Ok, stop what you’re doing. Pin this Instant Pot Southern Macaroni and Cheese before you forget. It’s the cheesiest, easiest recipe for dinner or as a side.
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe
Don’t you love that macaroni and cheese is one of those dishes that kids go crazy for, but it’s still awesome enough for adults too? I mean, no offense, but I don’t really have any desire to eat fruit snacks, but you throw gooey, cheesy pasta on my plate and it’s almost embarrassing how much I don’t remember that you’re even in the room with me.
Growing up, I for sure ate mac and cheese from a box and I don’t at all feel bad about that. My parents have five children and all of us were super spread out. That means Mom was running one kid to choir practice, picking up another for soccer, sending a care package to one in college, and helping one learn to tie her shoes all in the same day.
That’s kind of a lot.
Really, it’s quite awesome that we always had a clean house and we always had dinner on the table. Even when it was boxed macaroni and cheese.
However, my grandpa did not eat macaroni and cheese. One day when we were at Grandpa’s house, I wanted mac and cheese for lunch. My mom made it from scratch because Grandpa doesn’t eat macaroni and cheese, and a light bulb went on in my head. Food is so good when it’s made from scratch!
It’s hard for kids to recognize that good, fresh, homemade recipes are better than a box because you get all of that flavor and texture that is missing, but despite this keep making them homemade food. Eventually they come around and you’ll be so glad you taught them how to eat so they aren’t that annoying 40-year-old picky eater who can’t cook.
It’s the same thing with good quality cheese. Ever notice that at some point you realize that cheese in plastic wrappers just is not cheese at all?
When I visited Tillamook recently and shared our Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Bacon Grilled Cheese, it was so fun to sample all of their new cheeses and see the farmers, the cows and the dairy experts who are creating real products that taste better, melt better and live up to the best standards.
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Ingredients
I know it’s tempting to whip out the boxed mac and cheese, but making homemade mac and cheese requires surprisingly few ingredients and comes together quickly. This pressure cooker mac and cheese is a cheddar and mozzarella mac and cheese recipe — because more cheeses mean more flavor!
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe:
- Farm Style Cut Tillamook Mozzarella Shredded Cheese
- Tillamook Sharp Cheddar Cheese Loaf
- Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese Loaf
- Cream cheese
- Hot sauce
- Ground dry mustard
- Chicken stock
- Tillamook Sweet Cream Unsalted Butter
- Elbow macaroni noodles
What’s the Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese?
Figuring out what cheese to use for macaroni and cheese depends on what kind of homemade mac and cheese you’re making. For Instant Pot mac and cheese, not only are you going to use a combination of cheeses but we recommend using a certain kind.
Because pressure cooker mac and cheese doesn’t get baked in the oven, you can’t get that crust on top. But, you also can’t go totally creamy because you’re not making the sauce in the separate saucepan. Although, you could, but then what’s the point of the Instant Pot?
With all that in mind, here are the cheeses we recommend using in this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe:
- Tillamook Sharp Cheddar — Sharp cheddar is always the best cheese to start with for macaroni and cheese. The flavor isn’t lost like it is with medium cheese, however it brings great balance.In other words, it’s a bridge cheese between the mild mozzarella and extra sharp cheese.
- Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar — Ever feel like macaroni and cheese is missing something? That’s because it is. All macaroni and cheese recipes need a bold, extra sharp cheddar. Even if you tend to like things a little more easy
- Tillamook Farmstyle Cut Mozzarella Shredded Cheese — Ahhh yes, the captain of the cheese pull. There’s nothing like a mozzarella cheese to create that stretchy, get in my mouth right now cheese pull. Mozzarella is creamy and gooey and the perfect cheese for the ultimate mac.
How to Make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
Alright, let’s do this thing! Here’s how to make homemade mac and cheese in an Instant Pot:
- Throw the elbow pasta, water, butter, and seasonings in the Instant Pot to cook.
- Quick release and stir in the remaining ingredients.
Seriously, that’s it! Check out our Instant Pot Cheat Sheet for a little help for all your favorite Instant Pot basics!
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Variations
If you’re looking to switch things up and bulk up this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe, here are some additional ingredients you could mix in:
- Cooked veggies (broccoli, peas, and carrots would all be good)
- Browned sausage
- Browned ground beef
- Canned tuna
- Diced ham
What to Serve with Mac and Cheese
Depending on your personal preferences, Instant Pot mac and cheese could be considered either a side or a main dish. Either way, it pairs well with a variety of recipes. Here are some of our favorite foods to serve with this Instant Pot macaroni and cheese:
- Award Winning Instant Pot Turkey
- World’s Best Brown Sugar Ham
- Roasted Root Vegetable Side Dish
- Best Sloppy Joes
- The Absolute Best Prime Rib Recipe
- Lemon Garlic Herb Roasted Chicken
- World’s Best Carolina Pulled Pork
- Southern Grape Salad with Pecans
How to Reheat Mac and Cheese
To reheat this Instant Pot mac and cheese, I recommend adding a splash of milk and warming it in the microwave or on the stove over low heat. Make sure to stir the mac and cheese frequently and add more milk as needed to prevent it from drying out.
Can You Freeze Mac and Cheese?
Yes, you can easily freeze Instant Pot mac and cheese. Simply let it cool to room temperature, then store it in freezer-safe containers. When you’re ready to eat it, you can reheat it from frozen in a 350ºF oven or on the stovetop.
Tips for Making Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
The absolute most important thing to know about making Instant Pot mac and cheese is that you do not add the cheese until the pasta is cooked. This is a one-pot meal, but unlike other pastas where you throw it all in and let the noodles cook in the sauce you can only cook the noodles in water with seasoning. Adding those seasonings in right away is a great tip too though. This allows the flavor to go right into the pasta.
It may seem a little odd to see hot sauce and nutmeg in mac and cheese, but this is one of those things that totally makes you wonder why a specific recipe is so good compared to the others.
Hot sauce does NOT make the mac and cheese spicy at all. In fact, even if you tried you wouldn’t be able to guess it was in there. But it does enhance the cheese flavor and takes your mac and cheese to the next level.
As for the nutmeg, we learned this trick years ago when making a béchamel sauce. A dash of nutmeg adds a level of depth and heartiness to your mac and cheese. It elevates the flavor in the most understated way. Don’t skip the nutmeg!
More Instant Pot Recipes:
Looking for more quick and easy instant pot recipes?
- Smoky Instant Pot Ribs
- Award Winning Chili
- Instant Pot Homemade Yogurt
- Instant Pot Beef Stroganoff
- Instant Pot Potato Corm Chowder
- Instant Pot Honey Chicken
More MACARONI RECIPES You’re Going to Love:
- Cheesy Chicken Bacon Ranch Macaroni and Cheese
- Ham and Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese
- Southern Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Healthy One Pot Chili Macaroni
- Sweet Pork Macaroni and Cheese
- Roasted Red Pepper Macaroni and Cheese
- Easy Southern English Pea Pasta Salad
- Easy Italian Pasta Salad
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Southwest Pasta Salad
- All our PASTA RECIPES here!
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Instant Pot Southern Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 Cup Mozzarella Cheese Farm Style Cut Tillamook, Shredded
- 1 Cup Cheddar Cheese Tillamook Sharp, Loaf
- 1 Cup Cheddar Cheese Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp Loaf
- 1 Ounce Cream Cheese softened
- Dash Hot Sauce
- Dash Nutmeg
- 1 Teaspoon Mustard Ground Dry
- 1/4-1/2 Teaspoon Salt to taste
- 14.5 Ounces Chicken Stock
- 2 Cups Water
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Butter Tillamook Sweet Cream Unsalted
- 1 lb Macaroni Noodles Elbow
- In an instant pot (ours is a 6qt) add the water, butter, stock, salt, ground mustard, nutmeg and hot sauce.
- Add the noodles and stir to combine.
- Close the lid, making sure that the valve is set to seal.
- Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes.
- Do a quick release by turning the valve to vent.
- Open the lid and add the cream cheese along with all of the cheeses.
- Stir to combine and serve immediately.