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.

Variations

  • 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
4.88 from 218 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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

Ingredients  

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Video

Notes

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.
4.88 from 218 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

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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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in the pot and plated with a title

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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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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