Easy Creamy Pesto Pasta (Instant Pot & Stovetop)

Feeling lazy but want a comforting, delicious dinner in under 30 minutes? This creamy pesto pasta is super easy and can be made using your Instant Pot or on the stovetop. This recipe uses only a handful of ingredients and is family-friendly and vegetarian.

This creamy pesto pasta is one of those recipes that can easily become a go-to staple for busy weeknights. It can be made with any type of pasta and even though it has a creamy sauce, it’s still quite light and healthy with about 370-400 kcals per serving (depending on how much you serve). 


What we love about this recipe is that you only need a few ingredients:

  • Pasta of choice – we used penne but you could use any shaped pasta you like, including gluten-free pasta.
  • Philadelphia cream cheese – this is what makes this pasta so creamy and by using the light version, you can keep the calories down without compromising on the flavour and texture. By all means, use full-fat cream cheese if you like.
  • Pesto – good quality pesto, which is usually made with basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic and lemon, will give this dish the most incredible, fresh flavor and fragrance. You can also use sun-dried tomato pesto or even some marinara sauce to mix in with the cream cheese.
  • Lemon – a little lemon zest lifts this pesto pasta to the next level, don’t skip on it!

Pesto pasta with Philadelphia cheese cream sauce


You will find the full list of ingredients, instructions and nutritional breakdown in the recipe card below. Here is a handy video for how to make this easy pasta with Instant Pot.


Creamy Pesto Pasta (Instant Pot & Stovetop methods)



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Creamy Pesto Pasta

Creamy Pesto Pasta (Instant Pot & Stovetop)

  • Author: Instant Pot Eats
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Italian-American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Quick and easy creamy pesto pasta that can be made in your Instant Pot or on the stovetop. Great for a busy weeknight family and is healthy and delicious.



250 g dry penne pasta (we used enriched pasta)

2.5 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 packet light Philadelphia cheese (90 g/3 oz)

1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) basil pesto (you could also use sun-dried tomato pesto)

1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)

A pinch of pepper

To finish:

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

A few basil leaves, chopped (optional) 


  • Instant Po instructions: Add the pasta, water, salt and olive oil and stir through. Set to Manual/Pressure Cook on HIGH. You can set it to 2 Minutes cooking time with 10-12 minutes Natural Release OR 5 Minutes cooking time with Quick Release. Using the 2-minute method will continue to cook the pasta during natural pressure release and helps to reduce the amount of foam that might spritz out when you release the remaining pressure manually (quick release).
  • Stovetop: Bring 1.5 litres of water to a boil, add the pasta, salt and olive oil and stir through. Cook as per packet instructions or to al dente texture.
  • Reserve 1/3 cup of cooking water liquid, whether you use the Instant Pot or Stovetop method and strain the pasta.
  • Combine cooked pasta, 1/3 cup cooking liquid, cream cheese, pesto, lemon zest and pepper in the pot and stir until nice and creamy. Taste for salt. You can also drizzle a little lemon juice on top.
  • Serve with cherry tomatoes on top.


  • Serving Size: 150-200 g cooked pasta
  • Calories: 370
  • Sugar: 4.3 g
  • Sodium: 512 mg
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 51.4 g
  • Fiber: 2.9 g
  • Protein: 11.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 12.2 mg

Creamy Pesto Pasta (Instant Pot & Stovetop)

Instant Pot Recipes
By Instant Pot Eats

About us: We are a team of Instant Pot enthusiasts, who love good food and cooking. Our blog is dedicated to delicious Instant Pot recipes you can make using your trusted pressure cooker.
PS. This post may contain Amazon affiliate links, which means we receive a small commission for purchases made through these links. 

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