Lemony bright and loaded with fresh herbs, Instant Pot lemon pasta with ground chicken is absolutely delightful, and it’s a one pan meal!
Why you’ll love it: It’s an easy one pan pasta dinner that tastes great!
How long it takes: 45 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: Instant Pot, sharp knife, measuring utensils
Is there a better match than lemon, pasta, and fresh herbs? I hardly think so. And Parmesan cheese, of course! This lemon pasta is light, not heavy, and so delicious.
The ground chicken in this recipe adds protein and substance to the pasta, but actually recedes into the background, playing a supporting role to the real stars.
And the good news is that there’s only one pan to wash: no skillets, colanders, or heavy pots. Just one pan — your stainless steel Instant Pot insert. Use it to sauté, cook the pasta, and make the sauce. It’s dishwasher safe, too.
Interested? I know you’ll love this pasta! Try it soon especially if your herb garden is as prolific as mine is.
About this Instant Pot pasta
I realize that this list of ingredients looks rather lengthy and I hope you aren’t intimidated. There are so many layers of flavor in this delicious pasta, and once you try it, you’ll agree that every ingredient plays an important role. You won’t want to leave any of them out.
It’s sort of a dilemma for me. My goal is to bring you uncomplicated recipes because I know that’s what most of us are looking for. However, we all love great food and sometimes it takes a little bit extra to cook it.
This isn’t a difficult recipe. There aren’t any tricky things you need to master, or unfamiliar kitchen utensils to buy. It’s a one pot pasta which means an easy cleanup.
So hey, roll up your sleeves and commence cooking! I think you’ll agree that the end result is worth it!
Look for the complete printable recipe with measurements at the end of the post.
What you need
- Pasta: Choose a short or small pasta, such as rotini, penne, or ziti. It’s easier to submerge the shorter pasta in the liquid so it cooks evenly.
- Ground Chicken: If you prefer, ground turkey works well, too. Boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces, are also good. Keep reading for more suggestions.
- Onion and Garlic: These two alliums provide plenty of flavor, along with Red Pepper Flakes, which give the dish a zingy bite.
- Dry White Wine: Whenever you add a little wine to deglaze the pan, a heavenly aroma wafts through the kitchen. Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio are good choices. Use a wine that you like to drink.
- Chicken Broth: The pasta needs plenty of liquid to cook. Use flavorful chicken broth, low-sodium if possible. The pasta will absorb most of it.
- Baby Spinach: The spinach is added at the end and cooked using residual heat. It only takes a few minutes to wilt.
- Parmesan Cheese: Stir a half cup into the pasta and pass more around for serving.
- Lemon Zest: I bet you thought I forgot this is lemon pasta! A tablespoon of lemon zest adds lots of lemony flavor.
- Fresh Parsley, Basil, and Chives: This fresh herb trio (raid your herb garden!) is a powerhouse of fresh flavor. Don’t skimp on the herbs.
- Butter: A couple tablespoons of butter gives the sauce a velvety texture without being creamy and heavy.
How to make this lemon pasta
To make this recipe, you’ll need an Instant Pot. For stovetop directions, check out the Make It Your Own section.
Begin by browning the chicken and sautéing the onions. Add a little salt and pepper for seasoning. Throw in the garlic and red pepper flakes, and briefly cook, stirring, until they release a flood of fragrance.
Speaking of fragrance, wait until you add the wine. Aaah, that smells so good! Let the wine boil and cook while you scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits (deglazing the pan). You may want to have a little sip of wine right now.
Turn off the Instant Pot for a second. Add the uncooked pasta and chicken broth. Make sure the pasta is completely covered by the broth. Push it in there if it’s sticking out.
Cover the pot and lock the lid. Select pressure cook and set the timer for 5 minutes. It will take about 10 additional minutes to come to pressure. Quick release the pressure and remove the lid.
I’m always so amazed when I open the lid and see the perfectly cooked pasta. And there’s no need to drain it! It’s so cool!
While the Instant Pot is cooking the pasta, get the spinach washed and ready, grate the cheese, zest a lemon, and chop the herbs. Be quick about it because you only have fifteen minutes. Chop, chop! You can do it!
You could prep these items ahead of time, too, I guess. Really, don’t stress about it.
Okay, the pasta is cooked. Leave the Instant Pot on warm and stir in the spinach. Put the lid on loosely, and let the residual heat wilt the spinach. It will take two or three minutes. Give it a couple little stirs to help it along.
Okay, ready for the grand finale? Stir in the rest of the ingredients. This is when all the deliciousness comes on the stage: Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, parsley, basil, chives, and butter. Bravo! Let’s eat dinner.
Serve this one pan pasta with crusty bread (like this dutch oven bread) and garlic and oil dipping sauce, just like restaurants serve. Ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced and topped with a drizzle of lemon basil vinaigrette or balsamic reduction make an easy and fabulous side. A simple arugula salad with a lemony vinaigrette also goes well with the pasta and you already have a bottle of white wine open, perfect to serve with dinner.
I’m so glad to tell you that the answer is Yes! Your Instant Pot is a great tool for cooking pasta. Use plenty of liquid, usually broth, because the dry pasta will absorb most of it. Make sure the pasta is fully submerged.
There’s not one correct answer for this question because there are so many different types of pasta. You wouldn’t cook angel hair pasta as long as penne! Follow the recipe and you should be just fine. You’ll find that pasta does cook quickly in an Instant Pot.
No, most recipes are carefully calibrated so that all the liquid used to cook the pasta is either absorbed into the pasta or it becomes part of the sauce. Because there’s no need to drain the pasta, you won’t have to wash a colander. Cool, huh?
Make It Your Own
- Instead of spinach, stir in peas, asparagus, broccoli, or chopped Swiss chard.
- Substitute boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces, for the ground chicken. Or try ground turkey or sausage.
- Make this a vegetarian meal by omitting the ground chicken.
- Don’t have an Instant Pot? Make this meal on the stove in a large skillet with a cover, or a Dutch oven. Brown the meat and veggies as directed, add the wine to deglaze the pan, and then add the pasta and broth. Make sure the pasta is submerged, cover, and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure there’s plenty of liquid. Continue with the recipe as written.
There are a few things you can do to prep this meal ahead. Shred the Parmesan cheese and chop the chives and parsley ahead of time. Basil discolors if you chop it too far in advance so I’d recommend waiting on that. The onion can be prepped as well. Store everything you prepared in the fridge until you’re ready to start cooking.
Storage and Reheating Suggestions
This pasta is really best if you eat it right away. If you have leftover pasta, store it in the fridge in a tightly covered container. It will keep for up to 4 days.
If it seems dry when you reheat it, add a little extra broth or a squeeze of lemon juice. Pasta tends to keep absorbing liquid even after it’s cooked. Reheat on the stove over medium heat or in the microwave in 30-second increments until heated through.
Do you have lots of leftover pasta? If you want it to look a little different the second time around, make a pasta pie. Mix a couple of beaten eggs with the pasta. Spread it in a greased pie dish. Add a good layer of sautéed vegetables, like bell pepper strips, mushrooms, or additional spinach. Peas, asparagus, or artichoke hearts are good, too. Sprinkle generously with mozzarella cheese and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 20 minutes or so, or until eggs have set and the cheese is melted. Slice into wedges and serve.
More one pot pasta recipes
Whether you use your Instant Pot or a big pan on the stove, one pot pastas are amazingly good with easy clean up. Try:
- One Pan Lemon Pasta with Sausage, Asparagus, and Dill
- Instant Pot Crack Chicken Pasta – cheesy ranch perfection
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with Broccoli
- One Pot Vegetarian Orzo with Sundried Tomatoes
- Pasta Amatriciana (one pan!)
- Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken Pasta
- Creamy Chicken Spaghetti – one pan, endless variations!
- Pizza Pasta – 1 pan, 6 ingredients, 20 minutes
- Gnocchi with Kale & Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Sesame Peanut Noodles by Tasty — this one sounds so good!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb. ground chicken
- 1 cup diced onion (1 medium onion)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more to taste
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 16 oz. short pasta such as rotini, penne, or ziti
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, more for serving
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Select sauté mode on your Instant Pot. Add oil, ground chicken, onion, salt, and pepper. Cook, breaking up chicken into small pieces, until chicken is no longer pink and onions are translucent (7-8 minutes). Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring, or until garlic is fragrant.
- Add wine and cook for 2-3 minutes or until wine is slightly reduced, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the Instant Pot.
- Add chicken broth and pasta. Stir to combine and make sure pasta is submerged in liquid.
- Cover and set Instant Pot to pressure cook for 5 minutes, turning valve to seal. When the timer goes off, turn valve to quick release the pressure.
- Keep Instant Pot on warm, add spinach and place cover on (don’t turn to latch). Let wilt for 2-3 minutes, stirring as needed to help it along.
- Stir in Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, parsley, basil, chives, and butter, until butter is melted. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese.
- If desired, substitute peas, asparagus, broccoli, or chopped Swiss chard for the spinach.
- Try boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces instead of ground chicken. Ground turkey, bacon, or sausage are more alternatives.
- Vegetarian option: omit ground chicken. Stir in one can rinsed and drained cannellini beans with the spinach.
- Make this meal on the stove in a large skillet with a cover, or a Dutch oven. Brown the meat and veggies as directed, add the wine to deglaze the pan, and then add the pasta and broth. Make sure the pasta is submerged, cover, and cook 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure there’s plenty of liquid. Continue with the recipe as written.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.