Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is so cheesy, creamy, and incredibly easy to make. The best part is it's done and ready to eat in less than 30 minutes making it a perfect weeknight meal!
This post was originally posted on 4/29/2020 and updated on 7/11/2022.
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Why We Love This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Super easy to make all in one pot.
- No boiling water involved, the Instant pot does it all!
- Ready and on the table in less than 30 minutes.
- Customizable, use your favorite pasta and cheeses.
- A very family friendly meal or side dish!
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Ingredients
- Macaroni Elbow Noodles
- Salted Butter
- Ground Mustard
- Heavy Cream
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Co-Jack Cheese
- Parmesan Cheese
- Black Pepper
- Macaroni Elbow Noodles: You can use your favorite short cut pasta. Shells, rotini, fusilli, and farfalle are all good options.
- Water: Chicken, beef or vegetable broth could also be used to add some extra flavor to the Mac and Cheese.
- Heavy Cream, Milk: If you prefer you can substitute either with evaporated milk or half and half. You could use all whole milk or all evaporated milk, as well as a combination of both. I prefer the combination of cream and 2% milk because I think it delivers the best flavor and most creamy texture.
- Cheese: My favorite way to have Mac and Cheese is with Sharp Cheddar, Co-Jack and a hint of Parmesan. You can use any blend of shredded cheeses you like best. Know that if you use mozzarella, your mac and cheese will be more stringy than creamy, but still taste delicious!
How to Make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Add the water, butter, ground mustard and salt to the instant pot. Then, add in the macaroni noodles and gently stir so all the pasta is submerged.
- Place the lid on the instant pot, move the valve to sealing and set it at high pressure for 7 minutes. The key for making perfect al dente pasta in the instant pot is to cook it for one less minute than what the package directions say. My package said 8-10 minutes, so I set it for 7 minutes.
- Now, it will take about 10 minutes to come up to pressure. Once the cook time has ended, very carefully do a quick pressure release and turn the instant pot off. Letting it stay on the keep warm function can over cook your pasta.
- Once all the pressure is gone and the valve stem has dropped, carefully take off the lid.
- Stir in the heavy cream and milk.
- Add the shredded cheeses a few handfuls at a time, stirring it so it all melts. Add some cracked black pepper, a touch more salt, taste and eat away!!!
What to Serve with Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese is a complete meal at our house. Sometimes, I'll stir in some frozen peas and canned tuna or some steamed broccoli and leftover cooked chicken. I also like to serve it as a side dish too. Here are some main dish recipes that taste so good with this Mac and Cheese recipe:
Storing Mac and Cheese
Storing: Any leftover Mac and Cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Freezing: You can also freeze it! Place the cooled Mac and Cheese in a freezer safe airtight container, label, date and freeze. It will last in the freezer for a good 4 months or so.
Thawing: Thaw the Macaroni and Cheese overnight in the fridge or in the microwave on the defrost setting.
Reheating: Using a microwave safe bowl, add the Mac and Cheese and a little touch of milk or water to loosen up the sauce. Then reheat starting at a minute, stir and then keep reheating in intervals of 30 seconds until the Mac and Cheese is warmed through. You can also reheat over low heat on the stove, also adding a little bit of milk or water to help it maintain it's creaminess.
Tips for the Best Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Read the back of the box of pasta to see how many minutes it suggests to get al dente pasta. Reduce that time by one minute and set it as your cook time on the pasta. Some pasta may require less time than others, and I would hate for you to end up with mushy mac and cheese.
- Shred your own cheese. It melts better. The shredded stuff in the package has anti-caking agents on it and it prevents the cheese from melting smoothly and will ultimately make your mac and cheese grainy.
- Let the heavy cream and milk sit at room temperature while the pasta cooks. This will help keep the mac and cheese warm which will help the cheese melt better.
- Stir in liquids and cheeses separate. If you add it all in at once, it will create a lumpy mess.
- Only add a handful of cheese at a time, stirring it so it all melts. You don't want to add it all at once. It will create a ball of cheese, your noodles will break apart as you keep trying to stir the ball away, and you'll end up with a mushy mess.
- If the sauce is a little too thick, add some more milk or cream to thin it out.
More Instant Pot Recipes:
- Pulled Pork
- Shredded Chicken Breasts
- Mashed Potatoes
- Drip Beef Sandwiches
- Split Pea Soup
- Buffalo Chicken Mac N Cheese
- Iced Coffee
- Beef Tips and Gravy
- Salsa Chicken Nachos
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound macaroni noodles
- 4 cups water
- ¼ cup salted butter
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1½ cups shredded co-jack cheese
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Add the water, butter, ground mustard and salt to the instant pot.
- Stir in the macaroni noodles making sure they are mostly submerged in water.
- Put the lid on the pressure cooker, move valve to sealing and set it at high pressure for 7 minutes or 1 minute less than what the package directions say for al dente pasta.
- When the cook time has ended, carefully do a quick release and turn the instant pot off.
- After the pressure is completely released and the valve stem has dropped, carefully remove the lid.
- Stir in the heavy cream and milk.
- Add the shredded cheese a handful at a time, stirring after each addition to melt the cheese completely.
- Stir in the black pepper. Give it a taste and see if it needs more salt or pepper. If the sauce is a bit too thick, add a little more milk.
- Eat and enjoy!
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