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.
you’ve also heard stories of hot starchy liquid spraying all over the kitchen leaving countertops covered in an ooey-gooey mess.
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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 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.
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.
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.
Here is everything you'll need to complete this project.
- Trivet with Handles : If you want to avoid a mess while making pasta in your Instant Pot, then this trivet is a necessity.
- Mini Mitts : These convenient mitts will protect you from burns while lifting the trivet out of the pot.
23 Must-Have Electric Pressure Cooker Accessories
Make sure to check out my Ultimate List of Electric Pressure Cooker Accessories! I’ve included everything you could ever need to help make your pressure cooking quicker, easier, and even more convenient.
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!”
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:
Well, you’re just going to flip it. Like this:
When flipped, the handles of the trivet will act as legs.
Make sure to push the trivet down into the pot so that it is standing securely on the bottom.
Now you can close the pot and set the cook time as you normally would.
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.
When you open the pot, remove the trivet. It will be hot, so make sure to protect your hands.
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 its 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.
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 teaspoon 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.
After most of the pressure had been released, this is as bad as it got.
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.
After most of the pressure had been released, this is as bad as it got.
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 teaspoon 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.
Here’s a closeup of the action.
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.
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.
Notice how the countertop behind the Instant Pot with the trivet is dry while the countertop behind the one without the trivet is wet.
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.
41 thoughts on “Flip-The-Trivet Mess-Free Pasta Method”
You’re a genius! Thank you for this oh so simple solution to a sticky problem.
Hi Shelley! Thanks for stopping by! Happy cooking!
good day, i am a little intimidated by my ninja foodi. are the recipes on here ok for my foodi or just for the instant pot?
Hi Anne! My recipes will definitely work with the Foodi. Once you get used to your appliance you will love cooking in it! You got this!
The trivets with the silicon covered handles be ok to use?
Hi Andrea! I’m not sure exactly which trivet you’re referring to, but if you can stand it up upside down, then you can use it. Hope this helps!
Thanks so very much for this tip! Great write up.
Hi Deb! Thank you! I appreciate you stopping by!
Your photos for the close up of the two separate pasta attempts with no trivet are the exact same. Not sure if that was a mess up but thought you should know.
Hi! Not sure what two photos you’re looking at, but in the individual comparison, there are two sets of comparisons, one fore elbow pasta and one for rigatoni. They are not the same. I looked at all of them closely and they are definitely different. Thanks for stopping by!
Thank you for this wonderful advice. I got my Instant Pot for Christmas and the first thing we made was some pasta. The mess it made was epic. It took longer to clean up the mess then it took to make and eat the pasta. I looked online and found your blog with this awesome hint. We used the trivet like you suggested and the mess was way less. So again, thank you. 🙂
Hi Paty! I’m so glad you found my blog! The trivet trick is awesome, isn’t it?! Make sure you look around at all the easy Instant Pot recipes on here. Hope you find something you love! Merry Christmas!
You could simply put a paper towel over the release valve. Never left a mess for me
Hi there! Actually, putting anything over the release valve is a hazard and can be dangerous per the Instant Pot company. Thanks for stopping by!
Hi there –
I’m an Instant Pot newbie and I just had my first pasta(volcanic) experience with my new I-Pot. It spewed like there was no tomorrow. White thick foam on everything! I was cooking elbow pasta for mac and cheese. I will definitely try the trivet trick — but I was wondering (always a dangerous thing) if the issue with a slow natural release is that we don’t want to over cook the pasta — then what would happen if we reduced the cooking time up front? And then let it slow release and cook the rest of the way! I was wondering if anyone had tried that. 🙂 Thanks!
Hi Darlene! Always dangerous to wonder! Haha!! Definitely try the trick, it works. My recipes for pasta, in fact, include a shorter cooking time than most, with a few minutes of NPR for the very reason you mentioned. Thanks for stopping by and happy cooking!