Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe


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This easy recipe is the best way to make mouthwatering homemade creamy mac and cheese on busy nights! Instant Pot mac and cheese is the perfect quick comfort food dinner.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

I am so excited to share this amazing Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe with you all! This recipe is perfect for busy moms who want to serve their families a delicious, homemade meal without spending hours in the kitchen.

It’s creamy, flavorful, and oh-so-easy to make. Plus, it’s a kid-friendly meal that everyone will love. The best part? It’s a dump and start recipe, which means you can have this comfort food on the table in just 15 minutes!

This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe doesn’t require any evaporated milk or condensed milk to create a creamy and delicious cheese sauce. Instead, we use heavy cream and a combination of sharp cheddar, Gruyère, and Parmesan cheeses to achieve that luxurious, velvety texture. The result is a homemade mac and cheese that tastes like it’s straight from a gourmet restaurant, making it the perfect side dish or main course for any meal.

This dish is super versatile. You can easily customize it to suit your family’s preferences by adding ingredients like broccoli, cauliflower, or ham to the mix. Want to turn this dish into a loaded mac and cheese casserole? Simply stir in your favorite add-ins, top it with breadcrumbs and extra cheese, then bake it in the oven for a few minutes until it’s golden and bubbly.

This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese has to be the easiest, cheesiest, and most gourmet version of this classic comfort food. The tender macaroni is cooked with subtle spices like garlic and onion powder, while the mustard powder and nutmeg enhance the flavors of the creamy cheese sauce made with sharp cheddar, Gruyère, and Parmesan. It’s perfect for potlucks, holiday side dishes, or simply as a delicious weeknight dinner, this mac and cheese recipe is sure to become a family favorite.


Elbow macaroni: The classic choice for mac and cheese, elbow macaroni holds onto the cheese sauce and gives you that perfect cheesy bite every time.

Water: The Instant Pot needs liquid to create steam and pressure cook the pasta, so water is essential for this recipe. You could substitute half the water with low-sodium chicken broth for extra flavor if you’d like.

Kosher salt: Adding salt to the water helps to season the pasta as it cooks, giving it more flavor.

Garlic powder & Onion powder: These two ingredients add a subtle, savory depth to the mac and cheese.

Freshly ground black pepper, Ground nutmeg, Paprika & Dry mustard: These spices give the dish a unique flavor profile that sets it apart from other mac and cheese recipes.

Unsalted butter: Butter adds a rich, smooth texture to the cheese sauce.

Heavy cream: Using heavy cream creates a velvety, luxurious sauce that is perfect for this comfort food dish.

Sharp cheddar cheese, Gruyère cheese & Parmesan cheese: This trio of cheeses provides a complex, delicious flavor that makes this mac and cheese truly gourmet.

Chopped chives (optional): A sprinkle of chives on top adds a pop of color and a mild onion flavor.

The labeled ingredients for Instant Pot mac and cheese.

Alternative Ingredients

  • Add cooked and crumbled bacon for a smoky, salty flavor.
  • Stir in cooked, chopped broccoli or spinach for a veggie-packed version.
  • Mix in some diced, cooked ham or chicken for a protein boost.
  • Swap out the elbow macaroni for a different type of pasta, like shells or rotini, for a fun change in texture.

How To Make Instant Pot Mac And Cheese

Prepare the Instant Pot: Combine elbow macaroni, water, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, nutmeg, paprika, and dry mustard in the Instant Pot. Stir to ensure even distribution. (See the recipe card below for the full printable instructions.)

Adding pasta, water and dry seasonings to the instant pot and mixing together.

Pressure cook the pasta: Seal the Instant Pot and set to manual pressure cook.

Prepare the cheese: While the pasta cooks, combine the cheddar, Gruyère, and Parmesan cheeses in a bowl.

Quick release the pressure: After the timer goes off, carefully perform a quick release and open the Instant Pot lid.

Add butter and cream: Stir in the butter until melted, then add the heavy cream and mix until evenly coated.

Giving the noodles a quick stir before adding in unsalted butter then mixing together.

Stir in the cheese: Gradually add the cheese mixture, stirring until completely melted and the pasta is coated.

Stirring in the heavy cream then gradually adding in the cheese until its fully melted.

Serve: Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary, then serve hot, garnished with chopped chives (if using). See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, and helpful tips, etc.

Mixing in the three cheeses until fully incorporated with the pasta mixture.

Pro Tips

  • For a creamier mac and cheese, add an additional 1/4 cup of heavy cream.
  • To make this dish a kid-friendly full meal, consider adding in some cooked veggies like broccoli or cauliflower, or even some diced ham for extra protein.
  • Be sure to use freshly grated cheese, as pre-shredded cheese can contain additives that may cause the sauce to be grainy.

How To Make Baked Instant Pot Mac And Cheese

After pressure cooking and mixing in the cheese, transfer the mac and cheese to a greased casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs and extra cheese, then bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.

What’s The Best Cheese For Mac And Cheese?

The best cheeses for mac and cheese are those that melt well and have a strong flavor, like sharp cheddar, Gruyère, and Parmesan.

A side shot of glistening cheesy mac and cheese with fresh chives throughout.

What Cheese Should Not Be Used In Mac And Cheese?

When making mac and cheese, it’s best to avoid cheeses that either don’t melt well or have a very mild flavor. Examples of cheeses to avoid include feta, blue cheese, and fresh mozzarella. These cheeses won’t give you the creamy, smooth texture and rich flavor that you’re looking for in a delicious mac and cheese dish.

What Are The Best Spices For Mac And Cheese?

The best spices for mac and cheese are those that complement the rich, cheesy flavors without overpowering them. Some classic spices to consider include dry mustard, paprika, and nutmeg. Each of these spices brings a unique element to the dish: dry mustard adds a subtle tanginess, paprika provides a hint of smokiness, and nutmeg offers a warm, earthy note. You can also try adding a dash of hot sauce or cayenne pepper if you like a bit of heat in your mac and cheese.

Why Do You Put Dry Mustard In Mac And Cheese?

Dry mustard is a popular ingredient in mac and cheese recipes because it adds a hint of tanginess that enhances the overall flavor of the dish. This subtle tangy note helps to balance the richness of the cheese sauce and adds depth to the flavor profile of the mac and cheese.

Can You Overcook Mac And Cheese?

Yes, overcooked mac and cheese can become mushy. Be sure to follow the cooking time instructions closely.

A bowl of cheesy mac and cheese garnished with fresh chives with a large Instant Pot in the background.

Can I Use Gluten Free Pasta?

Unfortunately, gluten-free noodles tend to fall apart during the pressure cooking process in the Instant Pot. I wouldn’t recommend making this recipe with gluten free pasta.

Leftover Storage And Reheating Instructions

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, add a splash of milk and microwave until heated through, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.

Can I Freeze Leftover Mac And Cheese?

Yes, you can freeze leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat with a splash of milk to help restore the creamy texture.

An overhead shot of Instant Pot mac and cheese in a bowl next to a large serving dish full of mac and cheese.

What Goes With Mac And Cheese?

Mac and cheese pairs well with a variety of side dishes, including green beans, roasted vegetables, and a simple green salad. It can also be served as a side dish for holiday meals, like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Keep In Touch

I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime

Pin this recipe for later!

A Pinterest pin image with a picture of Instant Pot mac and cheese, with title text at the top.

Mac and Cheese Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out all of our other pasta recipes. Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 8 servings

15-Minute Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe

The best Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe.

Instant Pot mac and cheese is the perfect quick comfort food dinner. Easily make mouthwatering homemade creamy mac and cheese!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese*
  • 2 cups freshly grated Gruyère cheese*
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese*
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives, for garnish (optional)


  1. Combine macaroni, water, salt, black pepper, nutmeg, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and dry mustard in the Instant Pot. Stir well to ensure that the pasta is evenly distributed.
  2. Close the Instant Pot lid, making sure the pressure release valve is set to the “seal” position. Set the Instant Pot to manual pressure cook on HIGH for 5 minutes.
  3. While the macaroni cooks, combine the freshly grated cheddar, Gruyère, and Parmesan cheeses in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  4. After the Instant Pot timer goes off, carefully perform a quick release by switching the pressure release valve to the “venting” position, using a towel or oven mitt to protect your hand from the steam.
  5. Carefully open the Instant Pot lid once the pressure has been fully released. Stir the cooked macaroni, ensuring it is properly cooked and evenly coated with spices.
  6. Add the unsalted butter to the macaroni and stir until melted. Pour in the heavy cream and mix until the macaroni is evenly coated.
  7. Gradually add the combined cheese mixture, one handful at a time, to the macaroni. Stir after each addition until the cheese is completely melted and the macaroni is evenly coated.
  8. Taste the mac and cheese, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve hot, garnished with chopped chives.


*Be sure to use freshly grated cheese, as pre-shredded cheese can contain additives that may cause the sauce to be grainy.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 586Total Fat: 30.8gCarbohydrates: 46.2gFiber: 1.9gSugar: 2.9gProtein: 29.3g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.


Tag @KeyToMyLime on Instagram so we can see your delicious meal!

I hope you and your family enjoy this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese as much as my family does. It’s a true comfort food favorite that is both easy to make and absolutely delicious.

The best Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe.

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