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5-Ingredient Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

This 5-ingredient instant pot mac and cheese came out when we were low on food. We needed to go grocery shopping because the fridge and freezer were basically empty.

Or at least the kids didn’t want anything we had.

I’m sure you heard that one before!

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese in a white bowl

It was a big win because I prefer macaroni and cheese as easy and healthy as possible. This includes just 5 ingredients: pasta, butter, salt, cheese, and milk.

They’re ingredients that are staples in our family, so we can make it for the kids whenever we want. That’s more often than I care to admit, but hey, I love it too!

The best part is, if you have a favorite cheese you love adding to your mac and cheese, you can also add it in!

Now, I’ve scoured the internet looking for macaroni and cheese recipes and they always include weird and processed ingredients.

I also wanted one without evaporated milk and no sour cream. It just needed to be easy, but still delicious.

I created a stove-top variety without the processed food as well, but I had that urge to create it in the Instant Pot, so it had to be made a little differently.

The idea of a one-pot mac and cheese really spoke to me.

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.

Title and Shown: Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese (in a white bowl)

How to Make 5-Ingredient Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

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

Raw elbow noodles, water, and butter inside Instant Pot

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

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.

Instant Pot Closeup of 4 minutes set to pressure cook

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

The little metal knob will also pop up when it’s officially at pressure.

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.

Cooked Macaroni in Instant Pot

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

Turn Instant Pot off.

Transfer the 5-ingredient Instant Pot Mac and Cheese into a serving dish away from the heat and enjoy it immediately.

Closeup of pressure cooker mac and cheese in a white bowl

Can I Make This If I Don’t Have the Saute Feature?

If you do not have a Saute mode, change it to a high slow cook and add the milk in slowly until the cheese is fully melted to avoid it getting soupy.

You may end up using less milk than called for using this method.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with a fork picking up noodles

How to Quick Release the Instant Pot

A quick-release refers to when you immediately remove the pressure from the Instant Pot instead of waiting for it to go down on its own over time (a natural release).

Take an oven mitt or some sort of heat resistant glove/mitt and flip the venting switch to vent. It will let out a lot of steam, so be careful if this is your first time using a quick release.

Allow for enough room above the pressure cooker for the steam to vent. I turn mine backward so the steam faces forward instead of under the cabinets.

If it starts to spray water, close the vent back up, wait 15-20 seconds and try the quick release again until it no longer sprays.

Pressure cooker macaroni and cheese in white bowl with fork and second bowl in the background

Can I Cover the Vent with a Towel to Stop it From Steaming?

While it can be tempting to cover the vent with a towel of some sort, it is not safe. Keep the vent open and steaming by itself.

If it is spraying water, butter, or any other liquid in another recipe, close the vent and try again in 30 seconds or so.

5-Ingredient Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese inside a white bowl

This Makes A Lot of Mac and Cheese, Can I Make Less?

As you can see, this recipe makes more than the average family needs for one night of dinner. That’s because our family loves to eat leftovers.

We made this 5-ingredient Instant Pot mac and cheese one night and used the leftovers to eat quickly after my daughter’s dance class the next night,

If you’re making this recipe in a 6-quart Instant Pot, you can half or even quarter the recipe without issues.

This size only requires 1 cup or more of water to pressure cook food successfully.

If you have an 8-quart pressure cooker, you can still half this recipe without issues.

Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese in a white bowl with fork to the left

Can I Cook the Pasta in Milk Instead?

Cooking pasta in milk is a great trick to making your macaroni and cheese extra creamy on the stove.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that in a pressure cooker. Putting milk into a pressure cooker will cause the milk to curdle and separate.

I don’t know about you, but I want cheesy smooth macaroni and cheese, not curdled cheese.

Adding the milk and cheese at the end of this recipe helps it stay creamy while getting the macaroni and cheese you know and love.

Other Recipes You’ll Love:

Yield: 8 servings

5-Ingredient Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese in a white bowl

A simple pressure cooker pasta dish 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


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


  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!


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

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


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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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...

57 thoughts on “5-Ingredient Instant Pot 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!!

    • 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.

    • 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

    • 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 🤨

    • 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.

    • 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”! 🙂

    • 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 !! 😀

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  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!

  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.

  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!

  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 😊

    • 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!!


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