This easy Instant Pot mac and cheese has a rich and luxurious cream sauce. Made with sharp aged cheddar and gruyère cheese, plus a dash of smoked paprika. The whole family will enjoy this week night meal that comes together quickly in the Instant Pot!
The Instant Pot is fantastic for cooking easy one-pot meals. Just like these Instant Pot meatballs, and this Instant Pot lasagna; this mac and cheese is a great recipe to add to your Instant Pot repertoire.
This mac and cheese is big on flavor, but made with simple ingredients that you likely already have on hand. The Instant Pot takes a classic family favorite and makes it even easier to prepare - you're going to love how quickly this comes together!
It's better than boxed macaroni and cheese, and easier than baked mac and cheese (which can take forever to cook). Best of all, whole family will love this deliciously creamy comfort food - you really can't go wrong with this childhood favorite!
Reasons you'll ♡ this recipe
- it tastes way better than the boxed stuff, packed with flavor from the aged cheddar, gruyère, and paprika
- it's ready in 30 minutes and cooks up in a single pot
- there's no need for a roux or any sort of complicated sauce
Watch the video below to see how to cook Instant Pot mac and cheese! You can find more of my recipe videos on my YouTube channel.
- Cheese - medium sharp cheddar and Gruyère adds a stronger flavor to this recipe, but can be replaced with mozzarella or cheddar cheese for a milder flavor
- Cream - you can use 18% or 36% cream in this recipe, or you can swap for milk for a lighter option.
- Butter - a non-negotiable in any mac and cheese recipe! Butter adds richness, and makes this recipe absolutely irresistible and luxurious. Salted or unsalted work equally well.
- Macaroni - we used regular elbow pasta for this recipe. Whole wheat pasta should work as written, however gluten-free or other alternatives have not been tested.
- Smoked paprika - adds a subtle smokey flavor to the mac and cheese, and can easily be left out.
Step by step directions
1. Pressure cook pasta - In the stainless steel inner pot of an Instant Pot, combine the elbow pasta, water and salt. Stir to combine, and ensure all pasta is submerged in the water. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, set the valve to the 'sealing' position, and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes.
When the cooking cycle has completed, perform a quick pressure release- carefully transition the valve to the 'venting' position until the pin drops.
Quick Pressure Release- carefully transition the steam release handle to the 'venting position', taking care to ensure your hands, face, and kitchen cupboards are clear from the steam. Find out more about when to use a quick pressure release in Instant Pot 101!
2. Add cream & butter - Remove the lid from the Instant Pot, keeping the pot on the 'keep warm' setting, and add the butter. Stir until completely melted, then add ½ cup cream, the pepper and paprika. Stir until completely combined.
3. Add cheese - Add the cheese, stirring until melted. Use oven mitts to remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot so that the sauce doesn't dry out, and serve mac and cheese immediately.
Note - If you find that the 'keep warm' setting is not hot enough to melt the cheese, select the 'sauté' function, but be very careful not to heat too vigorously, as the cheese can become ropey and the sauce can dry out.
No, the liquid is needed to create the sauce with cream, butter and cheese.
Absolutely! You can swap for mozzarella or cheddar cheese if preferred, though we do highly recommend the aged cheddar and Gruyère cheese as they add a ton of luxurious flavor.
Storage + reheating
This recipe is best served immediately, as the sauce can dry out a touch. With that being said, it's still delicious reheated, and can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- fridge - cool completely, then portion out into individual meal prep containers. Refrigerate in air tight containers for up to 4 days.
- reheat - heat in the microwave until steaming hot. Adding a splash of milk (~1 tablespoon) helps rehydrate the sauce a touch.
Check out my favorite meal prep containers!
More one pot pasta recipes
☆ Did you make this recipe? I'd love to hear how it turned out! Leave me a review and star rating in the comments below. Your reviews help so much!
- 1 lb dried elbow pasta roughly 3 cups; see note 1
- 3 cups water
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons butter salted or unsalted
- ½ cup cream or milk; add extra as needed; see note 2
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika see note 4
- 1 cups Gruyere cheese packed gently; see note 3
- 1 cups medium sharp cheddar cheese packed gently
- Pressure cook - In the stainless steel inner pot of an Instant Pot, combine the elbow pasta, water and salt. Stir to combine, and ensure all pasta is submerged in the water.Place the lid on the Instant Pot, set the valve to the 'sealing' position, and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. When the cooking cycle has completed, perform a quick pressure release- carefully transition the valve to the 'venting' position until the pin drops.
- Mix cream sauce - Remove the lid from the Instant Pot, keeping the pot on the 'keep warm' setting, and add the butter. Stir until completely melted, then add ½ cup cream, the pepper and paprika. Stir until completely combined.
- Add cheese - Add the cheese, stirring until melted. Use oven mitts to remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot so that the sauce doesn't dry out, and serve mac and cheese immediately.
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