Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

You can make Macaroni and Cheese in a pressure cooker. I will show you how you can make flavorful macaroni and cheese in your Instant Pot.

You can use elbow macaroni or other short pasta such as shells or penne.

overhead view of Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese in a bowl

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I love my Instant Pot! If you are unfamiliar with this cooking appliance, it is an incredible pressure cooker and more. It serves as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and much more.

Let me show you how to make the most delicious macaroni and cheese using your Instant Pot. This macaroni recipe is easy, mouth-watering, and full of flavor. Unlike baked macaroni and cheese, Instant Pot mac and cheese will give you a super creamy cheese sauce. It will be some of the creamiest mac and cheese you will ever enjoy.

I have displaced many of my small kitchen appliances in favor of this amazing appliance. It helped me move out a couple of steamers, a rice cooker, and a slow cooker.

You might wonder why you would wish to prepare macaroni and cheese in a pressure cooker. Well, there is a good reason. When you cook one-pot mac and cheese, the pasta gets infused with a lot of flavors. In this macaroni recipe, the flavors of the hot sauce and dry mustard powder are imparted to the pasta.

For the cheese, I am using two different types – a good Cheddar cheese and some Monterey Jack cheese. I like this combination. The Cheddar provides a lovely color and flavor, and the Monterey Jack gives this dish a nice melt that you are certain to enjoy.

I think you need a little bit of heat to make macaroni and cheese work well and give the dish some depth. So, the hot sauce is an important ingredient for this macaroni recipe. You can use whatever hot sauce you like – Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot Sauce both work well.

Ingredients

Here’s a list of what you need:

  • Pasta – elbows, shells, or similar short pasta.
  • Hot sauce – Frank’s Red Hot Sauce is highly recommended
  • Butter
  • Dry mustard powder
  • Water
  • Whole milk or half and half
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Monterey Jack cheese
Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese ingredients

Ingredient Notes

For the cheeses, I am using two different types of cheese; a good Cheddar cheese, and some Monterey Jack cheese. I like this combination.

Cheddar provides a lovely color and flavor. The Monterey Jack cheese gives this dish a nice, creamy melt that you are certain to enjoy.

For the hot sauce, you can use whatever you like. Tabasco and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce both work well.

I think hot sauce is an important ingredient for this recipe. You need a little bit of heat to give macaroni and cheese a special flavor. The heat gives the dish some depth.

How to Make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

  1. Place pasta, water, dry mustard, and hot sauce in the Instant Pot.
  2. Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes.
  3. Perform a quick release on the pasta.
    cooked pasta in an Instant Pot bowl
  4. If the pasta needs to be drained, drain the pasta and place the pasta back into the pot.
  5. Add butter, cheese, hot sauce, and milk to the pasta.
    cooked pasta, cheese, and seasonings in an Instant Pot bowl
  6. Stir and allow the cheese to melt.
  7. Serve promptly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

What type of pasta should I use?

Please make this dish with only plain semolina-style pasta. Do not use gluten-free, high-protein, whole-wheat, bean-based, low carb, or other types of pasta. They won’t work well. 

Can I make boxed macaroni and cheese in the instant pot?

Yes. You should add about 1 1/2 cups of water, and the milk listed on the box of macaroni and cheese. Cook the pasta for 2 minutes, perform a natural release, and then stir in the butter and the cheese package.

When I perform a quick release a milky liquid sputters out of the vent, what should I do?

Wait about 4 to 5 minutes, and then perform the release again. When you release it again, be sure to grab a towel and place a towel over the valve just it case it begins to sputter again.

Is it ok to use packaged shredded cheese? 

No, it’s best not to use store-bought shredded cheese for melting. It contains filler to keep it fresh and anti-clumping agents. Food processors, a good blender, or mini-blender can shred cubes or blocks of Cheddar. Even a mandolin can slice Cheddar thin enough to use in this recipe.

Can I make boxed macaroni and cheese in the Instant Pot?

Yes. Add about 11/2 cups of water and the amount of milk listed on the box. Cook the pasta for 2 minutes, perform a natural release, and then stir in the butter and cheese package.

How long does the Instant Pot take to come to pressure and start the 4 minutes of cooking?

Factor in about 10 minutes for pressurization

Can I double the ingredients and make it all at once, or should I make two batches? 

As long as the pasta doesn’t go over the full line, you should be ok. The cooking time doesn’t change

Can I add ham chunks?

Yes, add them when you add in the cheese.

Instant pot macaroni and cheese in a bowl and a fork next to it

Can’t get enough Mac and Cheese? Try these copycat recipes!

More Instant Pot Recipes

Be sure to check out more of the best side dish recipes and easy Instant Pot recipes right here on CopyKat.com!

overhead view of Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese in a bowl

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

You can make creamy macaroni and cheese in your Instant Pot.
4.34 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Instant Pot Recipes, Macaroni and Cheese
Servings: 8
Calories: 535kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pasta (note all boxes are not 1 pound, also you need to use regular pasta, gluten-free, and other pasta will not work)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup milk or half and half
  • 1 pound Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese

Instructions

  • Place the following in the instant pot: the pasta, water, dry mustard, and hot sauce. Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes. Perform a quick release on the pasta.  If the Instant Pot sputters out a milky liquid, wait 4 to 5 minutes before performing the quick release. 
  • If the pasta needs to be drained, drain the pasta and place the pasta back into the pot. 
  • Stir in butter, cheese, hot sauce, and milk and allow the cheese it to melt. Serve promptly.

Video

Recipe Tips for the Cook

  • User only semolina pasta. Pasta that are whole-wheat, bean-based, low carb pasta, do not work well.
  • Should the InstantPot sputter when you perform the quick release, open the pot more slowly, and consider placing a thick towel over the release

Nutrition

Calories: 535kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 488mg | Potassium: 233mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 815IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 564mg | Iron: 1.2mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @CopyKatRecipes or tag #CopyKatRecipes!

About Stephanie

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions

Comments

    • Stephanie

      I haven’t tried doubling this, if you did the time of cooking the pasta would not change. As long as it does go over the full line when you put it into your pot I would try it.

  1. Mark Lamb

    I have an XL pot and has served me well making various rice meals. I wish I had heard of the Instant Pot sooner. The recipes on the internet from people using the XL often leave our important information on proper processing of ingredients or measures or cooking time. I recently discovered the advantage of the Instant Pot community and Steph’s Kopy Kat. Wish this happened three years ago. Thank you Instant Pot users and Stephanie. I’m looking forward to putting variety in my meals.

  2. Jacci

    I just purchased first instapot. Do recipes vary depending on brand of instapot? I’m anxious to find simple recipes without fancy ingredients. I’m kind of nervous to use it for the first time. But it’s is convenient for me and my family. Any ideas.

    • MrSteve B.

      4 stars
      Jacci,

      The Instant Pot is just an electric pressure cooker. Each electric pressure cooker, whatever the brand and within brand models (IP Duo, Ultra, etc.), have slightly different controls (buttons) which in one way or another do the same thing/s. For example in some IP’s there is a “Manual” button; on other models there is no “Manual,” but rather a “Pressure…” button. They do the same thing. The IMPORTANT thing for whatever brand/model of PC you have is to READ YOUR MANUAL and familiarize yourself with it and your appliance! Check out: https://www.hippressurecooking.com for model and brand comparisons. This is one of the bestest sites for pressure cooking information and recipes (and videos)!!! Hope this helped. ~MrSteve~

  3. Lisa

    I am reluctant to try this recipe because the directions are unclear. Wouldn’t you perform an instant release on the pasta *before* draining it?? If so, why does that instruction _follow_ the instruction tondrain the pasta? Also, are you suppose to leave some of the pasta cooking water in the pot when you add the remaining ingredients?? Sounds like that’s what some of the commenters did, which made it soupy, plus it doesn’t sound very tasty. I actually have not used my instant pot yet, but am an experienced cook & have made crock pot mac ‘n’ cheese, so I have some idea of how the recipe should work. Thanks for your help.

  4. Elise

    5 stars
    This was amazing! I used radiatore pasta and sharp cheddar. My girls chowed down! So happy to finally have a quick and incredibly easy Mac n cheese recipe for the instant pot!

  5. Jeannie

    Loved how easy this was. My 13 y.o. is a finicky Kraft Mac kid. Moving to Germany, we do not have access to Kraft Mac. Been trying to find a good homeade one and the cheese combos just don’t work. Found your recipe and love it. Don’t have MJ cheese, learned that Gouda is a decent comp. Went that route. My Kraft Mac kid loves it. May cut back a little on the Cheddar, pretty cheesy, and go with a little more milk and a dash more of the mustard and hot sauce. Overall, it’s a win.

  6. Pamela

    I made the Mac n cheese today for my grandson. I am use to making Mac n cheese from scratch starting with a rue. I wanted something better than box and faster than my usual. This was perfect. For those who didn’t like it, did you use quality cheeses? Also, I changed it up and used Worcestershire sauce instead of the hot sauce. I still prefer Mac n cheese done from a rue but this was great for a quick meal. Thank you!

    • Juli

      Hi. No you should never used store bought shredded cheese for melting as it has filler in it to keep it fresh and not clump in the bag.

      • Stephanie

        You may also want to consider using cheese that is not pre-shredded. Cheese that comes already shredded can have anti-caking agents in it to keep it from melting perfectly.

    • MrSteve B.

      4 stars
      Hi Vicki,

      I wouldn’t use packaged shredded cheese, but understand that you might need to (sorry about your thumbs). Food processors, a good blender, those mini-blenders (NutriBullet, etc.) can shred cubes/blocks of cheddar (if done properly) or even a mandolin can slice cheddar thin enough to use in this recipe! Enjoy your pressure cooker! ~MrSteve~

  7. Sandy Fox

    I have very picky eaters who are use to boxed mac and cheese. This was way, way too cheesy for them! My husband wouldn’t even try it. (He’s the pickiest!) My boys ate only one bowl. I made another batch of plain pasta and mixed it in with the rest of the leftover mac and cheese. I put half of it in a casserole pan and put it in the freezer for another meal. Hopefully they will eat the rest of it this week.

  8. Aamie

    I’ve made this recipe 3 times now. The first time is was amazing, the second time the pasta was rough or chalky. The third time was also chalky but not as noticeable. We didn’t change the recipe, and loved it so much the first time that we are trying it again, right now actually. Fingers crossed it comes out again! It’s so delicious when it does!

  9. Debbie

    I know the cook time is 4 minutes but about how long does it take to come to pressure and start the 4 minutes of cooking? Just need an approximate time…..Thanks 🙂

  10. Joy

    This was the second recipe that I made in my Instant Pot. Followed the recipe and used whole milk. My roommate and I both agree it’s some of the best Mac and cheese we’ve ever had!! Thank you!

    • Joy

      Oh, and side note- I didn’t use hot sauce since my 4-year-old doesn’t like things too spicy. She loved it, too. I think we’re done with Instant Mac and cheese in this house.

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