Creamy Instant Pot Lemon Pasta
This Instant Pot Lemon Pasta is a quick and easy meatless meal that features a vibrant, creamy sauce made with cream cheese, evaporated milk, and fresh lemon.
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe: This is a bright and adult take on macaroni and cheese with a simple addition of lemon. It’s a family-favorite dinner that comes together in one pot and less than 20 minutes. ffdab9
We’ve been perfecting this lemon mac and cheese recipe in the Instant Pot for years. It’s a go-to for our family, and kids of all ages love it.
This fantastic Instant Pot pasta recipe has a silky smooth and rich sauce. Serve it with a Quick Asian Spinach Salad Recipe from Barbara Bakes or Instant Pot Green Beans to add some fresh green to your plate.
INGREDIENTS YOU NEED
The ingredients for this quick pasta recipe are simple. Here’s what you need:
- Macaroni. You can use any short-cut pasta for this recipe. Use the easy guide for cooking pasta in an Instant Pot to find the best cooking time.
- Cream cheese. For best results, let the cream cheese come to room temperature first.
- Evaporated milk. This is the key to the creamiest, richest cheese sauce for pasta.
- Lemon. You’ll use the fresh lemon juice and zest to brighten up the Instant Pot lemon pasta.
- Parsley. This makes a nice herby garnish.
How to Make Lemon Pasta in an Instant Pot
This easy recipe will work in any brand of electric pressure cooker, including the Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, or Power Pressure Cooker XL.
This pasta comes together easily with a few simple ingredients. Start by combining the pasta, water, and salt in the Instant Pot. Pressure cook for 4 minutes, release the pressure for a minute, then finish with a quick pressure release.
Remove the lid and stir in the cream cheese until it’s melted, followed by the evaporated milk. Then use the sauté function and simmer until the sauce is smooth and uniform.
Finally, turn off the pressure cooker and stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Important Tips for Making Instant Pot Creamy Lemon Pasta
Keep these tips in mind when making Instant Pot lemon pasta with cream sauce:
- You’ll continue cooking the pasta in the sauce after you remove the lid of the Instant Pot, so it’s ok to undercook it a bit.
- This recipe works with any kind of short pasta, such as farfalle (bowties), penne, or rigatoni.
- Cutting the cream cheese into chunks helps it melt quickly and evenly into the pasta.
- Make sure you’re not using sweetened condensed milk, which will give your pasta a very sweet flavor!
Frequently Asked Questions about Creamy Lemon Pasta
Of course! I like to add a cup of frozen peas for some extra texture and nutrition. Then, for a more decadent finish, I sprinkle the top with a little grated Parmesan.
Some readers like to stir in cooked shrimp, diced chicken, or ground meat for added protein.
Store leftover lemon pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. The cooked pasta does not freeze well.
Yes, you can easily cut the recipe in half with no changes to the cook time. To double, just make sure not to fill the pressure cooker pot beyond the Max Fill line.
MORE Instant Pot Pasta Recipes
We love cooking Instant Pot pasta for a fast dinner. Here are some other favorite recipes:
- Instant Pot Bow Tie Pasta is a classic and simple kid-friendly meal.
- Chicken Bacon Penne Pasta has a rich bacon cream sauce that always impresses.
- Spaghetti and Meatballs has juicy meatballs in a savory tomato sauce that’s an easy, one-pot meal.
Do you LOVE this recipe?
Leave us a review below to tell us why!
Macaroni in a Lemon Cream Sauce
Instant Pot Lemon Pasta is a creamy, cheesy pasta with a subtle lemon flavor.
- 1 package (16 ounces) macaroni
- 4 cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
- 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Mix macaroni, water, and salt together in the pressure cooking pot. Lock the lid in place, select High Pressure and 4 minutes cook time.
- When the cook time ends, allow the pressure to release naturally for 1 minute, then use a quick pressure release. If foam starts to come out the valve, close it and wait 1 minute more before using another quick release. Repeat as needed until the pressure is fully released and the float valve has dropped.
- Carefully remove lid. Stir cream cheese in to hot pasta until melted. Stir in evaporated milk. Select saute and simmer until sauce is smooth and pasta is tender, 1 to 3 minutes. Add additional milk, if necessary, for a smooth and creamy sauce. (Remember, the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. You want to take it off the heat when it's just slightly thinner than you'd like.
- Turn off pressure cooker, stir in lemon juice, lemon zest and parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Use more lemon juice to amp up the lemon flavor.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 56Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 584mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g
Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.
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You might want to change the first sentence under the main heading of this recipe because it says to use condensed milk instead of evaporated milk. I’m going to try it this week.
Thanks Ann! You’ll have to let me know how you like it. It’s such a great change from tomato pasta sauces.
I will let you know. We love anything that can be made without meat and pastas are our go to recipes.
I made this pasta for supper tonight. It was light and summery. I did sprinkle a generous helping of freshly grated Romano cheese on top, which I thought gave it a deeper flavor overall. I did half the recipe, or maybe a little more than half, and I used Mini Penne. I was going to use Rigatoni but our store has been out of it for a few weeks. Also, I added the evaporated milk a little a time until I got just the right consistency. My husband liked it too. We try not to eat meat more than once a week and this will be a nice addition to my meatless menu.
Thanks for the update and for sharing your changes. I’m glad it was a hit!
I tried this recipe this past weekend and it is now one of my top go-to recipes. Other than adding cooked shrimp and imitation crabmeat at the time of mixing in the cream cheese I didn’t make any changes. It became a fantastic seafood and pasta dish.
Thanks Danny! Sounds like a delicious way to change it up.
Hi, could I cut this recipe in half for 4 servings? Will it come out the same?
Hi Erin – yes, you could be able to cut this recipe in half with no problems.
Thank you so much for the recipe! It’s a great base for so many things you can do with macaroni and cheese. I was thinking of all kinds of flavors I could add to change it up next time,like adding a can of tomatoes and ricotta to make it a lasagna-type mac and cheese or making it fancy with lobster for a special occasion. I’ve got it pinned now for reference. 🙂
Sounds like great ideas – thanks for sharing!
It is is so delicious! I add in a bit of dill when I make the cream sauce, and stir in some tuna at the end with the peas. It makes a great tuna casserole-type dish!
Great idea – thanks for sharing Susan!
This recipe rocks! I’ll admit I bought my pressure cooker because I love soups and stews. Since I bought it, I’ve been trying to find recipes to justify the concept of pressure cooking, since my wife always looks sideways at my “gadget” purchases. Between pulled pork, bbq chicken and a host of soups, I think I’m winning her over. But, pasta???
This recipe got 10 thumbs up…. from my wife, 3 kids, and myself. I substituted farfelle for macaroni but otherwise followed the directions. I agree with Razzy 7’s comment below, I thought it was too much liquid when I put in the condensed milk, but just as Razzy pointed out, the pasta drank it up. Amazing that you can get al dente pasta in 4 minutes.
Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know how much you enjoyed the recipe. Have fun with your new pressure cooker!
This sadly did not work for me. My pasta burnt at the bottom and some of the pasta at the top was still hard.
Hi Sisi – sounds like you didn’t have enough liquid at the end. Did your pressure cooker have a hard time reaching pressure? What type of pressure cooker did you use? Did you make any changes to the recipe, or use a different pasta?
Tried this macaroni in a lemon cream sauce last night. We loved it. As did Barbara, I added a cup or so of frozen peas at the end. I also added mushrooms. I didn’t have fresh mushrooms, so began the recipe by first sautéing a can of mushrooms in a little butter. Once they were sautéed I removed them from the Instant Pot and added them back with the cream cheese.
One hint – when you first add the evaporated milk you may think that it’s way too much liquid as the mixture is quite “soupy.” Not to worry. In very short order, the pasta will absorb the liquid. In fact before I put the leftovers in my Lock and Lock containers, I stirred in some milk to make the dish the proper consistency again.
While I didn’t try it, it occurred to me that instead of using plain cream cheese, one could use Philadelphia Cream Cheese in some of the flavors – chive & onion, garden vegetable, salmon, olive and bacon (I’ve never even seen these last two in the market)
Thanks so much Razzy!! Great suggestions.
Definitely going to try this. Adding red/green pepper dice and then letting it cool overnight
and have as a cold salad for the next day. Might add some mayo or sour cream before serving.
That’s a good looking recipe!! But, I have to grin at your instructions… “select High Pressure, 4 minutes cook time and press start. When timer beeps…” I use a classic Presto model #50 from about 1948. It’s kind of an, “on or off,” type of settings! 🙂
Thanks Tomm – I’m assuming it’s a stove top model then? Just bring it to pressure the way you normally would, then start the 4 minute cook time when it’s at pressure. Enjoy!
It was delicious!!!
Made this tonight and it was wonderful! I had no lemon, so I left it out, but it was delicious – everyone loved it. I think it was the quickest meal I ever made. Thanks so much for the recipe!
Thanks Karen! I’m so glad everyone loved it.
I wanted to like this, I even got some chicken to add to it, but at the last minute I changed plans. So glad I didn’t add the chicken because the entire pot was a waste, no flavor whatsoever! It was not a problem with the IP, it was the recipe itself, simply terrible, don’t waste time or ingredients. It all went in the garbage.
Hi Shelly – sorry you didn’t like it. My family and others have commented how much they liked it. There’s no need to throw it away though. If it wasn’t as flavorful as you like, just add some spices to suit your taste.
“Simply terrible.” Really? Wouldn’t it be more courteous to say, “I didn’t care for this,” or “My family didn’t care for this.” “It all went in the garbage?” There are certainly recipes I’ve made that I haven’t particularly cared for or wouldn’t choose to make again, but unless something burned or failed in some other critical way, I can’t imagine dumping it all in the trash.
Your review would also have been more helpful if you could have been more specific about what you saw as a problem with the recipe. “Simply terrible” isn’t very descriptive or helpful for those considering making this dish. I’m wondering if you didn’t use enough lemon or omitted some ingredient. Chicken would have been a nice addition or as Barbara suggested, the addition of some spices to suit your taste.
So sorry if this is a stupid question. Do you drain the four cups of water from the macaroni. Or do you just add the other ingredients to the cooked macaroni and water in the pot.
I made your Mongolian Beef today. Wow, thanks so much for the wonderful recipe! I am a newbie to pressure cooking. Received a Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker for my birthday . Love your site. Thanks again for all your hard work.
Thanks Belinda – so nice to hear you’re enjoying my recipes. The macaroni will absorb most of the water as it cooks and the rest is incorporated in to the sauce. No need to drain it. Enjoy!
You made me do it! This one looked easy for my first run and it was cool enough today that I didn’t mind doing something inside. I didn’t change a thing although I just ate a small portion for a late lunch; tonight I think I’ll add the peas and Parm when I serve it for dinner, refreshed with just a bit of milk. It was perfect. I’m now convinced. 🙂
I had a moment when I first heard the sounds; hand went up to cover my face. But I am alive…and I love my new pressure cooker. Now on to the real deal; something like short ribs…that’s what I really bought it for!
I made this tonight but used the little trumpet pasta, and I cooked it on low pressure for half the amount of time that the box called for. Box said 10, I cooked 5 minutes with quick release. I have found for my liking, the pasta turns out perfectly when finished by this formula that Laura from Hip Pressure has provided, so I followed that for cooking of the pasta. I ended up adding more water than recipe to barely cover. Pasta was cooked perfectly and not overly done. I drained the pasta, melted cheese (Greek yogurt cream cheese) in hot pasta, and then added enough evaporated milk to loosen it up, but only about 1/3 can was required plus the lemon juice. I then added some caramelized diced red onions I prepared earlier, along with some diced Roma tomatoes from our garden. Had no peas. I was thinking cooked bacon at the end would send it over the top! Next time…
It was superb! This is a perfect “base” recipe for those who are creative: Capers, sun-dried tomatoes, shrimp, scallops, bacon, olives, salami, …whatever one likes! The lemon juice was key. So Good! I served it with stuffed peppers from the garden.
For me, it would have been too runny with all of the milk, but it was perfect with 1/3 or so of the can.
No one at our table could stop eating this dish!
Thanks for sharing! I love your site!
Sounds like delicious additons. Thanks for taking the time to share. So glad you loved the recipe and my site.
Hello Barbara, First of all…Love your site! Secondly, I have a question. I thought that when you cook pasta in the pressure cooker that you cook it on Low (8psi?). Is this true? Is it better results? Have you ever tried? I have an 8qt. Fagor and a 4qt. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Tks in advance!
Thanks! So glad you’re enjoying my site. America’s Test Kitchen cooked the pasta on high pressure and I haven’t had any problem cooking it at high pressure. If it was a tender pasta you might be better off using low pressure but the macaroni holds up well cooked at high pressure.
Is an Instant Pot the same as an electric pressure cooker? I’m new to pressure cooking and I love it! But I’m not familiar with all of the terminology. Love this recipe though. Hubster and I are going to make this at our daughters house when we visit to see our new grandson. Love your recipes which help me make her life so much easier!!!!
Thanks Mary! Yes the Instant Pot is a an electric pressure cooker brand. That’s so nice that you’re making dinners for your daughter. Congratulations on the new grandson. How fun. I’m sure you’ll all enjoy the dinner.
That looks delicious Barbara. I’d love the addition of peas……….Bob would pitch a fit. I’ll stir them into mine…he doesn’t know what he’s missing. 😉
Can’t wait to give this one a try…..
Peas are so sweet, I can’t imagine not liking them. I hope you enjoy it!
Can I make this in my Instant Pot using the programmed buttons?
Hi Corinne – I made it in my Instant Pot. Just press manual and the minus button until it says 5 minutes and wait for it to start. Almost as easy as the programmed buttons.
Thank you Barbara. I will definitely try this….Sounds delicious.