If you like your macaroni and cheese super cheesy and over the top creamy, this Instant Pot shells and cheese recipe for you. It’s inspired by the boxed shells and cheese and is made easily in the instant pot.
Very few dinners aren’t made better with a generous helping of creamy macaroni and cheese. It is the ultimate comfort food for kids and adults alike. These cheesy shells practically make themselves with the help of the instant pot.
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Little Dude is a huge fan of macaroni and cheese. Like me, he enjoys is as creamy and cheesy as possible.
I had one of those big blocks of American cheese in the pantry with the intention of making Kelly’s cheese soup. But the weather started warming up before I had a chance.
Now I can eat cheese soup all year long, but my husband is a hard sell on soup any time of year. So I figured rather than push it, I’d use the cheese to make ultra smooth macaroni and cheese.
Half of the block went into a stove top version. I served it with some root beer braised pulled pork that I am sharing with you soon.
Little Dude was in heaven! He gave it twelve thumbs up and would have written his name on the leftovers with permanent marker if I had let him.
So when we took advantage of a nice day by grilling some burgers, I figured I’d use the rest of that cheese for more macaroni.
This time I pulled out some large shell pasta to more closely emulate that favorite boxed side dish. Plus I pulled out the instant pot to make it so I could set it and forget it a bit more.
After making creamy spaghetti and meatballs in the instant pot, I was hooked on how easy it is. You don’t have to patiently wait for the water to boil and then watch the pot for boil overs.
Instead you just set the time and pressure and enjoy your family! The only word of warning is that the starchy water can make a bit of a mess when you vent the steam.
Tip for Venting the Instant Pot
No worries though, I have a trick for that! Just place a damp dishcloth over the vent when you release the pressure.
It will catch the mess and prevent starchy splatter. I learned that from MiMi after watching her make mashed potatoes in her pressure cooker.
After you watch your pressure cooker spit white starchy water all over the counter a couple of times, this will be a tip becomes second nature. It’s much better to catch it at the source rather than having to clean it up later.
Making the Cheese Sauce
One the pasta is cooked, the starch liquid left behind is the perfect base for the cheese sauce. Add a little milk and a whole heap of cheese to make it extra good.
A couple of minutes on saute is all it takes to melt it together. It will likely be a little loose still, but will thicken a bit as it sits.
Just don’t plan on it sitting too long, it will disappear into bellies as soon as you give the go ahead! This version got 36 thumbs up from Little Dude and some happy noises from my husband too.
Tips and Tricks
- Place a damp dishrag over the vent on the pressure cooker to catch any starchy splatter.
- Start with just a splash of milk and add more if you need it.
- Cutting the cheese into small cubes will help it melt faster and get dinner on the table quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What seasonings can I add to Velveeta shells and cheese?
If you want a little more pizzazz in your mac and cheese, you can add a little bit of garlic powder, mustard powder or paprika.
What toppings go on shells and cheese?
Try some crumbled bacon or a little bit of hot sauce. Crushed flamin’ hot Cheetos add crunch and spice. Or add some shredded cheese if you want.
Instant Pot Shells and Cheese
- 16 ounces large shell pasta
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 cups water
- 16 ounces Velveeta or similar
- ½ cup milk
- Place pasta, water, salt and pepper in instant pot.16 ounces large shell pasta, 1 teaspoon salt, 4 cups water, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes, then quick release the pressure. Place a damp rag over the pressure release to catch any splatter.
- Stir in milk and cubes of cheese, turn instant pot to sautee if needed to make sure all of the cheese is melted.16 ounces Velveeta, ½ cup milk
- Allow to sit for about 5-10 minutes with the instant pot off to thicken a bit, then serve.