This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese only requires a few minutes and a few ingredients! It’s creamy, ooey-gooey, and made with three kinds of cheese!
I am absolutely loving this instant pot take on a classic. Although my one pot mac and cheese and my slow cooker mac and cheese are delicious, I’m having tons of fun with my instant pot…and this instant pot mac and cheese might just take the cake. 😉
- Pasta Shells – no need to cook your pasta first. It cooks right in the instant pot!
- Veggie Broth – I use veggie broth to keep this dish vegetarian but feel free to use chicken broth if preferred.
- Salt and Black Pepper – enhances flavor and adds just a touch of heat.
- Milk – the base for an ultra smooth, creamy, and cheesy sauce.
- Shredded Parmesan, Gruyere, and Sharp Cheddar Cheese – a nutty, tangy, smooth, slightly smoky combination of cheeses melted over the pasta. Make sure you shred your own cheese so it’s extra smooth!
How to make
This instant pot mac and cheese recipe is ready in just 20 minutes! Yep…you read that right.
- Spray your instant pot with cooking spray then add in uncooked pasta shells, broth, salt, and pepper. Cover and lock the lid then cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Once done cooking, remove the lid and stir in milk.
- Add in parmesan, gruyere, and cheddar, little bits at a time until fully combined then serve and enjoy!
Do you need to cook the pasta first?
Nope! The pasta cooks in the veggie broth directly in the instant pot. No pre-cooking necessary.
How long does it take to cook pasta in the instant pot?
The pasta will cook in about 4-5 minutes. Set the timer for 4 minutes if you prefer more al dente pasta or, if you like it softer, set it for 5.
Can you use a different pasta?
Yep! I love the cheesy sauce paired with the shells but if you prefer a different pasta shape feel free to use that instead. Try macaroni, rotini, gemelli, penne, etc.
Keep in mind, different pasta shapes may alter the cook time slightly.
What cheese is best in mac and cheese?
I use cheddar, gruyere, and parmesan in this mac and cheese recipe because, not only do they all melt deliciously, but they add slightly different flavors and textures to the dish!
- Sharp Cheddar. Gives the mac and cheese an almost tangy flavor and that classic mac and cheese taste.
- Gruyere. Makes the cheese sauce ultra-creamy. I use hickory smoked for a slight smokiness.
- Parmesan. Adds a subtle nutty flavor to round out the tanginess from the cheddar.
If those three cheeses aren’t your thing, feel free to use others. Try gouda, white cheddar, brie, or even a bit of cream cheese.
- Make it spicy. Stir in some hot sauce or cayenne pepper for some extra heat.
- Give it a Mexican twist. Add in some taco seasoning, taco meat, and salsa for a flavor variation.
- Add veggies. Stir in cooked broccoli, asparagus, peas, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.
- Add a protein. Mix in cooked chicken, bacon, ground beef, or sausage.
- Mix in some pesto. Add a dollop of pesto to your mac and cheese.
- Bake it. Once your mac and cheese is cooked, transfer it to a greased baking dish, sprinkle a bit of extra cheese and Panko on top, and bake it until the cheese is melted and the breadcrumbs are golden-brown and crispy.
What to serve with mac and cheese
You can serve this mac and cheese as a main with a couple of yummy sides or serve it as a side dish to a main!
How to store
Leftover mac and cheese will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
To reheat, warm either in the microwave or on the stove until heated through. Thin with a bit of milk if necessary.
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
Equipment for this recipe
- 1 (16 oz) box medium pasta shells uncooked
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon salt more or less to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper more or less to taste
- 1/2 cup milk plus more, if necessary
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan about 2 oz
- 1 cup shredded gruyere I used a hickory smoked
- 1 (8 oz) block sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- Spray instant pot with cooking spray.
- Add in pasta, broth, salt, and pepper.
- Cover and lock the lid (make sure the steam releasing handle is pointing to sealing).
- Cook using the manual button (set to high pressure) and adjust timer on the Instant Pot to 4 or 5 minutes.*
- The Instant Pot will beep when it's finished. Flip the valve to "venting" for a quick release.
- Remove lid and stir in milk.
- Stir in parmesan, gruyere, and cheddar. Stir in a little at a time for best results.
- Taste and re-season, if necessary, and enjoy!
- Reheat leftovers with a little milk.
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*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.