Is there anything truly better than creamy lick-your-lips-worthy mac and cheese? Yes, actually. This creamy mac and cheese comes together in 10 minutes thanks for the instant pot! This is going to become a go-to in your house!
Listen. We all need a little carb-and-cheese action in our life every now and then. Creamy instant pot mac and cheese is going to do just the trick!
I am not sure I know anyone who doesn't like mac and cheese. It is like the ULTIMATE comfort food! The king of them all. My mom made the best mac and cheese growing up and I talk all about my preference for this dish over HERE when I made Southern Cheddar Mac and Cheese.
Can we also count how many times I may say mac and cheese in this post lol. Sorry, not sorry!
We are taking this dish to the instant pot and letting it do its thing is magic! It comes together in 10 minutes!
- No more making a roux
- No more boiling the noodles separately
- Fewer pans
- Less mess
- Less clean up
- Pasta - your preferred shape - shells, elbows, bowtie, etc. - it doesn't matter!
- Cheese - shredded - shred your own cheese and do not use the pre-shredded bagged kind!
- Cream Cheese
- Whole Milk
How to Make Mac and Cheese in an Instant Pot
Step 1: Place your box of pasta and 4 cups of water in the instant pot.
NOTE - you can use any shape of pasta shells you have on hand. Doesn't matter - shells, elbows, bow ties, penne...heck if "worse comes to worse" use spaghetti noodles. Just a pound of any dried pasta you have on hand. Make it easy.
Step 2: Place the lid on and set the custom pressure cooking time to 5 minutes and press start. Note, that it will take about 5 or so minutes to come to pressure before the cooking time starts. While this is cooking shred your cheese.
Step 3: Once the 5 minutes are up, manually release the steam immediately. If you wait any time the noodles will continue to cook and be overcooked and potentially fall apart.
Step 4: Add in the butter, cream cheese, salt, and pepper. Begin to stir to break up the noodles that are stuck together and start melting the butter and cream cheese.
Step 5: Add in all of your grated cheese and stir. The heat from the bowl and noodles will slowly start to melt everything together into a luscious creamy sauce. This takes a little while to melt. At first, you will think you have ruined it and it won't work. You haven't! Keep stirring....it will come together!
Step 6: Once the cheese is almost completely melted (after 2-3 minutes of stirring) then add in ¼ cup of milk. This will help loosen everything up and complete the creamy sauce this dish has. If the mac and cheese is still too thick you can add an additional ¼ cup of milk until it is the consistency you prefer. I love mine ultra-creamy and more on the saucy soupy side!
NOTE - as the mac and cheese sits for a while (or when it is stored for leftovers) it will absorb the liquid. If at any time it seems to be thicker, just add a splash of milk to loosen everything back up.
What Cheese is Best for Mac and Cheese?
My motto for cooking is always to use what you have!
You can use any combo of cheese you would like. In this recipe, I used 8 ounces of mild cheddar and 8 ounces of white cheddar. You can use different types of cheese or just all one kind. Use whatever you have or like.
Note, if you use mozzarella or provolone you will get a stringy cheese sauce which is totally great if you like that!
Cheese combos to try:
- All Cheddar
- Mild Cheddar and White Cheddar
- Mild Cheddar and Gruyere
- Cheddar and Colby Jack
- Cheddar and Pepper Jack (for a bit of a kick)
- Cheddar, Mozzarella, Parmesan
- Goat cheese would be a STELLAR addition too and add even more of a creamy bite to this
Frequently Asked Questions
Using pre-shredded cheese for mac and cheese is not recommended. The bags of pre-shredded cheese have a powder coating on them that does not melt well in a sauce. The sauce will turn grainy and have a weird texture to it. It is much better to just take the extra 2 minutes and grate your own.
If you do not have an instant pot macaroni and cheese can be made on the stovetop. I have made mac and cheese my entire life up to this point without one. :)Check out my Southern Cheddar Mac and Cheese which is basically the stovetop version of this recipe.
I love my instant pot! You can find them almost everywhere nowadays but you know Amazon is our BFF. This is the one (affiliate link) that I have.
Listen, the bigger the bowl the better 😉 But seriously, you can eat this alone and it is 100% an appropriate dinner option! I support all the cheese and carb cravings that are needed! You can also have a smaller portion served alongside a side salad (BBQ Cobb Salad would be a great option), or grilled chicken, steak, or your favorite protein. You can also serve this with some sort of protein - chicken, crispy bacon, or salty ham. Jazz it up with some veggies too - sweet peas, spinach, and roasted red peppers would be delicious!
The options are endless to bulk this up. Have fun with it! Be creative! This is perfect on its own or a great base for a hearty, comforting meal that will feed an army and make great leftovers for the week.
To reheat instant pot mac and cheese, scoop out whatever portion size you prefer into a bowl and add a splash of milk. Place in the microwave for 1 minute. Remove and stir together. Place back into the microwave for 1-2 minutes or until warmed. Add more milk if needed to reach the desired consistency. As the mac and cheese cools, it will absorb all of the liquid and lose the "soupiness". Adding milk back in and slowly reheating it will bring it right back to life!
Place any leftover mac and cheese in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
More Pasta Recipes
- Easy Chicken and Spinach Skillet Pasta
- Caprese Pasta Salad
- Spicy Sausage Bowtie Pasta
- Southern Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- BLT Pasta Salad
More Instant Pot Recipes
- Instant Pot Taco Soup
- Instant Pot White Chicken Chili
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Instant Pot Potato Soup
- Easy Salsa Chicken [Instant Pot or Slow Cooker]
- Instant Pot Green Beans