by Sarah!

  • Kim says:

    Very cool!! Kudos to Ryan for his problem solving.

  • Peggy says:

    My trivet that came with my pot has short legs, no handles…any way I can use this?

  • Erika says:

    A small amount of fat (in the water or oil sprayed on the surface of the water) could help too. I add some coconut oil when I cook oatmeal and the fat coats the starches so they can’t bubble up as much. I haven’t tried it on pasta, but may just have to do a couple test batches with a couple different fats to test! I’ll keep you posted.

  • Dorothy says:

    I have not yet cooked pasta in my instant pot but a similar thing happened to me the first time I made rice pudding. The best thing I’ve found, that practically eliminates the mess completely, is to place a dampened paper towel over the release valve then turn the valve to release the pressure. The paper towel on porous so the steam can escape, the dampness helps to keep the force of the steam from blowing it off and the towel catches any mess that spews out. It doesn’t have to be a very big piece – one strip of the select-a-size towel is perfect. You may get a small puddle of water from the steam on the counter and you can even eliminate that by ensuring that none of the edges of the towel hand over the sides of the pot. When finished, just toss the towel in the trash. One tip I read suggested using a tea towel to catch the mess, but seriously, who wants to have a gooey mess all over their tea towels.
    I’m sure the trivet idea is helpful and I will try it if I ever do past in the pot, but I use the dampened paper towel every time I want to do a quick pressure releaseo matter what I’m cooking. I try to be proactive.

    • Valerie Cooper says:

      Hi Dorothy! I think we already spoke on FB 🙂 The Instant Pot company does not recommend placing anything over the pressure release valve. It can be a hazard. A slow and controlled release is best to avoid a mess. For pasta, the trivet method works great for us! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Rochelle says:

    Thanks so much. Can’t wait to try it.

  • L. Frowley says:

    I have found that if you add cold water to the pot with your pasta it causes the pasta to become starchier as it’s sitting in the water for a longer period of time until the pot comes to pressure and starts cooking. Try adding your water and salt first and bring it to a boil on the sauté mode. Once boiling hit cancel and then hit your pressure cook button. The pot will come to pressure much quicker and I find the pot doesn’t spew out as much starch. It will still spew out steam, but I just cover my lid carefully with a cloth when I release the pressure.

    • Valerie Cooper says:

      Hi! I appreciate your comment! I agree with warming up the water first, but in my case, I still prefer to do it this way without adding the saute step. I do have to tell you that the Instant Pot company does not recommend putting a towel/cloth on top of the release, it is a hazard. Just thought you’d want to know that. Thanks for stopping by the blog! Have a great day!

  • Linda B. says:

    Hi I enjoyed reading your test for pasta. My initial reaction, though, was why you are cooking pasta alone. Most of my Instant Pot recipes included the sauce, cream, or other ingredients with the pasta included together in the Instant Pot. I was amazed by this process where you didn’t have to cook the pasta separately. So please explain or offer recipe examples in which you cook the pasta alone. Looking forward to clarification for me.

    • Valerie Cooper says:

      Hi Linda! I apologize this comment got lost in the shuffle and I hadn’t replied. When making mac and cheese I cook the pasta alone every time. My kids also like what we call butter pasta, which is just that, pasta with butter on it. For this, I always make the pasta alone as well. Hope this clarifies things for you! Thanks for stopping by the blog!

      • Linda B says:

        So I just found this response after I cooked some pasta in Instant with some eggs to make a recipe my husband used to make our old way. It’s tuna fish salad with celery, hard boiled eggs with Miracle Whip. So I just thre the eggs and pasta water in there and cooked four minutes. Not too messy but I am gonna try it again with the trivet solution! Thanks for your site!

  • Laura says:

    Do you have a pasta cook time chart available to share? Trial and error is s bummer for us newbies. Thanks!

    • Valerie Cooper says:

      Hi Laura! I do not have a chart to share, but the rule of thumb is half the time the package calls for. We like our pasta al dente most times, so we usually cook it for even less time and allow for a few minutes of natural pressure release. I’ll put this on my to do list to create a chart! Thanks for stopping by the blog.

  • Debbie Blakley says:

    Have you ever tried putting a little vegetable oil in your pot of pasta? That is also supposed to keep a pot from boiling over. I do this with a regular pot of cooking pasta and I’ve never had any problems with the pot boiling over. I wonder if it would work with the IP as well? If you try that….please let me know.