Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

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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 in a white bowl with a fork

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 full of Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

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)!

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.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in a white bowl

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

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in a white bowl with a fork
4.86 from 189 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
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!

Equipment

Ingredients

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

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Instructions

  • Add dry macaroni noodles, water, onion powder, dry mustard, seasoning salt, pepper and butter to the instant pot.
  • Set timer for 6 minutes on high pressure.
  • Release pressure once completed, there will be water in the bottom – do not drain.
  • Stir in the cream cheese to melt. Add the 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.

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.)

Keyword Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American

Repin this Delicious Mac & Cheese Recipe

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in a white bowl with a fork and a title

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About the author

Holly

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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

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Comments

  1. This is my go-to dinner party dish! I think -at this point I’m known for my mac & cheese. This instant pot recipe is great for beginners but none the less a 10/10 recipe. Hands down creamiest, cheesiest, & thickest mac & cheese you’ll ever have !5 stars

  2. This is a fantastic recipe and the instructions are spot on. If this was a fail for you, it is because you did something wrong. I used mild cheddar and whipped Philadelphia cream cheese. Good cooks know to taste test after cooking. The only thing this needed for my taste was a tiny bit more seasoned salt. You can’t put this in the pressure cooker and then walk away. “Mis en place” the ingredients and do a quick release immediately after the cook time is done. And then slowly add the cheeses and milk right away. Hubs, who generally won’t eat any mac ‘n cheese but the blue boxed version declared this a winner! Awesome…thankyou. We will have this again and again.5 stars

  3. Yummy.. this is soooooo good!! I am a new instant pot user and this was my first mac and cheese recipe I tried and I will not try another it is so yummy yummy yummy yummy!!

  4. This Mac and Cheese recipe is my weeknight go to! It is always gooey and good with minimal effort. My only addition is to spray your instant pot with cooking spray before hand to help with the cheesy clean-up.5 stars

  5. My kids loved this! My older ate 3 healthy portions of this and my little one had enough to make one adult serving! The adults feel that it’s lacking some depth in flavor. I’m wondering if substituting some of the milk for heavy cream or sour cream would help add to the richness and flavor dimensions that we are searching for. Otherwise, we will be trying this again soon with some twist.4 stars

  6. How much time would you use in the instant pot for gluten free pasta or quinoa pasta?? Mine always comes out so mushy it’s so hard to tell??

  7. Made for lunch for unexpected last minute guests! I doubled it, and it was all gone. A big hit! I cut the water by about 1/2 cup for doubling, and added milk until it was perfect!5 stars

  8. As someone who did not have boxed macaroni and cheese until I was an adult, I appreciate this from-scratch recipe. The mac n cheese of my childhood was usually Bahamian or Haitian style but I like American mac n cheese. This is the first time I have made it myself and really loved it. It is quick, easy, and delicious. Unfortunately, my kids did not like it. It’s not the recipe – they only like Kraft mac n cheese. However, my husband and I loved it. I will definitely cook it for our weekly family dinners at the in-laws. I took some from the IP to eat as is. I sprinkled shredded cheddar on the remainder and covered it with my Mealthy Airfryer Lid – 500 degrees for 5 minutes. It gave it a crispy, golden crust that complemented the lusciously creamy mac n cheese it covered.

    Holly, thank you so much for this recipe.5 stars

    1. I haven’t tried halving this so I can’t say for sure. Let us know how it goes if you try it.

  9. This was really easy and delicious. I halved the recipe because there were only three of us. everyone loved it. So much better than the stuff from the box. I’ve used several of your recipes, and they are all spot on! Thank you so much!

  10. I am a self proclaimed Mac n cheese snob and this is delicious!! I was a bit worried when I saw how much water was left but it turned out beautifully using only 1/4 cup of milk. I’m digging in right after I save this recipe. 5 stars

  11. Love this recipe, it’s absolutely perfect.
    My one question is recipe states eight servings…how big would the servings be?
    Thanks5 stars

  12. Always comes out perfectly! My first instant pot recipe and spend with pennies is such a yummy, reliable cooking resource!! thank you5 stars

  13. I made this and it worked beautifully – not really sure why so many have had problems. Actually, I probably used a tad more dry mac than the recipe called for and I had very little water when I released the pressure. I had some Heavy Cream so I used that for the first addition of milk, then I used 2% for the remainder. The only changes I would make next time, and it’s just personal preference, is I’ll cook the mac either an additional minute or let it NPR for a minute or two as we like ours a little more cooked, and I think instead of the 3 oz. of cream cheese, I’ll use the same amount of good ol’ Velveeta and will use a milder cheddar. However, not to take away anything from your recipe because it is really good.

    Also, a tip on reheating pasta – do a pot-in-pot in the IP and push the steam button. It comes out just as creamy and soft as it did when first cooked. I’ve reheated a lot of pasta this way and it’s never failed me. I hate using the microwave!

    Thanks again – I’m a new fan and can’t wait to try more of your recipes!5 stars

  14. I have made this recipe several times before, and have always been very pleased with it. If I want to double the recipe, will I need to double the water? I don’t want to have too much leftover water. Thanks for this great recipe!5 stars

    1. Hi Sam, we have never doubled this recipe but other readers have with success. They have doubled the recipe as listed and it doesn’t sound like too much water was leftover. We would love to hear how it turns out for you!

  15. I made this before and it was delicious but it was pure chance that I got the quantities right! I’m in the UK and we use grams and ml instead of cups. What is a cup?! Is it a full mug (e.g. for tea?) or a drinking glass? Any advice gratefully received!5 stars

    1. Hi Miriam, a cup is about 240ml or 8 ounces when it comes to liquid measurements. Grams will vary for dry good measurements though. Hope that helps!

    2. I’m new to the instant pot but want to learn how to use it. I’m searching the net for easy recipes for my instapot.

  16. I would love to try this recipe but I want to add some spicy hamburger to it. Should I cook that on the side and add it? Possibly cook it at the same time…how much longer do you think it would I pressure cook it for? Ideas…?
    Lauryl

    1. That would be a delicious addition! I would suggest to cook it on the side and stir it in with the cheeses. You may need to add a bit more milk/cheese to get the right ratio of sauce.

  17. 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.5 stars