Instant Pot Mac and Cheese: an easy and healthy way to make your kids’ favorite meal. This recipe is fast to make and is delicious for the whole family! Made with just six ingredients it’s ready in just 10 minutes!

Graphic for Post - instant pot Mac and cheese - plus 5 fun variations. Images are of a small kids reaching for a school house sectioned plate loaded up with Mac and cheese and fresh veggies and fruits.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Time to ditch the boxed mac and cheese 🧀 and make a batch of this delicious homemade pasta instead 🙌!

This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is made from scratch, in roughly 10 effortless minutes and the entire family will be in a creamy-cheesy-noodle heaven.. which is always a good place to be 😄!

It’s budget-friendly💰, great for leftovers and way healthier than buying the pre-made boxes, and it takes just the same amount of time ⏰ to make.

Reasons to Love this Mac and Cheese

  • quick – this mac and cheese is ready to serve in 10 minutes!
  • one pot
  • 6 ingredients
  • can easily customize the recipe – check out all of my variations and add-ins!
  • great for leftovers
  • freezer-friendly
  • budget-friendly
  • great meal prep item
  • make once – serve multiple times
  • one meal for the entire family – toddler, kids and you
Kids dinner plate with instant pot Mac and cheese ready for a quick and easy family dinner.

Ingredients

  • Pasta: I used boxed macaroni for this recipe, but any dried pasta will work well. It’s great with shells or fusilli.
  • Liquid: You can use stock or water to cook the pasta. If using stock, use a low sodium variety.
  • Butter: To make the pasta nice and creamy. Use unsalted butter.
  • Garlic powder and Salt: I like to add just a little garlic powder to add an extra layer of flavor.
  • Cheese: Use freshly grated cheese rather than pre-grated as it will melt much more easily. You can use a sharp or a mild cheddar.
  • Milk: You can use any milk you like in this recipe, dairy, soy, oat and almond all work well.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Cook: In an Instant Pot, add in the pasta and the liquid, gently stirring. Put on the lid and click into place. Cook for 4 minutes on a high-pressure manual mode, followed by a quick release. Remove lid.
  2. Add-In Ingredients: Add in the butter, garlic powder and salt and gently stir.
  3. Add in Cheese: Add in half of the milk and half of the cheese and gently stir waiting for the cheese to melt.
  4. Add in More Cheese: Adding in the remaining milk and cheese and stir until melted. If the cheese mixture is too thick, add in additional milk.
  5. Eat: Serve warm and enjoy!
Purple school tray with instant pot Mac and cheese, broccoli and strawberries for a toddler or kid.

Tips

  • You can also make this recipe on the stovetop. Cook the pasta in water, drain and then stir in the ingredients over a low heat.
  • If the pasta sauce is too thick, you can add in a little extra milk to loosen it up.
  • If you use whole wheat or gluten-free pasta the cooking times will vary.

Kid-Favorite VARIATIONS

  • Classic Tuna and Peas: add in a drained can of tuna as well as 1-2 cups of fresh or frozen peas to the instant pot during step 3. Keep the instant pot on while you stir in the cheese and this will warm up the tuna and peas.
  • Broccoli Garlic: add in 3-4 cups of broccoli florets to the pasta and water before cooking. Add in an additional 1/2 tsp of garlic powder. Top your plate with a big pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • Little League: add in 4 sliced and quartered hot dogs in step 3. Top with crushed potato chips.
  • Hidden Veggie: add in 1-2 cups of frozen riced cauliflower in step 3. Bonus if you can find the riced cauliflower and sweet potato mixture.
  • Tex-Mex: add in 1/2 cup black beans, 1/2 cup corn and 1/2 cup chopped red peppers during step 3.

More Add-Ins

  • shredded or cubed chicken
  • bacon
  • sausage crumbles
  • hot dogs
  • pineapple
  • cubed ham
  • edamame
  • quartered cherry tomatoes
  • peas
  • broccoli
  • everything bagel seasoning
  • pesto
Purple kids dinner plate with an easy instant pot Mac and cheese with healthy sides.

STORAGE

This is a great make ahead recipe and the leftovers taste amazing! You can store this in the fridge and freeze it.

Refrigerate: Let the pasta cool completely before transferring to an airight container. It will keep well for around 4 days.

Freeze: Place the cooled pasta in a freezer safe container to freeze. It will keep well for up to 6 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Reheat: This easy Instant Pot mac and cheese can be reheated on a low heat on the stovetop, whilst stirring, until heated through. You can also reheat it in the microwave for around 3 minutes, stirring each minute.

More Family Meals

Tools Needed

Hands holding a Purple school tray with instant pot Mac and cheese, broccoli and strawberries for a toddler or kid.

Get the recipe: Easy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

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Healthy and fast to make this easy Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is so delicious and it's great for the whole family! Made with just six ingredients it's ready in just 10 minutes!

Ingredients 

  • 16 oz box of pasta, any shape
  • 4 cups liquid (see notes)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded medium or sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 cup milk of choice

Instructions 

  • Cook: In an Instant Pot, add in the pasta and the liquid, gently stirring. Put on the lid and click into place. Cook for 4 minutes on a high-pressure manual mode, followed by a quick release. Remove lid.
    Instant pot with water and noodles.
  • Add-In Ingredients: Add in the butter, garlic powder and salt and gently stir.
    Instant pot with cooked noodles.
  • Add in Cheese: Add in half of the milk and half of the cheese and gently stir waiting for the cheese to melt.
    Instant pot with cooked noodles and shredded cheese.
  • Add in More Cheese: Add in the remaining milk and cheese and stir until melted. If the cheese mixture is too thick, add in additional milk.
    Instant pot with cooked Mac and cheese.
  • Eat: Serve warm and enjoy!
    Kids dinner plate with instant pot Mac and cheese ready for a quick and easy family dinner.

Notes

Age: 1 year and up
Storage: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months.
Notes on Pasta: feel free to use any shaped pasta in this recipe. I used the classic elbow, but really any shape will work. I have only tested this with regular semolina pasta, and I would assume that whole wheat, lentil and gluten-free would work but the cooking times would be different. If you test one out, let us know in the comments. 
Notes on Liquid: you can use water, broth or a combination of both for this recipe. I like to use half water and half veggie broth because I feel like the broth gives the pasta a deeper flavor, but any combo you want works great. 
Note on Milk: you can use whichever milk you prefer in this recipe – regular, almond, oat, soy, etc. 
Note on Cheese: I HIGHLY recommend you use freshly grated cheese for this recipe. I know it adds in a few extra minutes of prep time and dishes, but most pre-shredded cheese sold in the grocery stores have a coating on it to prevent the cheese from sticking to each other. This coating prevents the cheese from melting well. It’s best to buy a block of cheese and grate it by hand or use a food processor with a disc attachment if you have one. 
 
Calories: 360kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 38mg, Sodium: 236mg, Potassium: 176mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 366IU, Calcium: 283mg, Iron: 1mg

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