Mac and cheese is the quintessential childhood comfort food we never seem to outgrow. This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese can be made in under 30 minutes and with only one pot! This Mac and Cheese dinner makes for a full meal on its own, is quick, easy, full of delicious spices, and super creamy!
Why this works
- Super Creamy - need I say more? This recipe is pure comfort food just like my Instant Pot Ziti.
- Make it a meal - you can serve it as a meal on its own or add vegetables, chicken, or tuna as sides. Pair this with some broccoli too!
- Quick and easy - Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is a perfect meal for picky eaters. Serve it alongside some Salisbury Steak!
Ingredients you will need
Here is a quick snapshot of the ingredients you'll need. Scroll down to the recipe card where you'll find exact measurements.
- Elbow Macaroni - a whole 16-ounce box or 4-cups dry measured
- Chicken Broth - I used unsalted, if using salted consider omitting the extra salt. You can also use water instead, but the broth gives it more flavor in my opinion.
- Mozzarella cheese - if worried about the cheese causing the mac and cheese to be stringy then add a handful at a time. You can also use other cheeses.
- Milk - should be 2% or whole milk. Do not use canned milk for this recipe.
- Cheese - I highly recommend getting blocks of cheese that you can shred yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with flour, and this will affect the recipe it won't be as creamy.
- Cream cheese - you can use full fat or reduced fat. You could also swap it out for some Homemade Boursin Cheese for extra flavor.
How to make this
Step 1: Cook the pasta
Instant pot mac and cheese is really very easy to make so start off by putting the dry elbow pasta in the Instant Pot. Add to this 4 cups of chicken broth, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, ground mustard, and garlic powder.
Seal the lid of the Instant Pot, and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. When finished follow with a quick release of pressure, and since it is a pasta you will want to release it in short bursts until completely done to reduce any type of mess on your countertop.
Step 2: Add the cheeses and finish the pasta
Put the Instant Pot on saute mode. Add the butter, cream cheese, and milk to the pot. Stir until melted.
Next, add in the Parmesan and mozzarella cheese one at a time. Stirring in one cup at a time will help melt the cheese.
Stir in the cheddar cheese one cup at a time until everything is melted and creamy. The pasta will absorb any excess moisture while it sits and thickens.
Mix up your cheeses since you don't have to stick to just one! Try out some Colby Jack, Pepper Jack, Swiss, or Parmesan. Top with bacon for some extra smoky flavor. You can even sub in some pimento cheese for something different!
Make it a meal by adding some vegetables like peas or mixed vegetables with some cooked ground beef or chicken!
To get a little bit of oven flavor throw this in an oven-proof dish and broil for about ten minutes or so. Stir halfway through until it's done to your liking!
Repurpose leftovers into Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls or add some canned chili for chili mac.
If you don't have elbow macaroni you can use another pasta. Just be sure it's the type of pasta that will hold the sauce like cavatappi or penne. Avoid flat pasta like bow-ties or long pasta like spaghetti. If you change the pasta be sure to adjust the time if needed.
If you use a different pasta remember to half the lowest cooking time and minus one minute to adjust the cooking time.
Absolutely! Instant pot mac and cheese turns out amazing!
You will use less water as you are not boiling it.
Ultimately it's up to your preferences. What kind of cheeses do you like? I find that parmesan and mozzarella make a great combo!
Add peas, butternut squash, or jalapeno. You can also dress it up with pulled pork, bacon, tuna, or chicken.
Storage & Reheating
Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
I don't recommend freezing this, but you can for up to three months, thaw it in the refrigerator prior to reheating. Add a little milk if it seems a little dry.
More pasta recipes
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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- 16 ounces dry elbow macaroni
- 4 cups chicken broth water can be used as well
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika can substitute regular
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup milk
- 2 ounces cream cheese full or reduced fat
- 2 cups cheddar cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese
- Add the pasta, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and ground mustard to the pot. Pour the chicken broth over the pasta, and stir.
- Seal the lid and cook on high pressure for 4-minutes followed by a controlled quick release. A controlled quick release means that you release the pressure in short bursts so you don't spray hot pasta water everywhere.
- Once the pressure is released, give the pasta a stir. Put the Instant Pot on saute. Add the butter and cream cheese. Stir until melted.
- Add the cheeses one at a time and stir until melted.
- Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to one week. This can be frozen for 3 months, and thawed in the refrigerator. If dry when reheating add a little milk to moisten.
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