Instant Pot Macaroni & Cheese

Let’s face it. The iconic Mac & Cheese is one of those recipes that has a zillion different ways to make it. Baked or out of the pot? Which cheese? How creamy? There really is no right or wrong.

One thing I know is that, while I LOVE making a béchamel style Mac & Cheese, it takes many pots and a good hour. Sometimes, I just want to make it quick. One pot, NO separate pasta boiling/straining and in TEN MINUTES! Yes, YOU TOO can make magic in the Instant Pot.

Here’s How I Made It! (scroll to the bottom for the fully-written recipe):

We begin with a macaroni-type noodle of your choice added to the Instant Pot.

Then we’ll pour in some chicken broth…

…some water…

…add a little butter…

…some parmesan…

…and stir.  Secure the lid and cook at high pressure.

When done cooking, switch to the “sauté” setting and give it all another good stir.

Now it’s time to cheesify it up.  Let’s take some cheese of your choice (use one that melts well)…

…and add it to the pot.

And we’ll take some cream cheese…

…and add that in too.

Mix everything up super well.  It’s going to take a few minutes for the cheese and cream cheese to meld with the broth. So just keep stirring and setting.

Once it begins to thicken, add in a little yellow mustard (this is optional but trust me, mustard haters, you won’t even taste it and it marries the flavors).

Turn the heat off and continue to stir as the sauce thickens up into a glorious, thick, creamy, cheesy richness.

See?

SEE?!

And there you have it.  A thick & glorious Macaroni & Cheese in just minutes!

ENJOY!

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese
Yield: 6

Instant Pot Macaroni & Cheese

Instant Pot Macaroni & Cheese

This was the very first thing I ever made in my Instant Pot and it turned me into a believer. I suspect it may do the same for you. The best Mac & Cheese ever.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Total Time 11 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 box (1 lb) Cellentani/Cavatappi (it’s like if Shirley Temple’s hair were a pasta)
  • 4 cups chicken broth (I used 4 cups of water + 4 teaspoons of Chicken Better Than Bouillon) or vegetable or garlic broth
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 16 ounces (4 cups) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese or any kind of cheese you like that melts easily

Optional, amazing touches:

  • 2-4 ounces (1/4-1/2 brick) of cream cheese, diced into cubes and at more of a room temperature level (start with 2 oz and then, once blended in, you can choose to add more if you want it SUPER thick OR go with my spin on it (SECRET INGREDIENT!) and use a 5.2 ounce package of Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs Cheese (or Boursin Shallot & Chive Cheese), cut into small crumbles (this is usually always found in the deli/cheese/cured meat section of any market and Costco sells it in packs of 3. If you cannot find it, 5 oz from a brick of cream cheese will do)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard (you don’t have to use this but I assure you you can’t taste any mustard flavor once added – it just really enhances the cheese flavor)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional, and it won’t be spicy once added – also just enhances the flavor)
  • A few splashes of milk, half & half or cream to thin it out to your desired consistency

Instructions

  1. Add the macaroni, broth, and butter to the Instant Pot. Stir well
  2. Put the lid on the pot, sealed, and hit “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” High Pressure and set for 6 minutes
  3. Quick release and open lid when finished. When the lid comes off, there will be a lot of liquid in the pot but this is exactly what we want as it will serve as the base for the sauce!
  4. Add the Parmesan, cheddar, cream cheese or Boursin, mustard (if using), and hot sauce (if using). Stir until it gets creamy – a few minutes! It may appear a bit runny at first, but once you let it set for a few minutes after stirring, it will really begin to thicken up good.
  5. Enjoy!

Jeffrey's Tips

NOTE: I’ve updated this from the video for a 4-6 serving amount as well as slightly changed some steps to make it even more amazing!

Want it even thicker?  Your wish is granted.  Add another cup or two of cheese and another 1/4 brick of the cream cheese! It’s gonna get VERY thick once it cools down a bit!

Top it off with some bacon bits for a nice touch!

Want to set it over the top? Make a Ritz Cracker crust! Instead of transferring the finished product to a serving bowl, transfer it to a casserole dish, top with a sleeve of mashed Ritz Crackers mixed with 3-4 tbsp of melted butter and bake for an additional 5-10 mins on 400 degrees.

Want it vegetarian? Use vegetable or garlic broth instead of chicken broth.

Reader Interactions

Comments

    • Bob

      Just a nitpick (as I love this recipe). 16 oz is 2 cups. (Recipe currently shows 16 oz of sharp cheddar cheese as equivalent to 4 cups).

      • Jeffrey

        Technically, yes. But as an 8-ounce bag of shredded cheese will state, it’s 2 cups per bag. So 4 cups is 16 ounces or 1 pound.

        • Bob

          Ah. I have been schooled in the ways of cheese.

          There’s nothing confusing about this at all. No sirree, Bob.

          Seriously, though, thanks for graciously addressing my comment and I look forward to the future recipes. (Artichoke hearts and Italian sausage tomorrow night, can’t wait!)

          • marygreene

            After the cheese is shredded, you will have cheese plus air space. When we measure shredded cheese, we do not smash it down into the measuring cup as we would for brown sugar. The volume is 4 cups but the weight is one pound.

            This is from Kraft regarding shredded cheese…
            “When measuring semi-hard cheeses, such as cheddar, Swiss or mozzarella, by weight, it is generally accepted that 4 ounces yields 1 cup shredded cheese, or in answer your question, yes, 8 ounce of shredded cheese will fit into a 2-cup volume measuring cup.”

  1. Diana

    Jeff, I just made this tonight for my son! He loves it and so do I! I am making some tomorrow at work. To get it a little less al dente, I might add 1 more minute of cooking time. Would I need to add any more water/broth if I do this? (I am still a newbie). Thank you for all of your fabulous recipes!

  2. Kimberley

    I made this as a side dish last night for our family of 4 adults AND to give to a friend with 4 adults and 2 children. Their was more than enough and everyone loved it! I couldn’t find Boursin anywhere, but I did sub in some Velveeta cause I love Velveeta. Thanks for a delicious and easy recipe! I have your cookbook, but love to watch your videos also! Have a Safe and Healthy New Year!! Can’t wait to get your next cookbook!!

  3. Jill

    How have I lived so long without this recipe in my life? So good! My daughter asked if “that guy’s cheese” (Boursin) was in it 😂. Your secret ingredient is not so secret anymore. A big hit!

  4. Dan Cuvelier

    I am about to make this, but I am confused! Or maybe it’s a Canada vs USA thing? But 16 oz. in Canada equals 2 cups, not 4. So I am going to put in 4 cups of cheese and cross my fingers.
    p.s. I have tried another recipe that only calls for 4 minutes of cooking time (pressure). Will the 6 minutes help me avoid the starchy steaming spray I get when I release it?
    Dan

    • Jeff

      16 fl oz (volume) = 2 cups = 500ml (cups and ml rounded off)

      16 oz (weight) = 454 grams = 1 pound. Which in the case of shredded cheese also happens to be 4 cups.

  5. Sally Cummings

    I add some onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard or turmeric powder at the beginning. Trying adding some frozen broccoli at the beginning, too. We’ll see how it goes. 🤓

    • Maria

      Rebekah, I made this tonight with gf elbows and cooked for 4 minutes. I think it was a tad too much and will try 3 next time.

  6. Amy

    We made this tonight and it turned out delicious but kind of grainy. Any tips on how to get it a bit smoother?

  7. Ruth

    So for the thicker. I always use Boursin (thanks a lot Jeffrey. Lol 😂). I use 1/4 block of cream cheese in addition to the Boursin??

  8. Thomas Sullivan

    I’ve made this a couple of times. Yesterday I tried to make a double batch. The noodles burned to the bottom of the pot. Plus, I don’t think we can eat it fast enough.

    Also, I added 3 12 oz. cans of dices tomatoes to a single batch. The family loved it. Drain the liquid from the tomatoes and add only as much broth as needed. Pour the tomatoes in at the beginning and pressure cook. Brings back memories of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

  9. Melissa

    The first time I made this, I managed to make it a congealed mess. Tasted great, but was a solid chunk. I tried again, but time added the cheese in handfuls at a time. That made all the difference in the world. The time after that (lol), I replaced 1 cup of cheddar with American cheese (6 slices). This perfected it for me. Thanks Jeffrey!

    • Krys

      Hi Karen. You don’t use water, you use broth. Personally, I use garlic broth from Better Than Bouillon, because it’s yummy and I have a vegetarian in the house. But any old chicken broth will do! Hope this helps!

  10. Debra

    I know you are incredibly busy and probably won’t have time (which I totally respect) to answer what is probably a stupid question.I want to make this one day ahead of when I am actually going to serve it. I am thinking of leaving the breadcrumb topping off until tomorrow and reheating it in the oven. How long/what temp in the oven and do you think it will dry up? Thank you so much for all you do!

  11. Barbara Burgess

    Hi Jeffrey. I am a big fan. I made this the other night and it turned out great! I used a lot of different cheese as well as cream cheese and it was wonderful. My husband said it was the best mac & cheese that he ever had. We had a lot left over so I am going to put it in a casserole dish and put Pinko bread crumbs on it and bake it. It will continue to be delicious until we manage to finish it up! Thank you for your wonder recipes and cookbooks.

  12. Amber B

    Was craving Mac & Cheese so I tried this one … Oh My IP … It was FANTASTIC!! Throwing out all other recipes!! My husband kept saying over and over “this is so good!” I used Elbow Mac and plain cream cheese and cream and added Bacon & topped with green onions. Can’t wait to try again with the Boursin Cheese!! Oh and might add a little milk to thin a smidge. You are becoming my Go To IP guy!! Thank You!!

  13. Jennifer

    I used extra sharp cheese and it completely separated into clumps from the rest of the liquid and pasta. What did I do wrong? These recipes are typically foolproof for me!

  14. Dani

    I’ve made this with both cream cheese and then the next time the Boursin cheese, and def liked cream cheese better – the Boursin gave it more of a gritty texture. Either way, it was fantastic!

  15. Donna

    I love the Better Than Bouillion chicken flavor but it seems like 4 teaspoons would make it extemely salty. Is that not the case?

  16. Melanie

    Very delicious and very cheesy! I followed to the letter with sharp cheddar and cream cheese. Anyone made this and reduced the cheese? If so, by how much? I definitely plan to make again.

  17. Natalie

    I was really excited to make this. Disappointed. My family and I did not like the flavor with the bourcin. Will try again but without the bourcin.

  18. Robert

    Jeffery, new instant pot duo crisp user and I made this mac and cheese for my wife and myself along with some leftover meatloaf. The recipe easy to follow and it made a lot of mac and cheese for two people. I am going to cut it in half the next time. For the cheeses, I chose 2 cups of mild cheddar and 2 cups of mozzarella and I had hoped that it would have been creamy but alas it did not. The result was a very thick, stringy mac and cheese; that believe it or not was very good. I tasted it before I served it to my wife and it had a wonderful taste. When I served to my wife, she stated that it was good and after I let her know the two types of cheese I used, she said she could taste both of them. So all in all, a thumbs up for my first Instant Pot dish. I noticed that in the video you added a cup of water (which was not noted in the recipe printout) along with the chicken broth. Next I make the mac and cheese I will add the cup of water and hopefully the result will be less thick, stringy and more creamy. Thanks for the recipe and I am looking forward to make some great meals and dishes with this new kitchen item.

    • Charmaigne

      Hey Robert, I’m also a Duo Crisp owner/user and have learned, by trial & error, that you need to be conscious of the Instant Pot size the authors use. Jeffrey posted this in 2017 and the IP’s were 6L capacity. With the Duo Crisp pot being 8L capacity, we need to modestly increase the amount of liquid we use. I added an extra 1/2 cup of liquid for cooking and about 1/4 cup of half&half to my finished dish to achieve the consistency I wanted.
      *Jeffrey, thank you for a tried and true favourite (you guessed it, I’m Canadian). Used a wonderful sharp Canadian white cheddar with the new (an oh so fabulous) Apple & Maple Boursin. OMG!! 🙂

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