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Low Sodium Beef and Penne

This Low Sodium Penne and Beef cooked in an Instant Pot is certainly not the hamburger helper you grew up with, and it doesn’t take much more time to make. Made with lean ground beef, garlic, penne pasta, fire roasted tomatoes, cream cheese and spinach it cooks quickly, and in your instant pot it is like prime rib in comparison. An amazing pasta dish that you will love!


Sodium Total  975 mg   –   Sodium / Serving 195 mg    –    Calories / Serving 377

creamy beef pasta instant pot meal
Creamy beef pasta instant pot meal

I can’t tell you how many nights I fell back on hamburger helper to put a quick meal on the table. At an average 550 mg of sodium per 1/3 cup I was sky rocketing past any known sodium level without thinking about it. But this low sodium Instant Pot Beef and Penne with real garlic, penne pasta, fire roasted tomatoes, cream cheese, spinach cooks nearly as quickly and in one pot. A superb pasta dish that you will love and make again and again!

low sodium beef and penne with flatbread
Low sodium beef and penne with flatbread


You can leave the cream cheese out and save about 75 mg of sodium per serving. Substituting sour cream would only add about 20 mg per serving. Or you could choose to leave them both out to slim down your sodium budget. I opt to use it as it really adds to the flavor and I’m generally in my sodium range anyway. Without either, this dish weighs in at about 130 mg of sodium per serving.

I recently discovered Mascarpone cheese (my review) which you can use in place of the cream cheese. It has only 10mg of sodium per ounce saving many mg of sodium per serving as compared to regular cream cheese.

For the pasta I used what was left of a box of penne, but any shaped pasta type will work. Except not spaghetti noodles as it just doesn’t have the “carry” factor. Rigatoni is my favorite, and what I usually use, as it has more surface area to carry the sauce and bits of meat rather than sliding off.

I used a 90/10 lean beef and there was barely any grease to drain off. You can use any beef you want just be sure to drain the grease before adding in the rest of the ingredients.

You can use any diced tomatoes but the fire roasted tomatoes really make the dish. Muir Glen makes a canned no salt added version. You can also roast your own no salt added canned regular diced tomatoes or from fresh. You can check out how to do either on my roasting tomatoes page.

While you may use plain water the no salt added chicken broth adds much flavor for the noodles to absorb as they cook. Water would tend to dilute the flavors in this dish and the NSA stock is available just about everywhere now so don’t let this recipe flavor fall short.

low sodium penne and beef on fork
Low sodium penne and beef on fork


Using the sauté function, cook the onion till soft then brown the meat and add garlic. Then add pasta, fire roasted tomatoes (do not drain) and tomato paste, no salt added broth, pepper and basil in order. Add in even layers and do not mix. Set for manual pressure, seal and cook at high pressure for 4 minutes. After 5 minutes do a natural release, uncover and stir in cream cheese or sour cream. Dinner in one pot and done.

There is a large amount of liquid for the pasta in this dish, so be sure to cover vent with a kitchen towel as it tends to spatter all over. It may take a minute for the pressure to release fully. I’m still surprised how long it takes.

To get al dente pasta it is important to not allow more than 5 minutes for natural pressure release before releasing so you don’t overcook your pasta.

beef and penne cooked with instant pot
Beef and penne cooked with instant pot
My Instant Pot


To make this awesome Instant Pot Low Sodium Meal I used my 6 quart Instant Pot LUX60V3 6 in 1*. The Instant Pot multi-cooker, combines 6 kitchen appliances in one, pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté, steamer, and warmer. This Instant Pot is one of the very few appliances that stay on my counter since I use several times a week. It’s super easy to use and clean.

beef and penne cooked with instant pot

Low Sodium Beef and Penne in Instant Pot

A rich low sodium pasta meal with ground beef, garlic, penne pasta, fire roasted tomatoes, cream cheese, and spinach cooked quickly with the instant pot.
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 5
Calories 377 kcal


  • 1 pound lean ground beef 95% lean
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp wet minced garlic
  • 8 ounces uncooked penne pasta 1/2 of 16oz box
  • 1 ¾ cups chicken broth unsalted
  • 1 14.5 oz Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes no salt added Muir Glen or regular diced nsa
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste no salt added
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprikaa
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 3 cups spinach chopped


  • Turn your Instant Pot to the saute and more setting. When hot add in the ground beef and break to crumbles.  Brown the beef. Then add in the garlic and stir in. Use ¼ cup of the broth and scrape the bottom of the pot. Spread the beef evenly in the bottom of the pot.
  • In the following order – add pasta in an even layer. Pour the rest of broth over the top. Add in the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, ground red pepper,smoked paprika and basil. Don’t stir.
  • Cover pot and secure the lid. Set valve to sealing. Set the manual/pressure button to 4 minutes. When the time is up let the pot natural release for 5 minutes and then move the valve to venting. Remove the lid after pin drops.
  • Add cut up chunks of cream cheese. Stir until slowly until cream cheese is melted, then add spinach stir and until incorporated.
  • Serve, chow down and enjoy!


Muir Glen is the only no salt added fire roasted diced tomatoes I can find.  Regular diced nsa or homemade may be subbed.


Calories: 377kcal
Did you make this recipe?Leave a rating and let me know how it was!

Nutrition InformationThe information shown is provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be substituted for a doctors or nutritionist’s advice. Please understand that not everyone’s sodium requirements are the same, therefore some recipes may be higher than you’re allowed. Always consult with your doctor for your recommended daily sodium allowance.


My low sodium naan flatbread with an olive oil dip and a cool refreshing salad is an excellent pairing with this low sodium beef and penne.

easy low sodium beef penne garlic flatbread
Easy low sodium beef penne garlic flatbread

As always, please let me know how you like this recipe in the comments! I get motivated when I hear from you and am interested on how you liked and served your low sodium beef and penne. And please share any tips you might have.

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