[Instant Pot] Chicken Spaghetti

Bowl of chicken spaghetti topped with grated cheddar cheese.

Instant Pot Chicken Spaghetti! This recipe is flat-out the quickest way to whip up a weeknight dinner version of the familiar favorite southern casserole dish.

This one-pot meal for your pressure cooker is creamy, cheesy, comfort food – and made from simple, wholesome ingredients too!

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What is Chicken Spaghetti?

If you’re not acquainted with this dish, it is a common American southern recipe that rings of the 1950’s – the golden age for casseroles made with gloopy condensed cream soups!

Most traditional Chicken Spaghetti recipes call for cream of mushroom soup, Velveeta processed cheese, and Ro-Tel canned tomatoes with chilies – all tossed with cooked noodles and chicken, then topped with cheese and baked until golden.

Of course, the ultra-processed ingredients are not mandatory! I cook it with simple whole foods and fresh veggies – and it absolutely still satisfies my inner comfort-foodie.

Why to Use Instant Pot for Chicken Spaghetti

Using your pressure cooker for Chicken Spaghetti is a serious shortcut for busy cooks who need to save time and effort.

Typical recipes will have you cook the chicken first, then boil the pasta, then prepare a sauce, THEN mix it all together and bake in a casserole dish.

That traditional oven-baked method is the only way to get golden, crispy edges – but this Instant Pot recipe will award you with a satisfying weeknight-friendly version of the dish, with all the same savory flavors.

Cooking everything in one pot – even the dry pasta! – has another practical benefit. When the spaghetti noodles cook, they release starch which helps the sauce gain a thicker and creamier texture.

Ingredients

Counter with chicken breast, broth, spaghetti, bell pepper, onion, garlic, mushrooms, canned tomatoes and cheese.

Chicken breast, boneless and skinless. I choose this cut because it is the quickest-cooking option to match the cook time for the noodles that will share the pot. If you have pre-cooked chicken of any kind that you want to use instead, you can add it at the same time as the dry pasta.

Onion and garlic are savory, sharp, and just a little sweet.

Mushrooms bring deep, savory flavor – and fresh ones do it much better than your usual canned cream of mushroom soup. I like brown cremini mushrooms, but white button mushrooms work just as well.

Green bell pepper adds color, and counters the dish’s cheesy richness.

Canned diced tomatoes with green chili peppers – fellow American readers may recognize this by the brand name RO-TEL. While I ditched the condensed soup and processed cheese that are traditional for Chicken Spaghetti, I held onto this canned good… Its ingredients are less offensive and it lends an authentic touch! Of course, this item can be substituted with plain canned tomatoes and your choice of fresh or canned minced chili pepper.

Whole wheat spaghetti has more fiber and nutrients than refined pasta, and I think its heartier texture is preferable in this creamy dish. If you want to use white pasta, you can easily substitute it without changing the amount of liquid or the cook time.

Chicken broth hydrates the dry pasta and enriches the chicken flavor. Water or bouillon can be substituted if you don’t have broth handy.

Cream cheese is added after pressure cooking; it melts into the sauce and contributes the silky, creamy texture everyone loves about this dish.

Sharp cheddar cheese is the finishing touch, melted into and on top of the pasta… extra cheese, if you please!

Step By Step: How to Cook Instant Pot Chicken Spaghetti

Brown Chicken

Instant Pot with browned chicken breasts.

The first step is to use Instant Pot’s Saute function to lightly brown the chicken breast in olive oil. Browning builds flavor, and this savory note will lay the foundation for the recipe.

Be sure to leave at least an inch of space between pieces of chicken, separating them into batches if needed. Crowding the pan will produce too much moisture and not enough surface area for evaporation; this prevents browning and leaves the meat pale and less flavorful.

Saute Vegetables

Instant Pot with sauteed onion, mushrooms and bell pepper.

After setting aside the chicken, continue in Saute mode and toss in the onions, mushrooms and green bell peppers. After those are tender, add the RO-TEL (canned tomatoes with chilies).

The cooker will now have enough liquid and acid that the bottom of the pan can easily be scraped to release any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. This makes the dish more flavorful, and also prevents the Instant Pot from developing a Burn/Overheat error when pressure cooking.

Add Spaghetti & Liquid

Instant Pot with chicken breasts and dry spaghetti over cooked vegetables.

Now, we complete our one-pot wonder by adding dry pasta and broth to all cook together in the same pot!

Spaghetti noodles must be broken in half to fit into an Instant Pot. I like to spread half of the noodles across the pot in one direction, then the other half on top of the first layer in the opposite direction. I just think it gives the pasta a little less opportunity to stick together, for easy tossing.

Then we pop the browned chicken breasts back on top of that, along with any juices that settled on the plate.

Pressure Cook

Instant Pot with seasoned cooked pasta and chicken.

Next, close the lid and use Instant Pot’s Manual button to set the cook time to 3 minutes. My rule of thumb for pressure cooking pasta is to use about half or less of the regular boiling time given on the box.

After the cooking time is up, open the valve immediately for a quick release.

Shred Chicken & Melt Cheese

Instant Pot with pasta, shredded chicken and cheese.

Move the chicken breasts to a clean plate and use two forks to pull them to shreds. Then add them back to the pot along with the cream cheese and one cup of grated cheddar.

Toss

Instant Pot with tossed cheesy chicken spaghetti.

Use tongs or a pair of large serving utensils to gently toss everything together. Let the cheeses melt and create a rich, silky sauce to coat the noodles, chicken and veggies. Delicious!!

Storage & Make Ahead Meal Prep

After cooking, this pasta can be safely stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

When reheating leftovers, it can be helpful to add a few drops of water to the bowl to help maintain a loose, creamy consistency for the sauce.

I do not recommend freezing Chicken Spaghetti for long term storage; the textures of the cooked pasta and cheesy sauce will not maintain the same quality when thawed.

Nutrition Insights

Food for thought, from your friendly neighborhood Registered Dietitian Nutritionist + food science buff!

While it still satisfies comfort food cravings, this healthy chicken spaghetti recipe is a lighter and cleaner spin on the traditional casserole.

This meal is high in protein, and includes enough fat to soften the meal’s glycemic impact by slowing carbohydrate absorption. Choosing whole wheat noodles also gives each serving about 2.3 grams of extra fiber, supporting gut health.

With whole grains, lean protein and fresh vegetables, this recipe offers balanced macros and a variety of valuable micronutrients. Even the cheese provides over 1/3 of the daily recommended amount of calcium!

Other Recipes

[Instant Pot] Insta-Spaghetti!

[Instant Pot] Insta-Spaghetti!

I also like to use my Instant Pot to make a simple one-pot pasta bolognese – “Insta-Spaghetti“, we lovingly call it! – with grass fed ground beef and plenty of chopped veggies.

bowl of creamy polenta topped with chicken, mushrooms, marsala sauce and fresh parsley.

[Instant Pot] Double Decker Chicken Marsala + Parmesan Polenta

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[Instant Pot] Insta-Chicken!

[Instant Pot] Insta-Chicken! Pressure Cooker Frozen Chicken Breast

If you need a dead-easy way to turn frozen chicken breasts into a fast entree, Instant Pot is your best friend. Read all about it in my Insta-Chicken post, and let your pressure cooker make dinner appear for you!

Fueled By Instant Pot is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and earns a commission for purchases made through the following links:

Bowl of chicken spaghetti with cheese.
Bowl of chicken spaghetti with cheese.

[Instant Pot] Chicken Spaghetti

Mary Clare Fraker, MS RD
Southern Chicken Spaghetti casserole, made from scratch with unprocessed ingredients – weeknight-fast, thanks to Instant Pot!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 3 mins
Time to Build and Release Pressure 7 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Southern
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 490 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt divided
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1 medium green bell pepper chopped
  • one 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies Ro-Tel
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 8 ounces dry whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, plus 6 tablespoons for garnish

Instructions
 

  • Using the saute function, heat the olive oil in the pressure cooker. When the oil is hot, add the chicken breasts (separating into batches if needed to avoid crowding the pan) and season them with the black pepper and a pinch of the salt. Brown each chicken piece on both sides for about 3-5 minutes, until lightly golden (but not necessarily cooked through).
  • After browning the chicken, set it aside and add the chopped onions, mushrooms and green bell peppers into the cooker. Saute the vegetables until they soften. Stir in the canned diced tomatoes with chilies and the rest of the salt, and scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Break the spaghetti in half, and place them atop the vegetables, loosely arranging the noodles into two perpendicular layers. Place the browned chicken pieces on top of the noodles, along with any juices on the plate. Pour in the broth, assuring that the noodles are just submerged under the surface (if they are exposed, add another splash of broth or water to cover).
  • Close the lid, with the valve set to sealing position. Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is complete, carefully open the valve to manually release the pressure. Take out the chicken, and shred or chop it into bite sized pieces.
  • Return the chicken to the pot, and add the cream cheese and 1 cup of cheddar cheese. Gently toss to fold the pasta and sauce together. If the mixture seems wet, let it stand with the lid off for a few minutes and any excess liquid will absorb.
  • Serve hot, and garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon of grated cheddar cheese.

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