This is the absolute easiest way to make Instant Pot chicken parmesan pasta. Just dump the ingredients, no prep work!
Simple ingredients like chicken tenders, penne pasta and jarred marinara make this an easy one-pot chicken pasta dinner for the whole family. Plus, there's lots of irresistible melted cheese and a crunchy breadcrumb topping.
When you're craving lasagna or cheesy baked pasta but don't feel like putting in much effort, this Instant Pot chicken parmesan pasta is the perfect dinner.
Just combine the ingredients in your Instant Pot - no chopping or prep needed - and return to a creamy and cheesy pasta that both kids and adults will happily dig into.
Honestly, I wish I didn't love the combination of pasta and melted cheese as much as I do. But why fight it, right?
This one-pot chicken breast pasta has all the elements of traditional chicken parmesan: tender pieces of chicken, marinara sauce and melted cheese. Instead of breading the chicken, I top the pasta with crunchy panko breadcrumbs and fresh basil.
Hungry for more Instant Pot pasta? Try my Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meatballs or Instant Pot bowtie pasta. You might also like Instant pot hamburger helper. Or, for something new, try oven-baked spaghetti squash chicken parm.
Why This Chicken Parm Pasta is the Best
- Simple, short list of ingredients
- No prep work, just dump all the ingredients in the Instant Pot
- Use chicken breast tenders, no need to cut raw chicken
- Flavorful, with lots of sauce and cheese
- A crunchy breadcrumb topping, just like real chicken parmesan
- Easy, flavorful comfort food
Chicken: Chicken tenders cook quickly and there's no need to cut raw chicken. Win, win!
Marinara: Use your favorite jarred marinara. Cup of Jo has a helpful round-up of the best tasting jarred marinara.
Cheese: For convenience, I use pre-grated/shredded cheese that melts well. Mozzarella is fine, but you'll get more flavor with a pizza blend or Italian blend. This recipe gets so much flavor from the melted cheese that you don't really need to add parmesan, but you can sprinkle some on top of the finished pasta if you want.
Pasta: Penne cooks quickly and the tube shape holds the sauce well. I have not tested this recipe with other pasta shapes, but if you stick with a short pasta it should work okay.
Salt and garlic powder: An easy way to give the chicken more flavor. You can also add Italian seasoning if you want.
Olive oil: A light layer of oil helps prevent the chicken from sticking to the pot
Panko: A crunchy breadcrumb topping is optional, but easy to add. Just toast panko with olive oil in a saute pan for a few minutes.
Step 1: Pour a thin layer of olive oil in the Instant Pot. Add chicken tenders. Season with salt and garlic powder.
Step 2: Pour marinara sauce on top of the chicken.
Step 3: Add the penne pasta in an even layer. Don't stir!
Step 4: Add water. Press down the pasta so the noodles are covered by water.
Step 5: Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes, with a quick release. The pasta will look watery and might be too firm when you remove the lid. Don't worry! Stir the pasta well and take out the chicken tenders.
Step 6: Cut the tenders into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt if needed. Add the chicken back to the pasta.
Step 7: Add shredded mozzarella or pizza cheese. Stir well and set the lid back on top of the pot. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so before serving, to melt the cheese and thicken the sauce. The pasta will also finish cooking and get softer as it absorbs more of the liquid and sauce.
Step 8: If you'd like a crunchy topping, toast panko breadcrumbs in a saute pan with olive oil until lightly browned.
(For detailed recipe instructions and ingredient amounts, see the recipe card below)
Top the pasta with fresh basil or oregano before serving.
FAQ About Chicken Parm Pasta
Only if you cut the raw chicken into small pieces first and saute it for a few minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients.
The cooking time for this pasta is only 4 minutes. Chicken tenders will cook in this amount of time, but large pieces of chicken thighs and chicken breast won't.
No. Frozen chicken won't fully cook.
Yes, you can make this a vegetarian meal by simply leaving out the chicken. Otherwise, follow the same recipe instructions.
Leftovers will stay fresh for up to 5 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. But keep in mind that the texture of pressure cooked pasta gets softer the longer the pasta sits. So any leftovers you save will have a softer texture.
This cooked pasta doesn't freeze well. The texture gets mushy when defrosted. Luckily, this pasta is so good that you aren't likely to have a large amount leftovers!
An entire jar of marinara is used in this recipe to add maximum flavor. No one likes bland pasta! But if you prefer less red sauce, you can cut back on the amount of marinara and keep the rest of the recipe the same.
This is a one-pot meal that doesn't necessarily need a side. If you'd like to serve vegetables, then serve a simple side salad.
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More Instant Pot Pasta Recipes
Instant Pot Chicken Parmesan Pasta
The absolute easiest way to make Instant Pot chicken parmesan pasta! Just dump the ingredients, no prep work! Simple ingredients like chicken tenders, penne pasta and jarred marinara make this an easy one-pot dinner. Plus, lots of irresistible melted cheese and a crunchy breadcrumb topping.
Total Instant Pot Cooking Time: 15 minutes to reach pressure + 4 minutes cooking time + Quick Release. The pasta then needs to sit for 5+ minutes for the sauce to thicken.
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 4
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings 1x
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Italian American
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound chicken tenders
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 25-ounce jar pasta/marinara sauce
- 8 ounces penne pasta
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups grated cheese (pizza blend, Italian blend, or just mozzarella)
- Garnish: fresh basil or oregano, crunchy toasted panko breadcrumbs
Crunchy Panko Breadcrumb Topping
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Pour the olive oil evenly over the bottom of the Instant Pot. Add the chicken tenders, lining the tenders up in one even layer. Season the chicken with salt and garlic powder.
- Pour marinara sauce on top of the chicken.
- Add the penne pasta, spreading it out in an even layer. Do NOT stir.
- Measure out the two cups of water. Pour the water into the empty marinara jar and shake the jar with a lid to get all of the sauce off the sides of the jar. Gently pour the water into the Instant Pot, over the pasta. Remember, do NOT stir.
- Make sure all of the pasta is covered by water and not poking up out of the liquid. If needed, gently press down on the pasta to make sure each noodle is mostly under the water.
- Lock the lid in place. Make sure the steam valve is in the sealed position. Press the Manual button and program the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 4 minutes.
- When the cooking time is done, use a quick release to release the pressure instantly.
- The sauce will seem watery and the pasta will still be fairly firm right when you open the lid. Don’t worry! Mix the pasta well. Use tongs to take the chicken tenders out of the pot, shaking off most of the tomato sauce, and lay the chicken tenders on a cutting board.
- Cut the chicken tenders into bite-sized pieces. Season with salt if needed. Add the chicken back to the pot.
- Add the grated cheese to the pasta and stir well.
- Make sure the Instant Pot is turned off, set the lid gently on top and let the pasta sit for 5 to 10 minutes for the sauce to thicken and the pasta to soften.
- Top with fresh basil or oregano and crunchy panko breadcrumbs. You can also add grated parmesan cheese if you want even more cheese.
Crunchy Breadcrumb Topping
- In a wide non-stick skillet, warm olive oil over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add the panko and mix well. Then spread the panko evenly across the skillet.
- Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until breadcrumbs are lightly browned.
This recipe was tested in a 6-quart Instant Pot
Chicken tenders will cook fully in the Instant Pot in 4 minutes. Don't substitute whole chicken thighs, chicken breasts or frozen chicken because they won't cook fully.
The reason that you don't stir the ingredients before cooking is that you don't want the tomato sauce or pasta to burn to the bottom of the Instant pot.
To make this recipe vegetarian, simply leave out the chicken
Keywords: Instant Pot chicken parmesan pasta, penne pasta, chicken parmesan pasta, chicken tenders