Instant Pot Friendship Casserole—make 2 casseroles at the same time! One for now and one for later (freezer meal), or one for you and one for a friend. With just a handful of ingredients and your Instant Pot you can make this recipe in fewer steps and less time than the traditional way of making it!
Instant Pot Friendship Casserole
I love recipes like this that are 2 for the price of 1. One effort but two results. This is the perfect recipe to make if you are bringing dinner to a friend or if you simply like to have a freezer meal on hand for those busy days (or lazy days) when taking time to prepare dinner isn’t an option.
It’s an easy recipe of ground Italian sausage, ground beef with pasta and sauce. What brings it to a new level (beyond a normal pasta meal) is the dollops of cream cheese, spinach and melty cheese on top. My kids (and one friend who was here for dinner last night) couldn’t get enough of this dish. They didn’t even mind the spinach. My son said something about how the pasta “was profound.” Not sure if he even knows what that word means…
What kind of pasta can I use? I used curly cavatappi noodles. Other choices are penne, bow tie, shells, macaroni or any other short cut pasta.
Why such a short pressure cooking time? Because this is a “doubled” recipe the pot is quite full and will take a long time to come to pressure (and the pasta is cooking the entire time). In order for the pasta not to get overdone I like to use only a 1 or 2 minute pressure cooking time. If you halve this recipe you will probably want to use a 4 or 5 minute pressure cooking time instead.
Can I leave out the sausage and just use 2 pounds of ground beef instead? You can. However you’ll need to add in seasonings to replace the flavor that comes from the sausage. I would add in the following mix…
Italian sausage seasoning mix for 1 pound of ground meat:
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seed
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon minced onions
More Instant Recipes You’ll Love…
3 Dump And Go Instant Pot Freezer Meals
Instant Pot Regis Philbin’s Pasta
Instant Pot Sausage Tortellini Soup
Instant Pot Chicken Parmesan Manicotti
Instant Pot Dump and Go Meatball Lasagna
Instant Pot Ziti and Meatballs
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Instant Pot Friendship Casserole
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 minute (plus 10 minute NPR)
- Total Time: 16 minutes
- Yield: 16 servings (2-9×13 inch pans) 1x
Make 2 casseroles at the same time! One for now and one for later (freezer meal), or one for you and one for a friend. With just a handful of ingredients and your Instant Pot you can make this recipe in fewer steps and less time than the traditional way of making it!
- 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
- 1 pound ground Italian sausage
- 3 3/4 cups beef or chicken broth
- 1 (16 oz) package of cavatappi or penne or bow tie pasta
- 2 (24 oz) jars pasta sauce
- 4 cups chopped spinach
- 1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
- 2 cups grated mozzarella
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Turn Instant Pot to saute setting. When the display says HOT add in the beef and sausage. Break it up and brown for about 5 minutes. Drain off excess grease.
- Add in the broth and scrape the bottom of the pot so that nothing is sticking.
- Sprinkle in the pasta, press to submerge as much as possible.
- Dump both jars of pasta sauce over the top.
- Cover Instant Pot and secure the lid. Make sure valve is set to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 1 minute for cavatappi and 2 minutes for penne or bow tie. (Yes it will cook in 1 minute if you are making this recipe as stated. The pot will take a while to come to pressure because it is so full.)
- When time is up let the pot sit for 8-10 minutes and then move the valve to venting. Remove the lid. Stir in the spinach.
- Evenly distribute the pasta into two separate 9×13 inch pans.
- Cut the cream cheese into about 30 small pieces. Randomly place 15 of the pieces in one pan and 15 of the pieces in the other pan.
- Sprinkle the mozzarella and parmesan evenly over each pan.
- If eating right away, bake in the oven, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes at 350° F. If saving for later wrap tightly with foil and freeze. When ready to eat, bake from frozen in a 350° F oven for 90 minutes. Keep the foil on until the last 10 minutes.
I used my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo 60 7 in 1*. Make in the 8 quart pot with no changes. Halve in the 3 quart pot and increase pressure cooking time to 4 minutes.
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Instant Pot/Oven
*Karen Petersen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
Linda Tripp says
If this is frozen and thawed, how does that pasta handle that? I wasn’t sure if I should use a frozen/thawed one to share with a friend or not.
It works well. It’s kind of like frozen lasagnas.
Linda Tripp says
If I would make half the recipe, does the time change at all? Seems like it might need a bit more, since it won’t have as long a time to come to full steam?
Keep the same time. Should be great!
Lily Yee says
I halved this recipe and divided the casserole into two 8×8’ pans to freeze. There are only two of us, so making a full recipe was too much. 😁 I just took out one Pan from the freezer to heat in our Breville Smart Oven. My husband loved it. 👍
Good idea! Thanks for sharing that 8×8 tip.
This was delicious. I love how I have another dinner in the freezer for later.
It’s a good feeling!
Tom W. says
I made this for my parents and I tonight. I added sauteed mushrooms (that’s my thing). I used Classico Four Cheese and Classico Sweet Basic sauces and it came out great! (A little sweet for my liking but I couldn’t use the hotter sauces I would prefer since my parents prefer tamer fare; they couldn’t stop raving about it which made it a winner in my book).
The thing I really liked about this was the firmer cavatappi gave a kind of lasagna feel to the dish (much more so than the absolutely limp actual lasagna I recently had at a restaurant which left me so disappointed; it was a great flavor but a mushy mouth feel). Not so with the cavatappi in this dish.
It seems the choice of pasta sauce will have a dramatic impact on this dish so I’m looking forward to experimenting with some bolder sauces. I’m going to have to find more friends and neighbors to share my good fortune with.
Good tips! Thanks!
Thank you for sharing the recipe!
I prepared two casserole dishes yesterday, and put both of them into the freezer. Kitchen smelled delicious, and we can’t wait to thaw them for dinner on a busy night
Oh, you’re so welcome! I hope you like them!
Jackie White says
What can I do about leaving out the spinach?
Just leave it out! Still will be wonderful.
This looks delicious. I can’t wait to try it however I don’t have an instapot. Do you have suggestions on how long I would cook the pasta without overcooking it before putting in the oven?
I’d cook for 8-10 minutes…until al dente
Sounds good, but its a bit to big could I halve the recipe. Thank you
Yes for sure!
Dan Ouellet says
Thanks Karen I,ll try it tomorrow
This sounds really good! I have a question as far as the servings go. It says “Yield: 16 servings (2-9×13 inch pans) 1x”, but if I click on 2x it says “32 servings (2-9×13 inch pans).” I am wondering how I get (2-9×13 inch pans) 1x and also get “32 servings (2-9×13 inch pans) 2x ? I am confused!
If you click 2x that will give you 4 9×13 inch pans which will serve 32 people. It won’t say that because the computer doesn’t understand to double the pans too.
Thank you! That explains it very well!! Love your recipes. Look forward to them everyday. Wishing you and your family “Happy Holidays” and please stay safe!
Thank you Darlene, you too!