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
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 [YouTube.com]
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from: America’s Test Kitchen Pressure Cooker Perfection
- 6 quart or larger pressure cooker (I use a 6 quart Instant Pot electric PC)
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
Click here for my other pressure cooker recipes
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