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Creamy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe

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Creamy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe: This super simple homemade Mac & Cheese is made in the instant pot. It’s rich, creamy, and loaded with cheesy flavor!

The best part? This amazing comfort dish is ready in just about 20 minutes! (And yes, you can make it on the stovetop too. Find the stovetop cooking instructions towards the bottom of the post.)

Instant pot mac and cheese

Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort Food

There is no other way to say it, Mac and Cheese it’s just plain comforting! Creamy and rich, almost everyone loves mac and cheese. There’s just something about a big bowl of mac and cheese that makes everything better.

The delicious sauce is made with a a mix of cheddar and Velveeta for the ultimate creaminess and a touch of mustard and ranch seasoning for a pop of flavor.

Instant pot mac and cheese recipe

Why Make your Mac and cheese in the instant pot?

I’ll admit it, at first I was not “into” making pasta dishes in the instant pot. Sure, I love my pressure cooker for batch cooking chicken, brisket, and other large cuts of meat (and soups too) but I thought pasta in the instant pot was kind of silly.

Until I tried it. Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot is AWESOME!

  • Better Flavor – Cooking your pasta in less water means better flavor.
  • Healthier – Since you the starchy pasta water is incorporated into the dish, the sauce is thicker, creamier with less fatty/high-calorie ingredients like butter or cream.
  • Faster – since you are cooking the pasta and water together at the same time, there’s no need to wait for the water to come to a boil and then cook the pasta.

Ingredients in Instant Pot Mac and cheese + Tips

(Ingredients at a glance, you will find the full recipe with ingredient amounts in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.)

  • Macaroni | Large Elbow Macaroni works best for this recipe. The hollow, cylindrical shape provides tons of surface area to hold the creamy, cheesy sauce. (I especially love the large elbow macaroni shape with groves. Holds even more sauce. I used the store brand large elbows from my local HEB Grocery store, but Barilla has a grooved macaroni as well.)
  • Cheese | This recipe uses a combo of sharp cheddar and Velveeta. You could also try switching up the cheddar cheese for half cheddar/half Monterey jack or half pepper jack.
  • Milk | I like to use a combination of milk for my instant pot mac and cheese. Part whole milk and part evaporated milk. Evaporated milk has more protein than regular milk, but less fat than heavy cream, so it gives a creamier result without using butter or cream, it also will not curdle at high heat. You could use 2% or half n half in place of the whole milk.
  • Mustard |The addition of mustard adds a tiny bit of acidity which helps cut the fat and heaviness of mac and cheese and rounds out its flavor. If you happen to have ground mustard on hand, you could use one teaspoon, otherwise yellow mustard works fine.
  • Ranch seasoning | If you have never tried adding a bit of Ranch Seasoning to your Mac and chees, you are missing out! The ranch seasoning gives the mac and cheese recipe a bit of “zest” without being overpowering.
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: Chopped Bacon
ingredients in instant pot mac and cheese

How to make Mac and cheese in the Instant Pot

  1. To the pot of your pressure cooker, add pasta,  3 and 3/4 cups of water, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  2. Stir everything together and make sure the macaroni is mostly covered by the water. how to make instant pot mac and cheese
  3. Close the lids on the pressure cooker, set high pressure, and cook for 6 minutes.
  4. Do a quick release.
  5. Open the lid of the pressure cooker and stir the macaroni to break completely break up the pasta.
  6. Add the evaporated milk, regular milk, Velveeta, cheddar, and Ranch seasoning. Stir to combine. stir the instant pot mac and cheese
  7. Return the lid to the pressure cooker and let the macaroni sit until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Give the mac and cheese a final stir. creamy mac and cheese in the instant pot
  8. Garnish with bacon if desired.

Recipe Tips

  • For best results, don’t use pre-grated cheese. The fillers and additives can contribute to a more goopy than creamy mac and cheese.
  • If you want to use a different type of pasta and are not sure of the cooking time, a good rule of thumb is to use half the amount of time listed on the pasta box/bag.
  • I am using an 8 quart instant pot, but any size works for this recipe.
  • When don’t the quick release on the pasta, you want to make sure any leftover foam has settled and doesn’t come up with the steam. To do this, use a towel or hot pad to open the release valve for a few seconds, then close the valve for 20 seconds. you can repeat this process until the foamy past water has settled.

Variations

  • Like a bit of kick? Add a few dashes of cayenne seasoning or hot sauce. (Just a couple of shakes of the bottle will enhance the flavor of the cheese, you will need to add at least a teaspoon to start feeling any heat. Definitely taste as you go- you can always add more spice, but you can’t take it away.)
  • Add diced rotisserie chicken, ham, or sausage to make it a protein-packed meal.
  • Add veggies like peas or broccoli for extra fiber. (If you want the veggies to stay hidden try purred squash or cauliflower)
  • Love the crunchy topping of baked mac and cheese? Place your mack and cheese in an oven-safe dish, top with panko breadcrumbs, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Then bake in a 425 degree preheated oven til the breadcrumbs are golden brown and crispy.
  • Switch up the cheddar cheese for half cheddar/half Monterey jack or half pepper jack.
How to make mac and cheese in the instant pot

FAQ’s

Why Did My Pasta Stick Together?

Make sure to stir the pasta immediately after releasing the pressure. This prevents your pasta from sticking or clumping together.

Can I Use Gluten-Free Pasta?

This really depends on the pasta. Gluten-free pasta can be a bit finicky in the pressure cooker, especially pastas made with alternative flours. Gluten-free pasta tends to be starchier and will expand more while cooking. It needs a little extra cooking liquid, so add 1/4 to 1/2 cup or so. Gluten-free pasta also has a tendency to overcook and turn to mush, so if you try it, start with 1/2 the cooking time. (You can always cook longer, but you cant save overcooked pasta.)

Due to the higher starch amount in gluten-free pasta, you might find you get a high amount of starchy water spurting through the release valve. If this happens, use a towel to close the release valve for 20  seconds to help settle the foam. (just be sure to not totally block the valve/steam release with a towel.)

How To Store Leftover Instant Pot Mac And Cheese

Let the leftover mac and cheese come to room temperature, add to an airtight container, and store in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.

Can You Freeze Mac And Cheese Leftovers?

Yes, you can! To freeze, let the Mac and Cheese recipe completely cool. Add the cooked and cooled Mac and cheese to a freezer-safe container, or bag. (I love my food saver for this.) Freeze for up to three months. To reheat from frozen, reheat the pasta in a microwave-safe dish for 3 to 4 minutes. You can add a bit of milk to the reheated pasta to make it creamier.

Can This Recipe Be Made On The Stove Top?

Of course! The difference would be to just follow the pasta cooking instructions on the package and drain the cooked pasta, reserving a cup of the pasta cooking water. 

Return the pasta to the cooking pot, add in the seasonings, milks, and cheeses. Stir everything together until the cheese has melted. If you would prefer a more creamy/saucier cheese sauce, you can add some of the reserved pasta water to the mac and cheese until desired consistency is reached.

More Yummy Pasta Dishes to Enjoy

Tried This Instant Pot Mac and cheese Recipe?

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Instant pot mac and cheese recipe

Creamy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe

  • Author: Jamie Sanders
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 min
  • Total Time: 16 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: Pressure cooker

Description

This super simple homemade Mac & Cheese recipe is made in the instant pot. It’s rich, creamy, and loaded with cheesy flavor. And it’s ready in just about 20 minutes!


Ingredients

Units
  • 1 lb large elbow macaroni
  • 3 and 3/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon each, salt and pepper
  • 112 oz can evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 8 oz Velveeta, cubed
  • 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon powdered Ranch seasoning mix
  • Optional: cooked, chopped bacon for garnish

Instructions

  1. To the pot of your pressure cooker, add pasta,  3/4 cup of water, mustard, salt, and pepper.
  2. Stir everything together and make sure the macaroni is covered by the water.
  3. Close the lids on the pressure cooker, set high pressure, and cook for 6 minutes.
  4. Do a quick release.
  5. Open the lid of the pressure cooker and stir the macaroni to break completely break up the pasta.
  6. Add the evaporated milk, regular milk, Velveeta, cheddar, and Ranch seasoning. Stir to combine
  7. Return the lid to the pressure cooker and let the macaroni sit until the cheese is melted, about 3 minutes. Give the mac and cheese a final stir.
  8. Garnish with bacon if desired.

Enjoy!



Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
  • Calories: 276
  • Fat: 12
  • Carbohydrates: 25
  • Fiber: 1
  • Protein: 16

Keywords: mac and cheese, instant pot mac and cheese

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