Welcome the easy best Instant Pot Mac and Cheese ever! Kids and adults alike will love this classic homemade creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese easily made in the Instant Pot in less than 10 minutes. Serve as regular mac and cheese – or choose your own mix-ins or toppings.
The Best Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
Let’s talk mac and cheese. Macaroni = good stuff. Cheese = good stuff. What’s not to love ?
Whenever we need a comforting, quick and easy pasta recipe, this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is usually my go to recipe. Because I can whip this up with less than 10 minutes of prep time and few minutes cook time and effort – so less time cooking and more time having fun.
And like this Instant Pot Chicken Mac and Cheese and delicious Instant Pot Chicken Alfredo, it is creamy, hearty and choked full of flavors the entire family loves and makes great weeknight dinner savior recipe. It makes a great man dish but also a creamy side for everything.
This homemade mac has the best creamy sauce, is made from affordable pantry ingredients, is great for prep ahead and picky eater approved. Plus it is tastes much better than the boxed version. Sounds amazing right? Then feel free to make it for dinner tonight.
Naturally this means it’s the best mac and cheese in the world. And I think you should try it because who doesn’t want to eat the best mac and cheese in the world?
Why You’ll Love This Mac and Cheese Instant Pot
- It has three cheeses, which makes a big difference to the flavour. I typically only use cheddar in my mac and cheese recipes, but this recipe has cheddar, Monterey jack and Parmesan cheese. A trifecta of cheesiness.
- It’s a great recipe for a crowd. You can easily double or triple the recipe to serve a big group. Try a mac and cheese bar (see the ‘Have a Mac and Cheese Bar’ section for ideas) if you’d like.
- Recipe is served five ways or make your own variety. Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is served five ways, all with easy pantry staple mix-ins. Or you can add other toppings to your taste.
- It is great for meal prep. Prep ahead and pull out for when needed, quick weeknight dinners, lunch boxes, sunday lunches and more.
- It is family approved. Instant Pot Mac n Cheese is sooo good that everyone will love it.
What Can You Add to Instant Pot Mac and Cheese?
Instapot Mac and Cheese is sooooo versatile and you can really have a lot of fun with it with all sorts of creative toppings and mix-ins. In this post, I’m giving you ideas for:
- Regular Mac and Cheese
- Evaporated Milk Mac and Cheese (for a thicker sauce)
- Ham version
- Peas version
- Pesto version
You can also add toppings like fresh chopped herbs, tomatoes, bacon, etc.
Instant Pot Macaroni Cheese Ingredients
There are only 5 ingredients in this classic comfort food favorite, most of them are fridge or pantry staples.
- Macaroni noodles – This recipe calls for macaroni noodles but I have use other pasta like penne and fusilli.
- Cheeses – (Parmesan cheese, sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack). You would use shredded cheese.
- Water – to cook everything up in. You can use low sodium chicken broth instead if you prefer.
- Butter – use your favorite butter brand
- Milk or heavy Cream – use whole milk for a creamier taste or heavy cream. The choice is yours. You can use lighter version of these to cut the calories.
How to make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese (aka the Best Mac and Cheese in the world) in 5 easy steps
Get the complete ingredients list and instructions from the recipe card below.
- Step 1. Add the uncooked macaroni, water, salt and butter into the Instant Pot insert.
- Step 2. Shut the Instant Pot, select PRESSURE COOK / MANUAL function, high pressure, set the timer for 4 minutes and pressure cook.
- Step 3. Allow for a NPR (Natural Pressure Release) of 8 minutes, and then Quick Release the rest of the pressure and open and remove lid.
- Step 4. Quickly but gently stir in the warm milk and cheeses… … and then mix till completely melted, adjust seasoning, add any toppings or mix-ins (see below for ideas) and serve.
- For extra flavor, you can use chicken broth or vegetable broth instead of water. Just keep an eye on the amount of salt you add in then.
- You really do want to keep the time under pressure to 4 minutes, any longer than that you will probably end up with mush – although if mush id you thing then go for it 🙂
- You don’t need to add three different cheese, add one if that is what you have. Or change out the cheese to your taste.
- Cooking time does not include the time it takes to come up to pressure or for the pressure to release.
- Time Saving Shortcuts – Whilst freshly grated cheese gives the best cheese sauce result, use store-bought pre shredded cheese or grated cheese to save some time on this meal.
This Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese is great as is, but if you want to vary the flavor, then you can certainly add in more goodies. Here are a few suggestions:
This version will produce a slightly thicker sauce. To make this version, replace the 1 cup warm milk with 1 cup warm canned milk.
To make this version, add 100g (2/3 cup) ham cut into smaller bits at the end.
To make this version, add 160g (1 cup) cooked peas at the end.
To make this version, add 4 heaped tbsp pesto at the end.
Chicken Mac and Cheese
fancy a version with some chicken, then head on over to this Instant Pot Chicken Mac and Cheese recipe post.
More delicious Variations
- Add extra seasonings – like garlic powder, garlic salt, onion powder, smoked paprika, oregano etc.
- Add heat – with red pepper flakes, chili powder, hot sauce etc.
- Different cheeses – just add in your favorite cheese.
- Swap the cooking liquid – For extra flavor, you can use chicken broth or vegetable broth instead of water. Just keep an eye on the amount of salt you add in then.
- Make creamier – add in some heavy cream for a creamier sauce.
- Make cheesier – add extra cheese to your taste.
Can You Make Gluten-Free Instant Pot Mac and Cheese?
Unfortunately, gluten-free pasta does not work in the Instant Pot (they turn to mush). If you’ve successfully made a gluten-free Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, I would love to hear about it.
Have a Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese Bar
A really fun way to serve Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese is a mac and cheese bar. Kids will love this and adults will too (think girl’s night, book club, other parties).
You can make the regular (version #1) or evaporated milk (version #2) mac and cheese and allow guests to choose their own toppings.
Can You Freeze This?
Just as much as I love meal prepping ahead of time, I love any meals, sides, or casseroles that I can freeze and enjoy again later. This pasta casserole is just perfect for that.
Just follow these easy steps to freeze this dish;
- Once you’ve finished baking, remove from oven and let them cool.
- Then transfer to meal prep container or ziploc bags making sure to press any excess air out before laying flat to freeze.
- Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- One tip is to freeze in the right portion sizes so you can easily pull out only what you need.
More Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot Pot Roast.
- Instant Pot Chili.
- Instant Pot Red Rice and Beans.
- Instant Pot Sloppy Joes.
- Instant Pot Cheesy Garlic Butter Spaghetti.
- Instant Pot Ramen.
Serve this along with some
How do You Like Your Mac and Cheese?
I hope you’ve loved this pressure cooker mac and cheese post and I would love to hear how you like your mac and cheese..
Thank you for reading my Mac And Cheese Instant Pot recipe post. And please come visit again as I continue dreaming up recipes, traditional African recipes, African fusion recipes, Sierra Leone recipes, Southern Recipes, travel plans and much more for you. Thanks for supporting Recipes from a Pantry, food blog.
Originally posted March 2018.
Get The Instant Pot Macaroni And Cheese Recipe:
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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese – 5 Ways
- 450 g (16 oz) elbow macaroni
- 1 litre (4 cups) water
- 1.5 tsp salt or to taste
- 1.5 tbsp butter in cubes
- 150 g (1.5 cup) cheddar cheese
- 100 g (1 cup) Monterey jack
- 50 g (0.4 cup) Parmesan
- 250 ml (1 cup) warm milk
- Add the macaroni, water, salt and butter into the Instant Pot insert.
- Shut, select manual high pressure, set the timer for 4 mins and cook.
- Let NPR (Natural Pressure Release) for 8 mins and then do a Quick Release and open.
- Quickly stir in the warm milk and cheeses, mix till melted, adjust seasoning, add any toppings or mix-ins and serve.
Evaporated Milk Version
- Replace the 1 cup warm milk with 1 cup warm evaporated milk.
- Add 4 heaped tbsp pesto at the end.
- Add 100g (2/3 cup) ham cut into smaller bits at the end.
- Add 160g (1 cup) cooked peas at the end.