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Perfect Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese so Creamy and Easy You’ll Never Go Back to Making It on the Stove

A special blend of four cheeses really makes this Instant Pot Mac & Cheese spectacular! It's so creamy, cheesy, and easy that you'll never make Mac & Cheese on the stove ever again. This is a perfect side dish for busy weeknights since it takes less than 10 minutes to make.

top view of a bowl of homemade mac and cheese on top of a plate
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We are a macaroni and cheese loving family. It IS the epitome of comfort food, after all. Not only do the kids love it, but Ryan and I are also big fans. We’ve tried many different brands of delicious mac n’ cheese. We’ve even tried making our own homemade mac & cheese a few times, but our kids were never very impressed with our attempts.

Not only that, it really is a pain to stand over the stove waiting for the water to boil.  Is it just me or doesn’t it always seem to take a lifetime for that water to come to a boil? And just as the water begins to boil, I undoubtedly get distracted by an urgent text from someone needing “SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT”, “RIGHT NOW”.

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instant pot mac and cheese
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And what happens?

Water ends up boiling over the pot and all over the stove. Ugh!

Not to mention the foggy glasses and unwanted steam bath I get when straining the pasta precariously over the sink. I’m so done with pasta on the stove!

Delicious Homemade Mac & Cheese Just Got Easy

In comes the Instant Pot… and now, our mac and cheese game is strong!!

Ever since we made our first batch of macaroni and cheese in the Instant Pot we haven’t made it any other way!

Not having to strain the pasta, alone, is worth making it in the Instant Pot. Add to that the fact that I don’t have to worry about the water boiling over, AND I get to add my own choice of cheeses…

I’m sold!!

Amazing! Instant Pot four cheese mac and cheese.
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This Is The Absolute Best Macaroni and Cheese

It’s incredibly easy to make macaroni and cheese in the Instant Pot. I’m very happy to share with you what my family considers to be the best macaroni and cheese! This mixture of cheeses is, in our book, perfect! I’ve even made it a couple of times in the same week, and got zero complaints about the repeat meal!

Kitchen Prep Tools, Utensils & Appliances

Here is a list of the kitchen prep tools, utensils, and appliances I used to make this recipe.

Prep Tools & Utensils

These are the items I used to prep and make this wonderful mac & cheese recipe:

  • You’ll be shredding 2 ½ cups of cheese. A good cheese grater makes the task a breeze.
  • I threw my shredded cheese in these large bowls. Although they’re not food prep bowls, per se, I use them that way and they are awesome for keeping bulk ingredients in.
  • These food prep & mixing bowls are some of my favorites. I’ve had them for a few years now. They’re light, sturdy and have a silicone ring at the bottom to prevent sliding. Plus, they come in lots of pretty colors!
  • I love my measuring spoons.The butterfly design on the end is just so pretty.
  • These large silicone spoons are perfect for serving food from the Instant Pot. I, of course, have them in aqua.
Appliances & Cookware

This recipe was made in my 8 quart Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Accessories

Make sure to check out my post on Must-Have Accessories for the Instant Pot. You’ll find a complete list of all the top accessories that can be used with your Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Cookbooks

I have put together a complete list of Must-Have Cookbooks for the Instant Pot. If you’re looking for more amazing Instant Pot recipes, make sure to check this list out.

Just a few simple steps and you’ll be enjoying some delicious and creamy mac n’ cheese. Here we go!

Making Perfect Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot

Like I said, making macaroni and cheese in your Instant Pot is super duper easy! Once you try it, you’ll never go back to making it on the stove!

Gather Your Ingredients

This recipe requires few ingredients, and most of them you probably have on hand. Of course, you need elbow macaroni, I like using the small elbows. You’ll also need water, salt, butter, one can of evaporated milk, ground mustard, and cheese!

This Instant Pot mac and cheese uses evaporated milk.
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Using the right amount of salt is one of the secrets to making perfect Instant Pot mac and cheese.
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An easy mac and cheese recipe for the Instant Pot.
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Learn how to make amazing mac and cheese in the Instant Pot.
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Small Elbow Macaroni Is the Best Pasta for This Recipe

You can use all kinds of pasta, but in all my experimenting, I found that the small elbow macaroni came out the best. I tried bow tie, large elbows, and a couple of others. Everyone agreed that the small elbow macaroni had the best consistency in the end. This is the pasta that I like to use.

Making mac and cheese in the Instant Pot just got faster and easier.
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Add the Pasta to the Instant Pot

First, you will need to add 4 cups of water to the pot. Then add 1 pound of elbow macaroni.

An easy to make instant pot macaroni and cheese.
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A macaroni and cheese recipe for the pressure cooker.
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Gently Mix in the Salt and Butter

Add the 2 tablespoons of salted butter and, finally, add the two teaspoons of salt. You can gently mix everything together.

How to make mac and cheese in the Instant Pot without making a mess.
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Cook for Only Two Minutes in the Instant Pot

Close your Instant Pot and set it to sealing. Press the Manual button (in newer models it’s Pressure Cook), and set it for 2 minutes on High Pressure. Yes, you read that right, 2 minutes.

This is the best and fastest Instant Pot macaroni and cheese that you'll ever make.
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Prep the Four Cheeses

So here’s the deal, you can use your favorite cheese in this recipe, BUT I highly recommend that you try out my combination first. We tested several combinations of cheeses until we ended up with this one. The cheese melts really easily, there are no funny textures and there’s no extra strong cheese flavor your kids will frown upon.

Four cheese mac and cheese for the Instant Pot.
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You will need mild cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, Havarti and Gouda. See the recipe below for the exact amounts of each.

An Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe that you'll love to make.
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In total, you will use 2 ½ cups of shredded cheese. I find it’s cheaper to buy the blocks of cheese and shred them myself. It can be done quickly, and you’ll have time to do it while your Instant Pot is coming to pressure and your pasta cooks.

A creamy four cheese macaroni and cheese for the Instant Pot.
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Avoid a Mess with a Two Minute Natural Pressure Release

Now, this is a very important step. Since this is pasta we are cooking, and it is starchy, it stands to make a mess when you release the pressure.

So, once the pot has come to pressure and the 2 minutes of cooking time is up, you will allow for a 2-minute Natural Pressure Release (NPR).  This will let the pasta continue cooking while allowing time for any foam to settle inside the pot. This prevents such a mess when you release the pressure.

After the 2-minute NPR, you will do a CONTROLLED release. Don’t open the valve all the way. Just open it about halfway. There will still be a little bit of splatter, but nothing you can’t clean up quickly as it’s releasing.

Using the Instant Pot pressure cooker to make mac and cheese.
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This is the extent of what comes out of the pressure release valve using the NPR with controlled release method.

Alternatively, you can use my Flip-The-Trivet for Mess-Free Pasta Method. This method will allow you to release the pressure more quickly without making a mess.

Perfect Macaroni Pasta in the Instant Pot

Once the pin drops, open your pot. Perfect Pasta!

The best part?

No need for a strainer!

It's quick and easy to make macaroni and cheese in a pressure cooker.
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Add The Remaining Ingredients

Now, you can add the can of evaporated milk, and stir it into the macaroni. Yes, you can use regular milk, but I always add evaporated milk to mine. It makes the macaroni and cheese creamier.

An Instant Pot macaroni and cheese made with evaporated milk.
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This Instant Pot macaroni and cheese recipe is so easy.
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Finally, you can add the ground mustard and the cheeses. Mix everything together well and continue mixing until the cheese has melted completely.

An easy macaroni and cheese recipe for the Instant Pot.
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The ground mustard really brings out some great flavors in the macaroni and cheese. You can’t taste “mustard” but it really does do something for it. If you must leave it out, then everything will be OK, but I really recommend adding it if you can.

Creamy mac and cheese made in the Instant Pot.
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Serve Your Instant Pot Mac and Cheese and Enjoy

Now it’s time to enjoy!

We love, love, love adding bacon bits on top of each serving. That’s pretty much how my kids eat it every time.

This is the best Instant Pot macaroni and cheese recipe that you will find.
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This is an easy Instant Pot mac and cheese.
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In my kid’s and hubby’s opinions, this is the best macaroni and cheese around. This is a perfect recipe for when you have very little time to cook a meal. You can add different things to it to make it heartier as well. See the recipe below for some of my suggestions.

I hope you enjoy your mac n’ cheese!

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

With a special blend of four cheeses.

4.6 from 30 votes
DifficultySuper Easy
Cooking Method(s)
  • Instant Pot
IP Pressure LevelHigh
IP ProgramManual / Pressure Cook
Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
2 minutes
Pressure Release
2 minute NPR
Total Time
9 minutes
Recipe by: Valerie Cooper
This Mac & Cheese is so creamy, cheesy and easy to make. It's the perfect side dish for busy weeknights.
Cuisine: Southern
Course: Side Dish
Category: Pastas
a ladle filled with a serving of mac and cheese
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  • 4 cups water
  • 1 pound small elbow pasta
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 can evaporated milk 12 fluid ounce can
  • 1 cup mild cheddar cheese shredded
  • ½ cup swiss cheese shredded
  • ½ cup gouda cheese shredded
  • ½ cup havarti cheese shredded


  • Add the water, pasta, salt and butter to the Instant Pot and give everything a gentle stir.
  • Set the Instant Pot to 'Manual' or 'Pressure Cook', 'High Pressure' for 2 minutes.
  • While the pasta cooks, shred the four cheeses.
  • Once cooking has completed, allow for a 2 minute NPR (Natural Pressure Release). This will let the pasta continue cooking while any foam that built up inside the pot settles. This helps prevent a mess when releasing the pressure.
  • After the 2 minute NPR has completed, do a slow and controlled pressure release. This can be done by giving the pressure release valve a half turn instead of opening it up all the way. Once the pressure has been released and the float valve has dropped, carefully open your pot and add the remaining ingredients. Alternatively, you can use my Flip-The-Trivet for Mess-Free Pasta Method.
  • Add the evaporated milk to the pasta and mix.
  • Add the ground mustard and shredded cheeses. Mix all the ingredients into the pasta until all the cheese melts.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

While every effort is made to correctly calculate these nutritional facts, they should be used as general guidance as they may not be 100% accurate.

Calories: 429kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 878mg | Potassium: 294mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 475IU | Vitamin C: 0.8mg | Calcium: 384mg | Iron: 1mg


Some things you should know about this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe.

Use as a base for other meals. You can use this mac and cheese as a base for other meals as well. Add some tuna and peas and you’ve got Tuna Mac. Add chicken, cubed ham, diced tomatoes, crab, really so many things you can add to it! We love topping I with bacon bits! It adds the perfect finishing touch!

instant pot mac and cheese
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  • Lainy says:

    The serving size isn’t listed that I can see.

  • Michelle says:

    I made this for the first time tonight. Followed the recipe, except I added pepper also. The texture was perfect, smooth and creamy but it was pretty much flavorless. I had to add some sharp cheddar so we could eat it.

  • Jackie says:

    This looks yummy! If converting to a crock pot, do I just pre-cook pasta and/or do I need to add extra water in that case since I will have to strain it?

  • Cady says:

    This recipe is awesome, perfect pasta texture, creamy, not liquid nor dry and tasty. Thank you. I did not have salted butter so I added 1 tsp of Vegeta seasoning and it was a bit over salty. My bad. Next time I will just omit the seasoning if no don’t have salted butter.

  • Tina says:

    This is by far my favorite mac and cheese recipe! My family loves it my friends love it. My co-workers love it. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Carrie says:

    Do you drain pasta

  • Jen says:

    I LOVE this recipe and everyone raved both time I made it! This weekend I’m hoping to double it in my 6 quart. Would I double everything including the water? How about the time? Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Jen! I’m so happy you love my recipe! Personally, I would not double it, I’d make two batches. I’d be afraid I’d have a mess on my hands when releasing the pressure. This recipe fills the pot pretty well, so I would say if it’s possible, make two batches. If you double it, the time would stay the same. Let me know how it goes!

  • Becky says:

    Sorry, this was fairly tasteless. I made a double batch, mistake! It cooked up just fine however. I will say, I added bacon pieces to the top the next day and that really improved the flavor! That ingredient should be in the recipe, it is necessary. I have an autistic child that loves mac n cheese, so I make it a lot. This recipe just wasn’t the one for us.

    • Hi Becky! Thanks for your comment. Just goes to show, not everything will be for everybody, and that’s OK. Almost everyone that tries this mac and cheese absolutely loves the flavor from the combination of cheeses. I’m certain you will find a recipe that works for you and your son. I appreciate you stopping by the blog!

  • Cristin Roush says:

    Hi! I’m very excited to try this recipe. It will be my second attempt at an insta pot recipe. If I would like to add chicken to the recipe. Can I add it directly to the pasta and ho do I adjust the cooking time? Thanks.

    • Hi Cristin! I’ve never added chicken to it but if I were to try, I would cube the chicken and sauté it just a bit at first. Adding chicken means it would definitely need to cook longer, so maybe around 10 minutes. These are all guesses of course, I would need to test it to give you exact times. I’ll have to come up with a recipe for it with chicken! Haha! I hope this helps, let me know if you try it!!

  • Jill Mount says:

    I looked at your upside down trivet trick. I am going to try this when I make the Mac & Cheese. It seems like a very nice trick to stop a mess! I’m going to make half a recipe, since it is just my husband & I, so that may help with the foaming, too. I do like to stop a mess before it starts! Thank you.

  • Carol Heller says:

    OMG!!!! The max and cheese is out of this world!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your recipe❤️

  • Debbie says:

    At the time I only have a mini 3 qt IP. How should I adjust this recipe (amount of the ingredients and also time?) to make it in my mini IP? Thanks!

    • Hi Debbie! You can cut the recipe in half for the 3 qt. The cooking time should remain the same. Be careful when releasing the pressure, do it in a controlled and slow fashion so you don’t end up with a mess. Enjoy!

  • Susan says:

    Have you ever used the trivet in this Mac & Cheese IP recipe to cut down on the QR mess like you use with your spaghetti? I’m pinning this, thank you!

    • Hi Susan! This is actually the recipe we use it for now! This recipe came before the trivet trick so we haven’t added a link to the trivet post on here yet. I don’t have a spaghetti recipe on the blog yet. Hope you try and love the mac and cheese!

  • naomi winkel says:

    I need to make this. My kids would realy like it.

  • Leela says:

    That looks delicious!

  • Antoinette M says:

    I have never used evaporated milk in my mac n cheese…will have to try.

  • Iris says:

    This sounds like something my kids will love! I would like to add peas (deep frozen) and was wondering if I can add them to the pasta to cook together?

  • Robyne says:

    This was amazing! Even the kids enjoyed it! 🙂

  • Joan Kubes says:

    This is a great idea, no straining and all in one pot too!

  • Judith martinez says:

    this is very similar to Alton Brown’s stovetop mac n cheese. It’s faster though.

  • Raelynn says:

    Mac and cheese real quick and not from a box.

  • Charu says:

    Loved the Mac and cheese! Have you tried freezing the leftovers?

  • Charlene says:

    I literally just got home from the grocery store with all the cheeses to make this! I open my macaroni container, it is empty 🙁 I know you said small elbow is best, do you think fusilli pasta would be a complete fail? Or should I just wait until I have macaroni?

  • Patty says:

    Do you think gluten-free pasta would work the same?

    • Hi Patty!! I have never cooked gluten free pasta. I can’t tell
      you for sure about cooking times. The cheeses and other ingredients, of course will be just fine, but you’ll have to try the pasta to see if it comes out to your liking. Please let me know if you do try it whether it works out so I know the answer!

      • Amy says:

        Has there been any further feedback an the question of using gluten free noodles?

        • Hi Amy! I haven’t heard anything else but from what I read about GF pasta in the Facebook Instant Pot group, most people recommend cooking it for less time. My recipe calls for such little cooking time, that I would venture to say you should try it as is and see if it works out. Remember you won’t be adding the cheeses or milk until you’re done cooking the pasta, so I’d say it’s worth a try. Let me know how it goes!!

  • Michelle says:

    I’ve HATED homemade mac n cheese all my life. I was so skeptical about this. Oh my gosh. Yes. This was amazing!!

  • Vicki says:

    Will this still work if I cut this recipe completely in half? I only have a 6qt.

    • Hi Vicky! The recipe should work just fine as it is in your 6 qt. If you still would like to half the recipe though, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Do not adjust the cooking time though. Hope this helps.

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