Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Creamy, comforting, rich, and cheesy. Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is the perfect winter comfort food and uses just 4 ingredients (plus a few basic spices). Cook the pasta in the instant pot then just stir in the milk and cheeses. It couldn’t get any easier! This recipe uses evaporated milk to up the richness and ease. Homemade Mac n cheese ready in just about 30 minutes!

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese with Text

What You’ll Need for this Instant Pot Mac & Cheese:

  • Medium Shell Pasta – you could also use a different short noodle such as elbow macaroni or mini penne, but shells are my favorite!
  • Butter –¬†I prefer unsalted so I can control the salt, but you can use salted butter as well.
  • Evaporated Milk –¬†Evaporated milk is an easy thing to keep in your pantry. Evaporated milk is essentially milk that has been heated so some of the water evaporates. The result is a dense, creamy, concentrated milk. Using it in this recipe instead of regular milk results in a richer result.
  • Sharp White Cheddar Cheese – you can substitute a different cheese as well! I buy the blocks and grate it myself because it melts better than buying the pre-shedded bags.
  • Paprika, Onion Powder, and Garlic Powder – adding these simple spices adds just the right amount of flavor and elevates this Mac!
  • Salt and Pepper

Pasta Shells in Instant Pot

How to make it in your Instant Pot:

  1. Add pasta, water, and salt to your Instant Pot. Give everything a stir. Close the lid and set to sealing then cook on Manual High Pressure for 3 minutes.
  2. When done cooking, allow to Natural Release for 5 minutes before doing a controlled Quick Release.
  3. With the Instant Pot on warm, stir in the butter and evaporated milk. When the butter is almost or fully melted, stir in the cheese, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and a few big cranks of fresh ground pepper. Stir until cheese is melted and combined.
  4. Enjoy!

IP Mac n Cheese in bowl with spoon

I love how easy this cheesy pasta comes together. No need to fuss over a roux. Just stirring the milk, butter, cheese, and spices into the hot pasta makes a creamy cheesy sauce.

Print Recipe
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is the perfect comfort food. Uses just 4 ingredients (plus a few basic spices) and comes together in less than 30 minutes. Using evaporated milk makes this pasta extra rich and creamy. Recipe at KathleensCravings.com
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is the perfect comfort food. Uses just 4 ingredients (plus a few basic spices) and comes together in less than 30 minutes. Using evaporated milk makes this pasta extra rich and creamy. Recipe at KathleensCravings.com
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 0 minutes
Servings
6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb medium shell pasta
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded. *see note
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • fresh ground black pepper
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 0 minutes
Servings
6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 lb medium shell pasta
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 12oz can evaporated milk
  • 16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded. *see note
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • fresh ground black pepper
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is the perfect comfort food. Uses just 4 ingredients (plus a few basic spices) and comes together in less than 30 minutes. Using evaporated milk makes this pasta extra rich and creamy. Recipe at KathleensCravings.com
Instructions
  1. Add pasta, water, and salt to your Instant Pot. Give everything a stir. Close the lid and set to sealing then cook on Manual High Pressure for 3 minutes.
  2. When done cooking, allow to Natural Release for 5 minutes before doing a controlled Quick Release. (see note)
  3. With the Instant Pot on warm, stir in the butter and evaporated milk.
  4. When the butter is almost or fully melted, stir in the cheese, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and a few big cranks of fresh ground pepper. Stir until cheese is melted and combined. Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed.
  5. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Sharp Cheddar Cheese - I used 2 8oz blocks of sharp white cheddar that I shredded myself. You can also use pre-shredded cheese in bags, but it doesn't always melt as smoothly. I like to use my food processor's shredding disc to make quick work of shredding cheese. Feel free to use a different cheese of your choice!

Controlled Quick Release - A controlled quick release is where you slowly press the valve to the venting position, starting by only going about halfway. Instead of just quickly moving to the venting position. By letting the steam escape slower, it helps prevent any water or pasta foam from shooting out.

I use the 8qt Instant Pot Duo and love it!

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