I cannot rave enough about this recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Tetrazzini. It’s a super creamy and delicious pasta recipe that is so easy to make in your Instant Pot. I have to give all the credit for this one to my husband Ryan, who created the recipe for me, in response to my request for super creamy and yummy pasta.
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What Is Chicken Tetrazzini?
Chicken Tetrazzini is a little bit of heaven on a plate! It’s a comforting pasta dish that usually includes chicken, spaghetti noodles, and mushrooms covered in a buttery, creamy cheese sauce. My recipe doesn’t have mushrooms in it because, as Ryan said, he kept this one “Valerie and kid-friendly!”
Ryan made this Instant Pot Chicken Tetrazzini recipe from scratch, but he made sure to keep it easy as I also requested. You guys know I love easy because, with 5 kids, I don’t have time for complicated!
What Sides Go With Chicken Tetrazzini?
This Pressure Cooker Chicken Tetrazzini goes perfectly with a side of Italian or French bread. We love to dip the bread in a mixture of oil and dipping spices, but you can also butter the bread, add some garlic salt, and pop it in the oven for a few minutes.
You can, of course, also serve the Chicken Tetrazzini with a side salad. Finally, to top off the creamy pasta, you can use some shredded parmesan cheese and some chopped-up parsley to give it some color.
Some Tips for Making Instant Pot Chicken Tetrazzini
Ryan tested this recipe several times and let me tell you, my kids and I didn’t mind one bit that we ate Chicken Tetrazzini several times in one week! After a couple of attempts, he decided to brine the chicken before cooking it. This makes for a much juicier chicken bite!
He also cut the chicken into very small pieces as you can see from the pictures. This made the chicken cook faster and he was able to come up with the perfect timing for cooking the pasta and chicken together.
A Pasta Dish Perfect for the Whole Family
This Instant Pot Chicken Tetrazzini was a huge hit with the whole family. The fact that it’s creamy and has nothing “strange” in it made it a winner and definitely kid-friendly. If your family enjoys mushrooms, though, then that’s definitely something you can add to this recipe.
All of us enjoyed how comforting and creamy this pasta dish was. It’s definitely a new favorite at our home!
Here are some essential prep tools, utensils, and appliances I used to make this recipe.
Appliances & Cookware
These are the appliances and cookware that I used to make this recipe:
Prep Tools & Utensils
Here are the prep tools and utensils that you’ll need:
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.
Here, you’ll learn step-by-step how to make Chicken Tetrazzini in the Instant Pot. This comforting pasta dish is loaded to the max with tender chicken and drenched in a superbly creamy white sauce.
What’s the best thing about this pressure cooker Chicken Tetrazzini?
Your entire family will be asking for another serving over and over, especially the little ones! Kids love this dish because there is nothing in it that they won’t like. I’ve left out the mushrooms to make it kid-friendly, and boy do they gobble this pasta up. This creamy chicken pasta makes a perfect family dinner for any day of the week.
So, let’s get started so you can get dinner on the table and make those hungry mouths happy!
This pasta dish uses common ingredients that you can pick up at any of your local grocers. Here are some of the key ingredients that I use in this recipe:
- Spaghetti Pasta: I use spaghetti pasta for this dish, but you can substitute the spaghetti for either linguine or fettuccini pasta.
- Chicken Breasts: For the juiciest chicken pieces, I brine 4 breasts in salt water for 15 minutes. You don’t have to brine the chicken but, trust me, it makes such a difference in the tenderness and juiciness of the chicken pieces. Alternatively, you can use shredded rotisserie chicken. You can see my tips below the recipe for more information on using a rotisserie chicken in this recipe.
- Better Than Bouillon: I use Better Than Bouillon to give this Chicken Tetrazzini some real oomph. I love Better Than Bouillon because it’s loaded to the max with chicken flavor and is not overly salty. It’s also super convenient and can be stored in the fridge for months. It’s always there, ready to grab at a moment’s notice. Plus, it’s made with real ingredients unlike most other brands of bouillon. Can’t get much better than that!
- Unsalted Chicken Stock: Yes, I use chicken stock in addition to the Better Than Bouillon. Why not? It just means that this dish is going to pack in even more flavor. I like to use an unsalted chicken stock so that I have control over how much sodium is going into my food. I prefer Kitchen Basics Unsalted Chicken Stock.
- Heavy Cream and Whole Milk: I wanted to keep this recipe simple but I also didn’t want to use cans of condensed soup. So, mixing a bit of flour into some heavy cream and whole milk allows us to use wholesome ingredients while creating a rich creamy white sauce.
- Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice: A bit of lemon juice adds a slight zing to this pasta and it’s absolute perfection!
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese: I use sharp cheddar for its bolder flavor. If you can find sharp white cheddar at your local grocery store, that would be even better. Alternatively, you could use mozzarella if you prefer the milder flavor.
Brining the chicken will give you the most tender and juicy pieces of chicken. I’ve tried this dish with both chicken breasts that have been brined and chicken breasts that have not been brined. And, the brined chicken is, hands down, so much better.
Brine the Chicken
First, trim any excess fat from the chicken breasts and then place each breast into a brine bath. To make the brine, fill a large bowl with one quart of warm water and add a ¼ cup of kosher salt to the water. Mix the salt into the water until it is fully dissolved. Allow the chicken to sit in the brine for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and then pat dry with paper towels.
Cube the Chicken
I cube the chicken into small 1/4″ cubes. The small cubes cook faster when sautéing in the Instant Pot.
First, you’ll want to warm up the pot and then sauté and season the chicken until it is cooked evenly on the outsides. You will not be browning the chicken, nor will you be cooking it all the way through while sautéing. The chicken should be white on all sides when it’s ready but cooking it any more could cause it to overcook. The chicken will finish cooking during the pressure cooking.
Turn on the Sauté Function
Turn on the Instant Pot by selecting the ‘Sauté’ button. Adjust the heat level to ‘More’ by using the ‘Adjust’ button to cycle through the options until ‘More’ is highlighted. Then let the pot heat up until the display reads ‘Hot’. This will take a few minutes.
Heat the Oil and Butter
Once the display reads ‘Hot’, first add the olive oil to the pot and then add half of the butter (2 tbsps) and allow them to heat up.
Sauté the Chicken
Once the oil and butter are hot, add the cubed chicken breasts to the pot and toss them in the butter until they are thoroughly coated. Sauté the chicken until it is cooked white on all sides. This will take about 10 minutes.
Season the Chicken
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and season with the dried minced onion, garlic powder, and pepper. Sauté the chicken for an additional minute, continually tossing until the chicken is fully coated in the seasoning and melted butter. Then cancel out of the ‘Sauté’ function.
Grab the spaghetti pasta in small batches and break in half. Spread the pasta evenly over the chicken in the pot. Once all the pasta has been added to the pot, pour the 4 cups of chicken stock over the pasta and chicken.
There are only three simple steps to preparing the cream sauce.
Mix the Cream and Flour
Add the flour to the heavy cream and whisk it in with a fork until it is fully dissolved, creating a thick creamy mixture.
Flavor the Cream Mixture
Add the Better than Bouillon, salt, and lemon juice to the cream mixture and mix them in until fully incorporated.
Add the Milk
Next, pour the whole milk into the cream mixture and gently mix until it is fully incorporated, making a creamy white sauce.
Now, gently pour the cream sauce over the top of the spaghetti and chicken in the pot. Do not mix it into the other ingredients. It will thicken and mix into the pasta while cooking.
Close the Instant Pot, set the pressure release valve to ‘Sealing’, select the ‘Manual’ or ‘Pressure Cook’ function and make sure the pressure level is set to ‘High Pressure’. Then set the cooking time to 9 minutes.
Once the 9-minute cook time has completed, allow for a 2 minute natural pressure release (NPR) and then release any remaining pressure. Once the pin has dropped, open the pot. You will notice that the pasta looks very watery, but don’t worry. Once you start mixing everything, the liquid will be absorbed by the pasta.
Add the cheese to the pot and toss into the pasta until it completely melts. I use a pair of tongs to make it easier to toss the pasta. Continue tossing until all of the excess liquid is absorbed by the pasta.
Your family will love this one! And, I can’t wait to hear all about it! When you make this recipe, please give it a rating and leave a comment below to let me know what you thought about it. Happy cooking!
I just know that you will love Ryan’s Instant Pot Chicken Tetrazzini recipe as much as we do. If you’ve ever tried my Instant Pot French Dip recipe, then you know Ryan is amazing in the kitchen! There’s a step-by-step below in case you need it. If you don’t, feel free to scroll down to the bottom for the recipe card.
Instant Pot Chicken Tetrazzini
TENDER BITE-SIZED CHICKEN AND SPAGHETTI PASTA IN A CREAMY WHITE SAUCE WITH A TOUCH OF CITRUS
for theChicken for the Cream Sauce to add After Cooking
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded, can substitute mozzarella
prepare theChicken Breasts
- Brine and Cube Chicken: Make a brine by filling a large bowl with one quart of warm water and adding a ¼ cup of kosher salt to the water then mixing until the salt is fully dissolved. Trim any fat from the chicken breasts and then place in brine and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and then pat dry with paper towels. Cube the chicken into small 1/4" cubes.
cook and saute Cubed Chicken
- Cook the Chicken: Turn on 'Sauté' and adjust heat level to 'More'. Allow the pot to heat up until the display reads 'Hot'. Add the olive oil and half the butter to the pot and allow the butter to melt and heat up. Add the cubed chicken breast to the pot and toss until thoroughly coated in the butter. Sauté until cooked white on all sides. About 10 minutes.
- Season Chicken: Add the remaining butter and season with the dried minced onion, garlic powder, and pepper. Sauté for an additional minute, continually tossing until the chicken is fully coated in the seasoning and the butter has melted. Cancel out of 'Sauté'.
add thePasta, Stock, and Cream Sauce
- Add Pasta and Stock: Break the spaghetti in half and add to the pot, spreading evenly over the chicken. Pour the chicken stock into the pot.
- Prepare and Add Cream Sauce: Mix the flour into the heavy cream until fully dissolved. Add the Better than Bouillon, salt, and lemon juice to the cream and mix in. Pour the milk into the cream sauce and gently mix until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Add the cream sauce to the pot over the spaghetti. Do not mix.
set theCooking Time
- Cook Pasta: Close the Instant Pot, adjust the pressure release valve to 'Sealing' and set the pot to 'Manual' or 'Pressure Cook', 'High Pressure' for 9 minutes. Once the cooking time has finished, allow for a 2 minute NPR (natural pressure release) and then release any remaining pressure.
to addAfter Cooking
- Add Cheese, Toss, and Serve: Add the cheese to the pot and toss into the pasta allowing it to melt. Continue to toss the pasta until all of the excess liquid is absorbed by the pasta.
To speed things up. This recipe doesn’t take long to make, but you can lessen the amount of time it takes even more by skipping the brining. I don’t recommend skipping it because the chicken turns out so much better after being brined, but if you are in a pinch, it may be a tradeoff that you’re willing to make. Alternatively, you could use a rotisserie chicken (covered in the Tips & Tricks section) or pre-shredded chicken.
Common Questions & Answers
What is Chicken Tetrazzini? Chicken Tetrazzini is a layer of long pasta like spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine covered in tender bite-sized chicken pieces and a creamy white sauce.
Where did Chicken Tetrazzini originate? Surprisingly, Chicken Tetrazzini is not an Italian dish but an Italian inspired American dish. It is believed that the dish was first created in the early 20th century at the San Francisco hotel where Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini would stay for long periods of time. Originally a very fancy dish only served at the finest restaurants across the country, Chicken Tetrazzini has since become a staple in many home kitchens.
What to serve with Chicken Tetrazzini? Since this pasta dish is so rich and creamy, you’ll want to serve it with something light and fresh. Chicken Tetrazzini pairs perfectly with garlic bread, steamed or roasted vegetables, an Italian salad, a fruit salad, or a Caprese salad.
Tips & Tricks
Use rotisserie chicken. Using a rotisserie chicken can save some time and will give you the same delicious results. When carving the rotisserie chicken, you will need 4 cups of shredded chicken. One 2 pound rotisserie chicken will usually yield about 3 cups of shredded white and dark meat chicken. So, you will likely need two chickens. When cooking, you will skip the “Cook the Chicken” step, omitting the oil and the first 2 tablespoons of butter. Instead, you will go straight to the “Sauté and Season Chicken” step, sautéing the chicken in the seasonings and the second 2 tablespoons of butter for about a minute.
Add mushrooms. I purposefully left out the mushrooms to make this recipe kid-friendly. Feel free to add 1 lb of sliced white button mushrooms to the pot and sauté before adding the chicken. Cook and stir the mushrooms in the oil and butter until they begin to soften; about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the chicken and continue by following the recipe as written.
Make it extra cheesy. If you have a Mealthy CrispLid, once the pasta has completed its cook time and you have already mixed the cheese into the pasta and allowed it to melt, you can top the pasta with a generous amount of cheddar, mozzarella, or parmesan cheese. Then place the CrispLid on top of the liner and set it to 350°F and allow it to cook until the cheese begins to crisp and turn a golden brown. Alternatively, you can transfer the pasta to a glass baking dish, top with your cheese of choice, and bake in an oven at 350°F until the cheese begins to crisp and turn a golden brown.
Use a different pasta. I used spaghetti pasta in this recipe, but you can substitute the spaghetti with any long pasta noodle like fettuccini or linguine.
Crusty bread. Any crusty bread goes well with this recipe. Season the bread with butter and garlic or serve with an olive oil dipping sauce.
A salad. Any type of salad like a traditional Italian salad, a Caprese salad, a roasted pepper salad, green bean salad, eggplant caponata, or fruit salad would be wonderful with this dish.
Steamed, roasted, or sautéed vegetables. Steamed, roasted, or sautéed vegetables like broccolini, asparagus, green beans, eggplant, zucchini, or peppers make the perfect side dish to this recipe.