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.

Variations

  • 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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Ingredients  

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Video

Notes

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 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 have made this Mac and cheese many times you do need some sharp cheddar, I use some Monterey with jalapeños, mozzarella and marble with Scooby doo noddles. Kids and adults alike love this recipe. I love spend with pennies your recipes are great and you can add your own twist thank you Deb from canada5 stars

  2. Really good base recipe. I like to use more seasoned salt, especially Tony’s. Agree that sharper cheeses are better. Was out of milk one time and threw in 1/4 C. cottage cheese & 1/4 chicken broth. Added a can of diced green chiles. YUM.5 stars

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

  4. 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

  5. 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?

  6. 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

  7. 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?

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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!

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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

  16. 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