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.

how to make instant pot pasta

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?

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

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!

flip the trivet mess free pasta method instant pot
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.

Instant Pot Cookbooks & Accessories

Before we get started, here are a few popular cookbooks and accessories for the Instant Pot.

Must-Have Instant Pot Accessories

Don’t forget to check out my post on Must-Have Accessories for the Instant Pot. It’s a complete list of all the top accessories that can be used with the Instant Pot.

Must-Have Instant Pot Cookbooks

I have also put together a list of Must-Have Cookbooks for the Instant Pot.


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:

flip the trivet mess free pasta right side up

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

flip the trivet mess free pasta upside down

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

flip the trivet mess free pasta push the trivet down

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

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

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

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
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.

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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

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

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

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

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
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.

flip the trivet mess free pasta releasing pressure

Here’s a closeup of the action.

flip the trivet mess free pasta no trivet big mess

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

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

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

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.

Flip-The-Trivet Mess-Free Pasta Method: Cooking pasta in the Instant Pot can be a mess - let's fix that! #instantpot #pasta