If you aren’t using your Instant Pot to experience the creamy, cheesy, gooey goodness of Easy Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese, what are you even doing with your life?
I remember the moment I knew I was in love with J. It was my freshman year in college, sometime in the fall after we’d talked on the phone every day during the summer and spent the first semester of school hanging out on campus. I remember texting him often during those months (from my camera-less flip phone because this was 2005), saying things like, “I really like you.” It hadn’t occurred to me yet that I more than liked him.
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And then one day I headed to the mail room to check my tiny mailbox. I don’t even remember if I had mail that day, but I do know I was leaving the building because I was headed up the stairs that led back to the center of campus and toward my dorm. I had my phone out, texting J, and I tripped on the stairs. That part doesn’t have anything to do with my epiphany; I tripped at least once on every set of stairs on campus. But sometime during that walk from the mail room back to my dorm, I thought, “I think I love this guy.”
What does all this have to do with Easy Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese? Not much, really, except I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day (busy few weeks + blog issues = tight post turnaround) so I’m feeling a little mushy. Also, even though there are a ton of things J and I don’t have in common — he loves Top 40 music and I’m all about 90’s/early 00’s hip hop; he loves sci-fi, action, and comic book movies, while I want light and happy; he’s an incredibly picky eater, but I’m more adventurous — macaroni and cheese is something we agree on. We both love the stuff, including this super simple recipe.
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If you’ve never made homemade macaroni and cheese, this recipe is the perfect place to start. It doesn’t require you to make any cheese sauces, and it certainly doesn’t call for any of that neon processed cheese junk (I love a good helping of Rotel Dip as much as the next Southerner, but please keep that fake stuff away from my mac ‘n’ cheese). The Instant Pot does all the noodle-boiling work, and they don’t even need to be drained. Just add the cheese and other ingredients to the cooked noodles, stir everything together, and everyone will think you spent a ton of time making a mouthwatering side dish.
Easy Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
- 16 oz. pasta, like elbow macaroni or shells
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
- 2 cups shredded medium cheddar cheese
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- Add pasta, water, and kosher salt to the Instant Pot. Cook for 5 minutes on high and then do the quick release.
- While the Instant Pot is heating and cooking, shred the cheeses (freshly shredded cheese melts best; you won’t get the same texture if you use pre-shredded cheese).
- After releasing the pressure, add the sour cream, milk, butter, and all the cheese to the pasta (do not drain any excess water). Set the Instant Pot to “saute” and stir the mixture as the butter and the cheeses melt.
- When cheese is completely melted sprinkle in the garlic salt, onion powder, and red pepper flakes. Mix well, turn off the Instant Pot, and serve warm.
- Use any six-cup combination of cheeses you’d like.
- If you aren’t serving the Easy Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese immediately, you can set the Instant Pot to “keep warm.” I haven’t tried this, though, so I don’t know what effect it might have on the dish.
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