Instant Pot Taco Pasta is like eating an unstuffed chicken taco, with lots of creamy melted cheese! Made with only 10 ingredients and in less than 30 minutes in 1 pot, taco pasta is a fantastic flavorful dinner for families on busy or lazy nights.
Anytime I cook pasta in my Instant Pot, I am grateful that this wonderful product was created!
Instant Pot pasta recipes can be true 1 pot meals, with no draining and less cleanup than when using the stove. And this recipe is just that.
Instant Pot Taco Pasta combines the ease and comfort of pasta with the flavors of tacos and their traditional toppings. Plus lots of cheese to make a creamy chicken taco pasta.
Diced chicken is sauteed with taco seasoning, then mixed with bell peppers, onions, salsa, corn and lots of cheddar cheese. It's all pressure cooked with the pasta— in only 3 minutes! The flavor is incredible!
Yes- that's chicken that I make taco pasta with. Most recipes use ground beef, but we love it with chicken.
Letting the pasta cook in the taco seasoning, vegetables, and broth takes the flavor intensity to the next level.
It was a hit with my kids. I made it early in the morning and the smell was so amazing they begged to taste it. Which then turned into them eating it for breakfast.
Taco pasta is easy to make, so if you've never made pasta in the pressure cooker or made it and had a bad experience, let this recipe convince you that it does work.
⭐️ This recipe works in a 6 or 8 quart pressure cooker of any brand. It has not been tested in a 3 or 10 quart cooker.
Why You'll Love Making Chicken Taco Pasta in the Instant Pot
- Just 10 ingredients.
- It's a true one pot meal.
- It is ready in less than 30 minutes, from preparation to completion.
- It's cheesy and creamy!
- It's versatile— use beef, ground turkey, or make it vegetarian.
To make it you need:
- short pasta (shells, cavatappi, ziti, or your favorite short pasta)
- diced chicken
- taco seasoning
- onion and garlic
- colorful bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow are the best)
- milk (I use evaporated, but any dairy milk will do)
- cheddar cheese
Garnishings: fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa or diced tomatoes.
💡 Tip: For the cheese to melt and turn creamy, you must use freshly shredded cheese and not pre-shredded bags.
- Make it spicy by using hot salsa or adding jalapenos.
- Keep it kid-friendly with mild salsa.
- Keep it extra kid-friendly and don't add "green" cilantro when serving.
- Use ground beef or ground turkey without changing the recipe steps or time.
- Add black beans and/or fresh diced tomatoes along with the corn.
- Change up the cheddar cheese and use taco, Mexican blend, or monterey jack cheese (or a combination).
- For a thicker sauce, use heavy cream
For a veggie loaded taco pasta, double the amount of peppers and corn.
Here's how to make Instant Pot taco pasta:
Step 1. Set the Instant Pot to saute for 5 minutes. Add olive oil, diced chicken and the taco seasoning. Cook for 5 minutes. During the last minute, add the peppers, onion and garlic.
Step 2. Add 1 cup of water and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Then put in the pasta and rest of the water, salsa, corn, salt and pepper. Do not stir. Seal the lid and set to pressure cook on high for 3 minutes.
Step 3. Do a controlled quick release of the pressure by pressing on the steam release valve in short bursts until depressurized. Remove the inner pot to a trivet.
Step 4. Add the milk, stir well, and wait 2 minutes. Add the cheddar cheese in handfuls, not all at once. Stir as it's added and then until the cheese is completely melted. Taste and add additional salsa if desired.
⭐️ Use this quick calculation to determine pressure cooking pasta cook times. Find the cook time range on your box for al dente pasta. Divide the lower number in half and subtract 1. For a more al dente pasta, subtract 2. Pressure cook on high for that length of time.
Then serve and enjoy! Recommended garnishings are extra cheddar cheese and fresh cilantro.
Taco pasta is a full meal on it's own. But if you'd like to serve it with a side dish, a simple salad is a great choice. Chips and salsa also make a good appetizer for taco pasta.
You can even make salsa right in the Instant Pot too!
💡 Tip: Let the pasta sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. This will thicken the sauce and allow the flavors to intensify. The longer it sits, the more the taco flavors will stand out!
How to Store
Instant Pot taco pasta keeps in the fridge for around 5 days. It is not freezer-friendly, as the pasta will lose it's texture.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Please let me know what you thought about it in the comments below.
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Instant Pot Taco Pasta
- 1 lb chicken diced
- 1 taco seasoning packet
- 1 cup onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 bell pepper red, yellow or orange
- 16 oz short pasta uncooked
- 4 cups water
- 1 ½ cups salsa
- 1 15-oz can corn
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups dairy milk evaporated, full fat, or heavy cream
- 2 ½ cups cheddar cheese shredded
- cilantro for garnish
- Set the Instant Pot to saute for 5 minutes. Add 2 tablespoon of olive oil, diced chicken and the taco seasoning. Cook for 5 minutes. During the last minute, add the peppers, onion and garlic.
- Add 1 cup of the water and deglaze the bottom of the pot. Then put in the pasta and additional 3 cups of water, salsa, corn, salt and pepper in that order. Do not stir. Seal the lid and set to pressure cook on high for 3 minutes.
- Do a controlled quick release of the pressure by pressing on the steam release valve in short bursts until depressurized. Remove the lid and transfer the inner pot to a trivet.
- Add the milk, stir well, and wait 2 minutes. Now add the cheddar cheese in handfuls, stirring as it's added. Mix until the cheese is completely melted. Taste and add additional salsa if desired.
- Serve garnished with cilantro, extra cheese, sour cream, or diced tomatoes.
How would you adapt this for crock pot?
If I wanted to cut this in half (because hubby and I don't care for leftovers) by using half the chicken and half the pasta, how would I adjust the liquids?
Hi Lee. If you want to cut the entire recipe in half, you can do so proportionately. So this would be 2 cups of water and 1 1/4 cup of milk. For every 8oz of pasta, always use 2 cups of water in the IP. If you only wanted to half the chicken and pasta and keep the other ingredients, still use 2 cups of water and 1 1/4 cup of milk. The milk is there to create the sauce when combined with the cheese, so if you're cutting the milk in half, then also cut the cheese in half. Enjoy!
I haven't made pasta in such a long while! I love how easy it is to make it in an Instant Pot!
Oh wow! Taco pasta is such a tasty mashup of Italian and Mexican cuisines!
I'm always looking for new recipes to try in my instant pot, so thanks for this!
This is our family fav! Love all the flavors in this taco pasta!
Thank you so much for this idea! It's so delicious and easy to make! My new favorite! Thanks a lot!
I need to buy an instant pot. I only have a slow cooker at the moment. this recipe is the perfect combo of tacos (yum) and mac'n'cheese (yum again)