Make homemade macaroni and cheese in your Instant Pot. This kid favorite comfort food is really easy to put together and is so delicious.
Creamy, cheesy and comforting, Instant Pot macaroni and cheese is a breeze to make. It’s almost as convenient and quick as the boxed variety, but so much tastier and made from better ingredients. All you have to do is add all the ingredients to the pot, cook for a few minutes, then add the cheese at the end. It’s so rich and saucy, just like home mac and cheese should be.
Using chicken broth instead of water to cook the pasta adds so much more flavor and dimension. The half n half is just creamy enough without being too greasy. You can also adjust the flavor in lots of different ways. I like to add some garlic powder, nutmeg and use different combinations and varieties of cheeses. It’s very delicious, but not too funky for picky eaters, which is very important for a recipe like this.
Video of How to Make Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
- macaroni pasta –
- elbow macaroni pasta is the most traditional to use, but most medium shaped pasta will work too. We also like to use small shell pasta, cavatappi, ditalini, fusilli and orecchiette.
- chicken broth or vegetable broth
- this is the one ingredient that adds so much deep flavor to the mac n cheese. Since I usually add lots of garlic, onions, herbs and bay leaves when cooking the chicken broth, all of that comes through in the mac n cheese too.
- half n half or evaporated milk
- half n half is half whole milk + heavy cream, so it’s just right to add some creaminess without being too greasy and rich. Evaporated milk is shelf stable and is richer in flavor than plain milk, so it’s a good option too. You can use whole milk instead, but sometimes it can curdle.
- salt, pepper
- since I use salted chicken broth and the cheese is salty too, I don’t use any additional salt, but if your broth isn’t salty, you can add some to taste. Freshly ground black pepper is so good.
- seasonings: (nutmeg, garlic powder/onion powder, dry mustard)
- nutmeg is wonderful in cheese sauces, dry mustard pairs really well with the other seasonings too. Garlic powder and onion powder are an easy way to add some flavor to the mac n cheese. If your broth is really flavorful, you can skip the powders:). Of course, omit anything you don’t like or use other seasonings that you enjoy.
- grated cheese:
- this is where you can experiment with lots of different cheese options. Use any combination of different varieties of cheeses that melt well. I use Colby Jack or cheddar most often. monterey jack, gruyere, asiago are also great.
- Parmesan cheese is a dryer cheese with a deeper, more concentrated flavor than the other grated cheese above. It’s wonderful to add a subtle nutty flavor.
How To Make Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
- Add the macaroni, chicken broth, salt (if using), pepper and seasonings to the Instant Pot. Cooking the pasta in the broth saves time and the starch from the pasta helps to naturally make the sauce without having to make a roux from butter and flour.
- Cook on High Pressure, Manual Mode/Pressure Cook mode for 4 minutes. Release the pressure manually.
- Add 1/2 cup half n half and grated cheeses to the cooked macaroni, let stand for a few minutes, covered, just until the cheese starts melting. Mix to combine. At first the sauce will be very loose, but the longer it stands, the thicker it will be. If needed, add more half n half if you want the sauce to be looser. Add as much or as little cheese as you like.
- Mac and cheese is best served warm, right after cooking, but if you have any leftovers, store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat on low heat, in a skillet with a bit of broth to loosen the pasta and make it creamy, just until warmed through.
Want to know more about using the Instant Pot?
I have a blog post and video for beginners, explaining how it works and its many features. You’ll also find helpful tips, troubleshooting advice and easy recipes to try.
Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
Creamy, cheesy homemade Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese that is really flavorful and so easy to make.
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 4
- Total Time: 14 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
2 Tablespoons butter
8 oz elbow macaroni pasta (shell pasta, cavatappi, ditalini, fusilli and orecchiette are also good options)
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 – 3/4 cup half n half or evaporated milk
salt, if needed
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
dash of grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon garlic powder/onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
8 – 12 oz grated cheese (Colby Jack, cheddar, monterey jack, gruyere, asiago, etc.)
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Add all the ingredients except the half n half and cheese to the Instant Pot, the butter, macaroni, broth, salt (if needed), ground black pepper, nutmeg, garlic/onion powder and dry mustard.
- Turn it on the Pressure Cook setting, High Pressure and cook for 4 minutes. Manually release the pressure no more than 5 minutes after it’s done cooking.
- Add 1/2 cup half n half and the grated cheeses to the cooked macaroni. Lightly cover with the lid for 1-3 minutes, just until the cheese warms through and starts to melt. Mix to combine. At first, the sauce will be very loose, but the longer it stands the thicker it will be.
- You can add the remaining 1/4 cup half n half to loosen it up (or even more, if you like it really saucy). If you like your mac n cheese to be really cheesy, add 12 oz of grated cheese. For our family, I only use 8 oz, because we like the cheese sauce to be very light, but it’s a matter of taste preference. Of course, you can add even more cheese if you like.
Storing and Reheating Macaroni and Cheese:
Mac and cheese is best served warm, right after cooking, but if you have any leftovers, store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat on low heat, in a skillet with a bit of broth to loosen the pasta and make it creamy, just until warmed through.
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