Creamy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is a simple comfort food recipe your family will devour! Four minutes of cooking time, and you have a creamy and delicious ready-to-serve weeknight dinner.
Try our other pressure cooker favorites like Instant Pot Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Instant Pot Tortellini with Sausage to help you get dinner on the table quicker!
Any way you make it, Mac and Cheese is oh, so good! Hello, pasta and cheese are involved! But, you may be asking why even use the Instant Pot. It's pretty easy to make on the stovetop.
Well, this stuff is tasty, and the recipe is literally, throw your ingredients in the pot, pressure cook, and creamy, cheesy goodness comes out. So yes, totally worth it!!
Family-Friendly Instant Pot Recipes are a lifesaver on busy nights!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- QUICK & EASY. With only 4 minutes of cooking time and the fact that this mac and cheese comes together in one pot, it could not be faster or easier.
- FAMILY FAVORITE. Cheesy mac and cheese is a hit with both kids and adults!
- VERSATILE RECIPE: So many ways to change it up and use it in meals.
- SIMPLE WHOLESOME INGREDIENTS: Less processed than boxed mac and cheese.
Instant mac and cheese takes just five simple ingredients to prepare! It's budget-friendly, wholesome, and a quick and easy dinner solution! Here's what you need:
- Macaroni: You know us, we're going to try and make Instant Pot Macaroni and cheese a little healthy because we're feeding it to our family, so we used whole wheat elbow noodles. You could totally use regular macaroni noodles if you'd like.
- Butter: Adds richness and aids the development of the creamy cheesy sauce that coats the noodles.
- Garlic Powder & Dry mustard: Easy pantry staples that give your mac and cheese instant pot more flavor.
- Cheese: Use your favorite grated cheese for making mac and cheese. We love sharp cheddar. We also love topping it with a little Parmesan cheese.
- Milk: We prefer using whole milk for the richness it gives the sauce. Evaporated milk or heavy cream will also work to give it a similar consistency.
Enjoy cooking with the instant pot? We recently fell in love with this Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe - give it a try, too!
Mac and Cheese Variations
The other neat thing about this recipe is you can customize it by using whatever cheese you like! How cool is that??
- Want the flavor a little milder? Use mild cheddar.
- Want your mac and cheese a little bolder? Use sharp or extra-sharp cheddar.
- Want a totally different cheesy flavor? Use any combination of your favorite cheese. Pepperjack cheese, Monterey jack, and gouda are just a few ideas.
- Want to add some cooked veggies? Stir them in at the end.
- Love bacon? Top your mac and cheese with crumbled bacon.
- Need more protein? Mix in cooked shredded or cubed chicken.
- Prefer more zestiness? Add more spices at the end, such as garlic powder, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, or any spice blends you enjoy. Hot sauce is also a good add-in.
Other mac and cheese recipes you might love are Cauliflower Mac and Cheese and One-Pot Veggie Mac and Cheese or our Creamy Crock Pot Mac & Cheese. If you like it spicy, you're going to really enjoy this Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese.
How to Make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
You can watch the video or follow the simple steps outlined here. Detailed instructions are in the recipe card.
- Place your pasta and water into your Instant Pot. Top that with your butter, salt, garlic powder, and dry mustard. Cook for only 4 minutes under high pressure using the manual function.
- When done, release the steam. You can do this one of two ways. Quick release (that little lever on top) is the first way.
This can be a tiny bit messy because some butter may spray out, but just having a towel handy will take care of that. Or the second way is slow release - just letting the steam come out naturally, which takes about 10 minutes.
- Once it's done cooking, the noodles will have a little starchy, buttery sauce on them (no need to drain it off). Now, it's time to mix in your milk, grated cheese, and dry mustard with a wooden spoon.
PRO TIP: You may need a bit more milk if the consistency isn't to your liking. If you want to add any other spices, now is a good time.
And it's done and ready to serve! Easy, right?? In under 15 minutes, you have your creamy mac!
EQUIPMENT TIP: Not sure which Instant Pot to buy? We have this Instant Pot, but we've also heard great things about this Instant Pot version.
PRO TIP: For easy cleanup later, give your Instant Pot lid a quick rinse right after you take the lid off to remove the starchy residue.
How to Store and Reheat
Leftovers: Store leftovers in the fridge for up to five days. It's not recommended to freeze creamy mac and cheese as the creamy sauce will not be the same after freezing.
Reheat: Return the mac and cheese to a saucepan and heat over medium until heated through. You will likely need to add more milk as it heats since the sauce loses a bit of creaminess as it sits. You can also heat leftovers in the microwave.
How to Serve Mac and Cheese
The beauty of mac and cheese is that it can be used as a main dish or side dish! Not sure how to serve it? Here are some of our favorites:
Serve it up as a side dish with Slow Cooker Bbq Chicken Thighs and Healthy Baked Chicken Tenders.
Creamy instant pot mac and cheese makes a great side for holiday dinners such as Thanksgiving or Easter.
Side dishes that go great with creamy mac and cheese include Roasted Asparagus and Fresh Freezer Veggies.
- Use whole wheat or regular macaroni noodles. Other short kinds of pasta, such as penne or rotini, would also work if that's what you have in the pantry.
- Use sharp cheddar or any combination of cheese you like.
- Keep a towel handy if you plan to use the quick release for the steam. A little of the butter may spray out.
- Feel free to add more milk to make an even creamier Mac and Cheese.
Any cheese that melts well will work great for mac and cheese. We find that more flavor cheese, such as sharp cheddar, works the best. It's also a great idea to buy a block of cheese and grate it yourself to make mac and cheese. Pre-shredded cheeses have other ingredients added to keep the pieces from sticking together, and they may affect how the cheese melts.
As mac and cheese cools down, the cheese and dairy will seize up a bit which is why it doesn't stay creamy after it's been sitting. In order to make it creamy again, return it to the stove and heat it up a bit. Add milk and stir until the sauce becomes creamy again.
More Instant Pot Recipes
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Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
- Instant Pot
- Spatula or cooking spoon
- 1 pound uncooked macaroni noodles - about 4 cups dry pasta (whole wheat or regular elbow macaroni)
- 4 cups water
- 3 tablespoons butter (cut into small chunks)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 2 ½ cups grated cheddar cheese (we like sharp or extra sharp cheddar)
- 1 cup whole milk
- Place pasta and water into Instant Pot. Top that with butter, salt, garlic powder, and mustard. Cook for 4 minutes using the manual function.
- When done, release the steam. You can do this one of two ways. Quick release (that little lever on top) is the first way. This can be a bit messy because some butter may spray out, but just having a towel handy will take care of that. Or the second way is slow release - just letting the steam come out naturally, which takes about 10 minutes.
- Once it's done cooking, the noodles will have a little starchy, buttery sauce on them (no need to drain it off). Now, add your milk and cheese. You may need a bit more milk if the consistency isn't to your liking. Oh, yum! Enjoy!
Allyson Zea says
My 6 year old LOVED this! Thanks for the easy recipe!
Erin Henry says
This recipe is so easy! And kids just love it. Moms too 🙂
Lauren Kelly says
There's nothing better than comfort food made in my instant pot! I love this!
Erin Henry says
Agreed! Comfort food this easy is a must-make. The Instant Pot makes it so easy.
I love how fast and easy this is, a go to for our family!
Erin Henry says
A wonderful weeknight meal for families for sure. Glad you loved the recipe, Erin!