The Best-Ever Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese Recipe

Updated on September 27, 2018
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.

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 7 min
Ready in: 12 min
Yields: 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 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzerella cheese

While not the most healthy, you'll need to use the heavy cream if you want the creamiest sauce possible.

Instructions

  1. Place the macaroni, chicken stock, cream, salt, and pepper into the pressure cooker.
  2. 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).
  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. Comes out perfect!

How Can You Resist?

Irresistible pressure-cooker mac and cheese
Irresistible pressure-cooker mac and cheese

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. 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

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 oz 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!

Change Up Your Toppings for a New Bouquet of Flavors

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
3 stars from 2115 ratings of The Best Macaroni and Cheese

Questions & Answers

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      • savenlives profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        5 weeks ago

        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!

      • profile image

        Linda 

        7 weeks ago

        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!!

      • profile image

        Chandana 

        2 months ago

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

        take valuable information regarding my study and knowledge.

      • profile image

        Jody 

        2 months ago

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

      • profile image

        MagpieG 

        3 months ago

        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!

      • profile image

        Trina 

        3 months ago

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        4 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Donna 

        4 months ago

        Amazing Mac N Cheese!!!

      • profile image

        Paige 

        6 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Zelda 

        6 months ago

        Two words: green chile.

      • profile image

        Phyllis Winstead 

        6 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Julie kinner 

        7 months ago

        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 !!!!

      • profile image

        Wayne 

        8 months ago

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        8 months ago

        Sounds delicious! I love the addition of chicken!

      • profile image

        Jon 

        9 months ago

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        9 months ago

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        9 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Teresa 

        9 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Maurie 

        9 months ago

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

      • savenlives profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        10 months ago

        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!

      • profile image

        bearmtnmama 

        10 months ago

        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

      • profile image

        11 months ago

        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

      • profile image

        Laura F 

        12 months ago

        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!!

      • profile image

        Liana W. 

        13 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Toni 

        14 months ago

        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!

      • profile image

        Braanjeli 

        15 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Jenny 

        16 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Pat 

        16 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Roxanne 

        17 months ago

        Print option??

      • profile image

        Leigh 

        19 months ago

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        19 months ago

        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!

      • profile image

        Kihran 

        19 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Tina Marie 

        20 months ago

        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!!

      • profile image

        Toni 

        20 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Janet G 

        20 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Sarah 

        21 months ago

        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....

      • profile image

        Laurie 

        21 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        dana 

        22 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Heather 

        22 months ago

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

      • savenlives profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        22 months ago

        How did it turn out?

      • profile image

        Maisy1947 

        22 months ago

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        22 months ago

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

      • profile image

        Jen 

        22 months ago

        Ugh wrong cheeses I think :( was not good

      • savenlives profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        23 months ago

        Thanks for the great tip!

      • savenlives profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        23 months ago

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

      • savenlives profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        23 months ago

        Thank you so much for that great tip!

      • savenlives profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        23 months ago

        Thanks! So glad you liked it!

      • ehagensmith profile image

        ehagensmith 

        23 months ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Carolyn 

        24 months ago

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

      • savenlives profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        2 years ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Shauna 

        2 years ago

        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.

      • profile image

        donna 

        2 years ago

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        2 years ago

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        2 years ago

        That sounds delicious Jan!

      • savenlives profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        2 years ago

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

      • profile image

        Shoni 

        2 years ago

        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!

      • profile image

        Jan 

        2 years ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Crafty Cat 

        2 years ago

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

      • savenlives profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        3 years ago

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

      • profile image

        Holly 

        3 years ago

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        3 years ago

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        3 years ago

        Approximately 4-6 depending on your serving size.

      • profile image

        shauna 

        3 years ago

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

      • profile image

        anonymous 

        3 years ago

        how much does it serve?

      • savenlives profile imageAUTHOR

        savenlives 

        4 years ago

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

      • profile image

        The C 

        4 years ago

        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.

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