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Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

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Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food with a creamy, velvety smooth sauce! Homemade Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot is quick, easy, and less messy. This one-pot recipe makes the perfect amount in about 10 minutes.

Instant pot macaroni and cheese in dark bowl sprinkled with parsley on top of wooden board and teal cloth next to pepper grinder and macaroni shells

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

The Instant Pot cooks noodles incredibly fast and it’s a one-pot meal! That’s right, skip babysitting boiling water. Skip straining an intimidatingly heavy pot of steaming noodles. Skip the extra dishes afterwards.

I will say macaroni cooked in the Instant Pot does have a slightly different texture than if it was boiled on the stove. The cooking chemistry is completely different for boiling a pot of noodles and pressure-cooking a pot of noodles.

Pasta boiled in water releases starch while absorbing liquid over time. On the other hand, pressure-cooked noodles cook so quickly they don’t have time to release starch. That’s why the texture is different!

Pressure Cooking Noodles

Adding back starch is a chef’s trick to thicken pasta sauces. I find that the starch in Instant Pot Mac and Cheese makes the sauce thick, rich, and creamy.

This recipe is unique because it calls for half a pound of macaroni noodles. So you don’t have to use an entire box or pound of noodles if you don’t want that much. For a reference point, a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese contains one cup of noodles.

This recipe uses 2 cups of noodles. Most recipes for Instant Pot mac and cheese call for 4 cups of noodles. Feel free to double this recipe if you like!

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in bright kid bowls

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese That’s Easy

If you don’t want to make a from-scratch recipe for Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered with my tried and true recipe for Kraft Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot. It’s a no-drain, no fuss recipe for Easy Mac in the Instant Pot.

My kids actually prefer Instant Pot Easy Mac to any homemade, gourmet mac and cheese. I’m not sure how we got here, but power struggles over mac and cheese aren’t worth the energy #pickmybattles. Any other parents relate?

How to Make Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

Add everything to the pot, stir, then cook. It’s that easy!

  • To the Instant Pot, add macaroni, water, bouillon, cream, mustard, hot sauce, and salt. Mix to combine completely.
  • Lock the lid, turn the knob to sealing, and cook on manual high pressure for 4 minutes with a quick release.
  • Open the lid and mix the noodles to break them up.
  • Gradually incorporate 1 cup of the shredded cheese and mix constantly. Add additional 1/2 cup cheese if you’d like it cheesier. Add a splash of milk or cream if needed to thin.
  • Serve immediately.

The mustard and hot sauce add flavor to the finished dish, but not any heat. It simply enhances the flavors of the cheese. If you have other favorite seasonings for macaroni and cheese, feel free to use those! Some people like nutmeg, garlic powder, or onion powder.

Fork lifting instant pot macaroni and cheese with cheesy strings coming from bowl of macaroni and cheese

Pro Tip for PArents and caretakers

Quick Tip: My hungry kids tend to get impatient waiting for hot meals to cool. So I just add some frozen vegetables to their bowls! I usually use this trick for my soup recipes, but it applies perfectly here too.

Mix the Instant Pot Mac and Cheese and frozen veggies together and let it sit for a couple minutes. Mix again, and it’s the perfect temperature for kids! The hot noodles and sauce warm up the frozen veggies, and the frozen veggies cool down the mac and cheese. My favorite vegetable to add to Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is frozen peas. Yum!

Freshly Grated Cheese vs. Pre-Shredded Cheese

Pre-shredded cheese contains preservatives to prevent clumping. Some people claim the starches in pre-shredded cheese stop it from melting and incorporating well when cooking. Certain mac and cheese recipes advise you to grate your own cheese for best results.

However, I haven’t found a problem using pre-shredded cheese! I recommend adding the cheese into the hot noodles in small increments to prevent clumping. Simply add cheese in small handfuls and mix quickly to combine.

I purchased two types of cheddar cheese blends for this macaroni and cheese from the store. I try to avoid blends that contain mozzarella cheese for mac and cheese, because it is very stringy (like pizza). You can use whatever combination of cheeses suits your taste.

How to Store and Reheat Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

There’s nothing like fresh, homemade mac and cheese. This recipe makes the perfect amount, so you won’t get sick of leftovers! But if you have leftovers, store in an airtight container in the fridge. Just like other pasta dishes, Instant Pot Mac and Cheese dries out a bit after refrigeration. Add a little milk before reheating to add back some moisture. 

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese for Two

This recipe is perfect for two generous portions as a main dish, or 4 side dish portions. Most recipes for Instant Pot Mac and Cheese feed an army, but you’ll have the perfect amount with this recipe. If you’re looking for an Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese recipe for one, you can find it in my Instant Pot Cooking for One Cookbook

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with Velveeta

Velveeta cheese is a processed cheese product that is similar in consistency to nacho cheese. You may substitute the shredded cheese in this recipe for Velveeta cheese.

Top view of instant pot mac and cheese topped with parsley next to white stripped towel, macaroni noodle shells and on top of wooden board and teal cloth

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with Evaporated or Condensed Milk

My Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe calls for heavy cream. (No surprise, if you’ve been around here long enough 😉.) However, you can substitute the heavy cream with canned milk in this recipe.

I recommend substituting evaporated milk. I don’t recommend using coconut milk or almond milk in this recipe.  Condensed milk is milk mixed with copious amounts of sugar and canned into a syrupy consistency, so it should not be used for macaroni and cheese. 

Instant Pot Noodle recipes

If you like Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, here are a few other Instant Pot pasta dishes to try!

About the Author

About Lisa

Lisa childs holding an instant pot lid with a mickey instant pot

Lisa Childs is the food blogger behind Tried, Tested, and True. Join the hundreds of thousands of people each month that learn from Lisa-

Subscribe to her website, follow her on Instagram at @tried_tested_true, follow her on Pinterest, and find her on Youtube at Tried Tested and True. She is passionate about giving home cooks confidence using their Instant Pots. Make sure to sign up for our email newsletter to hear from personally from her weekly! Learn more about Lisa.

Graphic of Ooey Gooey Mac & Cheese with one picture of a bowl of mac and cheese
Fork lifting instant pot mac and cheese with cheesy strings coming from bowl of mac and cheese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Yield: 2-4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 14 minutes

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food with a creamy, velvety smooth sauce! Homemade Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot is quick, easy, and less messy. This one-pot recipe makes the perfect amount in about 10 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked (dry) elbow macaroni noodles
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons chicken flavored Better than Bouillon or chicken bouillon powder
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard (yellow or dijon)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese blend

Instructions

    1. To the Instant Pot, add macaroni, water, bouillon, cream, mustard, hot sauce, and salt. Mix to combine completely.
    2. Lock the lid, turn the knob to sealing, and cook on manual high pressure for 4 minutes with a quick release.
    3. Open the lid and mix the noodles to break them up.
    4. Add 1 cup of the shredded cheese and mix constantly. Add additional 1/2 cup cheese if you'd like it cheesier. Add a splash of milk or cream if needed to thin.
    5. Serve immediately.

Notes

    • Some recipes advise you to grate your own cheese for best results. While pre-shredded cheese does contain some preservatives to prevent clumping, I haven't found a problem with using it. Add the cheese into the hot noodles in small increments to prevent clumping.
    • If you prefer to add garlic salt or garlic powder, onion powder, or other seasoning to your macaroni and cheese, feel free to do so!
    • I purchased two types of cheddar cheese blends for this macaroni and cheese from the store. I try to avoid blends that contain mozzarella cheese for mac and cheese, because it is very stringy (like pizza). You can use whatever combination of cheeses suits your taste.

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