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Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

This easy 4 ingredient Instant Pot macaroni and cheese recipe is a family favorite! Just 8 minute cook time makes the perfect pressure cooker mac and cheese recipe you can load with bacon too. Great after school snack for kids or side dish for dinner. 

instant pot macaroni and cheese

OH MY….this 4 ingredient Instant Pot macaroni and cheese is one of our favorite meals! I’ve made it in the slow cooker, stove top, and today made it in my new pressure cooker and seriously it was amazing + only took 10 minutes total! It’s one of my kids’ favorite Instant Pot recipes.  (originally published 1/17, affiliate links present)

Yes we’ve made the boxed version a lot, and I think I had it at least twice a week this way growing up, but making it from scratch is just amazing! You only really need 4 ingredients + 1 more would be some water. That’s a easy meal win in my book. 😉 Oh yum is right huh??

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese 5 Ingredients

Pressure cooking is the way to go. Period. You don’t have to own this brand either. You can make the same thing in your Crockpot Express or as an easy Ninja Foodi recipe as well.

Let’s start with a few basic tips:

For reference, this is the pressure cooker I have and use for all recipe creations.

star wars instant pot

Here are a few questions you might have right about now. We will show you how to make this just right with evaporated milk and shredded cheese, or dairy free.

How long do you cook macaroni in the Instant Pot?

If you are only cooking noodles and water it takes about 2 minutes. When adding evaporated milk and cheese for mac and cheese 2-3 minutes is suggested. Egg noodles are fastest at 1 minute on high pressure and a quick release.

Can cheese go in the Instant Pot?

Most time you would add dairy products at the very end. If they are left in too long you have the possibility of it burning or breaking down. This calls for the shredded cheddar to be added when the noodles are cooked, it only needs a bit of time to melt.

The alternatives would be if you used cheddar cheese soup as an ingredient and/or a processed product like Velveeta. I like to use fresh products and they should be treated gently, if cooked under high pressure it should only be a few minutes.

instant pot macaroni and cheese

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese Evaporated Milk

The only thing you’ll need to prep and a quick look at how this is made is;

  • shred 3 cups of either cheddar (we like sharp), or a mixture of jack and cheddar
  • boil your noodles in the Instant Pot for about 3 minutes, high pressure
    • adjust for gluten free pasta as that doesn’t take as long to cook
  • quick release, drain, and add the rest of your ingredients
  • stir and enjoy

Can you use milk in a pressure cooker?

  • Yes, for a short cook time
  • For this dish we add it in after cooking the noodles so no worries

If you needed a dairy free macaroni and cheese option for any recipe that calls for this you could use other alternatives such as coconut milk out of the can or almond milk. Take note that both of those are a bit sweeter so the overall flavor will be altered but great options nontheless.

pressure cooker macaroni and cheese

Homemade Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

You could use any sort of small or medium noodles you’d like. I typically use whatever is in my pantry but squiggle multi colored pasta is fun to use sometimes. Do not use egg noodles as those cook too fast and don’t soak up the cheesy sauce like others do.

  1. Noodles – elbow macaroni or small shells work
  2. Water or chicken broth
  3. Evaporated milk – if you don’t have any you could sub. for whole milk
    1. almond milk could be used for dairy free
  4. Shredded cheese – we love sharp cheddar but you could use a Mexican blend too
    1. some added parmesan cheese is good too
  5. Salt
  6. Butter or margarine for a dairy free option
  7. With bacon or precooked sausage is optional

There’s a video embedded within this post you can watch to see how we make it. When you’re done just stir and enjoy or transfer into a cast iron pan and make our pizza mac and cheese recipe from there.

Homemade Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Creamy

If you let it sit the sauce will thicken a bit more but we think it is perfect as soon as the cheese is melted and serve it immediately with a pinch of bacon bits on top. It serves the 5 of us just fine with a side of salad for dinner. Here are quick directions but a printable version is available at the bottom.

  • First you’re going to add your water (or broth), macaroni noodles, and salt into your pot.  Put your pressure cooker on manual, high pressure, for 2 minutes. (3 minutes if you prefer noodles on the softer side)
  • Lock lid on and close your pressure valve. 
  • Do a quick pressure release when time is up, turn IP off. Carefully open the lid. Drain remaining water. 
  • Set IP to saute low and add your butter (allow to melt), then your evaporated milk (add 3/4 c. then when cheese is melted add remaining 1/4 c if you want it not as thick)
    • Add your cheese allowing it to melt and stirring until all cheese is melted and your macaroni and cheese is the consistency you want. 
  • Thin it out to your desired consistency. You could add more evaporated milk, or regular milk if you wanted more sauce. 
  • Turn IP off and unplug so it doesn’t continue to heat up. By now sauce should be a bit thicker and ready to serve. Best when eaten immediately!

Of course you can tweak this by folding in leftover meat to make it even heartier. We have done this with our brisket mac and cheese which is great.

ninja foodi macaroni and cheese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese for Two

If you have less people in your home you could cut this in half. I sometimes do not suggest that because if there isn’t enough liquid the recipe won’t work. This one should be just fine to do so, easier to do so if you have an IP mini version.

Instant Pot mac and cheese is a great after school snack because it’s so quick and easy. Now that I have teens at home they can make it all on their own which is nice. Sometimes if we had tacos the night before they will add that meat into the mix which makes it a hearty meal for sure.

Looking for more Instant Pot pasta recipes?

If you want to make boxed Kraft mac and cheese in a pressure cooker we have instructions for that too, as well as stovetop homemade mac and cheese!

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Creamy

What should I serve with macaroni and cheese?

  1. You can make a whole chicken in your pressure cooker and serve side by side.
  2. Our Instant Pot broccoli takes a whopping 1 minute.
  3. Air fryer chicken nuggets are always a winner.
    1. With some beautiful roasted vegetables of course.

How do I reheat mac n cheese in the Instant Pot?

  • Reheating inside a pressure cooker is possible on saute low, with a few tbsp. of milk
    • Stir until warm enough, remove immediately
  • I like to put it in a bowl and add 1 tbsp of milk to the top
  • Microwave for 30 seconds
  • Then stir it and cook for another 30 seconds
  • If you put a paper towel over the top to begin with it will keep in more of the moisture

Printable recipe withe nutritional information including calories and saturated fat below. Calculates with exact ingredients listed.

instant pot macaroni and cheese 2
Print Pin
4.89 from 9 votes

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

This easy 4 ingredient Instant Pot macaroni and cheese recipe is the best dinner ever! Just 8 minutes to the perfect pressure cooker mac and cheese loaded with creamy cheeses and bacon too if you want. It’s a great after school snack for kids and the quickest homemade macaroni and cheese recipe ever.
Course Entree, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword easy, instant pot, macaroni and cheese, pressure cooker
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Total Time 16 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 649kcal
Author The Typical Mom

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Add your water, macaroni noodles, and salt.  Put your Instant Pot or pressure cooker on manual, high pressure, for 2 minutes. (3 minutes if you prefer noodles on the softer side)
  • Lock lid on and close pressure valve. 
  • Do a quick pressure release when time is up, turn IP off. Carefully open the lid. Drain remaining water. 
  • Set IP to saute low and add your butter (allow to melt), then your evaporated milk (add 3/4 c. then when cheese is melted add remaining 1/4 c if you want it not as thick) then your cheese allowing it to melt and stirring until all cheese is melted and your macaroni and cheese is the consistency you want. 
  • To thin it out to your desired consistency add more evaporated milk, or regular milk. 
  • Turn IP off. By now sauce should be a bit thicker and ready to serve. Best when eaten immediately!

Video

Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
Amount Per Serving (4 oz)
Calories 649 Calories from Fat 369
% Daily Value*
Fat 41g63%
Saturated Fat 25g156%
Cholesterol 125mg42%
Sodium 668mg29%
Potassium 328mg9%
Carbohydrates 39g13%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 30g60%
Vitamin A 1230IU25%
Vitamin C 0.9mg1%
Calcium 756mg76%
Iron 1.3mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
instant pot macaroni and cheese 3
instant pot macaroni and cheese
Recipe Rating




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Catherine T

Saturday 21st of November 2020

Hello, the 3 cups of macaroni is about 1 1/2 pounds of macaroni? Am I correct?

Paula

Saturday 6th of July 2019

Great recipe! Fast and easy just like you said. I used cheddar and havarti cheeses, and added a little garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, pepper and a little salt. SO much better than the box. I'm sure I'll be making this again!!

The Typical Mom

Sunday 7th of July 2019

Yay, havarti would be so good too!!

A Kitchen Advisor

Friday 15th of February 2019

Thank you for Easy and Quick Mac and Cheese recipe!!! I really love the way you made it with evaporated mild. Also I like you choice of cheeses - sharp cheddar, or a mixture of jack and cheddar. You are absolutely right about Instant Pot ability to speed up the cooking process significantly. Recently we made our version of Mac and Cheese in Instant Pot. Choice of cheeses is different - cheddar for the color and tang, and gruyere for the smoothness of flavor and mozzarella for the melting factor. Thank you again for the great Instant Pot recipe.

Donna

Friday 9th of November 2018

Lay a kitchen towel over it when you release.

Elizabeth T

Monday 3rd of September 2018

Do I take out the noodles after draining and add thwm back after i made the sauce or before?

The Typical Mom

Tuesday 4th of September 2018

Drain water and leave noodles in pot.

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