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The Best-Ever Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese Recipe

Author:

I love trying out new cooking methods for tried and true foods such as soda bread.

Feel free to pin it on Pinterest!

Feel free to pin it on Pinterest!

Let me just say this is hands down the best mac and cheese I have ever made. I followed the steps exactly and used my new Instant Pot which, if you like to cook, is awesome! Now I'm gonna eat my lunch, and I bet you can guess what it is.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

7 min

12 min

approximately 4-6, depending on portion size

Instant-pot mac and cheese ingredients

Instant-pot mac and cheese ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups elbow macaroni (you can use other types but cooking time may need to be adjusted), uncooked
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzerella cheese

Instructions

  1. Place the macaroni, chicken stock, cream, salt, and pepper into the pressure cooker.
  2. Set your pressure cooker to high, and set a timer for 7 minutes. (I think this time is perfect, but you may want to adjust it depending on how "done" you like your macaroni).
  3. Once the timer goes off, let the steam out of the pressure cooker according to your machine's directions. Add the butter, milk, and cheeses to the pot and stir. Voila . . . best macaroni and cheese ever!!
  4. Substitutions: If you only have milk handy, you can substitute the following: melt 1/3 cup butter in the microwave and add 2/3 cup milk in place of the cream. For 2% milk, just add a tablespoon of flour plus the above ingredients. It comes out perfect!
Irresistible pressure-cooker mac and cheese.

Irresistible pressure-cooker mac and cheese.

How Can You Resist?

I was very reluctant at first to get a pressure cooker. Many people these days know the brand name Instant Pot. I didn't know how to use it, and I was afraid! However, after my mom got one, I decided that maybe I should give it a second thought. After all, I work full-time and have a second job on top of that. Cooking dinner was becoming more and more difficult. (I am also famous for forgetting to take something out of the freezer and therefore getting home and not having anything to cook without going to the store!)

The best thing is that, even after working two jobs, I have been able to make quick dinners in 10–25 minutes! Simple, fast, and delicious. I found some great recipes online, but the best recipe came from my mom. This is a recipe she got from a friend, and it has turned out to be my favorite. It is a true comfort food that can be turned into a dinner or just a simple and delicious side dish, this macaroni and cheese will be one of your go-to recipes. Bring it to a potluck dinner, a friend who needs some cheering up, a luncheon, a BBQ, or just make a bunch for yourself. It will be gone very quickly, that I promise!

Additions, Hacks, and Praise From Other Cooks for This Mac and Cheese Recipe

Some people like more peppers, other people like less! While it's not an exhaustive list, here are some suggestions that you might tweak.

  • "Made it with 3 cups of sharp cheddar because that's the cheese I had on hand. Turned out great. Will absolutely make again and try adding some bacon or sausage. Thank you." – Jim
  • "This is delicious. Used Swiss instead of mozzarella. Better than Mom's." - Susan
  • "The stringiness is mostly from the mozzarella cheese. You could cut back on the amount and just add more cheddar. It also gets less stringy when it cools. Hope that helps!" – Savenlives
  • "I just made this! You are right... this is the best pressure cooker recipe ever! The whole thing was done in half the time it takes to make a stove-top cheese sauce! So delicious! One pan! The taste of the cheese really stands out. Yum!" - Jeannine
  • "I've made this at least 15 times by now. A favorite and so much better than the boxed orange powder stuff! So rich and creamy - AMAZING. I made a "healthier" version for my baby using gluten free noodles, goat cheese, raw heavy cream, and grass fed butter...she LOVES it (although it was very expensive doing it with these ingredients). I had enough to fill 30 small jars and put them in the freezer. Thanks again for sharing." – C
Yum!

Yum!

How Can I Spice Up My Mac and Cheese?

If you're looking to add a bit more character to your mac and cheese, try these suggestions.

Add-Ons and Substitutions

  • Pepper jack cheese and sautéed poblanos
  • Additional spices, such as ground mustard, dill, or Old Bay
  • A variety of cheeses such as cheddar and jack
  • Add 2 ounces of cream cheese (makes the dish super creamy)
  • Add tuna, buffalo or BBQ chicken, sausage, hotdogs, or braised pork
  • Substitute the chicken stock for Better Than Bullion

Toppings

  • Bacon
  • Bread crumbs
  • Green onions
  • Whatever suits you!
Pressure cooker mac and cheese with bacon.

Pressure cooker mac and cheese with bacon.

Pressure cooker mac and cheese with chives.

Pressure cooker mac and cheese with chives.

Comments...

savenlives (author) on January 15, 2019:

Awesome Joe!! So glad everyone enjoyed it!

Joe Grossi on January 13, 2019:

ABSOLUTELY THE BEST EVER. I made this first for our daughter and a few of her friends for a sleepover.....they literally finished it ALL!!!

So, the next time I made it for our kids...I quadrupled the ingredients and added some fresh diced hatch green chilies and it was perfect.

Thank you.

Janie on January 01, 2019:

I have never really cared for mac and cheese, but I crave this!!! So easy and creamy and cheesy (cheese is my favorite food group)!

savenlives (author) on October 08, 2018:

Thanks so much! Glad you liked it! I found 7 minutes on my cooker to be perfect. It does thicken up after you add the cheese and as it sets. Thanks for the great suggestions!

Linda on September 25, 2018:

I made this last night with a few changes. I used 2 cups sharp cheddar and 1 cup mozzarella ( both Sargento) and instead of 1/2 cup of milk I used 1 cup half & half. It turned out amazing. Yum!!

Chandana on August 21, 2018:

Wow! At last I got a blog from where I be able to truly

take valuable information regarding my study and knowledge.

Jody on August 16, 2018:

Awesome just the way it is. Made it several times. Thanks for great recipe.

MagpieG on August 08, 2018:

I just made this and it's delicious! I used 1 Tbsp chicken bouillon to 2 cups water and 1 cup heavy cream, no salt or pepper at this stage. I put the liquid in first, then the macaroni and stirred it. I set it to cook for 6 minutes and released the pressure immediately. It was still a little saucy so didn't add any milk, just cheese to the correct consistency. Then I added fresh, cracked pepper over the top. Yum!

Trina on August 02, 2018:

I’ve made this a few times and it is good. My only issue is the dairy curdles every time. I follow the directions exactly. Any advice?

savenlives (author) on June 26, 2018:

Thank you!! I'm so glad you loved it!

Donna on June 25, 2018:

Amazing Mac N Cheese!!!

Paige on April 30, 2018:

I'm following the instructions but the pasta is cooking and the liquid in the pressure cooker is still there. Any help?

Zelda on April 22, 2018:

Two words: green chile.

Phyllis Winstead on April 18, 2018:

I just made it and the macaroni STUCK to the bottom. My ingredients were exact and it was under pressure seven minutes!!!

Julie kinner on March 21, 2018:

I'm amazed, first time making mac & cheese in pressure cooker, won't be the last !!! So easy and quick and best of all Good !!!!

Wayne on March 07, 2018:

I plan to try this recipe. I notice it has 7 minutes cooking with quick release. Most other recipes I have seen have 3 minutes plus 5 minute natural release. Are these pretty much equivalent to one another? What difference should I expect between the two? Is the difference because of the heavy cream in the cooking sauce? With respect to the latter, I have also read articles elsewhere advising against using milk in the cooking process in a pressure cooker? How does it work here?

savenlives (author) on February 25, 2018:

Sounds delicious! I love the addition of chicken!

Jon on February 14, 2018:

Thanks for the recipe,

Here's how I made it:

2 chicken breast cut into cubes.

2 1/2 cups rotini, uncooked

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp pepper

1 tablespoon butter

2 cup shredded med cheddar cheese

1 cup shredded strong cheddar cheese

some grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons of Braggs liquid soy.

Saute the chicken pieces for 3-5 mins.

Place the macaroni, chicken stock, cream, salt, and pepper into the pressure cooker.

Set your pressure cooker to high, and set timer to 7 minutes. (I think this time is perfect, but you may want to adjust it depending on how "done" you like your macaroni).

Once the timer goes off, let the steam out of the pressure cooker according to your machine's directions. Add the butter, braggs and cheeses to the pot and stir. Voila . . . Best macaroni and cheese ever!!

savenlives (author) on February 04, 2018:

Hi Theresa! I'm sorry to hear you had a problem with the time. I have always done 7 minutes in my pressure cooker and it comes out perfect. Perhaps it is a difference in manufacturers. Hope it turns out better next time!

savenlives (author) on February 04, 2018:

Maurie - I have never doubled the recipe but would think it would be the same. Let me know if you try it!

Teresa on January 27, 2018:

Like ingredients, but the time was way off to get the macaroni cooked. Maybe needed more liquid, because stuck to bottom and not nearly done. Added 1/2 cup stock and 1/2 cup 1/2 n 1/2 and cooked another 3 minutes. I started at 8 minutes. Hoping cleanup won’t be a hassle. So next time I will start with 3 cups of stock/water and cook for 11 minutes. Other than that, tastes great.

Maurie on January 21, 2018:

I am making for a large group and have an 8 QUART pot, can I double the recipe? Do cooking times change?

savenlives (author) on January 17, 2018:

Hi bearmtnmama - not a silly question at all! You put all the ingredients right into the pressure cooker pot. No need to use a steamer rack or additional water. Hope that helps!

bearmtnmama on January 17, 2018:

Stupid question...do you put the ingredients right in the pot? Or in a pot on the steamer rack with water in it...have the 6qt duo...have only made rice and creme brûlée so far!!! :) TIA

T on November 26, 2017:

Did anyone else have the cream that is called for before pressure cooking curdle?

Is there a trick to that?

Maybe just substitute more chicken stock and skip the cream?

I don't want to lose any of the creamyness if there is a trick around this problem.

TIA

Laura F on November 10, 2017:

I tried this recipe the other night!!! Yummmmmm is all I can say!!! This is the best Mac and cheese recipe that I’ve found for the Instant Pot!! And easiest!!! Ty for posting!!

Liana W. on October 12, 2017:

I have a habit of never following a single recipe, but making a mash-up of a few different versions. This mac & cheese recipe is good without any changes, but I just can't help myself. I added some additional spices (ground mustard, dill, Old Bay), used a mix of cheddar and jack cheeses, and included about 2 oz of cream cheese (makes it super creamy). Since I typically make mac & cheese as a stand-alone meal, with only a side veggie, I like to add tuna, chicken breast, or some braised pork. My small kiddos prefer the chicken, so that's the usual, but this is one of few dishes where they literally lick their plates clean, so I don't usually deviate. Mom win!

One of these days I'm going to try a version with some pepper jack cheese and sauteed poblanos.

Toni on August 21, 2017:

I love this recipe. I just tweak it a little. I use Better Than Bouillon so I can adjust to taste. I agree that the chicken stock is over powering, but without it, it is not as good. I also add a little powdered mustard to the bouillon. Otherwise, this is the best recipe I've tried. I've made it quite a bit too, always top it with some buffalo chicken on BBQ chicken. Awesome!

Braanjeli on August 20, 2017:

Very good! Used only cheddar. Was a hit at a work luncheon.

Jenny on July 03, 2017:

I made two batches of this for Christmas dinner and it was the hit of the night. You must use heavy cream for best results.

Pat on June 24, 2017:

I'm sorry, I wish I liked it but the chicken broth just ruined it for me.

Roxanne on June 20, 2017:

Print option??

Leigh on April 06, 2017:

I just don't understand why not do it on the stove, it took me roughly 7-12 minutes that way and it was excellent. I used unsalted butter, light cream cheese and sharp cheddar along with raw cream. Salt/pepper. Thanks for sharing I'm gonna have to try it in the pressure cooker.

savenlives (author) on March 28, 2017:

Kihran...you can try copying and pasting the ingredients section into Microsoft Word and then printing. I don't think you can print just the recipe part, sorry. Or sometimes I just screen shot the sections I need with my phone and use my phone or iPad as I cook. Hope this helps!

Kihran on March 28, 2017:

How can I just print the recipe? I don't want to print the whole article.

Tina Marie on March 24, 2017:

I have made this soo many times!! My family loves it with Bacon in it. When I am making it just for me I add Broccoli!! such an awesome recipe Thank you!!

Toni on March 15, 2017:

I have Mae this a million times this is the best mac and cheese ever for sure and mac and cheese is my favorite!!!

Janet G on March 13, 2017:

I have made this three times in the last 2 weeks. Yummy. To now make it grainy you must use heavy cream. 1/2 and1/2 or just milk will not work because the sauce will break.

I also tried a recipe using all the ingredients and cheese at the same time. It did not turn out as well as adding cheese after pasta is cooked.

Sarah on February 13, 2017:

Well, I tried it...twice, since the first time was a disaster (seal on IP failed). I agree with other posters that the texture turned out grainy. I tried to add the flour, whisked into the mix quickly to help thicken the sauce and it still was too soupy (I didn't even add the extra 1/2 cup sauce). Not sure what went wrong....

Laurie on January 25, 2017:

Made this last night and it was delicious! I used it in my Philly Cheesesteak Pasta and it was delicious. Made the Pressure Cooker Mac and cheese and at the same time I cooked up the beef, onion, roasted red peppers mixture. When both were done I mixed them together before serving. It was delicious and no processed cheese was used.

I will use the Pressure Cooker from now on for Mac & Cheese.

dana on January 20, 2017:

Cut the pepper in half and there was more than enough. I might even 1/4 the pepper. I cooked my macaroni for 9 minutes. Once done it was good.

Heather on January 17, 2017:

What happened to Maisy? I hope she's okay! ;)

savenlives (author) on January 11, 2017:

How did it turn out?

Maisy1947 on January 04, 2017:

7:18 pm. Starting a pot of mac and cheese. I will check back in about 30 minutes and let you know how it turned out. Wish me luck. I've only used my pot twice since I purchased it.

savenlives (author) on December 29, 2016:

Oh no, so sorry to hear that :( What cheeses did you use?

Jen on December 29, 2016:

Ugh wrong cheeses I think :( was not good

savenlives (author) on December 07, 2016:

Thanks for the great tip!

savenlives (author) on December 07, 2016:

I'm sorry I haven't tried that. If you do please report back!

savenlives (author) on December 07, 2016:

Thank you so much for that great tip!

savenlives (author) on December 07, 2016:

Thanks! So glad you liked it!

ehagensmith on December 07, 2016:

I look forward to trying this. As a mac and cheese aficionado, I wanted to reply to the person who said hers was somewhat grainy. I used to have this problem. The key is to stir in the cheese off the heat. If the sauce is to hot when incorporating the cheese, it will get grainy.

Carolyn on November 21, 2016:

This recipe was wonderful. Everything about this mac & cheese was perfect, especially the ease and speed to make it. Thank you.

savenlives (author) on November 10, 2016:

To answer a couple of questions: I put my pressure cooker on the high setting. The pasta goes in uncooked and it cooks while under pressure. The time is for when it comes to pressure, my electric pressure cooker will count down once it gets to pressure.

Shauna on June 15, 2016:

High altitude cooking takes longer because atmospheric pressure decreases the higher you are. When cooking in a pressure cooker, it is sealed and the pressure is independent of altitude so there is no need to adjust cooking times.

donna on May 07, 2016:

Have you tried doubling the recipe? I am wondering if I have to adjust the time if I doubled the recipe? I love this and want to make a bigger batch for a gathering. Thanks. d

savenlives (author) on April 03, 2016:

That sounds great, never heard of it actually! I'm so glad you liked it! It really is now my go to mac and cheese recipe!

savenlives (author) on April 03, 2016:

That sounds delicious Jan!

savenlives (author) on April 03, 2016:

Sorry to hear that! Make sure you use a full fat cheese and not a low-fat or fat free.

Shoni on March 30, 2016:

New to pressure cooking, these ingredients turned out perfect for the cook on the pasta. I used cheddar and Cougar Gold cheese (because Cougar Gold is freaking delicious) and it is SO good! Usually make homemade with roux so I was apprehensive about this method, but I must say this is the most awesome easy mac and cheese ever. I'm veggie so substituted chicken stock for vegetable broth. Thank you!

Jan on January 06, 2016:

Thank you for posting this recipe. It was very tasty but next time I will increase the time to 8 or 9 minutes as the noodles were chewy for some reason. Tasted good anyway. I threw some garlic bread crumbs on top afterward and put it under the broiler to brown. Yummy.

Crafty Cat on December 30, 2015:

Not sure what I did wrong. Came out kind of grainy for me. Will definitely try again.

savenlives (author) on July 16, 2015:

Thanks Holly for those suggestions! Glad you found it as easy as me!

Holly on June 21, 2015:

I made this today and it turned out really well! I used the Instant Pot and 7 minutes is perfect for the consistency of the pasta. I would suggest cutting down the salt OR using low sodium chicken broth. Also, for my own taste preference I will use half water and half chicken broth next time. Seriously an easy recipe!

savenlives (author) on December 08, 2014:

Shauna, I am so sorry...I have no idea!! Forgive me but I have never lived in a higher altitude area so I'm not really sure how that works!

savenlives (author) on December 08, 2014:

Approximately 4-6 depending on your serving size.

shauna on December 05, 2014:

Do I need to add more time due to higher altitude?

anonymous on December 02, 2014:

how much does it serve?

savenlives (author) on October 31, 2014:

So glad you enjoyed it! This is definitely a go-to recipe at our house! Thanks for leaving a review :)

The C on October 15, 2014:

I tried this recipe and followed it exactly. The mac and cheese was absolutely delicious. Noodles were perfect consistency, and the sauce was devine. My mac was "whiter" in appearance though, and my black pepper was more visible than the picture you provided. Made no difference though, as the flavor was out of this world. Thanks a lot for sharing this recipe.