Gimme Some Oven

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe is super-easy to make with just a few simple ingredients and tastes perfectly creamy and cheesy!

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe

Growing up, we always had an absolute feast on Thanksgiving. Everyone in our extended family would tag-team all of the traditional classics — a nice big turkey, two kinds of stuffing, our family’s favorite salad, at least a few kinds of pie, and approximately one million side dishes. But then at the very last second, my aunt would always slide one last dish into the mix — a bubbling pan of hot, hearty, homemade mac and cheese. ♡

Her famous mac and cheese was initially “just for my cousin,” who was going through a picky-eating phase at the time and wasn’t so interested in everything else on the table. But year after year, a lil’ scoop of mac and cheese would somehow always mysteriously sneak its way onto everyone else’s plates as well. And eventually, we all just conceded — it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without that mac and cheese!

Well this year, it’s definitely on our menu plan here in Barcelona for our Thanksgiving party this weekend. But since I’m planning to cook the entire meal in our tiny European kitchen (with its extra-tiny oven and stovetop), I’ve decided to forego my usual stovetop mac and cheese recipe in favor of making an Instant Pot version instead. And after testing and tweaking the recipe this week, I’ve gotta say, Instant Pot mac and cheese will probably be my go-to from now on. It’s impressively even quicker and easier than the stovetop version, and somehow even magically cooks the pasta to a perfect al dente. But best of all — it requires absolutely zero stove or oven space, which will be much appreciated this weekend.

So if your family also happens to be craving some mac and cheese this Thanksgiving — or of course, any other day of the year — I highly recommend putting that pressure cooker to use and giving this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe a try. It’s definitely a keeper in my book!

Instant Pot Mac And Cheese | 1-Minute Video


Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Ingredients:

First, let’s chat ingredients. To make this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe, you will need…

  • Pasta: Any shape of uncooked pasta will do. (I used these organic shells.)
  • Water: Which we will use to cook the pasta. If you would like some extra flavor, you are welcome to use half water + half chicken (or veggie) stock instead.
  • Butter: Which helps the pasta not stick together too much while cooking, and also adds great flavor.
  • Dijon and garlic powder: I like to add a few teaspoons of Dijon mustard (or you can use dry ground mustard) to mac and cheese, plus a tiny bit of garlic powder. Don’t worry — the Dijon doesn’t make the pasta taste mustardy! Rather, it just helps to subtly round out the flavor of the cheese.
  • Salt and pepper: We will add salt to the pasta water before it cooks, and then season the mac and cheese at the very end with salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Milk: We’ve tried this recipe using whole milk, evaporated milk and half and half. And frankly, the whole milk works great and still makes this mac and cheese taste super-creamy (without all of the extra calories). That said, if you would like an even creamier mac and cheese, feel free to use evaporated milk or half and half instead!
  • Freshly-grated cheese: This recipe will only taste as good as the cheese you use…so I highly recommend investing in good-quality cheese that you really love! I’m a purist and almost always go with a good sharp cheddar, plus a hint of salty Parmesan, whose flavor combo I love. But Fontina, Gouda, Gruyere, Havarti, Monterey Jack, or Provolone would also be delicious alternatives. As always when making recipes that with a melted cheese sauce, it’s important to buy a block of cheese and grate it yourself. (Otherwise, store-bought pre-shredded cheeses may make your sauce clump up.)

Detailed ingredient amounts/instructions listed in the full recipe below.

How To Make Mac and Cheese

How To Make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese:

To make this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe, simply…

  1. Prep the pasta. Add the pasta, water, butter, mustard, garlic powder and 1 teaspoon salt to the bowl of an Instant Pot, and briefly stir to combine.
  2. Pressure cook. Cover and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes, followed by a quick release.
  3. Stir in the cheese. Stir in the milk and cheeses until they have melted into a creamy sauce. The sauce will continue to thicken as it sits, so if it seems too thin, just let it rest for an extra minute or two. Season with S&P.
  4. Serve warm. Then serve while the mac and cheese is still nice and warm. Enjoy!

*I tested this recipe using a few different (traditional semolina) pasta shapes, and 4 minutes on high pressure followed by a quick release was the perfect amount of time to cook the pasta al dente. But if you use different shapes or types of pasta (such as whole-wheat or gluten-free pasta), they may require a slightly different cooking time.

The Best Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Possible Variations:

Want to customize this pressure cooker mac and cheese recipe? Feel free to:

  • Add veggies: Baby spinach, sun-dried tomatoes or artichokes would all be delicious stirred in just before serving. Or, of course, you are welcome to add in some roasted broccoli or other veggies.
  • Add protein: Cooked chicken, bacon, ground beef or sausage would also be delicious add-ins.
  • Add extra seasonings: I also really love stirring some Cajun or ranch seasoning into mac and cheese, for a different twist.

Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese

More Cheesy Pasta Recipes:

Craving more cheesy pasta recipes? Here are a few of my faves…

Best Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Yield: 6-8 servings 1x


  • 1 pound uncooked pasta
  • 3 2/3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (or 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • fine sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup whole milk (or evaporated milk or half and half)
  • 4 cups freshly-grated sharp cheddar cheese* (or see other cheese options below)
  • 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Prep the pasta. Add pasta, water, butter, mustard, garlic powder and 1 teaspoon salt to the bowl of an Instant Pot, and briefly stir to combine.
  2. Pressure cook. Cover and set lid to “Sealing.”  Cook on high pressure (“manual”) for 4 minutes, followed by a quick release.  Remove lid.
  3. Add the milk and cheeses. Add in the milk and stir briefly to combine.  Then add in the cheeses and gently stir and stir until they have completely melted into a creamy sauce.  The sauce will continue to thicken as it sits, so if it seems too thin, just let it rest for an extra minute or two.  Taste the dish and season with extra salt and black pepper, if needed.
  4. Serve warm.  Serve warm and enjoy!


Pasta options: I have only tested this recipe with traditional semolina pasta.  Different shapes/types of pasta (such as whole-wheat or gluten-free pastas) may have a slightly different cooking time.

Milk options: You can decide how creamy you would like to make this mac and cheese!  We are quite content with using whole milk in our house, but evaporated milk or half and half would make things extra-creamy and delicious.

Cheese options: Cheddar, Fontina, Gouda, Gruyere, Havarti, Monterey Jack, Provolone — or a combination of any of these cheeses — all melt well into mac and cheese.

Why “freshly-grated” cheese: Most pre-shredded cheeses that you can purchase at the store have a coating on them that prevents the cheeses from melting well.  It’s best to purchase cheese in blocks and then grate it yourself just before adding it to the recipe.  (If you happen to have a food processor with a disc attachment, this will make grating even easier!)

Recipe update: Some readers were reporting that the cheese sauce was too thin, so we reduced the amount of water in the recipe by 1/3 cup.  If you find that the sauce is too thick, just add extra milk or water after the pasta has cooked and you have stirred in the other ingredients.

Share this Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

69 comments on “Instant Pot Mac and Cheese”

  1. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. I desperately wanted an instant pot recipe to save stove space but no one I trusted had one. You’re always my first stop for recipes so I’m thrilled you shared this today!!

  2. How do you keep it warm in the instant pot?

    • Just keep the “warm” setting on, once the mac and cheese has finished pressure cooking. (Although keep an eye on it — you don’t want the mac and cheese to burn if it sits there too long.) :)

  3. Can you help me adjust for a crock pot? Thx!!

    • Just made it for first time after years of doing it old way on stove..I actually followed instructions, as provided, and turned out perfect using shredded cheddar, and added a bit of franks red hot for heat.

  4. I received my first insta pot for my birthday and I am always looking for recipes to make in it however every time I find one I get nervous at how many ingredients it requires right away. I am a picky eater so it tends to scare me off when things get too involved. This recipe looks straightforward and delicious I plan to try it asap because who doesn’t love a good mac and cheese!

  5. I think there is a step missing? Do you add the milk and cheeses in the instant pot after draining the water?

  6. I wish I would have found this recipe sooner. ?? It was amazing! I’m throwing out my old mac and cheese recipe (was okay but not the best) and replacing it with this one.

  7. Hi Ali! Happy Thanksgiving. I just made this and it’s delicious :) I added garlic salt and used spicy brown mustard since that’s what I had. I used 2 cups sharp cheddar and 2 cups Colby jack. I’ve tried other Instant Pot Mac and cheese recipes that failed, but this was a winner!

  8. Pleasantly surprised by this recipe! I’m always skeptical of one pot pasta since it tends to get gummy, but this worked perfectly! I doubled the mustard and added lots of smoked paprika to make the sauce more interesting. I also used shredded cheese – I know the recommendation is to shred it yourself, but my dark cooking secret is that I can never tell the difference, so I go the easy route. Delicious served with a big kale salad!

  9. POINT OF INFORMATION:Pasta is no longer sold in 1 pound packages (16 oz.), yet most recipes are written for this quantity. Math skills required!?

    • I used a bit less water to accommodate a smaller package of pasta and mine turned out just fine. I’ve made this five times since Thanksgiving. Different pasta, cheeses and seasoning each time. Great results every time :)

    • Pasta is absolutely sold in 1lb quantities, at least in the US. It may be listed as 16oz, but that usually has a parenthetical next to it saying (1 LB). Every walmart, whole foods, trader Joe’s, and every local grocer I go to all have no shortage of 1 lb bags or boxes of pasta.

      If your area doesn’t have 1lb bags, two 8oz bags will do the trick, though!

  10. This did not turn out for me at all, even though I used the same pasta shape and no substitutions. There was a lot of liquid left at the end and it did not thicken so it’s very soupy. I added even more cheese to try and get it to thicken but that did nothing.

  11. I made this recipe, followed it exactly, and still had quite a bit of water in my instant pot. I didn’t drain any hoping the sauce would thicken, but it never did and was still pretty “soupy.” Any chance different instant pots might yield different results with the leftover water after cooking? Otherwise it was great and I look forward to making this again!

  12. Can this recipe be cut in half? Just wondering if the liquid would be enough to work in the instant pot?

    • I halved the recipe and it worked out well! I did add a little bit more water (not too much or it will be soupy) and cut the cooking time to 3 minutes. Generally, as long as you have at least a cup of water in a pressure cooker it will be fine, except when cooking thicker sauces like pasta sauce.

  13. Thank you Ali for this yummy Mac and Cheese recipe. It never occurred to me that I could cook this dish in my instant pot. This makes life so much easier to be able to cook with it. And it’s easy enough that my kids can make it too!

  14. Tried the recipe this evening and it was delicious! We did have ample amount of water in the bottom after pressure cooking for 4 minutes. We split the water with chicken broth evenly. Could that make a difference? We used a sharp white cheddar, fontina and gruyere. A tasty combination! We will certainly make this again!

  15. I previously made mac and cheese from scratch (well not the noodles) and it was great. This is so easy and the same quality! I substituted no sodium chicken broth for the water – even better!

  16. Just loooooooved it!! It came out perfect!!

  17. Can this recipe be altered for a slow cooker as well? I would love to try it that way.

  18. Made this tonight in our 6qt instant pot and it was amazing! Didn’t change a thing. So quick and easy for a weeknight.

  19. This was so easy and delicious! I had everything needed on hand and made it exactly as directed. My kids loved it.

  20. Has anyone tried boiling this with extra cheese or breadcrumbs on top once it’s done? I’d like to try it that way and looking for help or opinions! Thanks

  21. What size instant pot is this recipe made for?
    Can I use the 3 quart or do I need to cut down the amounts in the recipe?

  22. Surprisingly fabulous.. very rich… but delish and easy… 4 cups of cheese seems a little much.. I used about 2.5 it was plenty”

  23. Great pick me up during this quarantine season :) . Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  24. Even yummier than I imagined. I added a dash of basil and parsley to mine. A new family favourite,,

  25. Sounds amazing. Thanks so much for posting. Question: have you tried adding the cheese at the start of cooking? What do you think are the disadvantages of doing that? I’m going to make it this week. I’m wondering whether adding cheese early would be a disaster. ; )

    • I hope you didn’t add the cheese early as it would surely result in disaster.

    • You don’t want to add it in the beginning because dairy in the instant pot can be troublesome. It tends to boil over and scorch. You end up with a gooey mess as it cooks with the water and starch off the pasta.

  26. I’m not sure what I did wrong, but mine came out grainy. I didn’t use pre-shredded cheese, so I don’t think the cheese was the problem. Is it possible that the “keep warm” temperature was too high? The flavor was still delicious & the pasta was cooked perfectly, so I’ll have to give it another shot!

    • Did you add the cheese all at once? That will result in grainy sauce. Try stirring in a handful at a time until it tastes right (you may not need 4 cups of cheese, either).

  27. Love, love, love it

  28. Can I make this ahead of time then bale with bread crumbs?

  29. This was my first time making mac and cheese in the instapo. I used chickpea pasta, and used indicated amount of water for semolina pasta. Next time I make it I need to add a little more water. It was pretty stuck together. It loosened when I added the milk. I thought the pasta would be undercooked, but it was perfect.

    I used seriously sharp white cheddar, sharp cheddar, american cheese slices, and Parmesan cheese.

    It is a great mac and cheese recipe!

  30. Could you double this recipe, and still have it come out perfectly? Or do you need to adjust cooking time with double the amount of pasta?

  31. Make this. Now. It’s amazing. I wasn’t into homemade Mac and Cheese until I had an instant pot and this recipe. Gimme Some Oven always has the little touches to make good recipes memorable, plus it’s so darn easy, once you grate the cheeses (yup, that’s one of those small touches.). Please thank your picky cousin in my family’s behalf.

  32. Hi- I had a Q not comment- is there a slow cooker or stove top modulation for the recipe? I was tempted to experiment myself but didn’t know if it had been done or if the lack or pressure part of the instapot would prevent it from working. Thanks! Might need to just get the instapot.

  33. Instant pot!! On the definitely need to try list….

  34. Delicious! Made this as a side with our prime rib Christmas dinner and it was a huge hit! Thanks for the recipe!

  35. 2 2/3 C was not enough water, and/or 4 minutes was not enough time. Some of the pasta was not yet cooked. I weighed out my pasta, so I know it was exactly 1lb. I had to add some water and give it another 2 minutes. Else wise a good recipe.

    • The recipe actually says 3 2/3 cups of water, so it sounds like you were a cup short. I know this was a while ago, but maybe it will help someone else!

  36. Everyone in my family loved this recipe even my picky 5 year old son.

  37. this recipe came out perfect! I poured it out into a lightly greased casserole, added some buttered bread crumbs, baked it at 425 degrees until the top was lightly browned … got all those crispy bits that i love in mac n cheese. One pot, one grater, one casserole … and hardly any leftovers!!! delicious

  38. Still pretty watery even with the reduction. I think next time I’ll put it on sautee for a while to evaporate and get an even cook on the noodles (I used orecchiette, so they stuck together a bit) before adding the milk and cheese.

  39. I usually make 1/2 recipe. I’m cooking for only 3, and I find the leftovers become gummy after refrigeration. It’s so tasty fresh, and easy to make! I follow 1/2 recipe amounts and stick with the 4 minute cook time with quick release. Creamy, hot perfection every time! It’s as fast to make as the powder mixes (maybe faster without boil time) and the kids actually prefer mine – high praise, indeed!

  40. Excellent recipe! So tasty and easy, and under 30 minutes from prep to finish. I made it for the grandkids and they loved it! 5 Stars!

  41. Well this turned out better than expected! Followed recipe to a T and it was perfect. Even my picky eaters loved it.

  42. The flavor of this was great, but it was super soupy. I like my mac & cheese sauce on the thinner side, but this was too much. I kept adding more cheese to no avail! I will probably make it again, but with less water.
    I used a combination of gruyere, parmesan, sharp cheddar, and feta. I also added more mustard, smoked paprika, and Frank’s red hot.

  43. Perfection! 100% husband approved. And easy clean up, only one pot. Thank you.

  44. This is my absolute favorite mac n cheese recipe. I have made this over 6 times! I made a mistake using pre-shredded cheese once and it did not melt well – always used freshly graded cheese. I am curious if anyone has doubled the recipe? I have always followed it exactly based on the original recipe. If doubled, does the cooking time need to be longer?

  45. Couldn’t believe how easy this was…really delicious too. ?

  46. Hi there. For some reason it was so incredibly runny I had to make a gravy to try and thicken it up. The noodle and water ratio seem way off. What did I do wrong?

  47. I’ve made this recipe over and over. It is so easy and great for a crowd. When I feel like doctoring it up I put in a 9×13 pan, top with some bread crumbs and broil for a couple minutes. Can also use fried onions topping. This reminds me of my Grandma’s homemade Mac and cheese without all the work.

  48. Omg why has it taken me this long to try this recipe out?! This was SUPER easy and a winner all around. I used smoked gouda, gruyere, white cheddar, and sharp yellow cheddar. Also had a can of evaporated milk to use. After making this, I went through my cabinet, took out all of the boxed macaroni and donated it to the local Food pantry. ?

  49. The easiest, most delicious macaroni and cheese ever! This recipe made a mountain…and it was gone in a flash. I used ground mustard, and was maybe a bit scant in the water based on previous reviews and it came out perfect. Thanks so much for the great recipe!

  50. Made this for dinner tonight and it was a hit. I’ve never been able to make mac and cheese that didn’t taste like paste with cheese. This was so simple and didn’t contain a lot of unnecessary ingredients. The only change I made was to add some fresh steamed broccoli florettes. Yummy!