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. I want to make this for a crowd of teenagers, so I think I should double it. Would doubling require additional cook time?

  2. Made this last night. Not a huge fan on sharp cheddar cheese so will definitely have to dial it down next time. Also, we got the dreaded BURN notice twice! Luckily the second time wasn’t too bad and I was able to salvage it. Other recipes I’ve used usually call for more liquid than the stayed 3C so I think I need to add 1/2-1 extra cup of liquid as there was nothing left in the pot after the notice came on.

    Was still delicious in the end! Next time I’ll stick to mild cheddar with a little sharp mixed in.4 stars

  3. Question….I don’t not have an instapot but would still love to try this recipe. The ingredients look great! Can it be cooked on the stovetop as well? Or would I need to change ratios of liquid, etc?

  4. I have been using this recipe for a while now and it’s the best! Every time I take it to a family function, it’s GONE by the end of the dinner! For extra flavor, I use low sodium chicken or veggie broth if I have it. I love using up scraps of cheese to make this too! It gives it a different (but always delicious flavor) every time!5 stars

  5. I don’t have any macaroni elbow pasta and really want to try this. Any cooking time suggestions for rotini or mini farfalle or even penne?

  6. I made this and added a bit of finely shredded Mexican taco cheese, about 1/2 cup. This recipe is simple and delicious, with it without the addition. This is a keeper!5 stars

  7. Nice did this as a quick for my son I only did a mac and cheese with velveeta put on steam vegetables 4 minutes was so yummy no I can make Mac and cheese fast noodles were just right my son the picky eater was like no cheese I said no yes cheese it’s funny how kids are picky eater but will eat mac and cheese any way they can5 stars

  8. I just got my 5 qt InstantPot last year, and this recipe has been my favorite so far! I have a question about recipe doubling – could I double this recipe in my 5 qt Instantpot?5 stars

    1. Hi Lora, we use a 6 qt instant pot for this recipe so doubling the recipe may be too much in volume for this size of instant pot. If you do attempt it please let us know how it turns out!

  9. I cook mac and cheese all the time. The Instant pot is wonderful but new to me. I needed a little help. This was the best, easiest and most tasty mac and cheese I have ever cooked in my life. I don’t use cream cheese because I didn’t have anybody, but I usually put sour cream in mine. It worked perfectly. Will make it again next month.5 stars

  10. Very good and easy. Followed the recipe exactly except Ilike my Mac n cheese a little crunchy on top so I put it under the broiler for a few minutes…delicious!4 stars

  11. I’m new to the instant pot world……….only had mine for about a month but I am enjoying trying out new recipies. Everything has turned out great so far. I am lovin’ it. I made this mac and cheese for lunch today and it was delicious……….a great recipe. Thank you so much.
    I will add that I have Celiac Disease I so used gluten free macaroni…….cooked for 6 minutes just like the recipe called for. You’d never know it was gluten free. Perfect! Not mushy at all.
    Thanks again for a good recipe.5 stars

      1. Oh no, sorry to hear this recipe didn’t turn out as expected, Bogie! This recipe always turns out great for us, I am not sure what happened.

      2. Maybe the gluten free box contained less pasta than called for? I noticed mine was quite a bit smaller so I cut one cup of liquid and it turned out perfectly!5 stars

  12. Made this recipe for my family as my first ever Instant pot dish. Followed all the ingredients and instructions. Allowed the macaroni to sit on natural release for an extra 3 minutes before I switched it to vent. I used a sharp cheddar block cheese and shredded it myself (per your suggestion in a comment) which helped the consistency and I used a 1/2 cup of milk total and added slowly which kept it creamy. It was perfect. I have super picky kids and all 5 enjoyed this recipe. Thank you so much for a super easy and great dish 5 stars

  13. Safe for those who like bland. Good for kids. Sophisticated adults with an educated palate? Not worth the calories.2 stars

    1. Wow. Are you sure you haven’t lost your sense of taste or smell? This is THE most delicious mac – the gruyere seals the deal. I’ve been making this recipe for years, my friends and co-workers ask for the recipe constantly and I was asked to make it by family for BOTH Christmas gatherings this year. Ms. Spend With Pennies, let me assure you, this is the BOMB!!5 stars

  14. This came out perfect and was a big hit for my picky kids. I followed recipe except used big shell pasta and then added in a 1/2 can of peas and chopped ham at the end. Sooo good!!5 stars