Is there anything better than an ooey-gooey bowl of mac and cheese? Yes! An ooey-gooey bowl of mac and cheese made from scratch in an Instant Pot. Homemade mac and cheese is miles above the kind you buy in the store. It’s fresh, cheesy, and creamy. It’s the classic comfort food you know and love, only better!
Why use the Instant Pot for mac and cheese?
There are plenty of stove-top and oven recipes for making mac and cheese that taste great, but they also take a long time to cook. When you use an Instant Pot for your mac and cheese, you keep the cheesy flavor, but you cut down on the cooking time considerably!
An Instant Pot cooks food quickly while retaining moisture. From start to finish, your Instant Pot macaroni and cheese can be ready to eat in less than thirty minutes. That’s pretty close to how long a store-bought box would take to cook on the stove. So why wouldn’t you use an Instant Pot if it takes the same time while tasting a million times better?
Using an Instant Pot to make your mac and cheese also cuts down the steps in your recipe. The chicken broth is just enough cooking liquid to be absorbed by the noodles. No draining or rinsing required here!
How to make this mac and cheese Instant Pot recipe
Making this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe couldn’t be simpler.
- Add your pasta, broth, and spices to the pot, and let it pressure cook for seven minutes.
- While the elbow macaroni is cooking, shred the cheddar cheese.
- Quick-release the venting knob and add in the butter. Stir in half of the cheese and milk, and stir until the cheese is fully melted.
- Finally, add the remaining cheese and milk, stir until melted, and you’re ready to serve.
For a super creamy cheese, use a good quality aged sharp cheddar cheese and shred it yourself. The higher the quality of the cheese, the creamier and more flavorful your cheese sauce will be. Avoid pre-shredded cheeses because they can leave your sauce feeling gritty.
Can I make this gluten-free?
Yes! You can make this Instant Pot mac and cheese gluten-free by using gluten-free elbow noodles or chickpea elbow noodles. These gluten-free options will require less cooking time.
- If you choose gluten-free noodles, pressure cook for one minute, natural release for one minute, then vent release the remaining pressure.
- If you choose chickpea noodles, pressure cook for two minutes, natural release for two minutes, then vent release the remaining pressure.
Instant Pot macaroni and cheese ingredients
This Instant Pot macaroni and cheese is super simple to make and only requires a handful of ingredients. To make it, you’ll need:
- Salt: Enhances the flavor of all the other ingredients
- Garlic powder and onion powder: Subtler in flavor than their minced counterparts
- Uncooked whole wheat elbow noodles: Traditional mac and cheese pasta shape
- Chicken broth: Lends more flavor to your mac and cheese than if you cooked it in water
- Shredded cheddar cheese: The perfect cheese for a creamy, comforting mac and cheese
- Mozzarella cheese: Adds another layer of cheesy flavor
- Whole-fat coconut milk: You need the rich creaminess from the fat in this coconut milk
- Butter: Adds richness to the mac and cheese sauce
This recipe uses coconut milk because it’s super creamy and works well in the cheese sauce without curdling like dairy milk would. It won’t make the mac and cheese taste like coconut, but if you’re sensitive to the coconut flavor, you can dilute the taste by swapping half the coconut milk for whole milk.
How do I reheat this mac and cheese?
Stored in an airtight container, this macaroni and cheese will last three to five days in the fridge. During this time, the starch in the noodles will absorb the sauce, making it less creamy and much thicker the next day. The secret to getting around this is to add a tablespoon of milk to every cup of mac and cheese at reheating time. This replenishes the lost moisture and revives your creamy mac and cheese.
To reheat your Instant Pot macaroni and cheese in the microwave:
- Place mac and cheese in a glass container and add a tablespoon of milk—or half-and-half—to each cup of the noodles.
- Cover loosely with a lid or inverted plate.
- Heat on high for one minute, stir, then continue heating in 30-second intervals until warm.
To reheat in the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and place mac and cheese in an oven-safe container.
- Add a tablespoon of milk or half-and-half for each cup of noodles and stir.
- Loosely cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20-30 minutes.
Can you freeze Instant Pot mac and cheese?
You can, although it may separate a bit. Allow your macaroni and cheese to cool fully before separating it into the portion size you want. You can freeze it in a zip-lock bag, flattening it for easier storage in your freezer. You can also use glass or plastic freezer-safe containers. Frozen macaroni and cheese will last up to 18 months in the freezer.
We do not recommend freezing mac and cheese made with gluten-free elbow macaroni or chickpea noodles. They do not hold up well in the freezer.
What should serve with this mac and cheese?
This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is delicious enough to stand on its own as a main course, but you can also use it as a tasty side dish.
If you want your macaroni and cheese to be the main course, we recommend a veggie-heavy side to balance out the rich creaminess of your noodles. Try pairing it with:
- Roasted Brussel Sprouts
- Summer Split Pea Salad
- Fresh Corn and Basil Salad
- Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower
If you want the Instant Pot mac and cheese to be a side, try pairing it with a main dish like:
- Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs
- Sloppy Joe Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
- Taco Turkey Chili
- Bacon Brown Sugar Baked Beans
- Slow Cooker Honey-Glazed Ham
Want to add a little spice to your mac and cheese? Serve it with some hot sauce to add a little heat!