Macaroni and cheese. Everyone loves this classic dish, and it’s practically impossible to resist. There’s nothing more satisfying than gooey cheese melting in your mouth after a long day at work, especially if you pair it with your favorite salad and the perfect parmesan chicken. There’s no doubt about it--macaroni and cheese is a surefire recipe for dinner success.
If you thought there was no way for this guaranteed dinner home run to get any better, we’ve got news for you. For all the proud Instant Pot owners of the world, making your family’s favorite comfort meal--already a simple dish to prepare--just got easier. Plus, it requires relatively few ingredients that you likely already have on hand.
If you haven’t yet tried making mac and cheese in your Instant Pot, there’s no time like the present. We’ve rounded up seven mouthwatering Instant Pot mac and cheese recipes, from a more classic version to some fun variants, all guaranteed to please a variety of different palates. Let’s get cooking!
1. Classic Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
What better place to start than with a classic mac and cheese recipe that will satisfy anyone who loves this fantastic dish? If this is your first foray into the world of Instant Pot mac and cheese, we recommend starting with this recipe, which is straightforward, easy, and will have you chowing down on this mouthwatering dinner in no time at all.
Here is the list of ingredients:
- 1 - 32 oz carton chicken stock
- 4 cups pasta (nuggets, elbows, small shells)
- 2 tsp hot sauce
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 cups Monterey jack cheese, grated
- ¼ cup Romano cheese, grated
Follow these cooking instructions:
- Add the chicken stock, pasta, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt, white pepper, and black pepper to the Instant Pot.
- Close the lid on the Instant Pot, and be sure that the valve is set to sealing.
- Set to “Pressure Cook” and set time for 4 minutes.
- Once the cooking is complete, do a quick release on the valve.
- Open the instant pot, and do a quick stir of the pasta.
- Add the heavy cream, and set the Instant Pot to sauté. Let simmer for a few minutes until the heavy cream is bubbly and slightly foamy.
- Pull the pot out of the Instant Pot and stir the cheddar, Monterey jack and Romano cheeses in until melted and creamy.
- Serve hot.
You can find the full recipe here.
2. Macaroni and Cheese with Gouda and Caramelized Onions
Yes, you read that right: macaroni and cheese with gouda and caramelized onions. If that doesn’t sound like a dream dish, we don’t know what does, which is why we included it as our first mac and cheese variation. This recipe actually comes from the Ultimate Instant Pot cookbook, so you know it’s good.
The flavors are sure to be a hit with the adults in your family but are still relatively kid-friendly. And if the strong taste of this mac and cheese is a bit much for your kids, that means more for you.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- Unsalted butter
- Yellow onion
- Elbow macaroni
- Chicken or vegetable broth
- Tightly packed shredded Gouda cheese
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Half and half
- Dijon mustard
- Freshly ground black pepper
The gouda recipe is an excellent variation for special occasions like Christmas or Thanksgiving because the caramelized onions give the dish an unexpected burst of flavor that will leave your guests wanting seconds. Our recommendation with this mac and cheese recipe? Make sure to sprinkle bread crumbs on it and broil the dish before serving.
And we can’t say enough about gouda cheese, which might just be one of the more underrated cheeses when it comes to macaroni and cheese. People aren’t generally expecting gouda when they eat mac and cheese but are pleased with how mild and gooey it is and how perfectly it sticks to the noodles.
Ready to get cooking? Check out the full recipe here.
3. Instant Pot Broccoli Chicken Mac and Cheese
Okay, so we’re never going to claim that macaroni and cheese is the most health-conscious meal you can make in your Instant Pot. It is just pasta and a lot of cheese, after all. But we did want to include a recipe for those looking to make a healthier option while at the same time enjoying the comforts of homemade mac and cheese.
And that’s why this recipe for Instant Pot broccoli chicken mac and cheese made the list. (That sure is a mouthful, isn’t it?) We’re all for eating carbs, but sometimes you need to add a little protein and some veg to the mix. Plus, broccoli is one of those versatile veggies that goes great in any number of dishes, and we love how well it works with mac and cheese.
This recipe requires you to place the florets in a foil packet on top of the pasta to keep the broccoli from getting mushy. We appreciate this creative trick because otherwise you’d have to cook the broccoli separately, which isn’t the end of the world, but cooking the broccoli in the foil packets keeps this whole thing a one-pot deal.
You can also adjust the amount of chicken depending on your chicken to mac and cheese ratio.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Elbow macaroni noodles
- Ground mustard
- Fresh broccoli florets
- Half and half, heavy cream, milk, or evaporated milk
- Medium or sharp cheddar cheese
- Cornstarch (if your macaroni and cheese comes out too liquidy)
As you can see, this Instant Pot broccoli chicken mac and cheese doesn’t require many more extra ingredients than traditional recipes do. Check out the full recipe here. You’re sure to come back for seconds.
4. Instant Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
If you’ve ever had to make the agonizing decision between choosing chili or macaroni and cheese at a restaurant, we’ve got excellent news for you: with this recipe, you can have them both.
Chili and mac and cheese are both so delicious that it was only a matter of time before someone decided to mix them--and we think that was a fantastic idea!
This recipe calls for a fair few more ingredients than your typical mac and cheese recipe, but the result is so worth it. Some of the extras you’ll need to add include:
- Extra-lean ground beef
- Chili powder
- Kidney beans
- Diced tomatoes
- Bell peppers
- Green onion
But despite the added ingredients (most of which are pantry staples anyway), you’ll be glad to know that getting this meal on the table won’t require added time. The Instant Pot makes everything super easy because you can do all the sautéing and cooking directly in the pot. In just half an hour, this amazing dish will be ready.
Need to make this recipe vegetarian? Not a problem! Instead of using the ground beef the recipe calls for, you can add more beans. Adding more beans will give you roughly the same amount of protein, and if you use different types of beans, it will give the dish more depth.
A word of warning--chili mac is a pretty hearty dish. You may not want to schedule any plans directly after mealtime so you can relax and digest this heavenly meal in peace. You can find the full recipe here.
5. Mac and Cheese with Bacon and Peas
Moving right along, this simple yet tasty version of macaroni and cheese with bacon and peas will satisfy all your cravings. Mac and cheese is great all by itself, but sometimes it’s nice to add a little pizzazz to classic dishes. The bacon lends excellent flavor, and the peas provide a little green for a variation the whole family will love.
Like all the other recipes we’ve included, this version will have dinner on the table in record time using staple ingredients that make getting everything together a cinch. This recipe calls for:
- Sliced bacon
- Dried pasta
- Cream cheese
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Thawed frozen peas
This bacon and cheese variation is especially fantastic for parents looking to throw together a meal last minute since it takes advantage of common foods that most people are likely to have already. So, if you decide on a whim to make this recipe, it should be easy to put together--especially because you don’t have to worry about finding evaporated milk.
That all sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? If we’ve convinced you, it’s time to get the full recipe here and fire up the Instant Pot. Bon Appetit!
6. Ham Mac and Cheese
Are you searching for the perfect mac and cheese that adds a little something extra to the traditional version but that’s still kid friendly? Look no further because we’ve got you covered with this easy ham mac and cheese recipe that your kids will devour, no questions asked. Not to mention, your grown-up palate will be grateful for a little extra flavor.
The ingredients this recipe calls for are mostly the standard ingredients you’ll find in mac and cheese recipes. They include:
- Macaroni pasta
- Dry mustard
- Cayenne pepper
- Evaporated or whole milk
- Sharp cheddar cheese
- Monterey Jack cheese
Not only is this ham macaroni and cheese guaranteed to be a hit with your kids, but it also comes out super fast in your Instant Pot. Seriously, all you need is a few minutes to prep your ingredients (around ten), and ten minutes of cook time, and then you’re done. It doesn’t get any easier.
We also like that this version doesn’t require any sauteing or extra steps--just dump the ingredients, and you’re good to go. For busy parents on the go, this twenty-minute recipe is a lifesaver. And when the time comes to clean up, all you have to do is store your leftovers (if there are any!) and put the inner pot in the dishwasher.
Lightning fast cook time? Guaranteed to please your kids? Zero effort to clean up? We know you’ll want to check out the full recipe and get started on this one right away.
7. Three Cheese Spinach Mac and Cheese
Is it a struggle to get your picky kid to eat anything even remotely green? Is it a struggle to get them to eat anything at all? If feeding your kid is impossible, we’re here to help with our last mouthwatering mac and cheese that just so happens to be another kid-friendly recipe. Trust us when we say that you won’t have to fight with your child to get them to finish this dish.
They won’t notice that they’re eating spinach because they’ll be too busy chowing down on this incredible three cheese mac and cheese. The mix of mozzarella, sharp cheddar, and smoked provolone give this dish an exciting blend of flavors. And if one of these cheeses isn’t your favorite, substitute it for the one you like or double the mozzarella.
Speaking of ingredients, the three cheese spinach mac and cheese calls for the following ingredients:
- Unsalted butter
- Macaroni pasta
- Sriracha sauce
- Vegetable stock
- Heavy cream
- Sour cream
- Three cheese blend
Once you have success getting your child to eat food with some green bits in it, you can try adding other veggies and see how that goes. Mushrooms, zucchini, or carrots are a great place to start, and they all work perfectly in this recipe.
And the best thing of all is what everyone else loves about the Instant Pot. You can make everything right in the pot, which makes cooking simple and cleanup easy. If that sounds good to us, it must sound good to you. Get the full recipe here and have dinner ready in no time.
Bonus Recipe - If you're interested in a gluten-free Mac and Cheese recipe, make sure to check out this one from Kitchen Stewardship.