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Monday night Instant Pot Cacio e Pepe with Crispy Garlic Basil Chickpeas. Looking for a dinner that can be made in 15 minutes, and with pantry staple ingredients? This is it. Add pasta shells, butter, pepper, and water to the instant pot, cook 3 minutes, stir in cheese, and you’re ready to eat. I like to call this Easy Adult Mac and Cheese, with crispy chickpeas on top. It’s the simplest, but also so delicious…the perfect weeknight pasta.

overhead photo of Instant Pot Cacio e Pepe with Crispy Garlic Basil Chickpeas with spoon in bowl

When Monday starts with pasta, you know it’s going to be a good week.

I know it’s Healthy January and all, but I made this last week and I’ve been dying to share it. And honestly, this is the healthier version of mac and cheese, so it still fits for “Healthy January” in my book…

But then, my requirements may be slightly different from yours, because around here, a healthy diet does include pasta. What can I say, my mom taught me well.

Anyway, happy Monday guys! The weekend was great, but I’m that odd person that lives for a super productive Monday. After a weekend spent catching up on “house” things…bathroom cleaning, pantry organizing, and finally taking down the lingering Christmas decorations. I’m honestly happy to be back at work and doing the things I love. When your weekends are spent voluntarily doing house “chores”, you know you’re no longer a kid. It’s not a bad thing, but gone are the days of sleeping in, chocolate chip pancakes at 2pm, and TV watching for a good part of the day.

overhead photo of Instant Pot Cacio e Pepe in instant pot bowl

OK. Moving along. Let me tell you about this Instant Pot cacio e pepe.

First things first, I shared a more classic recipe for cacio e pepe last year. It’s since become a reader favorite, it’s quick, it’s easy, and it is delicious.

I’m going to be honest, when I first made this pasta I didn’t even realize I was making cacio e pepe. I was just throwing together a quick meal with some pantry staple items I had on hand. I wasn’t really thinking beyond wanting a simple bowl of cheesy pasta. Turns out I ended up making the instant pot version of cacio e pepe, complete with crispy chickpeas on top.

And it turned out so good.

Crispy Garlic Basil Chickpeas on plate

For those of you who aren’t familiar with cacio e pepe, it means cheese and pepper in Italian. It’s like Italy’s version of mac and cheese, but simpler, and in my opinion better. Well, it depends what kind of mood you’re in. It’s a lighter version of cheesy pasta that doesn’t feel as indulgent as a bowl of mac and cheese. Yet, it’s still pasta, it’s still creamy, and it’s still cheesy.

When looking at the recipe you might think it seems basic, that’s because it is basic. BUT with good pasta, a little butter, fresh black pepper, and really good cheese, pasta can be basic and perfect. And with this cacio e pepe, I added a topping of garlicy, basily crispy chickpeas. The crunchy chickpeas add not only a healthy protein, but also a nice texture.

Instant Pot Cacio e Pepe in bowl without chickpeas

And the very best part? It’s made in the Instant Pot, and in just 3 minutes time. Yes, 3 minutes on high pressure and then a little extra time for the instant pot to get up to pressure. Here’s how it works. Add the pasta, butter, black pepper, and about 4 cups of water to your instant pot. Set it for 3 minutes, then let it come to pressure and do its thing.

While that’s happening, make the chickpeas, which are optional, but they really add something extra special to this cacio e pepe. And they’re easy. Just add olive oil, chickpeas, garlic, and basil to a skillet, and cook until crisp. They take no more than 5 minutes and are so delicious that they’re addicting (you might want to make extra!). Bonus? They’re healthy too!

side angle photo of Instant Pot Cacio e Pepe with Crispy Garlic Basil Chickpeas

Once the chickpeas are done cooking, the instant pot will be finished as well. Once you’ve released the steam on the instant pot, stir in the cheeses and enjoy.

It’s that simple, easy and quick. It’s very important to eat this right away, while the pasta is hot and cheesy. Of course the leftovers are great, but if you want that true creamy, buttery pasta, eat this as soon as it’s done cooking. And be generous topping the pasta with the crispy chickpeas too. They’re kind of like a healthy breadcrumb, and like I said, they are addicting.

overhead close up photo of Instant Pot Cacio e Pepe with Crispy Garlic Basil Chickpeas

I really could not think of a better recipe for a Monday. Serve this for dinner, and enjoy the leftovers for lunch. And always, always keep these pantry staple ingredients on hand. That way you can make this Instant Pot cacio e pepe whenever you need dinner on the table in 15 minutes or less…or simply when you need a good dish of cheesy pasta.

You can’t go wrong with this recipe.

side angle photo of Instant Pot Cacio e Pepe with Crispy Garlic Basil Chickpeas with spoon in bowl

If you make thisInstant Pot Cacio e Pepe, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Instant Pot Cacio e Pepe with Crispy Garlic Basil Chickpeas

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories Per Serving: 359 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Instant Pot

  • 1 pound pasta shells
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese

Crispy Chickpeas

Instructions

  • 1. To the bowl of the instant pot, add the pasta, butter, black pepper, and 4 cups water. Cover, select the manual setting, and cook on high pressure for 3 minutes.
    2. Once done cooking, use the quick release function and release the steam. Stir in the parmesan, and pecorino cheeses. Taste, adding salt, if needed. Serve immediately, topped with crispy chickpeas, if desired. 
    3. To make the chickpeas. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, chickpeas, garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the chickpeas are crisped all over, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the basil, cook 30 seconds more. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Stove-Top

  • 1. In a large pot, combine the pasta, butter, black pepper, and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 7-8 minutes, stirring often until the the pasta is just al dente. If the pasta needed more time, add a splash of water and continue cooking 1-2 additional minutes. 
    2. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan, and pecorino cheeses. Taste, adding salt, if needed. Serve immediately, topped with crispy chickpeas, if desired.
    3. To make the chickpeas. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, chickpeas, garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the chickpeas are crisped all over, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the basil, cook 30 seconds more. Remove from the heat and set aside.

horizontal photo of Instant Pot Cacio e Pepe with Crispy Garlic Basil Chickpeas

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Comments

  1. 4 stars
    Had the same issues a few other people seemed to have: excess water and water/butter splattering everywhere when i released pressure. Cooked it for three extra minutes and the pasta ended up absorbing most of the remaining water and what was left helped the cheese get saucy so – can’t complain. Had to reclose the pressure valve and let it release outside to try to save the kitchen from getting buttered. Couldn’t find pecorino so we used manchego. Would definitely recommend adding more garlic, basil, and a little more butter than the recipe calls for but over all it’s solid….will definitely make again (hopefully with pecorino next time.) Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hey Sandy,
      Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try, I am sorry to hear you had some issues with the release. xTieghan

  2. 5 stars
    Omg this is so good & quick! I added a few ounces of pancetta to the chickpeas & it was delicious. I got the ultimate rating from my husband – “you can make this anytime”

  3. 4 stars
    We liked this, and I loved that it was SO fast and easy! However, our shells were still a little too hard, esp. on the ends. I might add another 1/3 c. of water and cook for another minute or two next time.

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