Ultra-creamy and cheesy, this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is a keeper for those days you’re craving ultimate comfort food. Skip the boxed mac and cheese and make the best mac and cheese in 20 minutes.
I’ve been occasionally making mac and cheese at home, the boxed kind, for most of my adult life. But it wasn’t until I got my Instant Pot a few years ago and started using fresh ingredients that this comfort meal got much tastier and easier.
Mac and cheese made in the pressure cooker is the ultimate one-pot meal since the pasta cooks in the water. There’s no need to drain the water after the noodles are done cooking. Simply add the milk and cheese and you’re ready to enjoy it.
This recipe is easy to make and made with a handful of ingredients you probably already have on hand. It comes together in 20 minutes.
Ingredients you’ll need
To make mac and cheese in your pressure cooker, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Uncooked elbow pasta – 1 pound
- Water – 4 cups
- Butter – 2 tablespoons (you can also use dairy-free butter, if vegan)
- Cheddar cheese – 3 cups shredded
- Milk – 1/2 cup (use more for a creamier texture)
- Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
You’ll also need your Instant Pot, measuring cups and spoons. This recipe makes a big batch so you’ll have plenty of leftovers for later.
How to cook mac and cheese in the Instant Pot
To cook perfectly steamed mac and cheese in your pressure cooker, all you need is:
1. Combine Ingredients: Pour macaroni noodles into the Instant Pot. Pour water on top. Add butter and salt and give it a quick mix.
2. Pressure cook: Close the Instant Pot lid, set the valve on “sealing”, and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. Once completed, carefully quick-release any remaining pressure. Remove the lid.
3. Add milk and cheese: Add milk and gently mix. Slowly stir in the cheese until it’s melted and turn off the Instant Pot. Adjust seasoning, if needed.
4. Serve: Divide the pasta into bowls and serve. Garnish with minced chives, if using.
- Salad: Serve with either a simple salad with fresh greens tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette or a fancier salad like the apple spinach salad or Brussels Sprouts salad
- Tomato soup: A bowl of creamy tomato soup
- Collard Greens: A quick and easy side dish to add some greens to your meal
- Steamed Veggies: Use your Instant Pot to cook additional veggies, such as broccoli, carrots, or beets
- Spicy Brussels Sprouts
Top tips and suggestions
- Use block cheese: Skip the pre-shredded cheese and buy block cheese instead. Grate it and stir it into the noodles. It will melt better because it’s not coated with anything.
- Add the cheese slowly: When adding the cheese, stir in 1/2 cup at a time. Don’t add all the cheese at once. Continue stirring so it melts completely and doesn’t form any clumps.
- Use vegetable broth instead of water: For even more flavor, I recommend using veggie broth instead of water.
- Pasta of choice: I use elbow pasta in my mac and cheese but any tubular pasta works great.
- Turn Instant Pot off after the cheese melts: Once you add the cheese and it’s melted, turn off the Instant Pot completely. The warming function will make the noodles soggy.
- Add extra milk for extra creaminess: Add a little more milk for even more creaminess. I add two tablespoons at a time until I get the desired consistency I’m in the mood for.
Frequently asked questions
What’s the best kind of cheese to use in mac and cheese? While I use sharp cheddar for this recipe, I’ve also tried it by combining a few different kinds of cheese, such as mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
How do you quick-release the pressure? Quick-release by carefully turning the steam valve to the “Venting” position. I do this with a wooden spoon. Once the steam has completely escaped, the pin will drop back down. You can now carefully open the Instant Pot lid at this time.
What size Instant Pot did you use? I’ve tested this recipe in my Instant Pot DUO 6-Quart with great results. However, you may need to tweak how long you cook the eggs based on preference, the size, model, and brand of your pressure cooker.
More easy Instant Pot recipes
- Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
- How to Cook Quinoa in the Instant Pot
- Instant Pot Pinto Beans
- Instant Pot Brown Rice
Did you make this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe? Leave a comment below and rate the recipe to let us know how it turned out. Be sure to tag me on Real + Vibrant’s Instagram to show me your dish.
- 1 pound macaroni pasta
- 4 cups water, or vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into smaller pieces
- 1/2 cup milk, add more for a creamier texture
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon chives, optional, for garnish
- Pour macaroni pasta into the Instant Pot. Pour water on top. Add butter and salt and give it a quick stir.
- Close the Instant Pot lid, set the valve on “sealing”, and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. Once completed, carefully quick-release any remaining pressure. Remove the lid.
- Add milk and gently mix. Slowly stir in the cheese until it’s melted and turn off the Instant Pot. Adjust seasoning, if needed.
- Divide the pasta into bowls and serve. Garnish with minced chives, if using.