Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese



My go-to Macaroni and Cheese has been evolving over the last year, but I have a new favorite - and of course, it uses the pressure cooker.
That’s right, macaroni and cheese without the dreaded blue box.

For years I made the mac and cheese from Pam Anderson’s The Perfect Recipe. Then, a few years ago, I read Ideas in Food and their version - it seemed like a variation on Pam’s recipe, stripped down to the basics.

Both recipes use evaporated milk as their secret weapon. Evaporated milk replaces the flour and milk bechamel sacue…and all the whisking that entails. I mashed the two recipes together, and that’s what I’ve been using.

Now, even with the evaporated milk shortcut, this was a stretch to make on a weeknight. Especially if I want a toasted bread crumb topping. And if I’m making macaroni and cheese, it must have a bread crumb topping.

That’s why I jumped when I saw the pressure cooker macaroni and cheese in Pressure Cooker Perfection. They pressure cook the pasta and spices in a small amount of water, treating it like a risotto. This trick really speeds up the recipe - no waiting for a pot of water to boil, no draining, and one (pressure cooker) pot to clean. Weeknight macaroni and cheese is now within my reach.
In fact, the Pressure Cooker Perfection version looks like the Ideas version, which obviously built on Pam’s version, which she developed while she was working for Cooks Illustrated. What comes around, goes around…

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese


Adapted from: America’s Test Kitchen Pressure Cooker Perfection

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Equipment:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt (or 2 teaspoons table salt)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 - 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 16 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 ounces shredded Parmigiano cheese
Bread Crumb Topping (optional)
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions

1. Pressure cook the pasta and spices

Stir the macaroni, butter, mustard, hot pepper sauce, salt, and 4 cups water in the pressure cooker pot. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and bring the cooker up to high pressure. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes (both stovetop and electric), then quick release the pressure and remove the lid.

2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients

Turn the heat under the pot down to low (or turn the electric pressure cooker to simmer), and stir in the evaporated milk. Test a piece of pasta by taking a bite - it should be al dente, but cooked through. If the pasta is still tough in the middle, simmer it for a few minutes, until it is tender. Stir in the cheese one handful at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for the current handful to melt before adding the next handful.


3. Top with breadcrumbs and broil

Optional step, if you like a toasted bread crumb topping: Pour the macaroni into a 3 quart broiler-safe dish, patting it down to level out the surface. Sprinkle the panko over the macaroni and cheese in an even layer. Broil the macaroni and cheese on high until the bread crumbs are toasted, about 5 minutes. Check the bread crumbs often - they go from pale brown to burnt in a flash.


Notes:

  • Serve with a bottle of hot sauce at the table. I like Frank’s Red Hot or the smoky flavor of El Yucateco chipotle hot sauce. Oh, and some cheap bubbly and sweet-hot mustard are also nice.
  • I have burned too many bread crumbs in my day. I always I set a timer for 1 minute intervals while I’m broiling. That way, if I get distracted (by a homework meltdown…just to pick a hypothetical example), I have the timer to remind me - “Oh no! The breadcrumbs!”


What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:


Click here for my other pressure cooker recipes


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18 comments:

Matt Hanson said...

Do you think there might be any value in adding a little bit of sodium citrate to make the cheese sauce smoother, or is it already plenty smooth with the evaporated milk? In either case, I definitely like the idea of making m&c w/o roux.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Adding sodium citrate can't hurt, from what I've read in Modernist Cuisine. But it's already pretty smooth with the evaporated milk.

I like the flavor of sharp cheddar, but another way to get things a little smoother is to use a cheese that melts easier. Like a colby-jack mix. Or, if you want to really cheat, use a cheese that's designed for melting - velveeta. (Yes, velveeta. It's the secret of tex-mex combo plates everywhere.)

Sherrene said...

I just bought my first pressure cooker and used your mac and cheese recipe to break it in. I had to modify it a bit as I didn't have evaporated milk on hand, but I am in love...with both the PC and your recipe! I'm scouring your site for more recipes to use. Thanks!

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Great! Glad you enjoyed it. Have fun with your pressure cooker.

Leslie said...

Just bought a PC - not yet used it. Hope to try this soon - but I have a question. The recipe says cooking time 30 minutes. I only see 4 mins on high, and perhaps a little simmering if the noodles aren't al dente. Where is the other time coming from?

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Leslie,

That's an estimate of the total cooking time, start to finish. Roughly: * Ten minutes to get the pot up to pressure
* 4 minutes under pressure
* 5 minutes to stir in the cheese, waiting for it to melt
* 5 minutes to get it in the pan and broil

So, that's about 24 minutes. I rounded up to 30 just in case. :)

Ross A said...

Holy cow, Mike, this recipe is AWESOME! I just made it for my family with my new pressure cooker (first one). I added some crispy bacon - because...bacon...but it would have been top notch without it. As a working Dad and the sole cook in the family I'm glad that I came across your blog recently while looking for pressure cooker recipes. Thanks again - keep it up!

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

You're welcome. Glad you liked it- and, of course, Bacon.

Rita said...

Mike, I see that you've doubled the book's recipe but only used 1 can (instead of 2) of evaporated milk. The first time I made this recipe (from the book) I thought the sauce was a little too thin but found that by the time I crumbed it and served it, it had thickened pretty well. Any special reason for halving the evaporated milk? Flavor?

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

That's from the Ideas in Food recipe, and I liked the results with one can. (I guess I like a thicker Mac and cheese.)

Rita said...

Mike, you nailed the Mac & Cheese! I tried it your way and realized why, although we liked the extra-creamy version of the book's for a change, it was really too creamy for us. Dropping that extra milk did the trick and it more resembled our standard favorite roux-based baked macaroni that my Mom used to make. Leftovers were also very good, although just a tad drier. One adult did not have the freshly made version but had 3 helpings of the leftovers! Thanks for sharing!


Somehow "Ideas in Food" escaped my notice. I like what I see and it's on my wish list and can't wait to dive into it. I envy you your copy of "Modernist."

Instantpot-obsessed said...

This is awesome! I've been looking everywhere for pasta recipes for the instantpot. I'm really excited to try this macaroni and cheese - I would love to cook pasta without the hassle. Thank you.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

You're welcome - glad you enjoyed it!

Sam said...

Thanks for this, made it today for my teenagers,a hit where all previous attempts have been misses. Not sure what hot sauce is (Australia), so I left it out.

Also shared via link with Facebook pressure cooking page too.

Sam

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Thank you!

Julie said...

This looks awesome. I want to make this for a large group. Can I double the recipe in the Instant Pot?

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

You should be able to double it, but it will be a tight fit. Watch out when you're stirring in the cheese - I'm a little worried about the pot overflowing while you stir.

And, if you do it, please report back on how it went!

Julie said...

Just in case it was too tight a fit, I only increased the recipe by half. It probably would have all fit, but it would have been tight. It took about 20 minutes for it to come up to pressure. It was delicious and well received by all the diners. The exact words from my son were, "You have to make this again. It was over the top." I added a little liquid smoke and skipped the parm, but it was an excellent dish! Thanks!

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