Instant Pot Italian Sausage Pasta is a one pot, creamy pasta dish that comes together in under 30 minutes. Best of all, this is a no-drain pasta recipe that creates a rich, creamy sauce right in the pressure cooker.
If you ask my husband what recent recipe I've made that he would most like to have again, this recipe is at the very top of the list. This creamy sausage pasta couldn't be easier. It cooks all in one bowl in the Instant Pot and includes hearty Italian Sausage and nutritious chopped kale. I’m sure it’s going to be a go-to Instant Pot Pasta dinner at your house, just like it is at ours. And if you like the ease of this recipe, try one of our other easy Instant Pot pasta favorites, Instant Pot Chicken Pasta.
Why Make Pasta in the Instant Pot
Pasta is one of the best things to cook in the Instant Pot. Since it is completely contained, there’s no need to monitor the pasta to insure it doesn’t simmer over and no need to strain the pasta after cooking. Perhaps best of all, the pasta releases starch into the cooking liquid, creating a naturally thick and creamy sauce. For more details on this method be sure to hop over to where I’ve written an entire post on the How to Cook Pasta in the Instant Pot.
How to Make Creamy Sausage Pasta
- Saute sausage. Brown the sausage in the bowl of the Instant Pot until cooked through.
- Add liquids and pasta. Pour in the chicken broth, pasta, garlic, and salt. Stir to combine everything.
- Add kale. Pile the chopped kale leaves on top of the pasta, but don’t stir them in. They’ll steam on top of the pasta as it cooks.
- Pressure cook. Close and lock the lid and cook on manual / high pressure for 2 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and then quick release any remaining pressure.
- Stir in heavy cream.
- Serve with parmesan cheese and black pepper.
Tips for Success
For best results with this recipe, here are a few quick tips. First, make sure that you scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan as you add the broth. This will prevent the burn error from any bits of sausage left on the bottom of the pan. The other thing to keep in mind is that the sauce will thicken as it sits. If the dish seems too soupy right after cooking, just give it a few minutes to rest during which time the sauce will thicken.
- Ground Italian Sausage - Look for mild or spicy, depending on your spice preference.
- Chicken Broth - For the most flavor use regular, not low-sodium. If you use low-sodium broth you can always season the dish with some extra salt at the end of cooking. Vegetable broth will work just fine too.
- Orecchiette Pasta - This recipe was tested with orecchiette pasta which is a small round pasta that is named for its shape because it resembles “small ears”. Orecchiette cooked to al dente, tender but not too soft, in the cooking times given. Other pasta shapes might not work as well, but if you need a substitute, look for a small shape like macaroni, medium shells, or another pasta with a recommended cook time of 9 to 10 minutes. We tested this recipe with penne and farfalle and they didn’t give as consistent results as orecchiette.
- Curly Leaf Kale - Kale steams with the pasta in this dish and adds color and hearty flavor. In testing, we chopped one large bunch of kale leaves and got about 4 cups. We also tested with pre-chopped kale (from Trader Joe’s) which worked great and was so easy.
- Heavy Cream - The addition of heavy / whipping cream gives the sauce a great, super creamy texture and rich flavor.
- Olive Oil, Garlic, Kosher Salt - Basic ingredients needed to finish this recipe.
- Parmesan Cheese - You’ll definitely want to top the finished bowls with shredded cheese.
- Substitute for kale - Try adding broccoli florets on top of the pasta instead of the kale. You can also use baby spinach, but it won’t need to be cooked with the pasta. Just stir it in at the end of the cooking to let it wilt.
- Make it vegetarian - Skip the Italian sausage entirely or use a vegan / vegetarian ground sausage substitute in its place. Be sure to use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
Store the leftovers in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator. Reheat them in the microwave. The sauce will continue to thicken, so leftovers won’t be as creamy as the original.
Every shape of pasta has its own recommended cooking time which means the cooking times will vary. My Instant Pot Pasta Guide gives clear instructions on how to translate the recommended cooking time on a box of pasta to cook in the pressure cooker.
More Instant Pot Pasta Recipes
Instant Pot Sausage Pasta Recipe
- Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 pound Ground Italian Sausage
- 6 cups Chicken Broth (I use regular, not low-sodium broth)
- 1 pound Dry Orecchiette Pasta (see note)
- 2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped or grated
- ½ teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 4 cups chopped Curly Leaf Kale (discard stems; see note)
- ½ cup Heavy Cream
- Grated parmesan cheese, for serving
- Black pepper or red pepper flakes, for serving
- Turn on the Instant Pot’s saute function to Normal / Medium.
- Add olive oil and when it begins to shimmer, add the Italian sausage. Cook the sausage, breaking it apart, until cooked through and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Turn off the saute function and slowly pour in the chicken broth, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Add the pasta, garlic, and salt. Gently stir the pasta and the sausage together, making sure that all of the pasta is submerged in liquid. Add some additional stock or water, if needed, so that all of the pasta is covered.
- Add the kale leaves on top, but do not stir them in.
- Close and lock the lid.
- Set the pressure valve to sealing. Cook on manual / high pressure for 2 minutes. (Note: The Instant Pot may take up to 20 minutes to come to full pressure and start counting down.)
- Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes and then quick release any remaining pressure. (Be careful as the liquids may splatter. Cover the pressure valve with a dishtowel to help contain the spray.)
- Add the heavy cream to the pasta and stir well. (Note: The sauce will continue to thicken the longer it sits, so even if it seems soupy as you add the heavy cream, it will continue to thicken into a rich, creamy sauce over the next few minutes. You can leave the lid on and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving if you’d like it to thicken.)
- Serve in bowls with spoons to scoop up the flavorful sauce. Top with parmesan cheese. You can add some black pepper and / or red pepper flakes on top.