Breakfast Quesadilla with Soft Scrambled Eggs and Avocado Salsa.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
Shop ingredients at your local Target store. Learn more
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!
Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try, I am sorry to hear you had some issues with the release. xTieghan
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”
I am thrilled this recipe was enjoyed, thanks so much for giving it a try! xTieghan
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.
Thanks so much for making the recipe, I am so glad it was enjoyed! xTieghan
This recipe saved my life and saved us from eating dinner at 9PM as I got a late start on prep work. Followed the stove top directions with the exception of baking the chickpeas for 20 min at 425. And given that we are a family that loves spice, I added red pepper flakes in addition to the garlic.
Thanks for a great recipe.
Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try, I am so glad you enjoyed! Happy Holidays! xTieghan
Hi – do you know what adjustments would need to be made for whole wheat pasta? I am new to instant pot and tried to make this with whole wheat penne. Let’s just say it was an epic fail, but the taste was great.
Sorry I have not tested this recipe with whole wheat pasta. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions. Happy Thanksgiving! xTieghan
Strangely enough I also had a butter geyser! I did use a different type of pasta and had some liquid left as well. ??♀️ Still tasty!
Thank you Paige! xTieghan
first time instapot user here, but was absolutely thrilled to make this recipe! Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped – there was still a substantial amount of water left in the pot, and once I mixed the cheese in, it didn’t melt / mix entirely the way I’d hoped. Absolutely loved the crispy chickpea flavoring though – so definitely a kudos. Any suggestions however, on how to have little less water / better mixture? Thanks for your shares!
Thanks for trying the recipe, I am so sorry you had issues with the water. I am wondering gif you adjusted the recipe at all and what kind of noodle you used? If you used a smaller noodle that could have been your issue, so next time I would recommend using a larger noodle that will use all of the water to cook. Please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan
Hi! Thanks for this recipe. When I used the quick release function, it made a huge mess and sputtered buttery liquid/steam all over the kitchen… could you help me troubleshoot this? Thank you!
So sorry about this, I’ve not had this experience. I would check with the instant pot company to see if something could be wrong with your release function. xTieghan
Our family loved this! I am definitely doubling the chickpeas next time. One question: when I made this recipe, and other Intant Pot recipes that required oil or dairy, the steam release was sticky from the starch and butter. It makes quite a mess! (sticky spray on our ceiling!) Any tricks to avoiding this?
Thanks for trying the recipe! So sorry to hear you are having issues with the instant pot, I haven’t had this happen to me. I would maybe reach out to instant pot and see what they think? Please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan
Delish. Made this with gf pasta…yes, delish! Substituted feta for pecorino, since that’s what I had…DELISH. LOVEmeSOMEinstantpotRECIPES!
Haha thank you so much Michelle! xTieghan
I’ve looked through some of the comments and it is definitely the minority, but I also had a very starchy/greasy steam release all over my kitchen. When I opened it up I also had a ton of water left. I tried mixing the cheese in anyway, but it didn’t help and was just left as soupy pasta. I ended up scooping out most of the extra water, grating extra cheese and adding a bit more pepper to make up for the loss. Despite the issues, it tasted great! I absolutely loved the garlic basil crispy chick peas on top. I’m guessing it was just a difference in the shells I used, but I wish I would have realized I wasn’t supposed to have so much water and drained some out before mixing in the cheese. Your recipes are always a go to at our house and they usually turn out great. We will probably try this one again sometime anyway, but maybe with less water.
Hi Lauren! I am so glad this recipe tasted so well for you!! Is there anything that could have gone wrong while making this? I would love to help! xTieghan
Tieghan – this looks delicious. Is there a substitute to use for butter? I don’t really use it if I can avoid it. Perhaps ghee? I’ ve cooked with it on the stovetop but not instant pot. Let me know what you think – I am dairy free so trying to find a substitute but not wreck your recipe!!
Hey Liz! Ghee will be so great, Love that idea! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan ???
I made this tonight and it was really good, but getting crispy chickpeas has always eluded me! I have tried roasting them before, and tonight on the stovetop I was hoping for different results, but I can never get them crispy! They are always pretty soft. I had the crispiest ones out at dinner last night, and I was hopeful I could recreate them. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Hey Lindsey! Was there anything you did differently at all when making these chickpeas? Was your pan too crowded? Did you use enough oil? Any info will be helpful to help me problem solve and figure out what might be happening for you. It’s hard to know without knowing any details. Hope I can help you! xTieghan
This is a keeper!. So quick and tasty. I was worried my guys would complain since it was vegetarian but they both raved about it. Only thing I did differently was cook my Barilla pasta for 5 minutes. I used Barilla Casarecce instead of shells. They are also usually cooked for 9 minutes in the normal method. With 5 minutes it was al dente and there was almost zero water left, just enough to coat the cheesy sauce over it.
That is so amazing and I love when the boys in my family love vegetarian recipes as well! Thank you for making this Sue! xTieghan
I see where you say *good* pasta, are there brands you recommend? I have a 3 qt instant pot and you must half (or halve?) recipes, food will geyser out the valve.
HI! I love DeCecco Pasta, DeLallo, and barilla! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan