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
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
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

Notes

  • 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

About Stephanie Manley

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

    • Ali

      I just made this in the 3 qt no problems, instant release is a bit messy so have a towel ready and it would be easier to mix in a bigger pot but it turned out perfect so Ooey gooey good. Next time I’ll up the hot sauce as I felt it didn’t give it enough kick and had to add extra once in my bowl.

  1. Charlotte

    Didnt really enjoy as the texture wasn’t quite right for me. Thank you for sharing though seems like some people have loved it!

    • Stephanie

      I am very sorry to hear that you and your family hated the recipe, and it had to go to the dogs. Was there something in particular that made the recipe so terrible?

  2. Helena

    Way too soupy for us. It was already too “done” when I started to pour in the milk – I stopped half-way. I think next time I will use 3 cups of water instead of 4. And 1/4 cup of milk or cream (I didn’t have cream this time). I guess this instant pot cooking needs tweaking as we all have different likes and dislikes.

    • Stephanie

      I think adding less water would be more helpful. Different pastas are made differently. I would add less water, and try taking a minute off of the time and see if this helps. I can’t tell you exactly how much less water to add, as I didn’t see how much water was left over.

      I hope this was helpful.

  3. AlMon

    I love this recipe! It’s one of the first I did in my IP. I only had whole grain pasta in the pantry tonight. I made it as written. Only issue is that the pasta was too soft, still tasty. Family gobbled it up so I guess the soft pasta didn’t bother them. If I do while grain again I am going to try 2-3 minutes instead of 4.
    Thanks for the tips and recipes! I use many from your page.

  4. Kathy

    This worked like a dream with GF rice pasta!! I took the advice of the OP and put the IP on sautee for a few minutes after doing the release, stirring the pasta to keep it from burning to the bottom. I sauteed until it was still slighly liquidy. Stir in the milk and cheeses, stirring until cheese was combined (i used about 2 cups total) and it was PERFECT. Even my picky kid loves it. Thank you!

  5. Anna Barker

    Pasta cooked great, no problems there. There was a tiny bit of liquid in the pot and I left it there. I added the cheese and butter and started to stir. I added milk as I saw that it needed it. I also added salt and pepper. My only complaint is that there is WAY too much cheese! I ended up fishing over half of it out as I had cut it into large slabs. I would probably only do 1/2 cup of cheddar and 1/2 cup of jack cheese next time. Very tasty and I love the hint of mustard and hot sauce!

  6. Arya

    The sauce was very runny, but that’s to be expected because there’s no thickening agent in the recipe. I added two tbs of white flour after adding my milk and cheese and it made a nice thick sauce that coated the noodles really nicely. Otherwise it’s a good recipe.

  7. VeeCat

    Loved it, but holy volcano Batman! When I released the steam, after the steam came a lava flow of white foamy pasta water! Admittedly I went for 5 minutes rather than 4 because I used thicker corkscrew pasta, but yikes! It will not deter me from making again, it was delish. Just have a paper towel ready to minimize any eruptions!

    • Dawn

      Use a little bit of margarine when you cook your pasta. It cuts down on the foam and such when you vent. I read it somewhere and tried it with both rice and pasta. Works great.

  8. Leslie

    New to Instant Pot, made this for first time tonight. Used Barilla elbow pasta, cheddar and jack. Did not need to drain, and only ended up using about 3/4 cup of 1/2 and 1/2. Came out great! Because my husband likes a bit of a crust, I transferred it to a dish and put some panko bread crumbs on top and under the broiler for a few, but it would have been fantastic without that step. Grandkids will love it. Yes, you can personalize it, but for someone like me that is just getting used to the device and does not consider herself a great cook, this recipe works as is. Thanks!

    • Yolanda E Breidenbaugh

      If you do this with cauliflower, break it into little pieces, place it on a steamer basket over 1 cup of water, and only cook on high for 1 minute, then instant release. Then, take it out, drain the water, put the cauliflower back and proceed as above. Voila!

  9. Joyce

    Just made and ate a big delicious bowl of GF Mac n cheese! I followed the recipe to a T. 1 lb served 5 grand littles who loved it. I’d only add salt & pepper and maybe hot sauce on my personal bowl:) I may try some different cheeses for fun as well! Yum! Thank you!

    BTW- Barilla GF pasta is the best. The type that turns the water yellow would definitely turn to mush!

  10. Tracy

    Is there something I did wrong? The cheese is stringy type of melted and not creamy at all? Was I supposed to cook it longer once I added the cheese?

    • Michelle

      Made this last night. My cheese was extremely string too. Pasta was cooked perfectly and it was creamy but the struggle nyu cheese was a turn off.

      • Erin Giandomenico

        I had better luck draining and removing pasta, put on sauté made a quick roo. Added cheese and pasta it was amazing. Just a thought.

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