Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is creamy, cheesy, and everything you want from mac and cheese. Works great with whole wheat pasta, too!
On my list of weaknesses, macaroni and cheese probably falls directly behind freshly popped popcorn, smothered in grass-fed butter and tons of salt. There’s just something about creamy, cheesy pasta that I cannot get enough of.
Truth be told, I’m not all that discerning when it comes to macaroni and cheese. You’d have to reallllly screw it up for me to dislike it. I’ll take the stuff out of the box, I’ll take frozen stuff, I’ll take restaurant mac and cheese…basically if it has pasta and cheese, I’m a happy gal.
With that being said, this is really good mac and cheese! Do you believe me after my “I’ll eat any and all mac and cheese” speech? Maybe I should rethink that intro, but I’m all about honesty.
It’s kind of like beer, I can appreciate everything from Coors Light all the way to a beautiful sampler of craft beer or a Boddingtons served at cellar temperature at a pub in London. But, I still know what the good stuff is.
Same applies to mac and cheese. I’ll eat it all, but given the choice between this homemade stuff and the blue box? I bet you know which one I’d choose.
This isn’t the first macaroni and cheese recipe on Rachel Cooks (obviously!), but it’s the first recipe for Instant Pot Mac and Cheese. (I love my Instant Pot recipes, but I bet you already know that…especially if this isn’t your first visit to my little corner of the internet.)
I love, love, love how easy this recipe is. No need to drain the pasta, and everything is made in your pressure cooker. It’s quick, easy, and almost completely hands-off.
About this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese:
This Instant Pot macaroni and cheese starts with just water and pasta, just like any macaroni and cheese recipe. It cooks under pressure for 4 minutes before the pressure is released. After that, all that’s left to do is stir in the spice, evaporated milk, and cheese. Stir, stir, stir until it is melted, and then EAT!
FAQ about this Mac and Cheese:
What’s better, freshly grated or pre-shredded cheese?
I’ve tried this recipe with both, and I’m happy to say they both work! My preference is to grate the cheese yourself. It yields a slightly creamier end result with a better overall consistency, but the difference is pretty minimal, and I’m all about a shortcut here and there, so if all you have time for is store-bought shredded cheese, go for it!
Can you make whole wheat macaroni and cheese with this recipe?
YES! I make this recipe with both whole wheat pasta and regular macaroni, and both turn out fantastic.
Can you bake this?
YES! I’ve done this too and it’s super delicious. I’m a sucker for crispy pasta on the top of baked macaroni and cheese. Make sure to spray your baking dish, and sprinkle the top with extra cheese for good measure. This is usually how I reheat the leftovers. It’s fun to repurpose it a little so you don’t feel like you’re eating exactly the same thing.
Can you use different varieties of cheese?
YES! Go wild, sister. Or brother. I love the flavor of sharp cheddar in macaroni and cheese, but you could also use Colby Jack for a more mild mac, or you could get fancy with Gruyère, or spice it up a little with pepper jack cheese. Have fun…that’s what cooking is all about!
Try serving this with a simple green salad!
More mac and cheese!
- 1 pound (16 oz) uncooked elbow macaroni
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
- 3 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
- Pepper to taste
- Add macaroni, water, and salt to the Instant Pot and stir, making sure that all macaroni is submerged in the water.
- Secure lid of Instant Pot, making sure valve is turned to “seal.” Set on Manual high pressure for 4 minutes.
- When cooking has finished, quick release pressure (see note). When valve lowers, remove cover and stir in evaporated milk, mustard powder, and garlic powder if using. One cup at a time, stir in cheddar and parmesan. Taste and season with pepper as desired.
- Serve immediately. (See notes for baking directions.)
- This tends to sputter a little when you release the pressure. You can place a towel over the valve to prevent a mess. Just be careful when removing towel because - it will be wet with very hot water.
- I prefer to grate my own cheddar cheese. I find it yields a smoother, velvety result. (Plus it’s cheaper!). I have used pre-grated, though, and it also works. It doesn’t stay quite as smooth as it cools, though.
- I have made this with whole wheat pasta and it works great!
- This also tastes great baked. Bake at 350ºF for 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and a little crispy on the top. Bonus points for a little extra cheese sprinkled on top before you bake it. I have reheated mine this way and it is delicious.
- Recipe adapted from Food Network.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
Shop this post
Husband’s take: Ben loves this mac and cheese. What is there not to love about it?
Changes I would make: None are necessary, but feel free to have fun with different cheese combinations or different add-ins. Try topping with chicken, or stirring in some steamed broccoli.
Difficulty: Very easy!