[Instant Pot] Insta-Zoodles! How to Cook Zucchini Noodles in a Pressure Cooker

raw zucchini noodles in instant pot

Zucchini noodles are a fun way to load up your plate with an extra dose of veggies and mix up your meal prep!

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Can you cook zucchini noodles with Instant Pot?

Instant Pot is a great tool for cooking zucchini noodles. It may seem odd to use a pressure cooker for such a quick-cooking vegetable, but it’s actually very convenient. Relying on the consistent timing and temperature of your InstaPot’s cooking program makes it foolproof – you can “set it and forget it” and end up with perfect zoodles every time! 

collage shot of raw zucchini noodles in instant pot with zoodles twirled on fork

How long to cook zucchini noodles in Instant Pot?

Zucchini noodles are perfectly cooked using the low pressure setting for zero minutes.

Zero minutes? Yes, zero! When you use Instant Pot’s Manual mode to choose zero minutes, the cooker simply heats up enough to fully pressurize, then immediately turns off the heating element.

Low pressure? Instant Pot’s low pressure setting is about half as powerful as the standard high pressure setting (about 5.8 PSI instead of 11.6 PSI). This makes the cooker reach pressure faster and finish at a lower temperature (at low pressure, water’s boiling point is pushed to ~230 F instead of ~242 F on the high pressure setting).

I’ve tried and tested this method in my Instant Pot many times, and it creates exactly the right time and temperature for perfect zoodles!

cooked zucchini noodles in instant pot

Cooking zucchini noodles with ‘Saute Mode’?

Instead of steaming, another option with multi-cookers like Instant Pot is to use the Saute Function to, well, saute your zoodles tossed with a tablespoon or two of oil until tender.

While this method can build a little extra flavor if you allow the zoodles to lightly brown, it can be more challenging to cook them evenly and avoid breaking strands. For set-it-and-forget-it ease, reliable even cooking, and picture-perfect long swirls – I recommend steaming your zoodles!

Step By Step: how to cook zoodles in InstaPot

The simplest way to cook zucchini noodles is to steam them. Pour 1 cup of water into your Instant Pot, add a steamer basket, and load it up with a pile of zucchini noodles.

Close the lid, seal the pressure valve, and use the “Manual” button to set a custom cook time to zero minutes, and the “Adjust” button to change to the machine’s Low Pressure setting.

When the timer chimes, open the pressure valve right away to avoid overcooking. Toss with your favorite sauce or seasoning and enjoy!

bowl of zucchini noodles with olive oil, parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes

Meal Prep Ideas for Zucchini Noodles

Now that your zoodles are perfectly cooked, they’re ready for duty as you round up your healthy menu plan for the week. For flavor inspiration, consider these possibilities:

  • Toss with classic Italian pasta sauces like pesto, marinara, arrabiata, puttanesca… add meatballs or chicken parm, and just let me know what time to come over for dinner please??
  • Use them for a twist on your favorite flavorful Asian noodle dishes – like pad thai, jap chae, or pho!
  • Chicken Zoodle Soup! Make it any way you like, then drop in the zucchini noodles right at the end before serving.

Double Decker Dinner with Zoodles!

Double Decker Dinner is my personal favorite Instant Pot recipe theme, all about finding the right combination of foods that pair together as a balanced meal and that can be stacked and cooked at the same time in the same pressure cooker.

Because zucchini noodles cook so quickly, it’s important to choose a Double Decker pairing with a similarly short pressure cook time. You’ll have good results stacking your zoodles with delicate proteins like seafood (shrimp scampi, anyone??) or with items that are par-cooked using Instant Pot’s Saute Function before locking down for pressure cooking.

One example is the latest Double Decker experiment to happen in my test kitchen: Korean Sesame Beef + Zoodles.

bowl of zucchini noodles with korean ground beef

Nutrition Insights

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

How do zucchini noodles compare to pasta? 

Clearly, zucchini noodles provide significantly fewer calories, carbohydrates and protein than wheat noodles do. They each contribute a different profile of micronutrients to support your nutritional needs.

Nutrient Spotlight: Lutein

Lutein is a carotenoid pigment that is of particular importance to eye health. This molecule accumulates in the eye, where it acts to filter light and prevent damage that over time can lead to age-related vision loss. 

Dark leafy green vegetables (eg. kale, spinach) are the most potent sources of lutein, but squashes like zucchini will help you meet your needs for this nutrient too.

To enhance absorption of carotenoids, it’s important to to include a source of fat in your meal. So don’t forget to dress your zoodles with olive oil, or use an enriched sauce like bolognese or pesto!

zucchini noodles twirled on a fork

Budget Analysis

For what it’s worth… here’s what it cost me!

3 medium organic zucchini: $4.44
Yield: 4 servings
Cost per serving: $1.11!

overhead shot of raw zucchini noodles in instant pot

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raw zucchini noodles in instant pot

[Instant Pot] Insta-Zoodles!

Mary Clare Fraker, MS RD
Instant Pot is a great tool for cooking zucchini noodles. It may seem odd to use a pressure cooker for such a quick-cooking vegetable, but it's actually very convenient. Relying on the consistent timing and temperature of your InstaPot's cooking program makes it foolproof – you can "set it and forget it" and end up with perfect zoodles every time! 
Prep Time 10 mins
Time To Pressure 10 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Health Food
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 25 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 medium zucchini squash

Instructions
 

  • Use a spiralizer tool to cut the zucchini into thick curly noodles. While spiralizing, use your hands to break the zucchini noodles into manageable lengths (no longer than about 8-10 inches).
  • Pour 1 cup water into Instant Pot, and place a steamer basket over the water. Load the basket with the zucchini noodles.
  • Close the lid and ensure that the valve is set to sealed position. Select “Manual” mode, adjust the setting to Low Pressure, and adjust the cook time to 0 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is up, open the pressure valve immediately for a quick release.
  • Open the lid and carefully remove the zucchini noodles. Transfer to a serving bowl and toss with your choice of seasonings or sauces.
Keyword spiralizer, zucchini noodles

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