Pressure cooking is excellent for stews, soups and one-pot meals. But you can also rely on this cooking method for whipping up comfort food, like pressure cooker mac and cheese.
I know. This classic cheesy goodness is our go-to when we want a quick (and peaceful) dinnertime with the kids. Now, it’s even better as you can dump your ingredients in one pot, then let the electric pressure cooker do its thing.
This recipe is also perfect for making tummies happy, whether you’re bringing it to a luncheon or greeting the new neighbour hello!
Easy Mac and Cheese Pressure Cooker Recipe
Here, I used an Instant Pot cooker. But you can always use the electric pressure cooker you have at home. Just make sure to read my procedure below and match it with your product manual.
This pressure cooker mac and cheese recipe is ready in minutes and makes six to eight servings. The best part? You can tweak it with other melting or stringy cheeses or put toppings that your family likes.
- 450g dry elbow macaroni noodles
- 4 tbsp butter
- 946ml (4 cups) water
- 2 tsp mustard
- ½ tsp pepper
- 237ml (1 cup) evaporated milk (or fresh milk)
- 454g (2 cups) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 454g (2 cups) Monterey Jack or provolone, shredded
- 227g (½ cup) parmesan cheese, grated
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Bacon bits and chopped spring onions, optional
- Put your elbow macaroni, butter, water, mustard and pepper into your pressure cooker pot. Lock the pressure cooker lid in place and close the vent.
- Select the Manual function, then set the cooking time to 4 minutes. After pressure cooking, do a quick pressure release.
- If your pasta needs more cooking, select the Sauté function. Then continue cooking your pasta for about 3 minutes, stirring the mixture occasionally.
- Once done, add the milk and grated cheese, one at a time. Stir your ingredients in between each addition to ensure even mixing.
- Season to taste once the cheese sauce turns thick and creamy. Top with bacon and spring onions if preferred. Serve immediately or use the keep-warm function.
Storage and Reheating
If you have leftovers, transfer them to an airtight container, then refrigerate. Consume the rest of your pressure cooker mac and cheese in 3 to 4 days.
Chilled cooked noodles tend to dry up, though. So, stir in about a tablespoon of heavy cream or milk into the pot while reheating on the stovetop.
If using the microwave, add the milk into your pasta bowl before reheating. Then pause halfway to stir the mixture, and pop it back in to continue cooking.
Ideally, adjust the recipe to avoid making too many leftovers. Mac & cheese taste best when freshly cooked, after all!
Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese Variations
There are a lot of things that go well with cheese and pasta. That’s why this basic mac & cheese recipe is open to your favourite substitutions, add-ons and toppings.
Here are some ideas you can try.
- Use a different cooking liquid. As long as it’s 4 cups total, you can partially or fully replace the water in the recipe with chicken stock or vegetable broth. Make sure to adjust your seasonings as well when you do this.
- Add veggies or proteins. Stir in shredded chicken, pulled pork, cauliflower or broccoli to add flavour and nutritional value. The added colour makes your pasta dish extra mouth-watering, too!
- Try a different combination of cheeses. Melting cheeses like fontina, Colby, mozzarella, gruyere and gouda can make a creamy mac & cheese sauce. You can try cream cheese, too.
- Put a crunchy topping. Transfer your pressure cooker mac and cheese into a baking dish. Then top it with buttered crackers or breadcrumbs. Oven-bake or broil it for a few minutes until crisp.
- Make it spicy. A little spicy kick can cut the richness of your cheese sauce. So, use hot sauce, pepper Jack cheese, diced jalapenos or sauteed poblanos. You can also sprinkle chilli flakes on top. Just make sure to add it separately if you’re serving the kids, too.
- Serve sides. Mac and cheese taste even better with fresh salad, slaw, barbecued ribs, meatloaf or roasted veggies.
Keen to try this recipe for your next weeknight meal? Check out my list of top pressure cookers to get started!