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Macaroni and Cheese in the Instant Pot

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Making macaroni and cheese in the Instant Pot is so quick and easy. This super creamy mac and cheese is ready in about 15 minutes and you don’t even have to drain the liquid. Enjoy it as a main dish with a salad or make it as a side dish for any of your favorite meals.

Bowl of creamy curly mac and cheese in front of instant pot.

Creamy macaroni and cheese is one of those dishes that is perfect in almost any occasion. It is great on its own and is wonderful with meat or veggies stirred in.

This recipe makes getting homemade mac and cheese on the table an almost hands off event. It all cooks in the the Instant Pot, so there aren’t a ton of dirty dishes either.

The pasta cooks in just enough water. Then the rest of the starchy cooking water is the base of the cheese sauce.

So you don’t even need to drain the pasta. Just add the rest of the ingredients and dig in.

Curly mac and cheese served with BBQ pork steak and zucchini.

The resulting pasta is going to be coated in tons of flavorful cheese. Serve it as a meat free main during Lent or anytime, or make it a side dish for BBQ, sandwiches, and more.

It was wonderful served with our bbq pork steaks and some zucchini. It’s also great with bbq ribs and so many other dinners.

What kind of pasta should you use?

Of course elbow macaroni is a great pasta shape for macaroni and cheese, but you don’t have to stop there. Any pasta shape that will create gaps between the noodles will work.

Using flat shapes can create a dense finished product. So it’s best to use either shapes with holes or big ridges so there are plenty of spots for that cheese sauce to cling.

I love using corkscrew shaped cellentani, because it is fun to eat a bowl of curly mac and cheese. The shapes give plenty of room for the liquid to get lots of coverage as it cooks.

Plus the curly pasta really holds on to the cheese sauce. It is like regular elbow macaroni went to beauty school and got an upgrade.

Rotini would be another great option, or pasta shells work nicely as well. Feel free to experiment with your favorite shapes.

Cheese Choices

Feel free to use your favorite mixture of cheeses in the macaroni and cheese. It is fun to use a combination for the best flavor and texture.

Using all sharp cheddar can make for a really strong flavor. So we like to add gouda, mozzarella, colby jack, or Monterey jack to the cheddar for balance.

Just make sure you use a good melting cheese. Otherwise let your taste buds be your guide.

Bowl of curly mac and cheese in front of Instant Pot.

Why add sour cream?

Adding some sour cream to macaroni and cheese helps give it a rich and creamy texture. It adds a little background tang and depth of flavor as well.

The sour cream also helps to keep your mac and cheese creamy if you are going to hold it a while.

We made a double batch of this macaroni and cheese in my 8 quart instant pot for Little Dude’s Lego birthday party. It was still creamy after being on the keep warm setting for over an hour.

More great macaroni and cheese recipes

Creamed spinach macaroni and cheese is a fun combination of two favorite side dishes. It is a great way to get them to eat their greens!

Try making no boil baked macaroni and cheese for a firmer version of mac and cheese. The oven does the work for you!

Bowl of curly mac and cheese with rich cheese sauce, ready to eat.

If you like your macaroni and cheese super cheesy and over the top creamy, instant pot shells and cheese is the recipe for you. It’s inspired by the boxed shells and cheese and is made easily in the instant pot.

For a single serving of creamy mac that takes almost no time to make, make 5 minute macaroni and cheese. It is easy enough kids can make it on their own for an easy lunch or snack.

Love this recipe? Give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review in the recipe card below!

Bowl of creamy curly mac and cheese in front of instant pot.

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

Servings: 8 Servings
Author: Carlee
Making super cheesy macaroni and cheese in the instant pot is so quick and simple. This recipe only requires a few simple ingredients and almost no effort.
4.89 from 18 ratings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 16 Ounces pasta uncooked
  • 4 Cups water or chicken broth
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup Shredded Gouda


  • Add the uncooked pasta, water, butter, garlic powder, pepper, and salt to the Instant Pot. 
    16 Ounces pasta, 4 Cups water, 2 Tablespoons butter, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Place the lid on the pot and set to sealing.  Cook on manual function, high pressure for 5 minutes.  Then, do a quick release. (Covering the pressure release valve with a damp cloth will prevent any starchy splatter from spraying the kitchen.)
  • Add the milk and sour cream, stirring to combine.
    ½ cup sour cream, ¾ cup milk
  • Add the cheese one cup at a time, stirring in between each addition until smooth and creamy.
    1 cup Shredded Gouda, 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • Let sit on the keep warm setting for 5 minutes to thicken the sauce. Adjust seasoning as necessary to taste.


Use a pasta shape that will create space between the pasta as it cooks. Elbow macaroni is a great option. Cellantini is always fun for curly macaroni and cheese.  Rotini, shells, or even penne work great as well.
You don’t have to stick to cheddar and gouda. Mix and match your favorite cheese blends. Just use cheese that melts well and use about 3 cups total.
This recipe was tested in a 6 quart Instant Pot. You can make a double batch in an 8 quart Instant Pot if you are feeding a crowd.
You can hold the finished mac and cheese for a while before serving if necessary. Just put the lid back on the Instant Pot and give it a stir before you serve it. Add a splash of milk if it got too thick.
A splash of hot sauce is an easy way to add another layer of flavor to mac and cheese. Or top with crumbled bacon.



Serving: 1ServingCalories: 318kcalCarbohydrates: 21gProtein: 14gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 406mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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