Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese takes all of the creamy goodness of homemade mac and cheese and turns it into a meal you can have on the table in minutes!

Elbow macaroni and seasonings are cooked in the Instant Pot until perfectly tender.  We add in the rest of the sauce ingredients (and CHEESE!) and simply stir. The result is a rich creamy saucy macaroni and cheese that you will not be able to have just one bowl of!

This is going to become your new go-to macaroni and cheese!

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese served in a white bowl

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Cheese is probably one of my favorite things of all time. You can enjoy it hot, cold, in just about any dish, on it’s own… okay, I’m done… back to this mac and cheese recipe.

I’m kind of obsessed with homemade Mac and Cheese, so ooey gooey good and loads of creamy cheesy sauce.  I love this easy recipe… it’s simple (no strainer, no roux, no extra dishes). While I often make Crock Pot Mac and Cheese for gatherings and parties, I love being able to whip it up quickly in my Instant Pot!

I do have to say, if you don’t have an Instant Pot, you NEED one! It’s an easy to use (aka not-scary-totally-safe electric pressure cooker that will save you hours and hours in the kitchen).

This Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese recipe is absolutely loaded with flavor. It starts out with pasta, seasonings and water cooked in the IP (I sometimes substitute half of the water in the recipe for low sodium chicken broth & skip the seasoning salt).  Next we stir in cheese, cream cheese, and milk (or half and half if you want to make it even creamier!).

I’ve intentionally made this mac and cheese with no evaporated milk (and without Velveeta) because I prefer the flavor of fresh milk and cheeses. The sauce in this recipe comes out creamy and velvety with a bit of starchiness from the pasta water.

Seriously SO EASY right?!

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese prepared in the Instant Pot

What Goes With Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is a creamy and rich (as a homemade mac and cheese recipe should be), so I like to serve it with a fresh side salad and some crusty bread (to make sure not a lick of sauce gets left behind)!

Depending on what’s in my fridge, I sometimes add in ham, or broccoli or even make it with chicken or bacon for the perfect main dish meal!  If I have had a busy day at work, coming home and throwing everything in the Instant pot and having dinner on the table quickly makes my evenings stress-free!

If I’m not serving it as a main, this Instant Pot macaroni and cheese is a perfect side with any dish (especially Crispy Baked Parmesan Chicken).

Mac and cheese makes a great potluck food too, so if you decide to bring it to a potluck there will likely be a few great salad options (and a lot of requests for the recipe for this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese)!

A heaping spoonful of Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

How to Reheat Mac and Cheese

When you are saving macaroni and cheese to have leftovers, the starches in the macaroni noodles will suck up some of the moisture in the dish. The longer your macaroni and cheese sits, the dryer it will become!

Some dishes (like Slow Cooker Chili) are better the next day but sadly this one isn’t one of them.  This dish is truly best enjoyed when it’s freshly made.

Of course it can be reheated but it’s not quite the same.  When you reheat Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, it’s a good idea to add a splash of milk or cream (about 1 tbs per cup of mac and cheese) while heating. In the microwave, just add it to the bowl and remember to stir everything together halfway through the reheating process.

A heaping bowl full of Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Regardless, once you try this Instant Pot Mac & Cheese recipe, it’s going to become a frequent side on your table!  Fresh ingredients made into a simple side

4.65 from 51 votes
Review Recipe

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Pressure Preheat 10 minutes
Total Time 26 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Instant pot mac and cheese takes all of the creamy goodness of homemade mac and cheese and turns it into a meal you can have on the table in under 30 minutes!


  • 2 1/2 cups dry macaroni noodles
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 oz cream cheese approx. 1/3 cup
  • 3/4 cup milk divided
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

avatarFollow Spend with Pennies on Pinterest


  1. Add dry macaroni noodles, water, onion powder, dry mustard, seasoning salt, pepper and butter to the instant pot.
  2. Set timer for 6 minutes on high pressure.
  3. Release pressure once completed, there will be water in the bottom – do not drain.
  4. Stir in the cream cheese to melt. Add the 1/4 cup milk slowly until blended.
  5. Stir in the cheddar and parmesan cheese. Add the remaining 1/2 cup milk until the desired consistency is reached. You may not need the entire amount of milk.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 327, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 54mg, Sodium: 375mg, Potassium: 155mg, Carbohydrates: 26g, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Protein: 14g, Vitamin A: 595%, Calcium: 317%, Iron: 0.7%

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

Keyword Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Repin this Delicious Mac & Cheese Recipe

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in a white bowl

More Recipes You’ll Love

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese takes all of the creamy goodness of homemade mac and cheese and turns it into a meal you can have on the table in minutes! #spendwithpennies #instantpot #mac&cheese #easyrecipe #kidfriendlyrecipe #instantpotrecipe #macaroniandcheese

More Recipes You'll Love

About the author


pinterest facebook twitter instagram

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!

More Posts by Holly

Latest & Greatest Dishes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Wow! Absolutely so quick & easy to prepare. So much better than the stuff in the box with powdered cheese! In no time at all this delicious Mac n cheese is ready to serve . Very creamy & comforting on the cold winter days. Also, less expensive.

  2. Can stop looking for a Mac and cheese recipe now. I’ve tried a few and this one will now be my go to. Only change I made was using broth instead of water, adds a nice flavour.

  3. Very Cheesy…We used shredded cheese from Walmart… “Great Value”. Not sure where everyone else went wrong. We kept the Instapot on warm and added the evaporated milk and soft cheese because we knew it would melt and then added the shredded cheese to make sure it would melt and followed the recipe to a T and it worked perfectly! This was our FIRST recipe in the instapot… Very happy with it and will be making it again… The only reason we rated 4 stars was because it was a little too cheesy… but overall, VERY HAPPY… :)

  4. We made this tonight, it was delicious!
    I doubled the recipe in an 8qt Instapot.
    I cooked the noodles for 1min longer, and because of the water being left in the noodles, I only used a total of 3/4 cup of milk (instead of doubling it). If I was going to make this for a pot luck I would have put more milk in to get it a little more melted cheesy consistency. We kept it on warm and the cheese definitely got “dry” but it was still very good and we like our Mac n cheese that way! Thanks for the recipe we will use it again!

  5. I am new to the Instant Pot Thing. I am trying to make this now, have no clue how to use my pot and wondering what setting you put it on to cook this recipe. I got a 6-1 instant pot for Christmas. Hopefully it turns out ok but will check this later for your answer. Thank you.

    1. Hi Nichole, for the newer instant pots I believe the button is called “manual”. Then you will just want to make sure it is set to high pressure for the time listed in the recipe.

  6. This was a great recipe! Easy and cheesy! I’ve made Mac in the IP before and it’s called for heavy cream or evaporated milk – I liked that this one called for regular milk I had on hand! Delish and will be making again!

  7. Ohmygoodness. I’m not feeling well, and thought I didn’t have the energy to stand over a stove making lunch. This recipe was SO easy (even with the math I had to do to account for the extra cup of noodles I threw in!), and it came out absolutely DELICIOUS! I’m already planning on making it again.

  8. Absolutely the best Mac and Cheese I have ever made!! I double the recipe and when when it’s done in the instant pot, I throw it in a baking dish. Mix some butter, Panko bread crumbs and fresh grated Parmesan cheese. Bake it off in the oven for 10-15 mins.
    My picky 9 year old who only used to eat the box stuff asks for it on a weekly basis!!!

  9. The family liked it, I would cut back on the seasoned salt for us as we don’t do much salt… I also drained off some water so I would probably cut back on it a bit…I’m going to try and figure out how to cut this in half as it made to much for three of us, oh and I also used almond milk as we don’t have milk in the house, I’m going to try it next time with non dairy items, and see how it turns …once I do I will post again , we have a special friend who can’t have dairy so I’m up for the challenge, unless someone else already has ..let me know

  10. I’ve had an instant pot for almost two years and I have never had a recipe turn out so terribly! End result was VERY soupy, even though I added the milk slowly and sparingly. Cheese didn’t melt in to the pasta and instead formed a big blob that stuck to the spoon I used to stir and the bottom of the pot. Ended up with flavorless cooked noodles and a mess of cheese. Had to throw the whole thing out and it left a giant mess in my instant pot. Will not be making again.

    1. Sorry to hear that Jackson. This recipe works perfectly for me as written and based on the reviews, most readers have had great success with this recipe as written. Sorry it didn’t work out well for you.

  11. I made this recipe for a potluck. I cooked everything the morning of, but didn’t add the milk. Instead I mixed in a little milk every hour or so to keep the macaroni from getting hard. The keep warm feature let this stay warm for lunch! Love it.

  12. This basically made soup? I didn’t drain the water as directed. Measured out the 2.5 cups of noodles. I did add some diced up ham so maybe that’s why there was an excess of liquid? Should have followed my instincts and drained it.

    1. That’s so disappointing JJ, I haven’t had that problem, it always comes out nice and creamy for us. What size is your IP? Did you use regular elbow macaroni noodles?

  13. Mine came out watery. Tasted ok, but wasn’t “creamy.” Tried to rescue it with a corn starch slurry, but it didn’t help much.

    1. Sorry to hear that Lisa. We’ve not had that issue before. Did you add the entire amount of milk? In the recipe, I suggest adding the last 1/2 cup only as needed.

  14. Loved it! Subbed Mexican cheese for the cheddar/parm. Combined the left over buffalo chicken (chopped it) with the left over Mac added salsa and a can of chopped green chile’s For tomorrow nights dinner. I will add crushed tortilla chips to the top for a little crunch. Challenge: when I released the pressure valve – milk and butter went everywhere the steam went – what a mess!

  15. This is the fastest mac n cheese I’ve ever made shy of a box of Kraft. I loved that I didn’t need a strainer and I only needed the initial 1/4 cup of milk it was plenty. I was a bit nervous to add dry mustard but after seeing two recipes calling for it I knew I had to at least try it, and I chose this one. I made 2 batches there was quite a bit left over from the second batch. I warmed it up the next day in the microwave and it was just as cheesy and fresh tasting and not dried out like a box mac n cheese would be. It was a hit for 4 out of 5 (my 6 year old is picky), so I can’t complain. I would make this again.

  16. Although this was good and the consistency and cooking times were spot on the end product lacked salt and was pretty sharp. My kids didn’t love it. Maybe it needs half of a milder cheese?

    1. Hi Amy, you could definitely try a milder cheese to reduce the sharpness. We have only made this recipe as listed but would love to hear how it turns out!

  17. I made this for a large gathering on a camping trip this weekend and it was a hit! This is my go to Mac and cheese recipe from here on out. Thank you!

    1. Yay! *doing a little happy dance* So happy you love it Pam! We totally agree with you, this is our go-to for sure and it takes hardly any time to make.

  18. I love this recipe. The first time I made it, I used cavatappi.

    I was wondering if brown rice noodles can be substituted for the macaroni. I need to make the recipe gluten-free. If it can, please advise me of any differences to the recipe.

    1. Hi Jan, we have not tried this recipe with gluten-free noodles. If you do, please let us know how it turns out!

  19. Very delicious and creamy and very easy to make.

    I didn’t have seasoned salt so I sprinkled some paprika and garlic seasoning without salt.

    The cheese I used had enough salt so I omitted salt in the recipe.

    Wonderful dish. Will definitely make again.

  20. My teenager requested mac and cheese tonight and I didn’t have any of the box stuff. I found this recipe and just whipped this up in my instant pot and he said “It’s really, really good Mom”. Definitely a keeper. The only change i made was i used the shells instead of the elbow mac because that was what I had on hand. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly and it was perfect.

    1. Sorry Lenoir, we haven’t tried doubling this recipe. But if you do, let us know how much time it requires!

  21. Yum. Well spiced. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us! My husband and I love it — it is definitely our go-to mac recipe.

  22. This was easy and delicious, thank you! I have teenage boys, next time I will double the recipe. So happy I don’t have to make a rue!

    1. We love this recipe too Gayle! Definitely have to double the recipe with hungry teenage boys around.

  23. Seriously the best and easiest mac and cheese ever! Always make it for the kids at family events but the adults lkike it just as much as the kids do! It is my go-to recipe now! Beats standing over the stove making white sauce.

  24. Way, way, way to much water
    I wish I had of listened to my common sense. It came out soupy. Forget the milk too, no need for it. I believe the poster of this recipe doesn’t realize, like cooking rice in the IP, requires 1/2 the water.
    I sauteed onion and diced green pepper in a frying pan till caramelized. I used 4 types of cheese. Balderson, parmesan, mozzarella, and cream cheese. I added the green pepper, onion, and cheese at the end. I used cornstarch first to thicken it up and then some flour to correct this mistake. Flavor was great, I also put 1tsp of Knorr chicken bouillon in the cooking water. DON’T USE 3 CUPS OF WATER. USE 1 1/2 CUPS AND IT SHOULD BE FINE. Actually I prefer oven baked Mac and Cheese.

    1. The recipe works perfectly for me as written and based on the reviews, most readers have had great success with this recipe as written. Sorry it didn’t work out well for you.

  25. This stuff is AMAZING!!!! I’m making my 3rd double batch in a month.
    Creamy smooth and super flavorful. I sub triple cheddar for the sharp.

  26. First time trying pasta in my instant pot, and results were OK, not my favorite. It was definitely fast! Tasted homemade in the time it would have taken to stir up the stuff in the blue box, so that was a huge plus.

    Needed lots more salt and pepper (I quadrupled the suggested amount to a full teaspoon, and still salted it more at the table) and way less mustard and onion, for our taste. But I MAY have been tasting ghosts of recipes past – because each bite reminded me of the last batch of chili/pot roast/Swiss steak I made in the trusty appliance…?

    I also had to add a lot more milk – the noodles were tender but thirsty! All in all, would definitely try again. I liked very much how soft yet sturdy the macaroni got!

    Oh, and for the folks having difficulty with stringy cheese – a teeny splash of acid (lemon juice, vinegar, wine, beer, or similar) will cut the strings!

  27. This was delicious. I added some steamed broccoli to it and it was delicious. We had leftovers and I threw them in the oven with some cheese on top the next day to heat them up and was delicious and full of flavor.

  28. Looks like a nice recipe! Does the cream cheese affect the texture? I have more milk on hand than cream cheese and wondered if I could increase the milk and add more shredded cheddar instead of cream cheese? There’s not much liquid going in.

    1. I ask because I don’t normally use cream cheese in my stove/oven Mac n cheese but wondered if it needed it with the instant pot.

    2. Once hot, it will be slightly thicker than milk. It will affect the creaminess of the mac and cheese though. Let me know how it turns out!

  29. Growing up, macaroni & cheese from a box was a staple for us kids. As i got older i switched to making homemade mac & cheese. Making it simply with macaroni noodles, some butter & cheese. It was always just alright. Now enter the instant pot in my life a few weeks ago. Found this recipe which was slightly more complex, with more ingredients, but still really simple to make. It is is undoubtedly the best mac & cheese I’ve ever had in my life! Ive made 3 seperate batches & they’ve all turned out perfect. I wouldnt change a thing!

  30. This is my first Mac and Cheese recipe in my new instant pot! I’m so excited, but a newbie so excuse me if this is an obvious question, but if we want to add broccoli to this, when/how do we do that?

    1. I haven’t tried this with broccoli so I can’t say for sure. You could try adding it at the beginning but I’d worry it would be too soft. Perhaps just steaming it and adding it in at the end would work well. Let us know how it goes!

  31. We have been using this recipe and love it, but I have a question. When you say seasoning salt… Do you mean seasoned salt? If so, we’ve been missing out! Lol

  32. Going to make this for a Thanksgiving side dish. I bought pre-shredded cheese, will it still work okay? Also, do i turn instant pot off after the noodles cook? I attempted to make a broccoli and cheese soup once and left the heat on and my cheese turned into chewing gum. It was terrible.

    1. Pre shredded cheese may not melt the same. We prefer to shred the cheese ourselves. Let me know how it turns out!

  33. The only thing I did differently was to use 1 cup of chicken broth (made with better than bullion) and 2 cups of water.  It was SO flavorful, creamy, and perfect!  

  34. This is a fantastic recipe! I followed it to a T! I cooked the pasta and seasoning for 6 minutes then quick released and immediately stirred in milk and cheeses! I did add real bacon bits in at the end because my family requested it. They all loved it! Mine turned out very creamy and DELICIOUS! If you are looking for mac and cheese that tastes like kraft, or boxed made with powder – this is not the recipe for you. It’s amazing out of the insta pot!! Much better and not dry like baked mac and cheeee. I will make this over and over again!!

        1. I have not tried doubling this recipe so I can’t say 100% for sure. While I do think it would work (as I think the pasta will cook fine) my only concern would be the amount of liquid. If you try it, I might suggest removing some of the liquid before you begin adding the cheese. You can add more liquid as needed to get the right consistency.

          Keep in mind, I have not tried it but I hope it works out for you, please let us know how it goes! (I do have a Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese that doubles well)

  35. My first IP recipe and I’m a little disappointed. As other have mentioned, flavor is lacking but that’s easily worked with. However, this wasn’t so much creamy (super bummed) but stringy. Anyone have any ideas why? I doubled the recipe and used mild cheddar to accommodate a picky eater.

    1. Was your cheese pre-shredded? Pre-shredded cheeses can sometimes have additives to keep them from sticking/clumping which can affect how they melt.

      Using a mild cheddar would affect the flavor (sharp cheddar has more flavor). Hope that helps!

      1. When I use pre-shredded cheese I also stir in some sour cream when I’m stirring in the cheese. This helps give the cheese a creamier texture instead of that stringiness. It just adds to the flavor.

  36. I have made this at least 5 times and every time it has turned out fantastic!! The last time I ended up using garlic and herb cream cheese as I didn’t have regular and what a great flavor!!

  37. So I followed this to a T but after about 10/15 minutes everything starts to separate and it’s not creamy at all… I tried adding more milk and reheating but it just keeps doing the same thing.. any ideas?

    1. This recipe should only take about 8 minutes total. You’ll set it for 6 min to cook, once cooked stir in the cheese and serve. I wouldn’t recommend leaving it on warm as it will continue to cook and become mushy.

  38. Sounds awesome. Has anyone ever made this recipe and then put in casserole dish with panko bread crumbs and baked?  I was going to make today for a birthday dinner I’m going to tonight. I’m a last minute Lulu but have heard the instant pot is perfect for gals (you know the procrastinator) like me. Thanks! 

  39. This is delicious ! I ended up doubling it and put more Parmesan than the recipe said and a little garlic powder and it turned out perfect! Same cooking time as your recipe but because I doubled the water as well it left a bit more then I thought it needed so I took maybe 1/4 cup of the water out at the end. Love this ! 

  40. Help!  I followed the directions as printed, but it came out EXTREMELY soupy.  I need to get this right because one of my children has a wheat allergy and is a lover of Mac and Cheese!  Are you supposed to use 3 cups of water using a regular measuring cup or 3 cups of the InstantPot measuring cup? 

    1. Hi Abby, yes, you use 3 (measuring) cups of water. Did you use any low fat or pre shredded cheeses? Did you mix it really well until it was fully incorporated? It is possible that it may seem a little soupy at first, but it should combine into a lovely creamy sauce. Hope that helps!

    2. If the wheat allergy means you used gluten-free noodles, the gluten and special starchiness in the water wouldn’t have thickened the sauce. Maybe that’s it. Gluten-free noodles don’t thicken sauces like the starchy, creamy cousins made with wheat do.

  41. I made this for lunch using stove top instead of instant pot. Oops. It worked out well and I really liked it. Next time I plan on adding chicken and a veggie. :)

  42. Do you do anything once you add the milk and cheese to get it creamy? Or just stir it up? Just want to make sure i dont need to set the instant pot to something after adding the cheese besides the keep warm

    1. Yes, you just stir in the order as in the instructions, and it makes super creamy cheesy sauce! Hard to believe, right? It’s easy Kristin, you’ll love it!

  43. Sorry but this recipe (for me and my kids) was not good at all. It was super creamy which was a good thing but had little to no flavour.  Made the recipe as instructed.  It looked so good but was super disappointed when i tasted it.  I think if I made it again I would not use the cream cheese.  It added a really weird flavour to the Mac and cheese.  Instead, I’d use about 8oz of velveeta cheese and probably leave the rest the same.  

    1. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this recipe Jon, we love it! Did you add the onion powder, dry mustard and seasoning salt?

  44. Do I need a pressure cooker for the Mac & cheese or can I cook it another way. I recipe looks pretty good but I don’t have a pressure cooker, always been nervous with them. Thank you!!

  45. This has the absolutely perfect creamy texture – amazing! One more Instant Pot recipe that will help us through our big move this summer when most of my kitchen is all packed up!

  46. I finally jumped on the instant pot bandwagon and have been searching for easy recipes to make the family. I love how simple this is to make and that it only takes 6 minutes. Can’t wait to try this mac and cheese next.

  47. This mac n cheese looks perfect! I can’t believe it was made in an Instant Pot! My kids (and my husband and me) love mac n cheese so this is definitely a keeper!

  48. Perfectly creamy looking and all that cheese! My family would seriously enjoy this and I love that it’s made in the instant pot!

  49. This mac and cheese looks absolutely dreamy (and creamy obvi)!  I’ve used my instant pot twice in the last 4 months.  I might have to unpack it again and give this a try.

  50. Hey Holly this looks like some hella creamy mac n’ cheese! I definitely have to get myself an instant pot and try this amazing recipe out! Well done!

  51. Wow! This looks so creamy and wonderful! I haven’t tried pasta in my instant pot yet (which I just got only a month or two ago) and am going to have to add this to my list!

  52. There’s nothing better than homemade mac n cheese right?! I’ve not tried making pasta in the Instant Pot yet. I’ll give this a try. I like that you use real cheese, milk and seasonings.

  53. This is the first recipe I want to make when I finally get my instant pot! So excited to try this delicious looking mac and cheese very soon!

  54. We made this as a side for dinner and it was divine! Four of us ate the entire batch because we couldn’t stop eating it. Thank you for this delicious recipe! A “go to” mac and cheese for sure. Easy and delish.

  55. This mac and cheese looks sooooo creamy! I’ve been on the fence about buying an instant pot, but this recipe has won me over; I need one so I can make this!