You can have this creamy, cheesy homemade Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in 20 minutes. It's a simple, comfort food family favorite that you'll make again and again.
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
This Instant Mac and Cheese is basically a dinner time dream. Macaroni is cooked right in the Instant Pot and swimming in a creamy, cheesy sauce.
Simplicity is key in a classic mac and cheese. And simple flavors is what you'll find here. Just milk, butter, and cheese so that all of that creamy, gooey cheese and pasta flavor can shine through.
It's cooked in just about 10 minutes total from top to bottom, all in the Instant Pot. It's amazing to be able to make a homemade version that quickly and easily! No draining or any extra dishes necessary, so easy clean up. Not to mention, there will be no complaints at dinner when you serve up this warm, cheesy, comforting childhood favorite!
Why Evaporated Milk?
Evaporated milk is thicker than regular milk, but won't curdle like cream. So it will give you that super creamy flavor like cream will but won't curdle when it gets very hot. It's the easiest and best way to get the richest, creamiest mac and cheese possible.
Let's Talk About Cheese...
Mac and cheese is most often made with cheddar. You can use mild, medium, or sharp. I usually will use half sharp and half mild (and typing that out, I'm realizing that I could probably use all medium 🤔...)
Of course, there are sooo many variations of macaroni and cheese, and so many varieties of cheese to try. Feel free to experiment with cheeses such as mozzarella, gouda, or gruyere.
My biggest recommendation regarding any cheese that you do try, though, is that it is freshly grated. Pre-shredded cheese that you buy in a store is coated in starch, which prevents it from sticking together. For this recipe, in order for the cheese to melt all smooth and creamy and gooey, we don't want any of that starch, which will stiffen the cheese as it melts.
So try whatever cheese your heart desires, just make sure it's freshly grated. Here's the box grater that I have, if you need one.
Other Add-Ins for Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
This is a basic recipe for Instant Pot Mac and Cheese. While we absolutely love it this classic, simple way, sometimes it's fun to change it up a bit. Here are some ideas:
- Taco meat - Use up leftover taco meat by stirring it into the final product. The meat is already seasoned, and you can add some corn and black beans to really Tex-Mex it up.
- Pulled Pork or chicken - Plain or barbecue are both delicious if you need to use up leftovers, or just want to add a little protein.
- Spices or seasonings - Add a little dry ground mustard (1 teaspoon) for tanginess, cayenne (⅛-1/4 teaspoon) or red pepper flakes for spiciness, or some onion and/or garlic powder for a little extra flavor.
- Bacon - Cook and crumble it first. Then add all the bacon.
More Mac and Cheese Recipes You'll Love
- Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese without Flour- a quick and simple mac and cheese made on the stovetop with no flour and no roux.
- Crock Pot Mac and Cheese - A dump and go recipe for busy nights or holidays that's a hit every time.
- Sloppy Joe Mac and Cheese - two kid favorites smashed into one delicious dish!
- Swedish Meatball Mac and Cheese - it doesn't get more comfort food than this creamy mac and cheese mixed with Swedish meatballs in a cheesy, creamy sauce.
- 68 Mac and Cheese Recipes - dig through 68 of my favorite, unique, best ever Mac and cheese recipes to find some of your own new favorites!
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni (16 ounces)
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- 2 cups milk
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
- 3 cups freshly shredded medium cheddar
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan optional but recommended
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To the Instant Pot, add macaroni, broth, water, and milk. Give ingredients a quick stir.
- Secure Instant Pot lid, making sure valve is set to sealing.
- Set to pressure cook on high for 4 minutes.
- Once the timer beeps, let out the pressure by carefully moving the valve to "venting" to perform a quick release. (May sputter while venting. See notes below)
- When the pin drops, remove lid and set aside. Turn the Instant Pot Off. There will be some liquid left with your pasta. DO NOT drain it.
- Add butter and evaporated milk. Stir to combine until butter is melted.
- Slowly add cheese (cheddar and Parmesan) in small handfuls until all cheese is added, stirring between each addition until cheese is fully melted.
- If mac and cheese is still very thick, add a little extra milk, a little at a time, until it reaches desired consistency. (It will also thicken as it cools, so make it a little runnier than you want to end up with.)
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and any other add-ins. Serve warm.
- I recommended using the chicken or vegetable broth to cook the noodles in because it adds extra flavor to the dish. However, you can sub the milk for water, if you'd prefer.
- When releasing pressure, this recipe may sputter a bit. To prevent a mess, you can carefully cover the vent with a paper towel to catch the mess before releasing. Don't touch it after releasing, as you may get burned from the steam.
- Use freshly grated cheese for best results.
- Sauce will thicken as it cools a little, so it's okay if it's a little bit runnier than you want it at first.
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