Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese


I bought a pressure cooker several months ago. I’ve been slowly learning to really make use of it and recently I decided to make more of an effort to try some new things.

As soon as I tweaked this recipe for Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese, I knew I had to share it with you. I’ve also created a 10 Best Instant Pot Accessories post to help you try new things in your Instant Pot too.

Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Of all the different mac and cheese recipes I’ve tried, this one is the winner.  It’s creamy, cheesy and homemade.  And it’s faster than the other methods.  I think it’s even faster than my other mac and cheese.  You know, the one with the processed cheese product, which I do love, but isn’t very healthy.

I love that this recipe is homemade, but doesn’t require you to make the sauce separately from the macaroni.  It’s fewer dishes to wash and easier prep.  

I adapted this recipe from an America’s Test Kitchen magazine.  First, I doubled the recipe.  The original only served 4 people.  We did have a lot left over after I doubled it, and I wondered if it would get eaten.

Sometimes, my kids don’t like the macaroni very well when it’s leftover.  But this one held up great in the fridge.  We finished it all for lunches and teenage boy midnight snacks.

I also swapped out the can of evaporated milk, in favor of a combination milk and half & half.  I always have those ingredients on hand, but I don’t always have cans of evaporated milk in the pantry.

Pressure cooker mac and cheese

If you’ve got a pressure cooker in your cabinet, get it out and try this recipe.

Pressure Cooker Macaroni and Cheese

Serves: 8 servings

  • 16 oz macaroni
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 1½ cups half & half
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Stir macaroni, water, salt, mustard and cayenne pepper together in the pressure cooker.
  2. Lock the lid and select high pressure and set the timer for 4 minutes.
  3. Use a quick pressure release when the 4 minutes are up.
  4. Remove lid and stir in the milk and half & half.
  5. Turn on the "browning" setting and cook 1-3 minutes until thick, stirring often.
  6. Add the cheese a handful at a time, stirring to allow it to melt into the macaroni.
  7. Season with pepper and serve.
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  1. Personally I think it is unnecessary to use the pressure cooker for something you can cook in the stove in 10 min.

    • “Once the pressure button pops up, indicating full pressure, set a timer for 4 minutes” Usually it takes 5 minutes to full pressure, plus cooking time 4 min plus 3 min time for browning and cheese and salt-pepper = 12 to 15 min just cooking plus all the extra time, putting the lid, waiting for pressure to release (even with quick pressure release you have to wait some) Thank you for the recipe but is not a keeper for me,

      • I’ve been using this recipe a lot lately. I use 4 cups stock, that I make with Bullion and boiling water. It cuts the “getting to pressure” time to almost nothing.

        I also add dry parsley, onion, and oregano. I also use velveta in place of cheddar so it’s creamier. Instead of Monterey I use a shredded jack/cheddar blend.

        It takes less than 10 minutes the way I make it.

    • It takes FOUR MINUTES! I have never had mac and cheese this good in my life! We just had it tonight.

    • The reason this is better than normal mac n cheese is due to the cooking method. By using 4.cups of water it is completely absorbed and you don’t lose any of the starch. This is the key to the creamy factor. Yes you can make a a white sauce w flour and milk.but it doesn’t work as.well. So in the time it take your water to boil my mnc is done.

    • It is a GREAT recipe regardless of the time in the pressure cooker because you don’t have to babysit a pot of boiling water! An the pressure can keep it warm for the whole meal, not just for a few minutes. Maybe you should give the pressure cooker a try 🙂

    • Even if you have one of those burners where a pot of water comes to a boil in 90 seconds (which I don’t), you still have to drain the pasta, make a roux, then a cheese sauce…much more than the ten minutes for this. I use it all the time and recommend it to everyone who seems to struggle with mac in the pressure cooker. This is the best!!

  2. I have a regular stove top pressure cooker. is the time the same? I don’t have a brown cycle, what would you do?

  3. Tiffany,
    THANKS so much for this recipe!!! I too am thinking of purchasing a pressure cooker to help me at lunch time when I have daycare kiddos running around and not much time to fix lunch!!! I am so looking forward to your future posts about your experiences with yours! What size did you get? Happy Friday :-).

  4. I have leftovers of this delicious mac and cheese and am going to combine it with the chicken and torilla soup recipe (leaving out the corn because of the noodles). I think it will be good…I’ll let you know how it turns out 🙂

    • Great idea! Let me know how it works

    • Well, I forgot about leaving out the corn in the chicken tortilla soup (like I had planned) but combining a scoop of the mac and cheese (I used American and Monterey Jack for the cheeses) in the bowl and scooping some of the chicken tortilla soup over the top was a real treat and was totally delish! Good to know…make mac and cheese one day and use leftovers (if there are any) in the chicken tortilla soup the next. Thank you for all the yumminess!!!!

  5. I have used a regular stove-top pressure cooker for many years to cook meals quickly. My current one needed replacing, so I decided to splurge and bought an electric one a few weeks ago. I love it! So far I have cooked stew, potato soup, and roast, as well as a variety of vegetables. I love the fact that this one has brown, simmer, saute, & warm cycles. Thanks for the macaroni & cheese recipe. I plan to try it next. I do have a question; Why do you say not to use the timer on the cooker?

    • Good question! I think it starts timing from a different point. That’s what the recipe I adapted from said and since I’m new to pressure cooker I followed that.

      • The pressure cooker timer starts from the moment the pressure is at its maximum level. So i would just set the timer to 4 minutes, and then switch the PC on. Once it hits the pressure the timer will kick in.

        I love my Instant Pot. Pulled Pork in a 3rd of the time! Pasta and meatballs in mere minutes.

  6. JoAnn Cazedessus says:

    take the water and exchange for chicken broth,take out your seasonings and add garlic powder1tsp, 2-3 cups milk, canned, skim, half half,and 12 oz shredded cheese and if you like about 6-8 oz velvet a cheese and cook on low for 6 hours in crock pot.

  7. I absolutely LOVE my cuisinart pressure cooker. Havead it a few years now and its the best one out there. And well priced like at Amazon. Try the chicken and dump,ings recipe for them. Gonna try the mac and cheese. It sounds good and easy.

  8. Great flavor but kind of a strange texture. Wonder if I did something wrong? It was ver mealy….anyone else experience that? I wonder if I should have washed the noodles first? Any suggestions?

    • I’ve never had that happen before. What brand of macaroni did you use? I tend to use creamette brand, because I think it does better. Or maybe your pressure cooker overcooked it a bit?

      • I did use Creamette brand. I wonder if I did overcook it. My first time using my new pressure cooker. Can’t wait to try it again! Thanks for the recipe.

  9. I have a stove top pressure cooker still in the box I am very afraid of them, so I bought an electric one its out of the box but never used. I have a wolf gang puck one and it says NOT to make pasta in it due to making the valve not work right but I see an infomershal one today and it has pasta in it…… I am confused any insight would be awesome! And IF you do something like spegetti do you pre cook the meat prior to putting in the pressure cooker?

    • Macaroni is the only kind of pasta I’ve cooked in the pressure cooker. I’m still learning to use it, but I love it for this macaroni recipe.

  10. I’ve read if the milk boils, it will make the mac get a grainy effect.

  11. Johanne says:

    what is 1 1/2 T. Half-Half ?
    Thank you

  12. Has any one tried this with Gluten Fee noodles we use barilla brand.

  13. Do u mean put the pastain with water salt mustaad cayenne pepper for 4 minutes to cook the pasta

  14. I had attempted mac & cheese in the pressure cooker before and it was just ok so I was a little hesitant to try this recipe, but it sounded so easy, I figured I’d try. It turned out delicious and was easy! I made half the recipe, used a combo of Cheddar and a bag a shredded “Mexican” cheese, and a mix of two macaroni brands as I had two almost-empty boxes to use up. Tasted great and it reheats great too. While I was cooking it, it seemed REALLY watery at first with all the milk and half-and-half, but it eventually all cooked down and looked like your typical homemade mac & cheese. Thanks for a great recipe!

  15. Christina says:

    Has anyone tried doubling this recipe? I want to use it for my daughter’s upcoming birthday party.

    • I haven’t tried doubling it, but it does make quite a lot. I’d say you could get 8-10 servings from it. More if you’re serving on paper plates (people eat less on the smaller plates) and if you have several other side dishes too.

  16. Melanie says:

    When you’ve doubled this, do you keep the water amount the same? And the cooking time as well?

  17. Camilla Yost says:

    Are the recipes for Cuisinart the same as in Instant Pot?

  18. Is the “browning setting” the same thing as “sauté”?

  19. Why did my Mac and cheese curdle? I feel like I followed the directions pretty exactly. 😔

    • Tiffany says:

      Parker – I’m sorry to hear that yours curdled! The only thing we can think of is that the pot may have been too hot at the end. Some of them do heat a little differently – like a stove does, and maybe there’s no need for heat at that point? Hope that helps!


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