How to Cook Penne Pasta in a Crock-Pot Express

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I bought my Crock-Pot Express last year, and I have to say that it is the best kitchen purchase I’ve made in a long, long time.

When I learned that you can make pasta in it, I nearly fell over. At first, my Italian sensibilities thought it was sacrilege. But, hey, don’t knock something until you try it.

So I did, and I was amazed with the results. It was a lifesaver because I live in a small space with little storage. I don’t have the room for a huge stockpot, and I need to make the most of the space that I do have.

This recipe is only for regular penne pasta. I haven’t experimented with spaghetti or other types of pasta like gluten free or lentil pasta.

Here’s how you can cook penne pasta in a Crock-Pot Express. You’ll need to make slight adjustments for an Instant Pot or other brands of pressure cookers.

How to Cook Penne Pasta in a Crock Pot Express

Here's a brief run-down on how you can make perfect penne pasta in a Crock-Pot Express.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Servings: 8 Servings
Calories: 168kcal


  • Crock-Pot Express


  • 1 lb. Penne Pasta
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil


  • Rinse off the pasta in a strainer and place in pressurecooker.
  • Add water, salt, and olive oil.
  • Set the Crock Pot Express to Beans/Chili and set it for low.For Instant Pots, set your device to Manual/Low.
  • The time depends on the box. You’ll set it to half of thetime listed on the box. That’s easy to figure out for even numbers.
    For odd numbers, you’ll round down. So, if your box sayscook between 11-13 minutes, you’ll cook it for 5 minutes.
  • Once it beeps let it rest for about one minute and then quick release to prevent overcooking.


You may experience a little bit of foaming when you do a quick release. This is normal because pasta has a high starch content.
There will be a little water left in the pot, so you’ll strain the pasta. I also like to rinse it under cold water for a minute or so to stop the pasta from cooking and to rinse off the excess starch

The pasta comes out perfectly at al dente. If you like your pasta a little more cooked and softer, then leave it in the pressure cooker for another minute or so before you release it.

Can You Have Pasta on the Mediterranean Diet?

I know that a lot of diets are anti wheat, anti-bread, anti-pasta. That makes it a little confusing when you hear something like, hey here’s a diet that lets you drink wine and eat pasta and bread.


Yeah, that’s the typical reaction when you talk about the Mediterranean Diet. Yes, you can have pasta and bread on the Mediterranean Diet.

You don’t want to make it a nightly occasion, though. Instead, you want to have pasta and bread every now and then.

You should focus on things like fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and legumes. Those four things are the big building blocks of the Mediterranean Diet.

Everything else is a compliment to those building blocks. That includes wine, cheese, pasta, and bread. Think of them as side dishes that you have once in a while as opposed to the main course.

You also want to limit your portion sizes. Instead of having a huge bowl of pasta, keep it to about a half of a cup to a cup.

Try to have a dish with chicken or fish as the main course, and then add a side of vegetables and a side of pasta.

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What Do You Do With All of That Pasta?

pasta and sauce

Now that you have all of that pasta, what do you do with it? You can set aside some for a meal that calls for a nice marinara or Bolognese sauce.

I like to use pasta as a side on occasion or make a light salad.

I live by myself, and I don’t want to have a full pound of pasta during the week. What I’ll do is set aside a quarter or half of the pasta and use that with meals.

I’ll freeze the rest of the pasta. It actually keeps well in the freezer. When I’m ready to have more pasta, it’s ready to go. I thaw it out and enjoy it.

The best part is that it’s super simple. Do you want more recipes and tips? You have to check out this recipe for the perfect Turkey Bolognese Sauce.


Heather McDaniel is the founder of Invincible Women Fitness Academy, and a nationally certified fitness and nutrition coach. Inspired by her Italian roots and living in Spain, she loves to explore and share the benefits of the Mediterranean Lifestyle. She works with women all over the world, helping them rediscover their strength, health, and confidence.

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