Creamy Delight: Instant Pot Mac & Cheese Recipe

As the great James Beard once said, “Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.” And what’s more simple and universally-loved than mac & cheese? I’m Amy Jacky, a chef who enjoys making comforting dishes using my Instant Pot. Today, I’m excited to share with you my recipe for creamy and delicious Instant Pot Mac & Cheese.

Now, I know that some purists may scoff at the idea of making something as popular as mac & cheese in an Instant Pot. But let me tell you – this recipe will surprise even the most skeptical of critics! It’s quick, easy and yields irresistibly cheesy and creamy results that’ll leave you wondering if you ever need to make it on the stove-top ever again.

Plus, with the ability to lock in the flavors and cook under high pressure, we’ll ensure maximum flavor infusion into every single bite. Don’t worry though, this isn’t a complicated recipe – even if you’re someone who is only just starting to explore their way around this handy-dandy kitchen appliance.

So grab your Instant Pot, get your ingredients prepped and let’s make some dreamy comfort food magic happen. You won’t want to miss out on this deliciously satisfying instant pot mac & cheese recipe!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese
Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

My darlings, let me tell you why you are going to adore this Instant Pot Mac & Cheese recipe. It’s creamy, comforting and takes little time to make. This recipe is perfect for those busy weeknights when you don’t have the energy nor the time to stand in front of a stove for long hours. Trust me on this one, it’s going to become your new favorite comfort food.

First off, let’s talk about the creamy, cheesy goodness that makes up this mac & cheese. The combination of sharp white cheddar cheese, gruyere and cream cheese creates an explosion of flavor that will tantalize your taste buds. The cheese sauce is silky smooth and coats every strand of pasta perfectly. In other words, it’s pure comfort food heaven.

Secondly, this recipe is made in an Instant Pot so you can have dinner ready in under 30 minutes. No boiling noodles separately or making a separate saucepan for the cheese sauce. You add everything to the pot at once and let it do all the work for you. And the best part is that you don’t need to drain the pasta water since it gets absorbed into the macaroni creating a luscious texture.

Lastly, this Instant Pot Mac & Cheese recipe is incredibly versatile. You can easily swap out the rotini pasta for elbow macaroni or even add some chicken broth instead of water for added depth and flavor. Plus, you can garnish with chives, cayenne pepper or hot sauce to give it an extra kick or use breadcrumbs to create a crispy top layer.

In conclusion my loves, this Instant Pot Mac & Cheese recipe checks all of the boxes: fast and easy cooking process, deliciously cheesy, and versatile enough to fit any palate or preference. Make it on those hectic weekdays, at family gatherings or anytime you want to indulge in some creamy comfort food.

Ingredient List

 Creamy and cheesy goodness in every bite
Creamy and cheesy goodness in every bite

Here are the ingredients you will need to make this creamy Instant Pot Mac & Cheese:

Pasta and Seasonings

  • 2 cups dry elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cheese Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 cup milk, divided (2% or whole milk works best)
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk (optional for extra creaminess)
  • 1 cup grated Sharp White Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese (or substitute with more cheddar or other melting cheese)
  • Chopped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)

All the ingredients can be easily found in your local grocery store. I recommend using sharp white cheddar cheese and gruyere to create that perfect melty and tangy flavor. You can also add some optional cayenne pepper for a little kick.

The Recipe How-To

 One-pot wonder for easy clean-up
One-pot wonder for easy clean-up

I am thrilled to share my Instant Pot Mac & Cheese Recipe with you! This creamy and decadent pasta dish is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner or a cozy weekend lunch.

Getting Started

To begin, gather your ingredients. For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 pound Rotini pasta
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups freshly grated Sharp White Cheddar Cheese
  • 2 cups freshly grated Gruyere Cheese
  • Chopped chives, for serving (optional)

Cooking the Macaroni

To make the macaroni in the Instant Pot, follow these steps:

  1. Add water, butter, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, and mustard into the Instant Pot inner pot. Press sauté button and let it heat up until the butter is fully melted.

  2. Turn off the sauté function then add in 1 pound of uncooked rotini pasta. Stir well until all the pasta is coated evenly with butter.

  3. Pour in 1 cup of milk and give it a gentle stir to mix the milk with pasta.

  4. Close lid and make sure valve is set to sealing position. Select manual high pressure for 4 minutes (for al dente) or select manual high pressure for 5 minutes (for very soft pasta).

  5. Once Instant Pot beeps signaling that it’s done cooking , wait for a few minutes then perform a quick release by turning the valve to venting position.

  6. When it’s done releasing pressure, carefully open the lid and give it a stir. Drain any remaining water or pasta water from the Instant Pot.

Adding in the Cheese

Now, let’s add in the cheese:

  1. Press saute button, then add in 8 ounces of cream cheese and give it a good stir to combine.

  2. Add in freshly grated Sharp White Cheddar Cheese, and freshly grated Gruyere Cheese that is gradually divided into 3-4 portions while stirring constantly with a silicone spatula until everything has melted nicely into the pasta mixture.

  3. Turn off Instant Pot, and scoop into a serving bowl.

Topping and Serving

Before serving your delicious mac & cheese dish, here are some finishing touches:

  • Add more salt and pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with chopped chives.
  • Serve hot with some hot sauce on top for those who like a little heat.

Enjoy your creamy Instant Pot Mac & Cheese dinner!

Substitutions and Variations

 Perfect comfort food for the whole family
Perfect comfort food for the whole family

I’m honored to share with you some of the substitutions and variations that will take your Instant Pot Mac & Cheese Recipe to a whole new level of creativity and deliciousness.

For those who are lactose intolerant or vegan, substitute the cheese and milk with vegan cheese, vegan butter, and plant-based milk such as almond, soy, or coconut milk. You can have yourself a creamy and flavorful vegan mac and cheese recipe.

If you love some additional texture in your mac and cheese, add bread crumbs or panko crumbs to the top layer before baking it in the oven. The added crunch elevates the dish to another level of taste.

Love cooking with protein? Add some chicken broth or Worcestershire sauce to your mac and cheese sauce for additional complexity of flavor. You can also cook elbow macaroni with chicken broth instead of water for a richer taste.

Feeling fancy? Swap out some of the cheddar cheese with Gruyere to give it a nutty, sweet, velvety texture that melts perfectly in your mouth. This adds an extra layer of savory flavor to your cheesy noodles.

Try using rotini pasta instead of elbow macaroni for an added twist! The Rotini has a unique spiral shape that perfectly captures the creamy cheese sauce in every bite.

Lastly, try baking your mac and cheese in the oven for a crispy golden crust. Prepare it as usual then transfer it to an oven-safe dish topping with more cheese before baking for 5-10 minutes in the oven on high broil until nicely browned on top.

Remember! There’s nothing wrong with straying off the beaten path sometimes. Get creative in the kitchen and let these substitutions and variations inspire you to create new recipes that will warm people’s hearts and stomachs alike.

Serving and Pairing

 A crowd-pleasing dish to impress your guests
A crowd-pleasing dish to impress your guests

When it comes to serving this creamy Instant Pot mac and cheese, the options are endless! This classic cheesy dish is a crowd-pleaser and pairs perfectly with many sides or toppings.

One of my favorite ways to serve this mac and cheese is with a sprinkle of fresh chives or a dash of hot sauce. The chives give a subtle onion flavor that cuts through the richness of the mac and cheese, while hot sauce adds an extra kick to the dish.

For a heartier meal, you can pair it with grilled chicken or roasted vegetables such as broccoli or asparagus. The savory Gruyere and sharp white cheddar cheese complement well with the sweet juiciness of roasted vegetables or the smokiness of grilled chicken.

If you’re hosting a party, consider serving this dish in small cups or ramekins topped with crispy breadcrumbs or crumbled salty marshmallow for that extra crunch. Trust me; your guests will be amazed!

For those who prefer vegan alternatives, you can swap out some of the dairy ingredients such as cream cheese and evaporated milk for plant-based options. You can also add homemade macaroni noodles, which work well for vegetarians and vegans alike.

Regardless of how you choose to serve it, this creamy Instant Pot mac and cheese is sure to impress your family and friends.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 An elevated version of classic mac & cheese
An elevated version of classic mac & cheese

Preparing Instant Pot Mac & Cheese ahead of time is such a great option to have on busy days. Luckily this creamy mac and cheese recipe stores well and reheats nicely. Follow these simple tips for making the most out of your leftovers.


If meal prep is your thing, then you’ll be happy to know that you can prepare this recipe up to 2 days in advance. Follow the recipe instructions as written, then store the cooked mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator. When it comes time to reheat, splash a few drops of milk over the top before microwaving for 30 seconds. This will help reincorporate any moisture lost during storage.


Store leftover Instant Pot Mac & Cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. To prolong the shelf-life, transfer portions of mac and cheese into individualized containers before refrigerating. You’ll have pre-made lunches or dinners that can be reheated quickly.


When it’s time to reheat the mac and cheese, there are a few options. You can microwave individual portions on high for 45 seconds to 1 minute, depending on your microwave’s power output. Alternatively, if you’re reheating more than one portion, simply place them into an oven-safe dish and bake at 350°F (180°C) for about 10-15 minutes until heated through.

If the macaroni and cheese has lost some of its creaminess after being stored in the refrigerator overnight, add a little bit of milk (or cream) when reheating until it reaches your desired texture.


To serve it with a deliciously crispy topping all you need is some pre-made bread crumbs. In a separate pan mix 1/2 cup breadcrumbs with melted butter (2 tablespoons). Spread evenly over the top of the macaroni cheese bake and place in the oven for 5-10 minutes until golden brown.

With these tips, you’ll be able to quickly and easily reheat your leftovers and enjoy a delicious and satisfying meal anytime you desire.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Ready in under 30 minutes, ideal for a quick dinner
Ready in under 30 minutes, ideal for a quick dinner

Cooking is a fascinating and fulfilling journey, and making mac and cheese is no exception. As an experienced chef, I have discovered some useful tips on how to make the perfect instant pot mac and cheese recipe. Here are some recommendations that will help you to achieve the best results.

1. Use good-quality cheese

Cheese is at the heart of any mac and cheese dish. Therefore, it is crucial to choose high-quality cheese that will make your dish deliciously rich and flavorful. Sharp white cheddar cheese and Gruyere are two excellent options that bring a great balance of flavor.

2. Add milk in stages

Milk is added to the recipe to create creaminess, but overdoing it can result in a thin or soupy sauce. So, add milk in stages, allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more, so you get the desired consistency.

3. Experiment with different pastas

Although rotini pasta is an excellent option for this recipe, you can always try other types of pasta shapes like elbow macaroni or penne pasta, based on your preference.

4. Adjust seasoning

Seasoning is key to making a great mac and cheese dish. Don’t hesitate to adjust salt levels and spice levels by using garlic powder, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, mustard powder, or any other favorite seasonings.

5. Preheat ingredients

Before starting with the pressure cooking process in the instant pot, it’s always important to preheat the ingredients such as water, butter, or milk by gently simmering them on medium heat on the stovetop.

6. Natural release

Don’t be tempted to do a quick release when cooking your instant pot mac and cheese recipe. The natural releasing method ensures that all the flavors settle into the macaroni noodles correctly.

7. Serve hot

Serve your creamy instant pot mac and cheese immediately after preparation for its best taste!

By following these tips, you can make this cheesy comfort food more delicious than ever before. Bring out the hidden chef in you by experimenting with flavors, seasoning, and pasta shapes to create a custom-made mac and cheese recipe.

Bottom Line

And that’s it! Your creamy instant pot mac & cheese is ready to be served and enjoyed! This recipe is quick, customizable, and perfect for busy weeknights or last-minute gatherings. Whether you want to add a spicy kick with cayenne pepper or bring in even more cheesy goodness with gruyere cheese, this recipe has the potential to be transformed into your own signature dish.

Why not try topping it off with some crispy bread crumbs or salty marshmallow pieces for an added twist? You’ll love how this versatile dish can be tweaked to fit different tastes and occasions. Plus, the convenience of using an instant pot cuts down on time and cleanup efforts without sacrificing on flavor. So go ahead and make this crowd-pleasing dish today using our easy-to-follow instructions, and don’t forget to share your delicious creations with loved ones!

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese Recipe

Your favorite comfort food just got even easier.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 847.5 kcal


  • 3 1/4 cups milk, plus additional as necessary
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 lb about 2 1/2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 lb about 2 1/2 cups gruyere, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 clove grated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus additional to taste and for serving
  • kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb rotini pasta
  • thinly sliced chives, for serving


  • Preheat Instant Pot to saute setting. Add milk, cream cheese, and butter. Cook, whisking to incorporate, until cream cheese is melted and mixture has come to a simmer. Add cheddar, gruyere, garlic, and cayenne. Whisk until smooth and season generously with salt and pepper. Add pasta, fold to combine, and place top on Instant pot.
  • Set pressure to high and cook for 6 minutes. Release pressure manually and open lid. Adjust seasoning with additional salt, pepper, and cayenne. If desired, thin with additional ¼ cup milk. Serve immediately, garnished with chopped chives and cayenne.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 249gCalories: 847.5kcalCarbohydrates: 66.8gProtein: 37.6gFat: 47.7gSaturated Fat: 28.1gCholesterol: 151.9mgSodium: 555.3mgFiber: 2.6gSugar: 3.6g
Keyword < 30 Mins, Easy, High In..., Macaroni And Cheese
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