Pressure cooker, Top-Posts, Weeknight dinner
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Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

My go-to Macaroni and Cheese has evolved over the last year, but I have a new favorite – and of course, it uses the pressure cooker. 1

For years I made the mac and cheese from Pam Anderson’s The Perfect Recipe. Then I read Ideas in Food; their recipe was similar to Pam’s, stripped down to the basics.

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

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. 2

Video: How to make Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese (5:13)

Video: Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese []

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted from: America’s Test Kitchen Pressure Cooker Perfection



Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8
  • Category: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American


Pressure Cooker mac and cheese – quick, easy, and better than the dreaded blue box.


  • 1 pound dried elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 2 teaspoons table salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 16 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 ounces shredded Parmigiano cheese

Bread Crumb Topping (optional)

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs


  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 cook on high pressure for 4 minutes in an electric PC or stovetop PC. (For the Instant Pot, use Manual mode, 4 minutes.) When the cooking time is done, quick release the pressure and remove the lid.
  2. Stir in the evaporated milk and cheese: Turn the heat under the pot down to low (or turn the electric pressure cooker to sauté-low or keep warm mode), 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.


4 cups of water is just enough to cook 1 pound (16 ounces) of pasta. No draining is necessary; the water will be absorbed by the pasta. If you have a smaller box of pasta – 12 ounces and 13.25 ounces are common sizes of whole wheat pasta – cut the water back to 3 cups. (Everything else can stay the same.)

Ready to pressure cook the macaroni

Ready to pressure cook the macaroni




  • 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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  1. Matt Hanson says

    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.

  2. 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.)

    • Jamie Jarvis says

      I have read that is important to grate your own cheese for a smooth sauce. Using pre-grated cheese from the store has an anti caking agent that will not make a smooth sauce.

  3. Sherrene says

    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!

  4. Leslie says

    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?

  5. 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. 🙂

  6. Ross A says

    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!

  7. 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?

  8. 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.”

    • saramcinky says

      Rita, when serving leftover pasta you get best results by adding a bit of moisture. For mac & cheese I usually add 1-2 tbsp milk per cup. As the pasta warms up and you stir, it will absorb the liquid. Creamy texture returned.

  9. Instantpot-obsessed says

    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.

  10. 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.


    • Alice says

      I used siracha, and that worked fine. Lousiana Hot Sauce or Tabasco would work too.

  11. Julie says

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

  12. 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!

  13. Julie says

    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!

  14. FABULOUS!!! I bought my electric pressure cooker three weeks ago, and with your recipes(and some modified recipes of my own) , I have used it almost exclusively. My family can’t wait to find out what I have made for dinner, and swooned over the Mac and Cheese. This is DELISH! Looks so beatiful in my pretty casserole dishes.

  15. Alice says

    This is a delicious recipe, but a word of warning. When I vented my cooker, it erupted like a volcano, with liquid flying out the top all over the place. Guess I should have seen that coming, since the pasta went in dry and cooked with all its glorious starchiness. Next time, I’ll have a kitchen towel ready to throw over the top.

  16. Sandra says

    Great recipe!! Simple and delicious and the whole family loved it! Thanks for posting!! Pressure cookers are life savers 🙂

  17. KimD says

    Tried this tonight. While it did take only a half an hour, it wasn’t al dente, it was squishy. I might try modifying it a bit, cook less, leave out the parm so my son will eat it. Hopefully I can salvage what’s left so my family will eat it.

  18. Ruby T says

    I recently purchased a pressure cooker with a cookbook. The cooker is great and so are most of the recipes, except the mac and cheese. The recipe is designed so everything can just be dumped into the pressure cooker at once, so the recipe calls for twelve slices of American cheese.The resulting dish was simply disgusting. All I could taste was the American cheese (one slice on a cheeseburger is okay, but twelve slices in a dish – UGH!!!). I tried adding different ingredients but there was nothing to cover the taste. I had to throw it out. Your recipe, on the other hand, is terrific! I changed the hot sauce to Worcestershire sauce. This is a great dish and very easy. Thank you!

  19. Jamie says

    Has anyone tried with whole wheat noodles? Would you increase cooking time a bit?

      • christine z says

        I just used no yolk whole wheat egg white noodles tonight – FANTASTIC texture!
        I will say the cheddar cheese made it gritty – won’t do that again, but the taste sure made up for it!

  20. Sarah says

    This was a hit! I used veggie elbow macaroni and it turned out great! I love that I don’t have to drain the pasta.. One less dish to wash!

  21. Martin says

    This is the best mac and cheese recipe we have used for our pressure cooker. The two boys devoured their plates after a long day playing outside. Grandparents also really enjoyed it. Legend

  22. Has anyone made this with gluten free pasta? If so, did it turn out well. Thanks!!

    • Maureen says

      Yes! Used Barilla Gluten free elbows and didn’t change anything. Worked well.

      • Carla says

        yay! thank you! DH hates mac and cheese and my boys love it so I wanted to make it tonight for supper. Adding some summer sausage.

  23. Jonathan says

    Dude – this is the BEST Mac and Cheese I have ever eaten! Very easy to make, though my pressure cooker took a bit longer than the 4 minutes (wasn’t quite al dente after 5….so I put it back under pressure for 2 more minutes (total 7) and it was perfection! Thank you!

  24. What button do you push on the electric pc to “simmer” if the macaroni isn’t al dente? Thanks.

    • It depends on what brand of electric PC you have – check the manual. For my instant pot, it is the “sauté” button, and for my cuisinart there is a “simmer” setting.

  25. Hello! I have a ten quart elite pressure cooker (electric). I really want to try your recipe, but I would need to double it. Would I double ALL the ingredients, liquid and all? Would the cooking time change? If anyone has tried to double this, I’d appreciate your input. Thanks!

    • PS: you don’t have to double this recipe for it to work in the 10 quart PC. Only double it if you need twice as much Mac and cheese.

      • melody says

        We have a lot of macncheese eaters at our house, so I need to double it! I’m glad I looked through the comments. We have an 8qt instant pot and I’m still learning it. So, double the pasta and the water, but use the SAME cooking time of 4 minutes? Crazy! I’ll trust you…And I’ll try to remember to report back.

  26. Yes, I need twice as much Mac and cheese! I’m feeding a small army! Are ALL ingredients doubled?

  27. Christina says

    Wowza. Surly 5 year old who EATS NOTHING but rare steak and baked potatoes (she was an investment banker in a previous life) just killed a whole bowl. Cruising for seconds. I need to sit down.

  28. Darlene says

    I’ve made this several times just as the Recipe states & by adding some other variations of my own. I love how the mac & cheese is thick. My husband is a big fan of this recipe. Top notch! Thank you for sharing.

  29. Patty says

    Thank you for posting this! I normally only make mac and cheese a few times a year because I detest stirring the base sauce for so long. Never thought of using my pressure cooker until I stumbled upon this. I used my large stovetop size, doubled your recipe, and it turned out fantastic. And oh goodness, SOOOOOooooo much easier!

  30. KellieT says

    I love Mac ‘n cheese but boy it can be a real production to make–with making the sauce, boiling the macaroni, and baking. This was sooo much easier and very very tasty!! I even broke out the Marie Sharp hot sauce (which I have been rationing as I’m almost out of) for this. Thank you for the terrific recipe!

  31. Sherry says

    I just got my Instant Pot today, and this was the first thing I tried. It’s incredible! I did leave out the hot sauce and skipped the crumb topping, since I think my daughter wouldn’t like it. Just a question, have you ever tried doubling this recipe in the 6 quart Instant Pot? If so, is the cooking time the same and all ingredients (including the water) exactly double? Thanks.

    • I haven’t tried to download unless it, but it do think it will work by doubling all the ingredients and leaving the time the same.

  32. I doubled it and it turned out great. However, I used my Fagor 10 qt cooker. Shocking how easy and fast the recipe was, and how well it turns out!

  33. This is a great recipe! I made two separate batches in two Instant Pot inserts for a crowd of 25 people (BBQ) and it disappeared quickly. (No time for topping- or oven!) Everyone raved about how good it was.

    I did cut back on salt using 1 1/2 tsp fine pink sea salt. My husband and daughter would have preferred a bit less salt so next time will try 1 1/4 tsp for them…but I thought it was salted perfectly at 1 1/2 tsp.
    Also may knock 1 minute off the cooking time next time, as the pasta got softer as it sat.
    I did not turn my pot back on after releasing the pressure and needed no extra heat to finish the dish or melt the cheese/or warm it up. I just put my glass lid that goes with the Instant Pot on the pot as soon as the cheese melted and it stayed warm for service. (I stirred it a couple of times and it thickened)

    Note: At first it seemed like it was going to have too much liquid, but as it sat it thickened perfectly!

    Thanks for the great recipe! So fast and easy and will be a go-to for me. The most difficult part was grating the parm by hand for two batches, but next time will use my food processor to grate the cheese 🙂 I did use pre-grated packaged Kraft Sharp Cheddar to save time, which I normally wouldn’t do but it was very good.

  34. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I have browsed the web for the PERFECT mac n cheese….and I found it here! I just made it and it was beautiful! I am totally new to the pressure cooking scene…and I am wondering why I haven’t gotten one sooner!!! I have done applesauce, pulled pork tacos, and now, this recipe has been added to my list!!! I tried a couple other recipes, and I will just say…scrub a dub dub 🙁 I was nervous as I started it, but it turned out like a dream! To make it a little more “yellow” lol for my kids I added 2 teaspoons of Nutiva’s Red Palm oil. It added a little more color and enhanced the flavor. I keep some on hand for homemade popcorn 🙂
    Again, thanks so much! You have nailed it!
    Browsing now through your other PC recipes!!

    • I made this recipe tonight for the first time. I added about 1/2 teaspoon of Tumeric to add to the color and just because. It was great! Will definitely be making this one again.

  35. I gotta say, this was the first recipe of yours I’ve had trouble with, and honestly, I’m not sure why. The noodles were perfect, I really like the flavor of the evaporated milk vs my usual ovenmade, but I could NOT get it to thicken at all. I even drained the cooking water before adding the evap milk, and while I guess some starch water would have helped, it just didn’t get thick.

    On another note, I have sucessfully made the beef and turkey stock in my 6qt electric, its not a DUO, but it gets the job done. The turkey was interesting, whole carcass didn’t fit, so after it was done, I took the bones and big veggies out, added a new mirepoix and garlic and the rest of the carcass and just topped it off. Nice coming out of the PC already cooked down.

    • You shouldn’t have to drain the water – that’s why it’s not in the instructions. Add evertyhing to the pot and stir.

      • I’ll have to try that next time. The leftover were amazing reheated with Buffalo chicken.

        • Just to check, because this happened to me after your original Comment: did you have a 1 pound box of pasta?

          I bought a “high fiber” brand and didn’t notice it was only 12 ounces of pasta…until I opened the lid after cooking and saw extra water left in the pot. (I had to simmer for 15 minutes to get it to thicken up. )

          • Actually, yes, and I didn’t even think about it at first. Used farfalle (bowties) instead of elbows, and thought surface area could win the battle, but that was something I thought about after I posted.

            They keep making pounds of everything smaller; coffee, pasta, juice concentrate, canned veggies really need to pay more attention when I’m shopping

            If you ever come around PGH, let me know, be happy to fire up the smoker and introduce you to my chipotle cherry BBQ sauce.

    • I didn’t have anything in the house but 1/2 lb bowties, so I halved the recipe and used the bowties (as did Rev, I think?) — apparently the bowties just don’t absorb/expand as much as the elbows. Even though I used only 2 cups water, I had way too much liquid left after QR — the noodles were done just fine. Since it was my first time trying this, I went ahead and left the water and hit Saute for a bit. Ended up dumping the whole mixture (after adding milk and cheese) into a casserole, topping with crumbs, and popping in the oven to dry out a bit. This is not the fault of the recipe — just wanted to point out to others using a different style of pasta that they may need less water or to drain after PC step. 🙂

  36. melanie says

    Hi, when the pasta is finished cooking is there liquid left over to be drained or is all 4 cups of water used up? thanks!

  37. Sissy Sproles says

    Absolutely the easiest, quickest and delicious mac and cheese ever! And in 4 minutes! This recipe could be dangerous to any mac and cheese lover! Amazing!

  38. Nathaly says

    Hello, I really want to do this recipe, but the problem is that I live in Venezuela… so at this moment some of products are really difficult to find in a grocery or market, so what can I use to replace the evaporated milk? If I can replace of course, thank you so much, and sorry about my english 😀

    • Sherry says

      Nathaly, I would think that you could use heavy cream or even regular milk. It might affect the texture just a little bit, but probably not the overall taste.

    • Hi Nathaly!

      Can you get dry milk (powdered milk)? If you use a 2:1 ratio, or double the normal amount of dry milk to water it should work. Cheers! Evaporated milk is simply milk that has some of the water “evaporated” or taken out. Another option could be to boil milk until it reduces in half. Whole milk (fat content is 3.5%) and half and half (fat content about 18%) may be combined in a 3:1 ratio, so 3 parts whole milk to one part half and half.

  39. Rachel E. says

    This came out amazing!! I substituted different cheese using Sharpe cheddar with parmesan cheese. Made it for the kids to eat on christmas. Definitely a hit. It was so easy to make when we can out I just made another batch!! Very easy and will make this version from now on!

  40. This comes out just like the homemade versions that take so much longer. This is a great recipe!!

  41. First time I made pasta in the Instant Pot and I was a little nervous. I hit ‘steam’ to cook the pasta. It took more than 4 minutes to release the pressure. But, it turned out really well, I added bacon and ground beef to the dish. Thank you for the recipe!

  42. Well. I am giving this a go. Spaced out and added the evap mil to the 4 cups water so I added a bit more macaroni. My family will laugh at me if it does not come out so I will report back!

  43. I made this tonight. The first time using my Instant Pot. I only used 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Figuring the cheese has a lot of sodium and we try to watch our intake. The only pasta I had was made out of chick peas. Not hubby’s fav. Used the cheese I had on hand. 3 year aged cheddar, colby jack, cheddar jack and a little pepper jack. Once all the cheese was melted I added some petite diced tomatoes. Was easy and pretty good for a first time. I will definitely try with regular pasta next time. Thanks for the recipe.

  44. Patty says

    Has anyone tried stirring in extra proteins like crab meat or bacon? Any advice? I am thinking about just following the recipe as described, and once cheese is melted stirring it in?

  45. Linda says

    Can I make this in a stove top pressure cooker? What would change, if anything?

  46. Paula says

    I want to add fresh broccoli..Should I add with the noodles in the beginning?

    • I don’t know – when do you add it in a regular Mac and cheese recipe? It feels like pressure cooking it will overcook it to me.

      • Trish Farano says

        I have not added broccoli to mac ‘n cheese because I haven’t made mac ‘n cheese yet. (I will tonight though, using this recipe.) However, when I make beef and broccoli or add peas to anything, I add at the very end because otherwise you will have khaki colored mush. (That’s khaki as a color, not a fabric or pants style!) If you are concerned it won’t cook enough, toss it in the microwave for 1 minute before you stir it in.

  47. Robyn says

    Hi, I made your Mac n Cheese tonight and it was absolutely delicious! I was wondering if you have ever added the butter melted. The reason I ask is when I released the pressure the steam seemed to be mixed with butter . Do you think melting it first would prevent that? Thanks, love your blog:)

  48. Lisa Jones says

    Love this recipe. But mine tasted powdery? I don’t know why but this is not the first time I’ve had this issue. It makes no sense. Make mac n cheese with powdered cheese. Tastes fine (at least no powdery taste) but homemade then I get this powdery taste. Weird. Any ideas?

    • I’m sorry – I don’t have any ideas. Maybe try shredded velveeta? I know it sounds weird, but it is designed for melting.

    • Did you by chance use pre-grated cheese? Cellulose (yes, from wood pulp) is added to pre-grated cheese to keep it from clumping. Apparently the amount used industrially is going up. Could be some brands have more filler than others. Maybe try a different brand or grate your own?

  49. Made this tonight. Delicious! I had to buy the hot sauce, and found some with a bacon/smoky flavor and used it based on a comment above. How can I halve or even quarter this recipe?

  50. monica says

    i was quite skeptical, and the only reason i made it is because i’ve seen it referenced in numerous places and always with the highest praise.

    it is hands down the easiest mac n cheese to make. and it is delicious. it’s a perfect base recipe. great texture. i didn’t have my normal 5 cheeses on hand that i would usually use, so i used sharp and pepper jack. i added smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. can’t wait to make it again to see what else i can do with it.

    one of my kids, who never ever makes food noises (you know the ones) and never ever closes her eyes in joy, did just that. she eats just about anything but has very little outward show of enjoyment. this blew her away!

    thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  51. Thanks for the recipe and clear instructions! This was the first thing I attempted in my Instant Pot, and I’m in love! Not just with the ooey-gooey awesomeness of this mac & cheese but with how easy it was with the pressure cooker. The family loved it and I’m so glad we had leftovers for additional meals.

  52. Courtney says

    Such a great recipe, thank you!! I’m brand new to pressure cooking and besides hard boiled eggs and mashed potatoes, this mac and cheese is my first actual dinner using the IP. Like a pp mentioned, my IP erupted like a volcano after releasing the pressure and it made a huge mess all over my counters and floors; spewing liquid all over the place. Can I throw a towel over the top next time? Does that work to contain any mess but not interfere with the pressure releasing?

    • When this happens to me, I close the pressure valve and let it sit for a few minutes to cool – up to 5 minutes – before opening the pressure valve and releasing the pressure again. And, when this happens, I make sure to rinse out the pressure valve and the lid to clean them out.
      That said, I’ve never seen it with this recipe – it usually happens when I’m pushing the “max fill” line on my cooker, like making chicken stock.

    • Was the pot over low heat, and did you Stir in the cheese one handful at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for the current handful to melt before adding the next handful? I get into trouble when I try to rush that step.

  53. In a word – awesome. Had the Instant Pot for a month, this recipe is a keeper, pasta cooked to perfection, great zing with the mustard…thanks 🙂

  54. I loved it as is. I used sricha for the pepper sauce and Dijon mustard for the mustard (I didn’t have yellow).

    However, I had some roasted poblano pepper and some sautéed onions. They were a delicious addition too.

  55. If anyone’s wondering if this technique works with gluten free pasta, I’m happy to report it works just fine. The only changes I made (other than substituting GF pasta for regular) is I sauted a finely diced onion (as per my mother’s recipe) and used dijon mustard instead of yellow (again, it’s a Momma thing).

  56. Has anyone doubled the recipe in a 6q InstantPot? I’ve got a crowd coming on Saturday. I could make 1 batch, throw it in a crockpot and then make a 2nd batch if really necessary.

    I did make this as written once before and it is awesome.

  57. Anna says

    Hi there,

    Is there a hot pepper sauce that you recommend? And does it affect the spicyness level at all?

    • I use Franks Red Hot (seen in the pictures) because it has a relatively low level of heat. When I want to add a little more zing, I go with El Yucateco green habaerno sauce.

  58. Barbara says

    I’ve made this and it’s awesome – thank you! One day I was planning it but only had egg noodles on so I tried this recipe with a little less chees, added tuna and peas – it turned out great!

  59. Scotland says

    I just made this exactly as the recipe is written. I did have the problem when venting my Instant Pot that the butter came out with the venting steam. No worries, next time I will just add the butter after cooking the noodles. But let me tell you, this is the best macaroni and cheese. So good that I’m writing this review while eating my second bowl. Seriously, will never again use boxed mac and cheese. And it does not get any easier. The sauce is perfectly creamy and cheesy – so yummy. Thank you for this recipe.

  60. Dezgirl says

    This recipe makes great cauliflower Mac and cheese! I steamed a smallish head of cauliflower in a steamer basket in my IP with 1 cup water ( steam setting 2 mins) then made recipe as written but added crumbled cauliflower florets to the pot with first ingredients. I also added real bacon crumbles at the end after the cheese and plenty of black pepper ( my personal taste preference). This is a fantastic comfort food dish made a little less guilty because of the addition of the cauliflower. My kids know it is in there and don’t care in the least because it is so yummy.

  61. Paige says

    Hello- I’m making this in my instant pot for children at an adult/children party. I have so much to do that I’m planning to make this the night before as we will be at the pool the next day. Do you think that it will be dry if I make night before, then warm it up on the stove the following day? Should I make any modifications? Also, is the hot sauce too much for kiddos? Thanks and glad I found your page! Love my pressure cooker!

    • It will be fine made the day before – just keep an eye on it and stir fairly often while you reheat it on the stove. My kids – even the one who is very sensitive to heat – don’t notice the hot sauce.

  62. Leslie says

    I have made this many times and LOVE it. Planned on it today and alas! No Evaporated milk. Does it work with regular milk? I also have heavy cream. Help

    • Lisa says

      I know this is too late, but I made this yesterday with 9 oz of whole milk and 3 of whipping cream. It was delicious.

  63. Wouter says

    Is there a specific reason for the mustard and/or hot sauce? How noticeable are they in the final result? Our son has sensory issues and tends to pick up on things that people generally would not notice, both by taste and smell. If these were left out, would it change the taste dramatically, or make it too bland? Or are these components used in general in commercial settings like restaurants?
    I typically make my mac and cheese with a bechamel base as a start, and with a variety of cheeses, but he won’t eat it unless it looks like the blue box kind. I could use cheddar to address some of that here, but just curious about those two elements.

    • Wouter says

      I actually did try it tonight, with the hot sauce and mustard powder. Came out well. He ate the entire bowl, although it was not entirely smooth. Thinking though it may have been the sharp cheddar versus a more mild cheddar. Baby steps I guess.

  64. Kathie Williams says

    Are ounce measurements (e.g. for cheese) by weight or by volume?

  65. Debra says

    Will it work to halve the recipe (that will be way too much pasta for us)? Just cut all ingredients in half but leave the cooking time the same? Thanks!

  66. Valerie says

    A favorite! Hooray for evaporated milk… I use it often in place of heavy cream/half n half in soups and such. It’s one of those aces in the hole. Thank you for sharing this recipe — we really enjoy it and I like that it doesn’t require a lot of hands-on time!

  67. Kathy Brock says

    Is it ok to double this recipe in an 8 quart Instant Pot? What adjustments would I need to make? Thanks in advance!

  68. Audrey says

    To those who are wondering if a double batch will fit in a 6 quart it will.

    Btw this was super yummy! My one year old had a good sized portion and my 4yo kept saying thank you and that its soooo yummy.

  69. Sherry says

    I make this at least 2-3 times a month. I do skip the crumb/oven step since my daughter doesn’t like “fancy” mac ‘n cheese. I sometimes play around with the type of cheese, depending on what I have in the fridge. I really like adding some Gouda cheese, along with cheddar. I started buying Barilla brand elbow macaroni, and that seems to hold up to the pressure cooker better than other brands I’ve tried. The leftovers make a good school lunch for my daughter, she takes it in her thermos.

  70. Michelle says

    I make this often, but reduce the cheese: 8 ounces (or less) seems sufficient to me, and holds up well to reheating the next day without resulting in too-thick mac and cheese. It’s great with a layer of sliced garden tomatoes baked beneath the crumb topping.

  71. Michelle says

    Ugh. Adding to my previous comment that I make a half batch, so 16 oz. cheese seems sufficient for a full batch.

  72. Hi! This recipe sounds delicious. I can’t wait to try it! My daughter would like me to try it with Velveeta, and all I have is a block (not pre-grated). Can you recommend how much Velveeta and sharp cheddar I should use? Thank you!

  73. I don’t usually comment on recipes but I just made this and it is awesome. Followed recipe exactly, which is something I also don’t usually do, and it is perfect. Thank you!

  74. Made tonight as I experiment with my new Instant Pot. Both hubby and daughter had seconds. Much smoother than my usual bechamel sauce recipe. I found it a tad salty, but I’m trying to limit my sodium due to high blood pressure. I halved the salt at the beginning; do I need any salt at all? If there isn’t a need for salt for cooking the pasta (and I don’t think there is), I’ll probably cut it out of the recipe entirely. I’m glad I found this site. Thank you.

  75. Bobbie G says

    When I want a crumb topping, I just put the Panko (or home-made breadcrumbs) in a microwave-safe dish with the butter and nuke it for a minute or so. It toasts the bread up nicely. Then I serve it at the table for people to add as they wish. They don’t get soggy this way, either.

  76. I made this with half the amount of cheese and it turned out just fine. Delicious! Definitely a keeper.

  77. Tasty and fast! For a healthier variation, use whole wheat pasta and add some frozen veggies.

    Small amounts of veggies can be added frozen at the end. It’ll cool down the food so you can eat it faster. Larger amounts (over a pound) need to be pre-heated. Zapping them in the microwave is fine. I’ve used broccoli, peas, carrots, riced cauliflower, and shelled edamame.

    Your kids might complain but their bowels will thank you.

  78. This has becoming our go-to dish for potlucks and the kids. we made it 3x this week alone and it was received enthusiastically every time and people are floored when I tell them how easy it is. Thank You!

  79. Drew Jackson says

    Mike, thanks for the awesome recipe to break in my new cooker. Question for you though. When I did the quick release I got a starchy/buttery spew with the steam that was released. Should I have let it rest a bit?

    • I let the pressure go right away. Most times it is fine; only occasionally do I get the steam with water spitting. If it starts to spit, I close the valve and let it rest for a few minutes before trying again.

  80. Jordan McManus says

    I do something similar when I make mac & cheese on the stove. But I wasn’t sure how to convert it for my new instant pot. This looks perfect! Thank you so much!!

  81. A couple of questions bc I’m new to the instant pot:

    1. Can I really double this recipe in the 6 qt instant pot as one commenter wrote?

    2. Could I make this at home in the morning before work, keep it in the pot and transport it to work (45 minutes) and then set the pot to “keep warm” until the lunch time potluck?

    Finally, thanks for all the helpful info on your website about the instant pot!

    • Yes, you can double the recipe – I’ve had multiple readers say they were able to fit it in the IP 6 quart. As for making it ahead of time – that’s a long time in “keep warm” mode. I’ve never tried it, because I’m worried it would dry out over 4 hours of cooking. Can a reader help us out? Anyone try this?

  82. Update: So I did make the Mac and cheese before work and kept it on warm until our lunch time potluck, about 3.5 hours. I brought some extra milk to mix in if it was looking dry and that worked really well, probably ended up adding about 16oz of milk. But it turned out great. I had toasted some breadcrumbs with butter beforehand and sprinkled them on top. Tasted great! Thanks for the recipe!

  83. LindieLee says

    I made this yesterday and it was gritty. I used sharp and mild cheddar cheese that was pre grated, and parmigiana that I graded by hand. Can anyone tell me why this happened and if this recipe does produce a gritty mixture?

    • I’ve made this recipe many times, and it always comes out smooth.

      It’s probably the pre-grated cheese. Those usually have some kind of anti-clumping agent (so the shreds don’t clump up in the bag) added to the mix, which can cause grittiness and difficulty melting.

  84. Pamela says

    So my new Instant Pot arrived. This is the first recipe I cooked in it. It was a HUGE success in my house. I truly appreciated your video. It was very helpful. Thank you so much for posting this recipe. Now I’m going to search your website for other great recipes.

  85. Hey Mike, your recipes have never let me down (IP owner for almost a year). Just made this in the IP 6-qt. Did have a lot of water left over, just drained it and kept going. Very good and likely to make it again.

  86. Tried this last night and used about 4 oz Velveeta and preshredded (Sarento) sharp cheddar. Got a little bit of grittiness from the Cheddar, which I think I would hand shred in the future. Don’t they put some kind of anti-clumping agent in the pre-shredded stuff?

    I thought it was going to be super runny, but it thickened up upon standing for just a bit.

    Mac and cheese is like sex. It’s all good, although some is more memorable than others.

  87. Absolutely delicious and very easy to make! My family loved it. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  88. Christine says

    We absolute LOVE this recipe! Thank you so much for posting. I make it exactly as stated and add cooked finely sliced bacon after the cheese has melted. We like it best after it sits in warm for a little while. The flavors really mix together and it is SO good. ????

  89. Jobeninst says

    Just got my Instant Pot today, and made this for dinner. Hubby was skeptical, but it worked great!! I also had the issue with butter coming out with the steam, but I’ll just put off adding most of the butter until after cooking next time. I also thought it was a bit too salty, so I think I’ll cut back a bit. Thanks for a great recipe!

  90. I’ve made this recipe a few times now and it’s delicious. Is there any way of avoiding the liquid from erupting out of the vent? I have to hold a glass above it to contain the mustardy steam.

  91. Michele Cohen says

    Great recipe! I just got my Instant Pot a month or so ago, and this was my first mac&cheese. I used Meuller’s Hudden Veggie twisted elbows pasta. Four cups of water was perfect for 12 ounces.

  92. This is an incredible recipe: fast, incredible taste, creamy, minimal ingredients & cost effective. I’m not a mac and cheese fan and even I like this. I’ve started keeping all the ingredients on hand because my family asks me to make this all the time. Thanks for making the ideal mac and cheese recipe, we love it!

  93. Kathy says

    Thanks for this recipe! I purchased my electric pressure cooker between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016. I’ve been using it almost daily since the beginning of the year and now that I have my feet “wet,” I’m on the hunt for more tasty recipes and yours certainly fits the bill for me! I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before but adding the mustard (we like dry mustard powder) and hot pepper sauce (Louisiana Hot Sauce is the favorite in our house) really made a difference for me. Other recipes I’ve tried were kind of blah and needed some zing in the recipe and not just hot sauce on top after. After saying all this, we have a grandchild visiting who LOVES macaroni & cheese but not spice so I need to tame things down again *sigh*. Also, would you recommend subbing out both cheeses for the Velveeta or maybe half and half mild cheddar and Velveeta for extra meltiness? Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  94. Lauren says

    This is probably a very silly question, but do you ever shred your own cheese? I know this says 16oz of shredded cheese (I’m assuming pre-shredded), but I shred my own 8oz blocks and I would have to think that one would be enough, right? Do I need to use two blocks of cheese that I’ve shredded?

  95. Brett B. says

    Love this recipe as it has become one of our most popular go to Instantpot recipes we do. I do add cooked crumbled bacon to mine (bacon makes everything better. ) I also add some cheese to the pan topping along with a little seasoning. (Came from my old Emeril recipe) the canned milk is the ingenious part of this recipe making it possible to skip the bechemel sauce.

  96. Meghan says

    This is an older post, so I apologize, but has anyone tried freezing leftovers from this recipe? I would think the evap milk would freeze better than a recipe made with regular milk, but has anyone tried it? I’d like to freeze single portions for emergency meals and snacks for the kiddos.

    • Jamie says

      I freeze it all the time. I add a splash of milk to make it creamy again. Freezes beautifully.

  97. Can I just tell you…I love this recipe. Just the way it is. I work from home, and kids are not home today, but I just made this for myself and it was AWESOME. Thank you for this great recipe!!
    Kids will get in an hour. I couldn’t wait 🙂

  98. We are a retired couple. I usually fix 2/3 C small elbow macaroni.
    The recipe looks like a 2:1 ratio of water to pasta. 2/3 C weighs 3.25 oz.
    Sooooo 6.7 oz water to be safe? Is this too small volume to use for the IP?
    Have never tried freezing it. Would timing still be 4 min manual? Hubby likes just velveeta… “gourmet” stuff. Thinking grandchildren when we visit, but want to test for us first. Thanks.

    • Mike Vrobel

      That should work fine. Use the same timings; even if you cut back on the amount, it takes 4 minutes to cook pasta through.

  99. Emily says

    I have a big PC- 10qt and i doubled this. I used 1 &1/2 can of evaporated milk. I left out the hot sauce. i wish i had not, but it was kids and i was not sure how it would be for them. It seemed to take only about 10 mins to get to pressure and cooked perfect in 4 mins. I am so pleased and this is a huge hit. I used to make a from-scratch white sauce and had at least 2 pots and water boiling for 15 mins,steaming up the kitchen. This is fabulous. Thank you.

  100. Emily says

    Also,i used Barilla elbows. It has a slightly different texture than the store brand and help up beautifully.

  101. Rich says

    ANOTHER new family favorite that my kids will actually eat. They had gotten used to grandma’s mac and cheese made with processed cheese (not a fan), so I tried this and they really liked it. My only issue is that I make this with the wings and I have to time it so I can make one and then the other using only 1 instant pot.

  102. Rita says

    We are 2 retired folks. How much water for 2/3 cup small elbow macaroni?

  103. Janette says

    Tonight’s original plan was to grill hamburgers. Alas the propane was out and we had no more coal. Thanks to your recipe I was able to come up with a rescue meal that everyone loved! It will even go into our regularly planned meals now l, not just a rescue meal!

  104. Trish F. says

    I made this last night as a side for my dinner. I used 4 cups of boiling water to help the IP come to pressure more quickly. I 16 oz of sharp white cheddar but skipped the parmesan because I didn’t have any. I also added 1 tsp. of ground yellow mustard to the noodles before cooking and used evaporated milk because I had it on hand. It turned out great! I really enjoyed it. I found that the longer it “sat” the grainier the cheese got. That’s not a deal breaker for me though. 😉

  105. Lucie H. says

    LOVED it! I melted 1/2 a TBSP on butter in the microwave on the panko crumbs then stirred for buttered bread crumbs. Very good. Thanks for the recipe!

  106. Eliza says

    Hi Mike, this mac and cheese is the best! Do you think I could double it safely in my 6 qt? Wanting to make it as a side dish for about 40 people for my daughter’s first birthday. Thanks!

  107. Elise says

    This was my first pasta, and third instant pot use… every time I touch it I am more amazed. Four minutes and it was perfectly al dente!!!! Heck with the bread crumbs, I ate it just like that! One mini cube velveeta and some Colby Jack…. this recipe rocks my noodle-lovin world!!!!

  108. Maria says

    I made this today, and it turned out better than any homemade mac & cheese I’ve ever made! Thank you!

    I’d like to make this for a party this weekend, and I was wondering if I’d be able to double the recipe in a 6 qt instant pot. Thanks so much!

  109. Patty says

    My favorite Mac & cheese recipe!! I love how flavor is cooked into the noodles even before any of the cheese comes into play. This is also very versatile. I wasn’t fond of the slight yellow mustard taste in the noodles after making it as written, so I drop the mustard to 1/2 a 3/4 tbsp and all food has to have garlic in my book, so I put @1/2 tbsp of garlic in with the noodles. I also don’t like evaporated milk so I use @1 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream. Then the cheese…you can get as wild or as mild as you like. I’ve ended up with a different mixture every time I’ve made it (based on what’s in the refrigerator) and it’s been good every time.

  110. First time making macaroni and cheese in the Instant Pot! Delicious! Will be making again! Can’t wait to try your other recipes!!

  111. Margaret says

    Another keeper from your blog! The entire family gobbled it up. I followed the recipe exactly except for adjusting salt (cut in half). I can’t believe how fast it was to prepare. Thanks for the recipe!

  112. Lizzie O says

    Wow! I just got an Instant Pot and wanted to try your recipe first. It was simple and delicious! The only thing I did was add 1 lb of diced ham to it. Incredible. I will be looking for some more great recipes from you!

  113. Angela says

    This was the first dish I made with the instant pot. I doubled the recipe and used cavatappi instead of macaroni and 6oz cream cheese instead of Parmesan. But I might have messed something up because it was so, so cheesy with just half the cheese (I didn’t double the cheese.) Anyways, it was so, so good! I took the Mac for an office lunch and everybody raves about it!

    Thanks so much!

  114. barbara gardner says

    I sliced a couple of slices of bread into tiny cubes and toasted in a tablespoon of butter in a frying pan. I used this on individual servings. Absolutely delicious !

  115. My kids said it was the best mac they ever had, felt like a rock star. Thanks

  116. Kamble says

    If made a day ahead, where do I stop—after putting in the baking dish ? Any tips on reheating in the oven?

  117. This mac and cheese recipe was the 2nd thing I’ve cooked in my new 3qt mini IP. My particular cheese mix was Vermont sharp cheddar and gouda, since I had those on hand. I skipped the hot sauce for a little Worcestershire.

    It turned out fantastic! I feel like I really can cook beyond boiling water!


  118. It’s really good! Easy, fast, yum!
    I doubled it, but in retrospect I don’t think I would double it again. It’s a nightmare to quick release.

  119. Alex mum says

    Mike, this is the best ever recipe for mac’n’cheese in our Instant Pot! We don’t like ‘heat’ so I use 1/2 tsp of Tabasco, chicken broth instead of water, and it is always a big hit. Thanks!

  120. Best Macaroni and Cheese, and super easy. My conventional recipe is very good but this one beats it. I usually double up the recipe and it did perfectly in my 6 quart Indtant Pot. I finish it with extra cheese on top and panko, broil in the oven for a few minutes. Told many friends about this recipe

  121. Russ Gladden says

    This is quite good! A couple of notes for readers… there are just two of us so I made half the recipe, successfully. I didn’t have any evaporated milk and I didn’t want to go to the store on New Year’s Day. I had half and half though, and it worked beautifully. This will be my go-to quick Mac & Cheese recipe. Love your blog. I’ve found it to be one of the food blogs I can trust. Thanks Mike!

  122. Kathryn Biallas says

    I was curious about which evaporated milk works best — regular or 2%. Have you a preference?

  123. Kathryn Biallas says

    Holy cow. This recipe was such a hit with my child that it makes the Instant Pot purchase worth it. Two thumbs up from the boy.

    I was curious about which evaporated milk works best — regular or 2%. Have you a preference?

    • I think it would be a matter of personal taste. I’d prefer the regular, but if you’re cutting fat, the 2% should work almost as well. I’d avoid the fat-free variety.

  124. I made this earlier today. Very creamy and good, but a tad salty. I used Morton coarse kosher salt, not Diamond Crystal as specified, maybe that’s why. Will make it again. Prep time was more than 5 minutes, but that’s because I shredded the cheese by hand (while the macaroni was cooking). Next time I may add a can of chopped green chilies.

  125. Huge success! It was recommended on a Facebook gluten free group. I used Tinkyada elbow pasta, cooked for 4 minutes, and GF bread crumbs. I also mixed in a bag of broccoli florets (steamed in bag in microwave). I’m gluten-free, my kids are not. We all enjoyed this!

  126. Kathryn Biallas says

    Have you used chicken broth to replace the water? Or does that make the flavor profile weird?

  127. I saw several questions about doubling, what about halving? Is that simple ingredient math and same cook time?


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