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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”

    • Oh no! This is a regular in our house and we haven’t had that issue. It sounds like the cheese didn’t melt completely. Did you use shredded cheddar cheese? If you use slices or cubes, it won’t melt as nicely as shredded does.

    • You will get the best results by using a block cheese that’s free from preservatives to keep it from going bad.

      I have had success with shredded cheddar, but I know others have had issues with it being grainy, so it can depend on the brand.

    • Hi Holly, if you’re using a stainless steel pan (the normal pan), most sauces will stick to the side and bottom if the food isn’t taken right out. You can use a little Bar Keeper’s Friend to scrub the sides and bottom and it will come right off. It’s super cheap and in the normal cleaning aisle at most grocery stores.

    • I have made this many many times. I actually double it for quick lunches. No leftovers with single recipe! Anyway, a couple times I had a globby mess too. I am pretty sure it was the cheese I used. I bought a brick of no name cheddar both times it turned out a globby mess. Has anyone else found that? I use good cheddar cheese (and add blue cheese and franks hot to dress it up at the end). Also, if anyone is interested in doubling it I have many times and I
      do not double the water. I 1.5 it at most and also do not add additional butter. I have an 8 quart pot if that matters. Just thought I’d share my experience with my family’s new favourite quick dinner.

    • The quality of cheese can definitely affect it. Some cheeses include more preservatives that can cause the cheese to stick together like that.

  1. I got nervous as I read the first comment after starting instapot- in case that happens to anyone else, this recipe came out perfect! I followed the directions exactly and added a little extra shredded cheddar cheese and some shredded parm. Delicious. I found that pre-shredded cheese does not melt as well as a block of cheese you shred at home 🙂 enjoy!!

    Reply
    • Hi Anne, so glad you enjoyed it! I’m guilty of adding extra cheddar cheese into the recipe too because who doesn’t love cheese?

  2. Thank you for creating a post that was to-the-point but also with other relevant information. Aka no long stories about other unrelated information before you got to your recipe! That really makes me want to try this recipe and others.

    Reply
    • Hi Kim, I’m so glad you found it helpful! I try to make every post as educational as possible so you can be successful in making every recipe on the site. 🙂

    • Hi Sheena, it sounds like the water and pasta may have not been measured correctly. Since the pasta is not drained, it’s important to measure both, including the pasta. If you see it being still a little watery, you can either use the Saute feature to help evaporate and thicken the cheese or drain the water out of the Instant Pot prior to adding the milk and cheese in.

    • Hi Kim, it sounds like you may have needed to thicken it up a little longer with the saute method. Cooking it for a few minutes will thicken it up and make it taste cheesier. Adding extra water compared to pasta can also make it seem less cheesy if the pasta isn’t measured properly.

    • Disappointed, and a waste of ingredients. I used shredded cheese and it didn’t melt properly at all. The mixture did not homogenize, and the cheese and the pasta did not blend at all. Was really looking forward to this so sad that it is a waste.. I can see alot of people had the same issue.

    • Hi Alyssa, so sorry this happened. A few things can cause the cheese to “glop” together like that and not melt. The first is the cheese that is used. If the cheese is preshredded, it can contain preservatives that cause this. It really can depend on the brand since some brands don’t. The second is using different pasta or mismeasuring the pasta and water. Since this recipe is a no-drain recipe, the measurements have to be exact or the pasta can become too watery. And the last is adding the cheese all in at the same time. I recommend stirring up the pasta, then slowly adding the cheese and milk into the Instant Pot.

      I hope this helps!

    • I used a block of cheese, grated, and other ingredients as measured. Have never had a problem with homogenizing cheese sauce.

  3. After following your directions to the letter, (i cut the recipe in half portion). It came out perfect! I was a little sceptical when i opened the pot after steam release and the amount of liquid. But you MUST sauté to thicken everything up properly. Just need to spice it up now with some salsa once its cooked. Thanks

    Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed it, John! Yes, you need the liquid in there in order for the Instant Pot to come to pressure and cook the pasta properly, but the Saute will make it nice and thick.

  4. First time using my instapot for this and 4 minutes was not long enough for the macaroni, was still hard and had too much water 🤨

    Reply
    • Hi Gina, I would love to figure out what happened. If the macaroni was hard, it sounds like the pasta wasn’t pushed down under the water completely. Only pasta completely covered with water will cook. This would also explain the extra water since not all the pasta was in the water to cook and soak up the water.

  5. My family loves this! Kids gobble it up and I add some crumbled blue cheese and franks red hot to mine and my hubby’s to dress it up. I’d like to double this so we have some leftovers next time. Any tips? I have an 8 quart IP.

    Reply
    • So glad you loved it, Jenn! The beauty of the Instant Pot is that you can just double the ingredients in this recipe and cook for the same amount of time! Just make sure it never goes above the max fill line, but that shouldn’t be an issue for this specific recipe in an 8QT Instant Pot.

  6. ABSOLUTELY PERFECT! I have no idea why there are so many negative reviews. As a regular instant pot user myself, I decided to ignore the comments and try this anyway given that the ingredients seemed about right. And I’m glad I did! Followed this to a T and it’s perfect Mac n cheese. (Side note: a big virtual hug from this crazy busy working mama for providing a recipe that replaces all the “Kraft Mac n cheese mom guilt”! 🙂

    Reply
    • So glad you loved it, Amal! Yes, that’s exactly why we make it for our kids too! It’s healthier than Kraft and you can pull it together using ingredients you already have at home.

  7. This was so delicious, but I did have an issue with the cheese “globing” … what would be advice for this not to happen? I followed the recipe exactly. As everyone seems to have different opinions am not sure what I did wrong. My son said it was the best I ever made we just picked out the globs, but would love to make it so it was delicious and creamy !! 😀

    Reply
    • Hi Karen, are you using shredded cheddar cheese? Cubes of cheese will glob, but you shouldn’t have this issue with shredded. If you are having this issue, make sure your Instant Pot is on “saute” when adding in the cheese. This will keep the pot hot enough to officially melt the cheese while continuously stirring the mac and cheese.

  8. Our favorite easy Mac n cheese recipe! I’ve made this twice now. The first time I used a different noodle and had to use a bit more water. The second time I used the elbows and it was perfect. . I do use a bit more cheese because of personal preference. I also used some garlic salt and pepper.

    Reply
    • So glad it’s a favorite! We love to add some extra cheese in ours too. I usually don’t measure when I’m throwing it in there anymore. You can never have too much!

  9. I followed directions exactly, and while my pasta cooked, a LOT of the water was not absorbed. I took the pasta out and just baked in my oven.

    Reply
    • Hi Christina, it sounds like you may not have used as much pasta as the recipe called for. In this case, you can just simply drain the pasta, add it back to the Instant Pot and add the cheese and milk as normal.

  10. Sadly, this did not turn out for me either. I very carefully followed the recipe because of all the comments about it being soggy. Mine was incredibly soggy. I ended up draining the liquid and transferring to an oven safe dish and baking it to dry it out. I was pretty disappointed as it was a lot of extra work to fix it. It was a late dinner night already.

    Reply
    • Hi Janice, it sounds like a different kind of noodle may have been used or not measured correctly to cause any sogginess. Too little pasta and too much water can cause the pasta to still be watery.

  11. This recipe turned out perfectly! Noodles turned out chewy but not undercooked at all. Added more salt at the end. Important to remember to add the milk at the very end with the cheese.

    Reply
  12. I’m so glad that I tried this despite the negative reviews. It was fantastic! I added a few extra seasonings and broccoli at the end. What an easy recipe!

    Reply
  13. So I had a big crew with huge appetites! I doubled the recipe, exactly, added 3 mins to cook time. I was a little late on instant release due to cooking ribs lol, but once I did the release it was still full of pressure. Added my milk & cheese a little at a time. Used a little california garlic salt and it was cooked exactly right. No issues at all. Next time I’ll do a smaller batch following recipe and expect I’ll have the same results. Thank you.

    Reply
  14. We absolutely LOVE this recipe! It’s so easy, creamy (I added extra cheese – I had Gruyere and Swiss on hand), and freezes well. Thank you fo sharing it with us!

    Reply
  15. First IP recipe I tried! Turned out wonderfully! I use sharp cheese and add a little dry mustard for a little tang. Thanks so much for our family staple. Great when momma doesn’t have any ideas for dinner 😊

    Reply
    • Hi Jane, I have not used lactose-free milk in this recipe, so I am not sure. Regular 1% milk can work in a pinch though.

  16. Fantastic. I make it all the time. I flip around cheese type. I love Gouda. Parm. And cheddar.
    When you open pot it will look like a lot of noodles in water. Use good cheese. Sauté after adding cheese and milk. It does t take long for everything to be gooey and delish. I freeze individual serving of 1 cup so I always have some. Thank you!!

    Reply

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