This creamy broccoli cheddar Instant Pot mac and cheese is hassle-free and ready in 20 minutes! Pick a weeknight and treat yourself.
We’re no strangers to Instant Pot pasta in this house. The fact that you can throw pasta into a singular pot with a jumble of other ingredients and cook it to perfection makes us very happy. Not that pasta is normally hard to cook. But when you can flash cook it and come out with a big infusion of flavor… why do it any other way? Admittedly, when it came to Instant Pot mac and cheese, we were skeptical. We’re particular about how homemade mac is done (always with a roux!), and the idea of straying from our method had us feeling doubtful. But it came out beautifully; cheesy, creamy, and totally dreamy. We’re excited to share this weeknight option with you.
How to make mac and cheese in an Instant Pot.
Making a simple mac and cheese in an Instant Pot is a cinch. Like most pressure cooker pastas, you’re going to add your noodles, water, and any other ingredients that need to be cooked through—like raw meats or vegetables. Once the noodles are cooked and tender, you’ll gradually shredded cheese and milk, stirring, until you’ve used up all of your cheese and the creamy consistency is where you want it. If it’s too thick for you, add more milk. The fact that Instant Pot mac and cheese turns out so velvety and gooey without a roux is amazing and, as someone who always pushed the importance of a roux, kind of annoys me ;)
How do you time pasta in an Instant Pot?
This is a super important step! Though undercooked pasta can be saved, overcooked pasta cannot. The best practice is to cut the designated cook time written on the package in half. If the cook time is an uneven number, round it down, and then cut the time in half. Example:
- The package states 14 minutes to al dente, so you’ll cook it in the Instant Pot for 7 minutes.
- The package states 11 minutes to al dente, so you’ll round that down to 10, and cook the pasta in the Instant Pot for 5 minutes.
Tips on making perfect broccoli cheddar Instant Pot mac and cheese.
The Instant Pot does most of the work, but there are some key choices that are entirely up to you. Here are some tips.
- Quality cheddar cheese from the cheese counter makes a big difference as it offers more flavor. Smoked cheddars add a deep and rich smokiness to your mac, aged cheddars add a nice sharpness, and flavored cheddars infuse your cheese sauce. (Think jalapeño, horseradish, etc.)
- If you’re using milder cheeses, like the ones found in the dairy section of the supermarket or the bags of already shredded cheese, you’ll end up with a weaker cheese flavor. You can still work with this—just make sure to season it and add enough salt in the end to bring out the flavors.
- Whether you’re using fresh broccoli or frozen, cook it in the Instant Pot along with your noodles. This will ensure you get the tenderness you want.
- To get that perfect creaminess, use whole milk. You don’t have to go as far as to use heavy cream, or even half and half. Whole milk will totally do the trick and give you the rich and creamy mac you’re after.
- Stir the milk and cheese into the mac in batches. Start with 1/2 cup of milk and a cup of grated cheese; stir until the cheese is fully melted, then add another cup of cheese. Stir until all of that cheese is melted, and repeat until you’re used all of your cheese. Add extra little splashes of milk here and there when needed until you get the creaminess you want.
How to reheat leftover mac and cheese.
Mac and cheese is so creamy and dreamy when it’s freshly made, but leftovers are rough. The noodles take form of whatever container they were stuffed into and, even when reheated, you’re left with a gelatinous brick. But there is a trick to reviving leftover mac.
- Place your leftover mac and cheese into a small pot and heat over medium-high heat.
- As the pot gets warmer, add a splash of milk and stir. At first it will seem as like your mac is just sitting in a puddle of milk, but after a while, the milk revives the cheese sauce and things start to get creamy again.
- As the mac continues to heat, keep gradually stirring in splashes of milk until you’ve got the creamy consistency you want.
Voila! Leftover mac and cheese, just as creamy as when it was first made :)
Other Instant Pot Pasta you might want to try:
Broccoli Cheddar Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb cavatappi pasta, or other short pasta (penne, rotini, etc.)
- 2 TBSP butter
- 10 oz broccoli florets (fresh or frozen), roughly chopped
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 cup whole milk
- 16 oz good quality cheddar cheese, grated feel free to use smoked cheddar or flavored cheddars to add some excitement!
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
- Add the uncooked pasta, water, butter, garlic powder, and a pinch of salt to the Instant Pot. Then, place the broccoli florets on top of the pasta.
- Secure the lid on the pot and set the valve to sealing. Cook on manual function, high pressure, for 5 minutes or for half of the time it says on the box. (If it suggests a cook time of 8 minutes, cook the pasta for 4. If the number is off, round down, and cut the time in half.)
- When the time is up, carefully do a quick release. Open the lid and add the milk and Dijon. Finally, add the cheese to the pot in 3-4 handfuls, stirring in between each addition until smooth and creamy. If you want a runnier mac, simply stir in more milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste.