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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is going to be your new favorite go-to recipe. Throw macaroni noodles and a few other ingredients to an electric pressure cooker, cook to al dente perfection, then stir in cheese until everything is ooey-gooey and have everyone’s family favorite comfort food in minutes. We are talking homemade macaroni & cheese in about the same time it takes to prepare the stuff from the blue box.

The Instant Pot is a great tool that lots of families love for getting quick meal recipes on the table on busy nights. Some other great options are Instant Pot Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes, Pork Carnitas, and Pork and Beans.

instant pot mac and cheese in a bowl

Mac and Cheese is one of those perfect go-to recipes for a quick lunch for the kids, a weeknight dinner, or even a quick side to whip up to go with pretty much anything. I mean, honestly, the comfort in noodles and melty cheese just hits the heart.

Most of us moms grab those super cheap boxes of mac and cheese at the store that we can throw together in no time and at the same time cringe at the yellow powdered stuff they call cheese. But hey, it’s quick and nostalgic, so why not?

But what if you could whip up your own recipe, with real cheese, have it taste better, and be just as quick. Well, grab your instant pot mama, because I’m about to show you just how this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe will change the game for you and this classic easy, comfort food.

two bowls of homemade macaroni & cheese in front of an Instant Pot pressure cooker.

Why this recipe is so awesome

I’ll be honest that I’m not one of those people who uses the Instant Pot for everything. In fact, my collection of IP recipes is on the small side because I’m pretty picky about how things are cooked and sometimes the results just don’t live up to the hype for me. It has selective uses for things like eggs, beans, rice, and large roasts, primarily.

But that’s not the case with this deliciously creamy Instant Pot mac and cheese! It checks off all the important boxes for being an Instant Pot recipe that I find myself coming back to over and over again.

  • It cooks the pasta until al dente without making it mushy.
  • It’s super quick and easy. Like my husband and kids can manage this recipe no problem.
  • You don’t even have to drain the water off after cooking the pasta! Less dishes makes me happy.
a bowl full of homemade creamy macaroni & cheese topped with freshly grated cheddar cheese.

What You’ll Need

The ingredients are pretty basic and you will have everything you need in your pantry or fridge. But there are a couple worth noting specifically.

  • Chicken Broth: While you could just use water (and I have definitely done it myself), using chicken broth just takes the flavor to a new level that is definitely worth a try!
  • Hot Sauce: Totally optional, and I get that parents are going to worry about kids complaining about food being “spicy”. But it really just adds depth of flavor and doesn’t make actually make this mac & cheese taste spicy. My kids never even noticed.
  • Cheese: You can really use any cheese you like and have on hand, but a good melty cheese, or combination of cheeses, is going to be your best bet. My favorites are sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese or Italian blend, and parmesan cheese.
an image of ingredients for making homemade Instant Pot macaroni and cheese.

How to Make Instant Pot Macaroni & Cheese

  1. Add ingredients to Instant Pot. Add the uncooked pasta, chicken broth, water, butter, hot salt, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to a 6-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot.
  1. Cook Pasta. Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the valve to sealing. Set the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. It will take a few minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, then it will start the cooking process.
  2. Add milk and cheese. Carefully do a quick release, then add the milk and 3-4 handfuls of the cheese. Stir well until the cheese has melted, then add another 3-4 handfuls of cheese and stir again. Repeat until all the cheese has been added and melted to create a creamy sauce. If needed, you can add another 1/2 cup of milk.
  1. Serve immediately! For the creamiest, cheesiest results, serve the mac and cheese right away. If you want to bulk this out with some protein, you could stir in some leftover grilled chicken, ham, pulled pork, or brisket.
a close image of a spoon stirring homemade macaroni and cheeese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese FAQ

Do I have to use chicken broth?

Not at all! If using all water instead of chicken broth, increase the salt to 1 teaspoon.

How to make my Mac and Cheese extra creamy?

Whole milk works better than 2% milk when it comes to the creaminess. You could even use half and half or cream for even richer, creamier macaroni and cheese.

What do you serve with mac & cheese?

The better question might be what don’t you serve with mac & cheese, which is almost nothing. It’s a fantastic side to many meals, although we especially like eating our mac & cheese with cornbread and honey butter.

two bowls of macaroni and cheese next  to a block of cheddar cheese.

Recipe Tips

  • Mix it up! This is my most basic approach and the one I use most often, but you can make your Instant Pot mac and cheese a little extra by using other cheeses like gouda, provolone, monterey jack, colby jack, gruyere, and more.
  • Storage and reheating: Keeps for 3-4 days in the fridge and can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. You may need to add a splash or two of milk to loosen it up when reheating.
  • Add In’s: I like adding leftover pulled pork, chopped bacon, kielbasa sausage, or other protein when I have it on hand to make this a more substantial meal.

Delicious Dishes to Serve with Mac & Cheese

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Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is going to be your new favorite go-to recipe. Throw macaroni noodles and a few other ingredients to an electric pressure cooker, cook to al dente perfection, then stir in cheese until everything is ooey-gooey and have everyone's family favorite comfort food in minutes. We are talking homemade macaroni & cheese in about the same time it takes to prepare the stuff from the blue box.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 9 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 429kcal
Author: Amy Nash

Ingredients

  • 1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni 4 cups
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce optional. but it really just adds flavor and doesn't make it spicy
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup whole milk 2% or lower will work but the results won't be quite as good
  • 2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup freshly shredded mozzarella cheese or Italian blend
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese

Instructions

  • Add the uncooked pasta, chicken broth, water, butter, hot salt, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to a 6-quart or 8-quart Instant Pot.
  • Secure the lid on the Instant Pot and turn the valve to sealing. Set the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. It will take a few minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, then it will start the cooking process.
  • Carefully do a quick release, then add the milk and 3-4 handfuls of the cheese. Stir well until the cheese has melted, then add another 3-4 handfuls of cheese and stir again. Repeat until all the cheese has been added and melted to create a creamy sauce. If needed, you can add another 1/2 cup of milk.
  • Serve immediately.

Notes

  • If using all water instead of chicken broth, increase the salt to 1 teaspoon.
  • You could even use half and half or cream for even richer, creamier macaroni and cheese.
  • This is my most basic approach and the one I use most often, but you can make your Instant Pot mac and cheese a little extra by using other cheeses like gouda, provolone, monterey jack, colby jack, gruyere, and more.
  • Keeps for 3-4 days in the fridge and can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop. You may need to add a splash or two of milk to loosen it up when reheating.
  • I like adding leftover pulled pork, chopped bacon, kielbasa sausage, or other protein when I have it on hand to make this a more substantial meal.

Nutrition

Calories: 429kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 775mg | Potassium: 242mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 541IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 384mg | Iron: 1mg
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