Make creamy, perfect mac and cheese in a shorter amount of time with this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe!
As much as I try to limit the amount of cheese we consume in our household, there’s always a special place in our hearts for macaroni and cheese. It’s our favorite comfort food. While I’m not above making a box of mac and cheese, we are partial to homemade. This is my go-to recipe from Martha Stewart and is everyone’s favorite, but it’s not a quick recipe you make on a weeknight.
Recently my daughter Meghan said, “I’m really craving your homemade mac and cheese!” (Because clearly Martha’s Perfect Macaroni and Cheese is “mine” because I am the one who makes it😂) to which my son Luke replied, “She only makes that on holidays!”
This made me realize it was time to develop a homemade version of macaroni and cheese that was quicker and easier than Martha’s version. I needed weeknight easy with results that were elevated beyond the boxed stuff. That’s when Instant Pot Mac and Cheese was born.
The Instant Pot makes it almost as quick and easy as making a boxed version. You end up with a creamy, delicious mac and cheese that the whole family loves.
This would be an equally good recipe for holidays as weeknights because we all know that oven and stove space is at a premium at Thanksgiving and Christmas time. So save this recipe for your easy weeknight dinners, but also use it when you need another (easy!) side for your holiday dinners! It’s a great recipe for both!
Recipe Ingredients: What You Need
Elbow Pasta Noodles
In my opinion, elbow macaroni noodles are the best kind for this recipe. You can use regular, whole grain, or gluten-free. Whole grain pasta is typically lower in calories and carbs, but higher in fiber and nutrients if you are looking for a “healthier” option. I was happy that the gluten-free elbow noodles I used worked well.
You can use either chicken stock or chicken broth in this recipe. This enhances the flavor of the Instant Pot Macaroni and I like it as a cooking liquid instead of water. Vegetable broth will work, too, if you’d like this to be a vegetarian recipe.
Butter keeps the macaroni noodles from becoming dry, and helps meld all of the cheese sauce ingredients together into one delicious, creamy sauce.
Garlic powder adds familiar flavor to this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese.
This recipe only calls for 1/2 tsp. of salt because the chicken stock or broth also contains some salt. If you are using low-sodium chicken broth, taste at the end and add more salt as needed. I use kosher salt in this recipe.
The flavor of white pepper is light, earthy, and simple. Black pepper is richer, bolder, and has a tad more heat. I like the color of white pepper for this recipe, but black pepper is a suitable substitution.
Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
Sharp cheddar cheese brings the best flavor to mac and cheese. I highly recommend not starting with store-bought shredded cheese, but using a hand grater or food processor to shred your cheese from a block. You’ll find the result is creamier and better and it’s so worth the minimal effort it takes. White cheddar works better than orange cheddar in homemade macaroni and cheese.
Gouda cheese has a creamy texture and bit of a sweeter taste. The flavor of the gouda combined with the sharp white cheddar and parmesan is melt-in-your-mouth delicious! I love this combination of cheeses, but there are other cheese options. Gruyère is a favorite, but a lot more expensive.
Parmesan cheese has a hard, gritty consistency that melds great with the creamy texture of the gouda cheese. It has a nutty taste that is great in this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe.
Whole milk makes this mac n cheese creamier. You can substitute heavy cream in place of milk which has a thicker consistency and higher fat content. You can also use low-fat milk if you prefer, just note that the result will be slightly less rich and creamy, but still just as delicious! A lot of recipes for Instant Pot Mac and Cheese call for evaporated milk, but my family prefers regular milk much more.
How to make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese:
- Add the elbow macaroni, chicken stock, butter, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the inner pot of your Instant Pot pressure cooker.
- Press the manual button and adjust the timer to 5 minutes.
- When the cooking time is complete, do a quick release of the pressure.
- Remove the lid, and stir in your cheeses. I will typically add about a 1/2 cup at at time, stirring before adding more.
- Stir in the milk, starting with 1/2 cup and then adding more if needed to your desired thickness for the sauce. Enjoy!
How should I store this mac n cheese?
You can store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. It should last about three to five days.
How should I reheat this mac n cheese recipe?
You can reheat this mac n cheese on the stovetop or microwave. When you reheat mac n cheese, it is usually not as creamy as when you make it fresh. I stir in some milk until it’s my desired consistency.
How many servings does this recipe make?
This recipe makes six servings. If you have teenagers who have bigger appetites, you might want to double the recipe. If you’re bringing this to a larger holiday gathering, you might also want to double or even triple the recipe, but you may need a bigger Instant Pot. I used the 6-quart Instant Pot for this recipe.
If you make this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese or any of my other healthy recipes, please share it on Instagram and I’ll feature you! Also, if you try it, please leave a comment with a star rating below! Those star ratings are so helpful in helping my recipes get discovered. I appreciate you!Print