Super creamy and cheesy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is done in under 20 minutes. It’s a comforting family-favorite recipe that definitely satisfies the craving for macaroni and cheese. Watch the video and you’ll see how easy it is to whip up a batch of Mac and Cheese that is so much better than the store-bought boxed varieties. 

We love comforting pasta dishes, from Cajun Chicken Pasta to Creamy Shrimp Pasta. If you enjoy quick and easy family-friendly recipes, this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe is a must-try!

Spoonful of mac and cheese in the Instant Pot

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Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

My kids visited my friend Jen’s house for a playdate and she made them this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese. My kids loved it so much that they requested the recipe. I was so intrigued when they brought it home because I’ve always cooked Stovetop Mac and Cheese or the Baked Mac and Cheese found in Natasha’s Kitchen Cookbook

This recipe was love at first bite. I couldn’t believe how easy this was – a perfectly creamy Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot. It’s an excellent recipe to have on hand for busy weeknights and playdates of course! Thank you Jen for this wonderful discovery. We have loved Instant Pot Mac and Cheese ever since. 

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese Video

Watch Natasha make this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese. You will be surprised at how easy it is. We will never stop loving this recipe. Now go forth and prepare your pressure cookers!

The instant pot is amazing at speeding up recipes and the perfect examples of this are Instant Pot Beets and Instant Pot Baked Potatoes. Making Mac and Cheese in the instant pot is brilliant and here’s why you will love this recipe:

  • One pot – it all comes together in one pot (no need to pre-cook the pasta!) so there are fewer dishes to wash and less mess.
  • Quick – This recipe cooks in just 4 minutes on high pressure so with the time it takes for the instant pot to come to pressure, it’s on the table in about 20 minutes!
  • So creamy – it’s cheesy, gooey, and everything you want in a mac and cheese recipe.
  • Good ingredients – this recipe doesn’t rely on fillers, preservatives, or highly processed products like Velveeta. It’s delicious without those things and we feel good about serving mac and cheese with real cheese and high-quality ingredients to our family.
Creamy Instant Pot mac and Cheese served in a blue bowl

Ingredients

This homemade mac and cheese calls for simple pantry and refrigerator staples that you may already have on hand. Make sure you use the right proportions of water, pasta, and milk so your pasta doesn’t end up dry. Find the exact measurements in the print-friendly recipe below.

  • Water – necessary for the pasta to cook through properly. Use filtered water that is cold or at room temperature.
  • Seasonings – salt, ground mustard, paprika, and garlic powder complement the cheese sauce and add layers of flavor. The paprika also adds a bit of color to the sauce.
  • Evaporated milk – this is more concentrated than regular milk which helps create a rich and creamy sauce with more flavor.
  • Mild Cheddar Cheese – mild cheese adds great cheesy flavor without being overpowering.
  • Monterey Jack Cheese – we add a secondary cheese for more flavor and a gooey cheesy consistency. See substitution options in the “Common Questions” section below.
Ingredients with elbow macaroni, evaporated milk, cheddar, Monterey Jack cheese and spices

Pro Tip: If you want to substitute the elbow macaroni, make sure you pick pasta that holds onto the cheese sauce nicely. Some great options include shells, fusilli, and Cavatappi pasta.

How to Make Macaroni and Cheese in Instant Pot

  1. In a 6-Qt Instant Pot – add water, pasta, and seasonings. Stir together and top with a pat of butter.
  2. Cover with the lid and (following the manufactures instructions for your machine), set the pot to cook on manual high pressure for 4 minutes.
  3. Release Pressure – after the cooking cycle is complete, do a quick pressure release (I wear an oven mitt when I flip the valve and release pressure). Once the pressure indicator shows that it’s safe to open, carefully unlock and remove the lid.
  4. Add Evaporated milk – stir in the evaporated milk all at once.
  5. Add cheese – add 1 cup of cheese at a time, blending with each addition. Serve right away or if you desire a thicker mac and cheese, cover and let it stand for 5 minutes or longer. It will thicken up as the pasta rests and absorbs the liquid.
Step by step how to make mac and cheese in the instant pot

Pro Tip: Always follow the manufactures guide for locking the lid and proper use instructions. Because this is a starchy food (and some pasta brands are more likely to sputter), this has the potential to sputter when releasing the steam. When releasing pressure, use an oven mitt for safety and you might have a paper towel handy to cover and sputtering.

Instant pot with mac and cheese and serving spoon

Common Questions

What is the best pasta for Mac and Cheese?

The classic choice for mac and cheese is elbow macaroni. You can use any brand, even gluten-free elbows. 

Can I double the recipe?

Instant pots have a max fill line and for starchy recipes, it’s recommended to only fill the instant pot halfway to give you extra headroom in order to keep foam away from the pressure valve. For this reason, I would not recommend doubling the recipe but it’s easy enough that you can make a second batch after the first. 

Can I substitute evaporated milk?

Evaporated milk will yield better results, but you can substitute it with whole milk instead. 

evaporated milk used for making the best mac and cheese

Cheese Substitutions

You definitely have options when it comes to cheese. You can use all cheddar cheese, but we like to use 2 cups of mild cheddar cheese for the color and flavor and combine it with a secondary cheese or even multiple varieties of cheese. It’s best to use cheese that melts well such as: 

  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • Mozzarella (this one is extra gooey)
  • Gouda cheese 
  • Swiss cheese 
  • Havarti

Serve with

Mac and cheese is one of those few side dishes that become the star of the show. Pair it with any of the following options:

Make-Ahead

Mac and Cheese is generally best served hot and fresh when it is at its peak of creaminess. If you have leftovers, here are our tips for storing and reheating: 

  • Storing – once it has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. 
  • Reheating – Add a serving portion to a bowl, sprinkle on some water, and microwave just until heated through then stir to combine. The little bit of water will make it creamy again without drying out.
Up close creamy and cheesy macaroni pasta

This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese had to be the quickest photography session I’ve done due to my children’s desperation of wanting to eat it hot and fresh and gooey and cheesy. My son barely survived being my spoon holder for the photos. One look in the pot and you just know you have something delicious going on here.

More Easy Instant Pot Recipes

If you love this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, then you won’t want to miss these time-saving Instant Pot recipes:

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe (VIDEO)

4.98 from 96 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Mac and Cheese cooked in the instant pot
A creamy and cheesy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese that is ready in less than 20 minutes! Macaroni and cheese in the instant pot is a quick and easy, family-favorite recipe that definitely satisfies a craving for this nostalgic comfort food.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Time to Reach Pressure: 10 minutes
Total Time: 19 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 8 people as a side dish

Instructions

  • Into a 6-quart instant pot multi-cooker, add 4 cups water, macaroni pasta, salt, mustard, paprika, and garlic powder. Stir to combine.
  • Add butter. Cover with the lid* and set the pressure cooker on manual high pressure for 4 minutes.
  • After the cooking cycle is complete, follow the manufacturers guide for a quick release and wait until all of the pressure is released.** Turn off the instant pot.
  • Stir in the evaporated milk right away.
  • Add the cheese one cup at a time, stirring with each addition. Once the cheese is completely melted, season to taste and serve right away garnished with freshly cracked black pepper if desired. If a looser cheese sauce is preferred, stir in some hot water.***

Notes

*Follow the manufacturer’s guide for locking the lid and proper use instructions.
**Because this is a starchy food (and some pasta brands are more likely to sputter), it has the potential to sputter when releasing the steam. When releasing pressure, use an oven mitt for safety and you might have a paper towel handy to cover any sputtering. 
***If you desire a thicker mac and cheese, cover and let it stand for 5 minutes or longer. The sauce will thicken up as the pasta rests and absorbs the liquid. 

Nutrition Per Serving

448kcal Calories47g Carbs18g Protein22g Fat12g Saturated Fat1g Polyunsaturated Fat5g Monounsaturated Fat0.1g Trans Fat61mg Cholesterol788mg Sodium170mg Potassium1g Fiber4g Sugar642IU Vitamin A1mg Vitamin C422mg Calcium1mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe (VIDEO)
Amount per Serving
Calories
448
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
22
g
34
%
Saturated Fat
 
12
g
75
%
Trans Fat
 
0.1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Cholesterol
 
61
mg
20
%
Sodium
 
788
mg
34
%
Potassium
 
170
mg
5
%
Carbohydrates
 
47
g
16
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
4
g
4
%
Protein
 
18
g
36
%
Vitamin A
 
642
IU
13
%
Vitamin C
 
1
mg
1
%
Calcium
 
422
mg
42
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 448
Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the creator behind Natasha's Kitchen (established in 2009), and I share family-friendly, authentic recipes. I am a New York Times Best-Selling cookbook author and a trusted video personality in the culinary world. My husband, Vadim, and I run this blog together, ensuring every recipe we share is thoroughly tested and approved. Our mission is to provide you with delicious, reliable recipes you can count on. Thanks for stopping by! I am so happy you are here.

Read more posts by Natasha

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Katie
    June 2, 2024

    I made the recipe exactly (in front of others for the first time no less!) and it was perfect. Will definitely make again. Thanks so much for the great recipe with whole ingredients.

    Reply

  • H
    May 31, 2024

    I read all the reviews before I started. I decided to cook the pasta for 7 mins instead of 4- when I opened my instant pot there was no liquid in the pot and the pasta was cooked perfect. The dish was amazing!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      May 31, 2024

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  • Stacie
    May 28, 2024

    Made this last night for a dinner party. It was crazy quick and delicious. I am not a beginner cook, but I am when it comes to the IP. However, I’ve made a lot of the recipes you post and have come to trust what you say; so I don’t read through all the comments. That was a rookie mistake (at least with this recipe). After 4 minutes, there was still a lot of water in the pot. I didn’t think to dump it since regular mac & cheese gets a lot of milk added to make the sauce. After adding the evaporated milk and a LOT of extra cheese, it was still (delicious) soup. I did know enough to let it sit and thicken, but it took a bit of time. It would’ve been nice if this problem was mentioned in your Commonly Asked Question section. That way dinner would be on time getting to the table 🙂 Thank you though for all you post. Your recipes are awesome and your joy of cooking shines through in your videos

    Reply

    • Natasha
      May 28, 2024

      Hi Stacie, that is a great point – I added this note in the instructions and in the recipe card: Serve right away or if you desire a thicker mac and cheese, cover and let it stand for 5 minutes or longer. It will thicken up as the pasta rests and absorbs the liquid.

      Reply

  • Donna Ann Rodman
    April 29, 2024

    Very easy and yummy!! My grandkids loved it!! I read other comments saying it was runny. I didnt have that problem, it will thicken as it sits like any other pasta dishes

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 29, 2024

      So glad to hear that, Donna!

      Reply

  • Andrea
    April 5, 2024

    This specifies to use a six quart instant pot. I only have an eight quart. Will it work as well with the ingredient measurements as listed?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 5, 2024

      Hi Andrea! I haven’t tested it myself, but I think so. While it may take longer for the 8 quart to come to pressure than the 6 quart, your cooking time and ingredients should be the same. Let us know how it turns out.

      Reply

  • Teresa A Riley
    March 30, 2024

    Tried the recipe today, excellent!
    Loved the flavor of the cheese sauce.
    Will be making this often. Thanks

    Reply

  • TD
    March 19, 2024

    i know how to cook and followed this recipe precisely, and it came out watery and thin. If you want mac and cheese soup, it’s perfect. If you want creamy mac and cheese, look elsewhere.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      March 20, 2024

      Hi TD, I haven’t had that happen so I’m wondering if you used any substitutions or changed the quantity of pasta?

      Reply

  • Rebekah
    March 13, 2024

    Just made this Mac & Cheese tonite & mine came out very soupy, too much liquid & I followed recipe exactly. Still edible though lol

    Reply

    • Natasha
      March 13, 2024

      HI Rebekah, if the proportions were exact to the recipe (which is important), the soupy-ness you are describing should thicken up fairly quickly at it cools.

      Reply

  • Terry Bruss
    March 4, 2024

    Can this be made in a pressure cooker? Is a pressure cooker and an Instant pot the same thing. If it can be made in a pressure cooker do I follow the same recipe?
    Thank You

    Reply

    • Natasha
      March 4, 2024

      HI Terry, an instant pot is a pressure cooker. This can be made in a pressure cooker, just follow the manufacturers instructions for using your pressure cooker.

      Reply

  • Joyce
    February 7, 2024

    Made this for dinner tonight with baked fish. So, so, easy. I mean, stove top mac and cheese is easy to make anyway but this really was no fuss. I was skeptical about the cheese melting smoothly but it did easily and was surprisingly creamy. My husband said it was like a gravy. I would have liked to make it as written the first time but I was craving mac and cheese and didn’t have all the ingredients. I did not have evaporated milk so used 8 oz 2% milk mixed with a can of Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese soup, 1 Tblspn olive oil instead of butter and shells instead of elbows. For cheese I used 1.5 cups sharp cheddar, 1 cup 3 cheese blend and 1/2 cup Swiss. I will definitely make this again. 😋

    Reply

    • Kathy
      February 9, 2024

      Was the 5 star rating for your recipe with all the changes? It’s a bit misleading since you did not make the recipe as written.

      Reply

      • Kathy
        February 9, 2024

        I just made this with my instant pot and after the 4 min pressure cook the noodles were done, but there was so much liquid that I poured out almost 2 cups before adding the cheese. I used 4 cups water, can of evaporated milk per instructions with lb of macaroni. Did anyone else have this issue? Had I kept in all the liquid it would have been like soup. Tasted great with a combination of cheeses, but glad I poured out all the extra liquid.

        Reply

        • Tricia M
          March 10, 2024

          Yes, but I didn’t dump it and now I have macaroni and cheese soup.

          Reply

        • Holly
          May 19, 2024

          Same for me! When I opened the instant pot after the 4 minutes cook time on high + natural release there was still a good amount of boiling water above the (perfectly) cooked noodles, and I didn’t drain the water before adding in the 12oz can evaporated milk. I wonder if there are differences in brands of cookers or even pasta that need to be taken into account. I’m going to try again because the flavors overall were great, it was just really soupy. I used 4 cups filtered water and a 1 pound bag of elbow noodles.

          Natasha, is there any water remaining in your pressure cooker when you finish cooking the noodles?

          Reply

  • Nicole C.
    January 4, 2024

    Extremely creamy recipe that was quickly created. Looking forward to experimenting with different cheeses.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      January 4, 2024

      Sounds good! Thanks for your review, Nicole.

      Reply

  • Leslie
    January 2, 2024

    I’m a self professed Mac n Cheese snob and this is literally at the top of my list! Had to use dry mustard because I didn’t have the other. I’ll never go back to the more time consuming roux type again. No worrying about curdling with this one. This is foolproof! Thank you Natasha!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      January 2, 2024

      You’re so welcome, I’m glad that you enjoyed it!

      Reply

    • Ken
      April 28, 2024

      I’m pretty sure dry mustard is what the recipe calls for so you made it correctly. 👍🏻

      Reply

  • Janice
    January 1, 2024

    I love using this recipe! I change up the cheese flavors and it always turns out so delicious. My grands love it and ask for more!! So easy in the instant pot and definitely use the chicken broth

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      January 1, 2024

      Hi Janice! That’s wonderful. What cheese variations have you tried.

      Reply

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