This Instant Pot mac and cheese is extra creamy, super cheesy, really easy, and is ready in minutes.

It all cooks in just one pot; including the pasta with no draining or straining.

plated Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with a spoon

Easy Cheesy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

  • Creamy, cheesy, and delicious it’s made in just one pot, making fewer dishes to wash.
  • Super easy to prepare – no roux, no strainer, and no baking required.
  • A pressure cooker makes this so fast, this may even be quicker and easier than boxed.
ingredients to make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with labels

Ingredients for Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

Pasta Elbow macaroni noodles are my first choice but you can use other small varieties of pasta.

Water and Seasonings – Season the cooking water in this recipe as it is absorbed by the pasta, adding great flavor. Do not drain the water; the starches from the pasta help thicken it and make a creamy sauce.

Cheese – Sharp cheddar and Parmesan cheese make a rich cheese sauce. You can replace some or all of the cheddar with gruyere, gouda, fontina, or even Monterey jack. Skip the mozzarella cheese in this recipe, as it isn’t bold enough.


  • Replace half of the cooking water with reduced sodium chicken broth & skip the salt.
  • Add seasonings like garlic powder, cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce.
  • For some extra nutrition, stir in vegetables like spinach or steamed broccoli.
  • Replace the milk with half and half or evaporated milk if desired.
  • Add rotisserie chicken, diced ham, or even ground beef or sprinkle with crisp bacon.

How to Make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

The leftover pasta water from cooking adds starch to thicken it and help it stick to the pasta.

  1. Add elbows, water, & seasonings to the Instant Pot and cook on high.
  2. Quick-release the pressure (per the recipe below) do not drain.
  3. Stir in cream cheese, cheddar and parmesan.
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Storing & Reheating Leftovers

  • Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • When reheating, add a splash of milk or heavy cream (about 1 tbsp per cup of mac and cheese) to keep it creamy.

More Mac and Cheese Favorites

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

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
4.90 from 273 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 one pot meal.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Pressure Preheat 10 minutes
Total Time 26 minutes
Servings 8 servings
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  • 2 ½ cups dry elbow macaroni noodles about 10 oz
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon seasoned salt or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 ounces cream cheese approx. ⅓ cup
  • ¾ cup milk divided
  • 2 ½ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese about 10 oz
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese shredded


  • In a 6qt Instant Pot, add uncooked elbow noodles, water, butter, dry mustard, onion powder, seasoned salt, and pepper.
  • Add the lid and turn to seal. Select MANUAL – HIGH PRESSURE for 6 minutes.
  • Once completed, turn or press the valve to release any pressure (quick release). There will be cooking liquid in the Instant Pot – do not drain it.
  • Stir in the cream cheese until melted. Add ¼ cup milk slowly until blended.
  • Add the cheddar and parmesan cheeses and stir until melted, adding additional milk if needed to reach the desired consistency. You may not need all of the milk.
  • Serve immediately.



This recipe can be made with other types of cheese, ensure you use a bold or sharp cheese 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 rest for a few minutes.
4.90 from 273 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
pot full of Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with a title
bowl of Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with writing
close up of creamy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with writing
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in the pot cooked and plated with pepper and a title


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Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
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4.90 from 273 votes (179 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. i made this tonight using fresh shredded parmigiana reggiano, smoked gouda and Gruyère. added a handful of pre shredded mexican cheese for the cheddar but don’t think needed it. this paired really well with some smoked pork chops. will def try again, maybe with other cheeses. quick and easy (once i figured out my instapot, lol).5 stars

  2. I have made this Mac n cheese MULTIPLE times. Sometimes I forget that this is the recipe I usually search and accidentally make a different one, and I am disappointed every time. I am never disappointed when I make this one.

    Today I realized I was out of ground mustard, so I substituted spicy brown mustard and it was probably the best I’ve ever made. 10/105 stars

  3. do you have any tips for power cooker steam valve came off. do you have a way to make it oven or stove top5 stars

  4. This was so yummy! It’s my new go-to recipe for macaroni and cheese! I followed the recipe almost exactly as written. Only changes were: Had some small shells I wanted to use up and I got sidetracked and didn’t release the pressure right away. Still turned out perfect 5 stars

  5. The taste was amazing!! but way too watery – like soup. Any ideas what I can do to make it less watery next time. I adjusted the recipe to 6 servings and it was calling for 1.88c pasta and 2.25c water.

    Will DEF make again –5 stars

    1. Hmm, I’m sorry it didn’t quite turn out for you, Kristi. Other readers have doubled the recipe with no problems so I’m not sure what happened!

      1. I think with the extra 2 oz of pasta, mine may have turned out a little better. I used 2 1/2 c. Is that 10 oz as the recipe reads, or 12 oz as your comment reads?

        I shredded my cheeses, but it turned out really cheese-clumpy. Used whole milk and real butter. It’s an easy enough recipe that I will attempt it again with a different brand of cheese. It just stuck to the silicone spatula.

        Spot on with flavor,I’ve just gotta tweak the goopiness into smoothness.

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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.

    1. Ooo, i love goat cheese, I would have thought that would be delicious. maybe a little less of it? or maybe mixed with another white cheese instead of cheddar? goat cheese has so much flavor!