Recipe: Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

updated Jan 29, 2020
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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese requires just 5 ingredients and cooks up perfectly from start to finish in 20 minutes.

Serves6 to 8

Prep10 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

As a mom to two macaroni-loving kids, I have made almost every type of macaroni and cheese variation you can imagine: baked, stovetop, one-bowl microwave, and boxed. But none of these techniques has wowed me quite the way this Instant Pot version has.

Instant Pot macaroni and cheese requires just five ingredients (OK, six if you include water) and cooks up perfectly from start to finish in 20 minutes. Between boiling the water and making the cheese sauce, even the best boxed macaroni and cheese can’t beat that timing. Plus, this Instant Pot version is creamier and more luscious than any other one-pot macaroni around. Here’s how to make the very best weeknight macaroni and cheese in the Instant Pot.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A Little Dairy Goes a Long Way

A classic stovetop macaroni and cheese often has you make a cheese sauce that requires at least two cups of milk or half-and-half. But in this Instant Pot version, the pasta and cooking water do most of the sauce work, so just a little half-and-half is added along with the cheese.

Speaking of cheese, I’ve made this comforting pasta dish with everything from bagged shredded blends to blocks of sharp cheddars with great success every time. Our favorite combination has been sharp cheddar for flavor and Monterey Jack for creamy body. Choose your favorite cheese, and you really can’t go wrong.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese requires just 5 ingredients and cooks up perfectly from start to finish in 20 minutes.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 16 ounces

    dried pasta shells or elbow macaroni

  • 4 cups

    water

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 3 1/2 cups

    shredded cheese, such as sharp cheddar or Monterey Jack (about 16 ounces)

  • 1/2 cup

    half-and-half

Instructions

  1. Turn on an electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot to sauté and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, turn the pressure cooker off. Add the pasta, water, and salt. Seal the pressure cooker. Use the manual setting to set the pressure cooker to cook for 6 minutes under HIGH pressure. It will take about 10 minutes to come up to pressure.

  2. When the cook time is done, immediately do a quick release of the pressure. Turn the pressure cooker off. Open it, add the cheese and half-and-half, and stir until combined. Cover the pressure cooker again and let sit for 3 minutes for the cheese to melt and the sauce to thicken. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.