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Instapot Mac and Cheese

Get ready to have the easiest Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe made with just simple ingredients already in your pantry. And I have the secret to making your mac and cheese come out smooth and creamy every time. Yep, no more goopy cheese!

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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in two bowls

Mac and Cheese – Instant Pot Style!

With more than 235K page views since 2021, this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is my most popular pressure cooker recipe on the site. And for good reason, because it’s easy to make and absolutely delicious!

I’ll tell you the secret to that creamy cheese, and it makes a huge difference. Instead of pre-shredded cheese, use freshly shredded cheddar cheese right off the block. Pre-shredded cheese tends to use preservatives that turn grainy or even goop and stick together when melted.

Use a cheese grater, or better yet, a food processor, to shred the cheese quickly.

This simple, easy step gives the macaroni and cheese a delicious, creamy texture that is impossible to beat.

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I made this in my 6-Quart Instant Pot Duo Nova. It has the same functions as the normal Instant Pot Duo but has an improved seal that will last longer.

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese Ingredients

  • Elbow Macaroni – or small shell pasta
  • Butter – unsalted
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese – shredded
  • Whole Milk – for the creamiest texture, though low fat works in a pinch
Ingredients needed to make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

How to Make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

STEP ONE: Place the inner pot into your Instant Pot. This is the pot you will cook inside. Add the pasta, butter, salt, and water.

Do not stir, but you can slowly move the noodles around to make sure the water covers them as best as possible.

Elbow macaroni, water, and butter slices in Instant pot

STEP TWO: Close the lid and push the pressure cook button for high pressure and turn it to 4 minutes. It may also show as manual mode.

It will take about 10 minutes for the pressure to build in the pot and then the clock will start counting down.

Instant Pot Closeup of 4 minutes set to pressure cook

STEP THREE: When the Instant Pot beeps and the time is at zero, carefully use the quick release to release the pressure.

When the knob drops back down, the pressure has been released and you can open the lid.

Shredded cheese and milk added to Instant Pot

STEP FOUR: Change the Instant Pot to Saute mode and add in sharp cheddar cheese and milk and stir to combine until fully melted.

Cooked Mac and Cheese in Instant pot with wooden spoon inside

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese Tips

  • Use freshly grated cheddar cheese to prevent graininess — pre shredded cheddar cheese can contain preservatives that can make the cheese goop together when melted
  • Use a long oven mitt or wooden spoon to quick release your Instant Pot easily
  • Do not cover the steam with a cloth or any other object
  • You can easily halve this Instant Pot mac n cheese recipe by cutting all ingredients in half, but use the same cooking time
  • Do not add the milk until after the mac and cheese is done pressure cooking or the milk will curdle and start to separate
  • Use elbow macaroni or small shells pasta with this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe
Wooden spoon full of creamy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Instapot Mac and Cheese Recipe Variations

  • Swap shredded cheddar cheese with small cubed Velveeta for an extra creamy version
  • Use chicken broth instead of water when pressure cooking for some added flavor
  • Add in some cream cheese for more creaminess
  • Add some garlic powder, Monterey Jack cheese, and/or Parmesan cheese for some new flavors in your Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
  • Toss in some buffalo chicken or diced ham for added protein
  • Add a little hot sauce for a good kick of spicy
  • Swap out the milk for a can of evaporated milk for an extra creamy sauce
Overhead view of two bowls full of macaroni and cheese

What to Serve with Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese

Fork full of macaroni and cheese

More like this Instant Pot Mac N Cheese

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Yield: 8 servings

Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese

Wooden spoon full of creamy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

A simple cheesy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe made with ingredients you'll already have in the house.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Additional Time 10 minutes
Total Time 21 minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup whole milk

Instructions

  1. Add elbow pasta, butter, salt, and water in the Instant Pot. Do not stir the pasta, but gently use a spoon to make sure all pasta is covered with water.
  2. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes, then quick release carefully.*
  3. Change to "saute mode" and add in cheddar cheese and milk.
  4. Stir to combine until fully melted then remove from heat.
  5. Enjoy immediately!

Notes

* If releasing the pressure causes splatter, stop the release and try again in 10-15 seconds

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 264Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 329mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 10g

This nutrition information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Brands and sizes of products could alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.

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samantha

About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

61 thoughts on “Instapot Mac and Cheese”

  1. This came out perfect! I was a bit concerned after reading some of the comments, but they must not have measured right or maybe their instant pot is not working properly. I added a bit of extra cheese on top when serving and it was great. I love that it has such few ingredients. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  2. I’ve made this recipe several times now with HEB shredded sharp cheddar and whole milk and it always comes out perfect!! It’s so good!! If I want to double or even triple this recipe to make huge batches of this, how would I go about that? Would I just double/triple the ingredients? What about the time?

    Reply
    • Hi Jenny, I’m so glad you’re loving it! You can double or triple all of the ingredients and keep the same pressure time! Just make sure you are under the max lines and keep an eye on the quick release. The more water and content in there can cause a little more spraying.

  3. Hmmmm… does the type of pasta matter? There was also still a boat load of water leftover. Should it have been gone or should I have dumped it before adding the milk and cheese? And much like everyone else my cheese was clumpy and didn’t mix in well with the noodles and milk. And I used Kraft shredded cheddar cheese.

    Reply
    • The kind of pasta can matter depending on the size. It’s also important to measure the pasta before adding it as it’s easy to use too little or too much. With more water in the pot, you can use the sauteed mode while continuously stirring it to help evaporate some of it out, and then the cheese will help with the rest.

      Kraft shredded cheddar cheese contains preservatives, so that can cause clumping.

  4. I’m making this for the first time and so far, so good! I drained the macaroni and allowed the pasta to cool completely. I also let the sauce cool before I mixed the two so that there is no residual cooking from the heat of the sauce which will also continue to cook the pasta a bit. The key is to shred the cheeses yourself and make sure the cream cheese is softened. After making your roux and adding the milk and cream, either lower the heat or remove completely before adding the cheese slowly. Whisk, whisk, whisk. Also, taste your sauce to see if you need to add anything. I always use about 1 teaspoon of ground mustard. I won’t be baking this for another few hours and wanted to make ahead and refrigerate it. I’m sure it will be a success!

    Reply
  5. This Mac and cheese recipe turned out absolutely amazing! Thank you so much for posting this. It made prepping dinner so easy. Not sure what everyone else is doing wrong but don’t listen to them. I will definitely be making again!

    Reply
  6. I made this once and it turned out perfect. However, my 10 year old son didn’t care for the cheddar cheese i think. Could I use American cheese instead or would that be weird?:

    Reply
    • I would suggest a mix of cheeses like Colby jack, greyure, or even mozzarella (it will be stretchy with that one).

  7. This was a watery mess! I measured all ingredients perfectly after reading the comments.
    Very disappointed and a waste of some good cheese.

    Reply
    • The recipe will need to sit on saute for a few minutes to help get any excess water out of the recipe, but there shouldn’t be much if the pasta and water is measured correctly.

  8. Just made this with zero issues. Added extra cheese, put it in an oven proof dish, added a cheese/cracker crumb topping and popped it in the oven at 400 for 10 minutes. Delish!

    Reply
  9. Hi, thanks for sharing this recipe! I’m also puzzled by the comments saying that it didn’t turn out well, because I’ve made this twice and it was perfect both times.

    I wanted to try changing it up a bit with some of your suggestions such as adding cream cheese. I was wondering how much you’d recommend to start?

    Reply

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