Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese (+ Video)

This easy recipe for Instant Pot mac and cheese can be made in under 15 minutes! Great recipe for potlucks or a simple weeknight dinner side dish.

holding a spoon of mac and cheese above an Instant Pot.

Introduction

Everyone needs a good, easy, go to macaroni and cheese recipe. Bonus points in my book if it's an Instant Pot recipe. So I thought I'd share my favorite Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe with you guys today!

My kids are macaroni and cheese nuts. They would eat mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, and hot dogs for every meal if I'd let them. I usually like to keep one of two of the blue boxes in my pantry for last-minute meals. But, when I can, I make a recipe that's a little bit more from scratch.

This recipe a definite keeper if you have an Instant Pot. You can have this ready in under 15 minutes, it's inexpensive, full of flavor, and it makes a ton of food!

As an added bonus, there is very little prep work for this dish. You dump and go for most of the recipe. This requires about the same amount of work as a boxed recipe. There's no excuse not to make from scratch if you have the ingredients on hand and you're the lucky owner of an Instant Pot.

Have I mentioned I love this appliance?!

mac and cheese being stirred in an instant pot.

How to Make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

ingredients for instant pot mac and cheese.

Here's the super simple method for making macaroni and cheese in a pressure cooker, like this Instant Pot:

Step 1: Cook macaroni.

macaroni noodles, water, hot sauce, mustard, salt, and pepper in an instant pot.

Add macaroni pasta, seasonings, and water (or chicken broth for more flavor) to your Instant Pot (or pressure cooker of choice).

cooked macaroni noodles in an instant pot.

Pressure cook for just 4 (yes, 4!) minutes.

Step 2: Add cheeses, soup, and milk.

cheese and cheese soup added to the instant pot.

Once the noodles are done cooking, add evaporated milk, Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup, and 3 different types of cheeses. Stir until combined.

mac and cheese being stirred in an Instant Pot.

Sauce will be thin at first, but should thicken after stirring well.

That's it! This easy recipe is perfect for beginner Instant Pot users. It's pretty fool-proof and tastes amazing.

Why you should use the Instant Pot…

One word – easy! Instead of having to boil noodles on a stovetop, add ingredients separately, and bake, you can do every step in one pot in about half the time.

The Instant Pot is perfect for meals that usually require a lot of pots & pans. With this magic device, you can make so many types of comfort food with absolute ease. Saute, pressure cook, slow cook, and even keep warm with one device. I love making chicken and rice, soups, roasts, and even Rotel dip in the Instant Pot. It cuts my cooking time and gives every recipe so much flavor.

Once you start cooking with an Instant Pot, you'll never look back. It makes work in the kitchen so much easier. (Note: I use a 6 quart Instant Pot for this and my other Instant Pot recipes, but an 8 quart works too!)

Recipe Variations

The variations on this recipe are absolutely endless! Here are a few of the more popular ones:

  • Add a steamed vegetable like broccoli or cauliflower.
  • Add seasonings of your choice. You could give this more of a mediterranean flair with something like Italian seasoning. Go more Spanish/Mexican with cumin and chili powder. You could even make it more of a curry flavor with Garam Masala and curry powder!
  • Add a protein, like rotisserie chicken, sausage, or bacon, to make this side item a main course.
  • Give it a little crunch by transferring to a baking dish, topping with extra cheddar cheese, and baking at 450 degrees for 5-10 minutes.
  • Try different cheeses! Gouda, pepper jack, gruyere, fontina, or monterey jack cheese would make great additions to this mac and cheese recipe.

FAQs

When you first make this recipe, the cheese sauce will be a little thin. Don't worry – it will thicken! The starch from the macaroni noodles solves that issue pretty quickly. Just stir well for a few minutes and sauce should thicken.

A lot of this is based on taste preference. I love combining cream cheese, colby jack cheese, and sharp cheddar cheese to give the macaroni and cheese a sharp but creamy flavor. It is important to have some kind of creamy element (like cream cheese or Velveeta) to combine the cheeses and keep the sauce smooth.

These leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days after cooking. Make sure the container is airtight – dishes with pasta tend to soak up any food smells easily. If needed, when reheating, add milk to thin the sauce.

There are a couple of reasons I think evaporated milk is the best option. It helps create the cheese sauce without adding any additional heaviness to the dish (the cheese already takes care of that). It's also really convenient!

Trust me on this one. The mustard adds a little bit of a bite to the cheese sauce without tasting like mustard. Same for the hot sauce – you're adding a ton of flavor without a ton of heat! I assure you, nobody will be able to tell you used these two ingredients.

You can absolutely freeze this mac and cheese to serve later. Just freeze 3-4 portions in a quart-sized freezer bag. When ready to use, simply thaw and serve.

spoon of macaroni and cheese held above an instant pot

Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

This easy recipe for Instant Pot mac and cheese can be made in under 15 minutes! Great recipe for potlucks or a simple weeknight dinner side dish.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 577 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 24 oz elbow macaroni noodles
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 4 cups water can sub chicken broth for more flavor
  • 12 oz canned evaporated milk
  • 10.5 oz canned condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded colby jack cheese

Instructions
 

  • In an instant pot, mix together macaroni noodles, salt, pepper, mustard, water/chicken broth, and hot sauce.
  • Seal on the lid and set your Instant Pot to manual, high pressure, 4 minutes. Once the cook cycle is over, quick release the pressure.
  • Once all pressure is released, open the lid. Add evaporated milk, cheddar cheese soup, and cheeses. Stir well until melted.

Notes

  • Sauce might be thin at first, but should thicken quickly by stirring well.
  • I recommend shredding your own colby jack and cheddar cheeses, as opposed to using pre-shredded cheese. The pre-shredded stuff uses anti-caking agents than can affect your cheese sauce.
  • Change the recipe up by adding steamed veggies, chicken, sausage, bacon, or extra seasonings.
  • Store leftovers in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3-4 days after cooking. Dish can also be frozen; add 3-4 portions to a quart-sized freezer bag and freeze flat.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 577kcalCarbohydrates: 54gProtein: 30gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 15gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 77mgSodium: 1498mgPotassium: 581mgFiber: 2gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 886IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 669mgIron: 1mg
Keyword instant pot, mac and cheese, macaroni and cheese
Tried this recipe?Rate it in the comments below!

I hope you enjoy this one, friends!

xo, Leslie

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