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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 6 servings

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This is the CREAMIEST Instant Pot Mac and Cheese — it’s loaded with cheese and comes together so quickly! The perfect Instant Pot pasta recipe, great for customizing to your family’s tastes with added protein or veggies. 

instant pot mac and cheese in pressure cooker with scoop being pulled out

You guys. I’m hangry just thinking about this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese.

I don’t know if there’s any comfort food more classic than homemade macaroni and cheese — it’s carby, and creamy, and cheesy (and what’s comfort food without cheese?!) and perfect in a bowl, or even right out of the pot 😉

If you’re looking for even more Instant Pot recipes, check out this Instant Pot Baked Ziti or these Creamy Italian Instant Pot Chicken Breasts — they’re reader favorites!

instant pot mac and cheese overhead in two blue bowls on grey background

One of the best things about mac and cheese is how easy it is to make your own, by adding in different cheeses, protein, or veggies.

Originally, I made this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with the Habanero with Cracked Black Pepper Monterey Jack from Bothwell Cheese — it has high heat flavour and a creamy Monterey Jack base.

But I wanted to update the recipe to show just how creamy and cheesy it really is! It’s harder to show that when you’re are using any white cheese.

We love Bothwell Cheese on just about everything, but it really takes this Instant Pot mac and cheese over the top! And it’s made right here in Manitoba with 100% Canadian milk from local farms. It doesn’t get any fresher than that!

Find out where you can buy Bothwell Cheese here.

How to Make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese:

  1. Start by adding your cooking liquid, pasta, and a bit of fat (this keeps the pasta from sticking) into the Instant Pot — mine is a 6 quart, and they all cook a little differently but this recipe should work in any electric pressure cooker.
  2. Cook on high pressure — but not too long! The biggest mistake I see when people cook pasta in the Instant Pot is they overcook it. Mushy pasta is just not that appetizing!
  3. There will not be a lot of liquid left in the Instant Pot after cooking — do not drain it. Simply add the rest of your ingredients and stir until melted and gooey.
  4. Taste test! I don’t add a lot of extras to this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese because I want you to be able tot customize as you see fit. You can easily spice up the flavor with hot sauce or sriracha, add crumbled bacon, vegetables, etc. at the end just before serving to make it your own.
  5. Mac and cheese does continue to thicken as it sits, so while you’ll start with 1 cup of milk, you may want to add a splash every 5 or 10 minutes if you’re still serving to thin out the sauce and bring back the creaminess.
instant pot macaroni and cheese close up in blue bowl on marble background

Tips for cooking pasta in the Instant Pot:

  • Don’t overcook! Pasta cooks really quickly in the pressure cooker, and if you cook it too long you risk ending up with mushy, unappetizing pasta. This macaroni cooks in just 2 minutes, plus the time to build pressure (about 10 minutes total).
  • Be careful when you release the pressure, as the starch from the pasta can cause it to sputter sometimes. You will need to quick release, otherwise your pasta will definitely be overcooked, so just start slowly and you’ll be fine!
  • Add the flavour before cooking. I always, always cook my pasta in low sodium chicken broth as it adds incredible flavour! It’s always easier to season pasta during the cook time than after.
  • Add the dairy after cooking: the milk or cream and cheese always have to go in once the pasta is cooked, or they will curdle. The heat from the pasta and the pot melts the cheese very quickly!

More easy Instant Pot pasta recipes:

instant pot macaroni and cheese in a bowl with bothwell habanero cheese

This post was originally sponsored by Bothwell Cheese and I was compensated for my time in creating the recipe — I’ve since updated the post with new photos so you can see how creamy and cheesy it really is!

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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

4.67 from 9 votes
This is the CREAMIEST Instant Pot Mac and Cheese — it’s loaded with cheese and comes together so quickly! The perfect Instant Pot pasta recipe, great for customizing to your family’s tastes with added protein or veggies.  
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Servings 6 servings
Calories 367kcal

Ingredients

  • 3.5 cups low sodium chicken broth (water is fine)
  • 375 grams whole grain macaroni dry (3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil or butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup 2% milk (or evaporated milk or cream for richer flavor)
  • 170 grams Bothwell cheddar cheese (about 2 1/2 cups shredded – up to 4 cups!)
  • hot sauce or dry mustard, optional

Instructions

  • Add broth, macaroni, oil, salt and pepper to the Instant Pot and stir. 
  • Put the lid on, turn valve to sealing, and press Manual, high pressure, and select a cook time of 2 minutes. The pressure will build for roughly 7-8 minutes and then start counting down.
  • When the cook time is over, turn the Instant Pot off and do a controlled quick release, watching for any foaming. If the steam is clear, quick release any remaining pressure (do not do a natural pressure release!). 
  • Turn the Instant Pot to saute, and using the adjust button, select less heat (optional — the heat of the pasta should melt the cheese if you leave it off)
  • Add the milk and cheese and stir until just combined. If it’s too thick, add a splash more milk. Too thin, add a bit more cheese. Note that it will thicken as it sits.

Notes

*NOTE: I originally made this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with the Bothwell Habanero with Cracked Black Pepper cheese, but have updated to the recipe to call for cheddar which is more typical. Any flavor of cheese will work great in this recipe!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 409mg | Potassium: 334mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 295IU | Calcium: 291mg | Iron: 2.8mg
Keywords macaroni and cheese, pasta

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Comments

  1. Alisha says

    I just made this, i usee bowtie pasta which is where I think I had issues after 2 mins pasta was not cooked properly, so put it back on pressure for another 2 mins, stil not quite cooked but added milk amd cheese and switched to saute and pasta cooked enough that it was al dente….not my preference but eatable and flavour was nice, next time ill cook my pasta longer and I will be fine

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Thanks Alisha! Yes bowtie pasta may take slightly longer to cook but honestly, I cook all my pasta for 2 minutes and it is always cooked perfectly. Were you using high pressure?

  2. Rachel says

    Not sure what I did wrong, the pasta is cooked but I have lots of liquid leftover. Taste is ok but I prefer making a white sauce on the stovetop instead.

  3. Pam Greer says

    Just when I thought I had tried everything in my Instant Pot!! We love macaroni and cheese at our house and I’m sure this is going on regular rotation!

  4. Hanna says

    I’m very excited to try this. Had one question- step 3 says “When the cook time is over, turn the Instant Pot off and do a controlled quick release, watching for any foaming. If the steam is clear, quick release any remaining pressure (do not do a natural pressure release!). ”

    What if the steam isn’t clear? I have had some difficulties understanding/reading steam with quick release and natural release so I’d love to know ahead of time if the steam isn’t clear, if its sputtering, what you recommend!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      The only issue with starchy foods like pasta is that sometimes it can foam up and you don’t want that spraying all over your kitchen 🙂 So I recommend holding the valve open just a little to let the steam release gradually and check if it’s going to be foamy. If it is, just continue gradually releasing the pressure. If it looks fine, then open the valve right away. You don’t want to let pasta release pressure naturally or it could be mushy.

  5. Gary says

    This was just o.k. for me, one of my 4 kids loved it. The cheese was a bit stringy. I prefer making a cheese sauce with a roux for my mac and cheese.

  6. Diane Hazeu says

    this is so much better than the boxed crap!! I shredded my own cheese (big block and use cornstarch to keep from sticking together when freezing) Sure beats preshredded which has cellulose (yuck!!!!)….LOVE LOVE LOVE this

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