Mac & Cheese is my love language.

This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe is so incredibly simple, it all cooks in just one pot (including the pasta) and is ready in minutes.

Extra creamy, super cheesy, and ridiculously easy. This is the ultimate quick comfort food and just might become your new go-to macaroni and cheese recipe!

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in a serving dish

Why You’ll Love Instant Pot Mac and Cheese as Much as I do

An Instant Pot is a brand of electric pressure cooker. It’s easy to use and cooks meals in no time at all making it perfect for weeknights!

  • Just one pot. Who doesn’t love washing fewer dishes?!
  • Extra cheesy and super easy to prepare. No roux, no flour, no strainer, no baking required.
  • A pressure cooker makes this so fast, this may even be quicker and easier than a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese (and it tastes better too)!
  • It’s creamy, cheesy, and delicious.

ingredients to make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with labels

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Ingredients

PASTA Dry elbow macaroni noodles are the simple pasta of choice for this recipe. These are small, easy to eat, and are great for soaking up all that cheesy sauce.

WATER & SEASONINGS The cooking water in this recipe is seasoned to add flavor to the pasta. The water is not drained, it is combined with cheese to make the creamy sauce!

CHEESE SAUCE Cheese, cheese, and more cheese! Remember not to drain the pasta. The leftover pasta water from cooking adds a little starch to the sauce to help it stick to the noodles. Milk is added to give it the perfect smooth texture.

Ensure you’re using sharp and bold cheeses in this recipe. Substitute some of the sharp cheddar with gruyere, gouda, fontina, or even Monterey jack. Skip the mozzarella cheese in this recipe as it isn’t bold enough.


  • Substitute half of the cooking water for low sodium chicken broth & skip the seasoning salt.
  • Add your own favorite seasonings from garlic powder to cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce.
  • To make it even creamier use evaporated milk or heavy cream in place of regular milk.
  • For a splash of color, toss in your favorite veggies like a handful of chopped spinach or steamed broccoli (after cooking, they’ll overcook if cooked with the pasta).
  • Add rotisserie chicken, diced ham, or even ground beef.
  • Sprinkle with crisp bacon.

process of adding ingredients together to make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

How to Make Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

  1. Add macaroni, water, & seasonings to an Instant Pot. Pressure cook on MANUAL – High Pressure.
  2. Quick release the pressure (as per recipe below) and be sure not to drain the cooking liquid.
  3. Add cream cheese, stir until melted.
  4. Stir in cheddar & parmesan cheese. Add remaining milk.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

What Goes With Mac & Cheese?

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is a rich and filling dish, serve it with a fresh Easy Arugula Salad and some Cheesy Garlic Breadsticks, or some crusty bread. Even some Parmesan Roasted Broccoli or Air Fryer Cauliflower would be light sides with this dish.

Storing & Reheating Leftovers

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • When reheating, it’s a good idea to add a splash of milk or cream (about 1 tbsp per cup of mac and cheese) while heating.
  • In the microwave, just add it to the bowl, & remember to stir everything together halfway through the reheating process.

We Love Mac and Cheese!

Did you make this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in a serving dish
4.89 from 246 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Instant pot mac and cheese takes all of the creamy goodness of homemade mac and cheese and turns it into an easy meal that's cooked in one pot!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Pressure Preheat 10 minutes
Total Time 26 minutes
Servings 8 servings


  • 2 ½ cups dry elbow macaroni noodles
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon seasoned salt or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 ounces cream cheese approx. ⅓ cup
  • ¾ cup milk divided
  • 2 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese shredded


  • Add dry elbow macaroni noodles, water, butter, dry mustard, onion powder, seasoned salt, and pepper to a 6 qt. Instant Pot.
  • Set the instant pot to MANUAL for 6 minutes on high pressure.
  • Once completed, quick release the pressure by turning or pressing the valve. There will be water in the bottom – do not drain it.
  • Stir in the cream cheese until melted. Add ¼ cup milk slowly until blended.
  • Stir in the cheddar and parmesan cheese. Add the remaining ½ cup milk until the desired consistency is reached. You may not need the entire amount of milk.



This recipe can be made with other types of cheese but you will need bold or sharp cheeses for the best flavor.
Shred the cheese yourself for the best results, pre-shredded cheeses have additives and they don't always melt well.
Other shapes of pasta can be used but depending on the shape, cooking time may need to be adjusted slightly.
You may not use all of the milk, add just a little bit at a time.
6 minutes on high should be just right for most brands of pasta, if you use another small shape and find it isn't cooked through, put the lid back on and let it sit a few minutes.
4.89 from 246 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 327 | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 375mg | Potassium: 155mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 595IU | Calcium: 317mg | Iron: 0.7mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Lunch, Pasta, Side Dish
Cuisine American

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. DELICIOUS!! I doubled this recipe and fed it to 17 teenagers. They went out of their way to tell me how delicious it was.

    Here are the only changes I make (likely because I didn’t have what was needed or taste preferences):
    -I used heavy cream instead of milk
    -Omitted dry mustard powder and pepper, and added garlic powder
    -Used less water (I eyeballed it and only put enough water to cover pasta by about an inch)
    -Quick-released after only 4 minutes
    -Added lots of fresh parmesan (not sure how much, but I was heavy-handed)
    -Added generous amounts of salt to taste, once finished

    It was gobbled up in no time. I was so happy to have this recipe to help me feed so many kids on a much cheaper budget than ordering 6 pizzas!

    Thanks for sharing your recipe with us all!!5 stars

  2. I was looking for something my 17 yr old daughter could eat after getting her new braces two days ago. She gets crazy hangry if she is not fed. Finding something )other than mashed potatoes and soup) that she didn’t have to chew a lot was a challenge. I looked at several recipes and came back to this one. It was an EXCELLENT choice. I made it “almost” exactly as written with the following “adjustments”: I6 oz of rigatoni w/ 4 cups of water; used more butter- 3 Tbls; added 1 tsp garlic powder; replaced the parmesan cheese with more sharp cheddar; and used cream instead of milk. I left out the seasoning salt because I was out of my Lawry’s. I followed the Insta Pot rule for cooking perfect pasta – divide the total suggested cooking time by 2 and subtract 1 min. Four mins in the insta pot gave me perfectly al dente rigatoni. This recipe blew my family away. It was soooo good! And my daughter with the new braces ate 3 servings of mashed-up mac and cheese. This will be my only pressure cooker mac and cheese recipe!5 stars

  3. I make this all the time and love it. I did try it without cream cheese because I didn’t have any and replaced with goat cheese, thinking it might work. It did not.