Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Who know the easiest way to make Mac and Cheese was in the Instant Pot? This creamy, comforting bowl of goodness is healthier than your favorite childhood boxed kind, but just as delicious and more! This recipe for Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is our new go to way of cooking it and we know once you try it, it’ll be yours too!

Mac and cheese in a bowl.

Let’s admit it: we all crave a big bowl of that boxed Mac and Cheese every once in a while. But what if I told you that you could make it even EASIER but homemade? This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is all you wanted and more when the craving strikes! All you need is a few pantry ingredients and a few (largely hands-off) minutes of cooking and you’ve got yourself comfort in a bowl!

Ingredients on a tray for instant pot Mac and cheese.

Here is what you need to make it:

Variety of cheeses inside an instant pot to prepare for the sauce.

Not All Cheese is Created Equally

It’s worth the extra step to grate the cheese from a block. We find it easier to use the large holes in a box grater, but you could also use your grating attachment on a food processor too!

While it is so much easier to buy pre-shredded cheese, we’re suggesting you take the extra step of shredded your own cheese from a block for this recipe. Commonly homemade Mac and Cheese recipes rely on a roux to add to the creaminess, but this recipe skips that step. Instead we rely on the starch from the pasta water AND the ability for the cheese to fully melt into the Mac and cheese. Pre-shredded cheese has other added ingredients to prevent the cheese from sticking together in the bag, but these added ingredients can prevent the cheese from melting fully.

A spoonful of creamy instant pot Mac and cheese.

How to Make Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot

Making Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot could not be easier! Simply:

  1. Pressure cook the pasta. No need to drain it here. We’ve tried it with several different types of pasta, both gluten free and not and they all work well!
  2. Stir in the cheese, milk and butter. Seriously, that’s all you need to do! If it looks too thin, give it a few minutes to thicken up, it will. If it’s too thick, add in a bit more milk, as needed.
  3. Taste the seasoning, and adjust. Add in salt and pepper to taste, some hot sauce and if desired, a bit more cheese!

A Word on Leftover Pasta Water

We’ve tested this extensively with all sorts of brands and shapes of pasta. We’ve noticed that the amount of leftover pasta water can change depending on the pasta shape, as well as the brand of pasta. If there is excessive amounts of water leftover, you can drain some of it.

How can you tell if it is excessive? Well, there should be some pasta water leftover, as it is needed to create part of the creamy sauce. But if your pasta is swimming in water, drain some of it. It is always easier to add back in more liquid in the form of milk than it is to take away liquid after the cheese sauce has been made.

Creamy Mac and cheese in a bowl.

Looking for other simple Instant Pot meals, check these out:

If you like this pasta recipe, check out these others:

Watch the video:

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Yield 4-6
Prep Time 5 min
Cook Time 4 min
Total Time 14 min

Author: Lexi's Clean Kitchen
Scale This Recipe


  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni (gluten-free or not)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, more for topping
  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter
  • 1/2 cup oat milk (or milk of choice), more as needed
  • 1-2 teaspoons hot sauce (optional)


  1. Add macaroni, salt and water to a 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot. Set the pressure valve to sealing. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. Once done, carefully move the valve to release the pressure.
  2. Stir the pasta. Add in the remainder of the ingredients and mix until fully combined. If pasta is too thick, add a bit more milk in. Taste and add additional salt and pepper, if desired.
  3. Garnish with additional parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  1. Freshly shredded cheese works best here, as pre-shredded cheese can have added stabilizers and won’t melt as well.
  2. If you have an Instant Pot model that includes an air fryer you can add additional cheese to the top and swap the lids to broil for 4 minutes to get a nice crispy lid.
  3. If pasta has excessive liquid, drain some of it. There should be some liquid left, but the pasta shouldn't be swimming in it. We have noticed that some brands or shapes of pasta leave more water than others. See note in body of post for more info.


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