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How To Make Great Instant Pot Mac And Cheese

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Last Modified: March 8, 2024
Published: March 8, 2024

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Pressure Cooking Pasta Blew My Mind

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese? I would never have thought of pressure cooking pasta in a million years, but I'm here to tell you it is amazing and a complete game-changer for this old girl!

I was astonished to learn there is no better, faster, and tidier way to make macaroni and cheese than in an Instant Pot! It blew my mind.

Macaroni and cheese might be one of life's all-time favorite comfort foods. We all grew up with the familiar blue box, but as good as it is, homemade from scratch is infinitely better, with the silky smooth creaminess of real cheese oozing through tender elbow macaroni.

Don't look for diet food here. If you're after low-cal, move along. This recipe is for super creamy, rich, and delicious macaroni and cheese.

Why You Will Love This Instant Pot Mac And Cheese Recipe

It's easy, it's fast, it's foolproof, and it tastes amazing! Need more reasons?

Julia Child still inspires and affirms my enjoyment of great food. She is the one who told us the three secrets of French cooking: butter, butter, and butter, or, in this case, Cheese, Cheese, and more Cheese.

Julia also wisely counseled us to eat great food in small portions and savor every bite. Have you ever noticed the small, beautiful portion size on plates served in the finest restaurants?

On the other hand, if you have hungry, hollow-legged teenagers who burn calories like I wish I still did, they will love to heap their plates and come back for more! My grandson told me I should always make mac and cheese this way, that it's "fire." FYI That means super good!

Instant Pot Mac And Cheese Is A One Pot Wonder

Begin by putting a one-pound box of elbow macaroni in the Instant Pot with four cups of water, one-half teaspoon salt, and two tablespoons of butter. You can add some dry mustard and a few drops of hot sauce if you want. I did not but if you like a little more bite in yours, go for it.

You can use any pasta shape you want, but the cooking time might vary. Here is an excellent article on calculating cook times on all pasta shapes. I am still amazed at how well it works, and I'll be experimenting with many ways to use this newfound knowledge. No boil-overs, no clock-watching! Hooray!

Lock the lid and set the Instant Pot to pressure cook on high for three minutes. When the time is up, allow the pressure to drop naturally for a minute or two, then quick release. The steam will spew some butter, which can be a little messy, so I placed a dishtowel on top of the pot to catch it.

Leave the Instant Pot on the "keep warm" setting. Open the pot carefully and stir the pasta well to distribute any remaining liquid. You do not need to drain the pasta. The starch stays in the pasta and helps to thicken the creamy sauce.

making Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Next, add the cubed Velveeta and cream cheese a few pieces at a time, and stir between each addition. Then, gradually add the grated cheddar cheese and stir until it melts into the pasta. If the sauce seems too thick, add some milk or cream!

macaroni and cheese

The sauce will be velvety and smooth, and the pasta will be tender and delicious. Season it to taste, adding salt and pepper until it tastes perfect. At our house, mac and cheese is often a meatless main dish, and we have vegetables like broccoli, green beans, or peas on the side. You may want to stir the veggies right into the pasta.

You can also stir in bacon, cubed ham, baby spinach, artichokes, or even crab or lobster if you feel especially fancy. Play around with your favorite cheeses, like Boursin, Parmesan, Gruyere, or Fontina.

The first time I made it, I couldn't wait for dinner, so I served myself a small bowlful sprinkled with seasoned pepper and parsley. When I was finished and sure no one was looking, I licked the bowl.

(I really did!)

This recipe makes a big batch, enough to serve eight. Since just two of us are at home now, we reheat the "planovers" in the microwave with a little bit of milk, stirring it once or twice as it warms. This macaroni and cheese is just as good on day three as on day one!


Yield: 8

Instant Pot Mac And Cheese

instant pot mac and cheese

This recipe is for rich, creamy, delicious macaroni and cheese you make from scratch in an Instant Pot.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 23 minutes


  • One 16-ounce package of elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • One 8-ounce block of cream cheese, cubed
  • One cup ( six ounces) of Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 8-ounces (or more if desired) of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A few drops of hot sauce, optional
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard, optional


  1. Put the macaroni, water, and salt in the Instant Pot, lock it, set it to high pressure, and cook for three minutes.
  2. Allow natural release for one or two minutes, then quick release. Put a dishtowel on the Instant Pot when releasing pressure to catch any butter in the steam.
  3. Stir pasta well to distribute any remaining water; do not drain. The starch on the pasta helps thicken the sauce.
  4. Leave Instant Pot on the "keep warm" setting.
  5. Add cheeses gradually, stirring well, until everything melts evenly.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper,
  7. Refrigerate leftovers and reheat in the microwave, adding a little milk and stirring once or twice while it warms.

Does it surprise you that you can use an Instant Pot to cook pasta? Do you have a recipe you'd share using this method? Here are two of my most popular non-Instant Pot pasta recipes: World's Best Tuna Casserole and Easy One-Pot American Goulash.

If you liked this recipe, you are my people! Please share it on your social media accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter! It would sure tickle me, and I would be ever so grateful!

If you haven't already, please look for me on Facebook and Pinterest. I share easy, delicious, family-friendly recipes there every week!

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