Made Kraft mac and cheese in a pressure cooker yet? It’s easy! With no draining required we’ve figured out how to make boxed macaroni in our Instant Pot and Ninja Foodi!
Do you love boxed Kraft macaroni and cheese? Of course, we all do. But, making Kraft mac and cheese in a pressure cooker is a serious game changer we needed to share with you! One of my kids’ favorite Instant Pot recipes for sure. (originally published 3/19, affiliate links present)
Instant Pot Boxed Macaroni and Cheese
I grew up on these little blue boxes. Bet you did too and are wondering if you could make it in your new favorite machine without draining?? So……
Can you cook macaroni in an Instant Pot?
We’re here to show you that it’s a resounding YES! You can also use a Crockpot Express or even a Ninja Foodi to make this. Of course you can go all out and make homemade Ninja Foodi macaroni and cheese too but we don’t always have time for that kinda’ thang. 😉
Let’s start with a few basic tips:
- Make sure to Bookmark our InstaPot recipes page. We add new ones each week!
- Then PRINT this —–> Instant Pot cooking times cheat sheet that will help you understand how long meat, vegetables and beans take to cook in your pressure cooker.
- This is a great InstaPot cookbook and set of wooden utensils are great to grab too.
- I HIGHLY recommend you buy this non stick pot.
- You should still deglaze pressure cooker after sautéing but it won’t have as many issues with this better liner.
For reference, this is the pressure cooker I have and use for all recipe creations.
Instant Mac and Cheese
You will need the same ingredients as you’ve made it for years. It’s just the water that was tricky to figure out.
It’s one of our favorite 5 ingredient Instant Pot recipes.
Of course you can just add a bunch of water, cook the noodles, drain the water, and add the rest of your ingredients. BUT then it isn’t quite right.
How to Make Instant Pot Boxed Mac and Cheese
I found that this method was messy since it required a strainer, and I didn’t trust my younger daughter to do that step.
- Kraft mac and cheese in a pressure cooker
Like I said, this can be made as boxed mac and cheese in Ninja Foodi too. All of my girls enjoy cooking “all by myself”. If I could perfect the amount of water needed, so nothing needed to be drained, then they could make it without my assistance.
It just make me feel safer eliminating that step for them.
Of course my girls are older, 18-11 years old, so if yours are younger parental supervision would still be required. You’ll get there someday though. 😉
Instant Pot Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
I will explain how to cook each one. There is a difference of 1/4 c. of water between the two, that is all.
Here is a peek of the basic steps.
Instant Pot mac and cheese Kraft
This is faster than making it on the stovetop since it takes a while for the water to start boiling.
- Add your water and noodles – add sliced hot dogs now if you want to add them
- Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes
- allow to naturally release for 1-2 min., quick release will cause a bit of water splatter
DO NOT drain the water. Leave that in, there won’t be a lot, and just add that butter once you stir it a bit. Take note that the noodles will stick a bit but they’re easy to break up, just use a wood spoon for that.
- Break up the noodles gently
- Add your butter, allow that to melt
- Sprinkle in your cheese packet – included in box
- Add as much milk as you’d like (if you want it thick don’t add any at all)
- Stir until smooth
Kraft Mac and Cheese without Milk
Most times I just add like half a stick of butter and the cheese, this is how to make mac and cheese without milk. This will make it really cheesy and thick!
This is what you’re going to need to make this. I promise you will never make it in a pot again after this.
Instant Pot Kraft mac and cheese
- Instant Pot or it can be an easy Ninja Foodi recipe too
- I highly recommend this non stick pot if you don’t already have one
- Boxed macaroni and cheese – we buy this one in bulk
- Hot dogs – optional but yummy, these are our favorites
- Salt and pepper – also optional but a sprinkle helps
If you don’t want to use as much butter you can use milk instead. I prefer just butter because we love it nice and thick.
If you like a thinner soupier version then milk is great to thin it out.
How do you make 2 boxes of Kraft Mac and Cheese?
NO Problem!! We do this all the time. You will want to double the amount of water added into the pot. Add your two boxes of noodles, close the lid and set to the SAME pressure cook time as 1 box. DO NOT double the cook time.
When it is done don’t drain the water as stated in the recipe card below. Add twice the amount of butter, stir.
Dump in both of your dry cheese packets from the 2 boxes. Stir and add milk to thin it out to the consistency and thickness you want.
- Serve with salt and pepper to taste!
Looking for more easy Instant Pot pasta recipes and other goodies?
- Pressure cooker stroganoff casserole is a family fave
- This Instant Pot cheeseburger macaroni is delish
- Sweet Instant Pot Hawaiian chicken has raving reviews, served with Instant Pot Rice a Roni too
- Cheesy chili mac is always a winner of a dinner too.
Boxed Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot
What can I add to Kraft mac and cheese to make it better?
- Bacon bits are pretty amazing
- Parmesan cheese sprinkled on the top is yummy
- Shredded cheese like cheddar amplifies the cheesiness
By all means add some hot sauce if you want some HEAT!
- Ketchup is a favorite amongst some kids
- Sliced hot dogs as we stated below
- you could add diced up leftover ham to it too
- Salt and pepper to taste is a given
Boxed macaroni and cheese in a pressure cooker
How many does a box of Kraft mac and cheese serve?
Well, that depends on how hungry y’all are really. 😉 Typically the popular blue box is supposed to provide 2.5 servings. Many people eat the entire box as a meal.
- If you consume an entire box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (prepared with margarine & milk) you’ll eat 875 calories, 32.5 grams of fat, and 25 grams of protein.
- In my mom opinion (pretty accurate for most) I would say it feeds an average of 3 people. That is if you’re eating it as an entire meal.
- Adding hot dogs or some protein will make it heartier.
- Serving it as a side dish with chicken let’s say would feed closer to 5
How do you make boxed mac and cheese in the microwave?
You might want to try this too as a quick snack idea!
Pour noodles into a 1.5 or 2 quart microwave safe bowl. Add 1 3/4 cups hot water.
- Microwave uncovered on high for 8 to 10 minutes
- or until water is absorbed
- Stir every 3 minutes.
- Drain water, add butter and cheese packet
Want another dinner idea? Try our Instant Pot taco casserole for the win!
This too is creamy and delicious, and sure to please adult and kids pallets. It is
Want to see a few of my favorite things that I am totally obsessed with?? Take a peek and see how many you might already have…twinsies!
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Kraft Mac and Cheese in a Pressure Cooker
- Add 1 1/2 c water into your pressure cooker, 1 3/4 c if you are adding hot dogs.
- Add the noodles from your box of boxed macaroni and cheese, stir well so the water becomes a bit murky meaning the slight powder on the noodles is washed off. Add sliced hot dogs now if you want to add them. Stir again.
- Close lid and steam valve and set to pressure high for 3 minutes.
- Allow to naturally release for about 2 min. just so water doesn’t spray out a bit when you release the pressure. Release rest of steam and open lid. Turn pot off.
- Stir and break up noodles with a spoon, do not drain. Add butter and allow it to melt.
- Pour in your packet of dry cheese and stir until dissolved. If you want it thinner add some of your milk slowly until it's the consistency you want. Serve!!
How do you make Kraft Easy Mac?
Pour 2 Macaroni pouches into 1 quart microwave safe bowl. Add 1 cup water. Microwave on HIGH 4.5 minutes or until noodles are tender. Add your 2 cheese pouches and butter. Thin out with milk and serve.
We haven’t done this method yet, but others have with success. I think we’ve done just about everything with this popular boxed food. I grew up with it and it was definitely a big part of my childhood growing up.
- It was most likely the first thing I ever cooked “all by myself”. 😉
Wyoming Foodi Kitchen
Friday 12th of August 2022
Very late to the game here but here's what I do. 2 boxes mac and cheese, any brand will do. Instead of 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of milk, I use 1 cup water 1 of milk. Hotdogs but I also add a can of rotel diced tomato and chili, cumin and pepper to taste. I also cut up the butter into small chunks with kitchen shears and mix it in before cooking. I then add a little more milk until all the pasta is fully covered, some dog parts will still stick out but that is ok. When done, mixed completely again and add the cheese powder.
Basically even if I made just 1 box I would do half and half water and milk, I like the flavor better.
Saturday 9th of January 2021
I tried to double this recipe. I added 2 boxes worth of macaroni and 4 hot dogs cut up (2 per box). I used 3.5 cups of water for 5 minutes and 2 minutes natural release (and then released the valve until safe to open) and immediately stirred the pasta. There was some extra starchy water that "absorbed" and I added the milk, butter, and cheese powder. Others can comment on consistency but I felt like the noodles were overcooked, but it definitely cooked thoroughly and mixed fine. This is incredibly convenient since you don't have to wait for a pot to boil or drain the pasta but I may tinker around with cook time and water amount to see if I can get it to be al dente like I am used to.
I will also have to try this with a single box and 2 hotdogs following your time recommendations and tell you if it works. Thank you for sharing!
** Also: just curious. How might using an instant pot at altitude change cook time/liquid amounts?
Monday 6th of June 2022
@Erika, I saw in the post that you should leave the cook time to 3 minutes even when you double the recipe. maybe try that next time and see if its better.
Wednesday 3rd of June 2020
This recipe turned out perfect. Every other recipe I’ve tried for instant pot Mac and cheese was never cooked all the way and had a bit of crunch! I think NR is the key!
The Typical Mom
Thursday 4th of June 2020
Yay for successes!
Wednesday 25th of March 2020
I tried with a regular box with hotdogs and it was perfect! Tried again a few days later with a box of the disney frozen shapes that cook for 11 regularly instead of the 7 to 8 the original box recommends. How would you adjust the cook time for IP?
Thursday 20th of February 2020
I really like the Kraft Mac n cheese in shapes (don't ask me why, it's always been that way. Lol). Have you tried cooking with those or if you could give advice, what would you do? The noodles seem a little "fragile" and so I would be afraid they'd end up soggy.
Wednesday 25th of March 2020
I tried the disney frozen shapes a few days ago and had a lot of water left over. I'm thinking since they cook longer on the stove maybe they should cook longer in the IP as well? Or maybe a smidge less water? I ended up just added half a bag of shredded cheese and it turned out amazing but I'd like them to be foolproof like the original box.