Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe: Piping hot elbow macaroni swimming in creamy cheddar cheese sauce. Sprinkled with buttery toasted golden breadcrumbs, smoky crispy bacon bits, and crunchy scallions. Indulge in this ultimate kid-friendly comfort food.

Make this Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe right now! Piping hot elbow macaroni swimming in creamy cheddar cheese sauce. Sprinkled with buttery toasted golden breadcrumbs, smoky crispy bacon bits, and crunchy scallions. Indulge in this ultimate kid-friendly comfort food.

Jump to: Cooking Tips | Recipe | Video

For a Classic Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe: Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is one of the most popular cheese recipes in the United States.

My childhood was loaded with “Mac and Cheese”. Our pantry was always stocked up on the little blue boxes.

As it was one of the easiest dish for me to make as an after-school snack.

But, I didn’t take my first bite of a real rich & creamy Mac and Cheese until my teen years.

Gotta be KidDing?! 

Mac and Cheese from scratch was the first dish I’ve learnt to make at my first summer job.

So simple yet sooo satisfying to eat.

Right after I got off work the first day, I couldn’t resist going to the grocery store and bought all the Mac and Cheese ingredients home.

Where have you been all my life, Mac and Cheese?

You must think I’m crazy. But, it was pure deliciousness, comfort and pleasure.

Look:

You may not be able to make this everyday, but you MUST try this at least once in your lifetime!! 🙂

Enjoy life’s simple indulgence with this Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe

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You’ll Enjoy This Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Because:

  • Packed with rich flavors, creamy cheesy deliciousness, and complex mouthfeel
  • Simple & Easy to make
  • Accessible ingredients
  • Kid-friendly
  • Ultimate pure comfort food – very satisfying to eat!!

This Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is Great for:

  • Comforting lunch or dinner
  • Holiday dinner’s side dish
  • Gatherings, Events, & Parties (including Birthday Parties!)

Tools for Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe

Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe: Piping hot elbow macaroni swimming in creamy cheddar cheese sauce. Sprinkled with buttery toasted golden breadcrumbs, smoky crispy bacon bits, and crunchy scallions. Indulge in this ultimate kid-friendly comfort food.

Tips for Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe

1. How to Avoid Graininess in Macaroni and Cheese?

  • Freshly Grated Cheese: Use freshly grated cheese instead of pre-shredded cheese. Pre-shredded cheese contains cellulose powder that doesn’t break down nor make for smooth melting.
  • American Cheese: Replace mild cheddar with American cheese. American cheese will act as an emulsifier to ensure a smooth finish.
  • Low Heat: Use low heat to melt the cheese, as high temperature may cause lumps in the cheese sauce.

2. Got leftovers? How to Reheat Macaroni and Cheese?

  • Place macaroni and cheese in a cold pan. Pour in some milk and reheat over low heat. Stir constantly with a silicone spatula.

3. Is the Mac and Cheese Spicy?

Don’t worry! 🙂 This Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe has been loved by many kids and it’s not spicy at all! The Sriracha serves to balance the overall flavor of the dish.

4. Which Hot Sauce to Use?

5. Serve Immediately!

For the best tasting experience, eat immediately! As the smooth and creamy cheese will cool and harden the longer it sits in room temperature.

Watch: How To Make This Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe Video

Can’t see the cooking video? Watch it here.

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4.8 from 15 reviews
Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
 
Prep
Cook
Total
 
Piping hot elbow macaroni swimming in creamy cheddar cheese sauce. Sprinkled with buttery toasted golden breadcrumbs, smoky crispy bacon bits, and crunchy scallions. Indulge in this ultimate kid-friendly comfort food.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner, Lunch, Party Food, Pasta, One Pot Meals, Side Dish, Easy
Cuisine: American
Serving: 4 - 6
Ingredients
  • 16 ounces (454 g) elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups (1 L) cold running water
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) unsalted butter
  • 14 ounces (397 g) sharp cheddar, freshly grated
  • 6 ounces (170 g) mild cheddar or American cheese, freshly grated
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Wet Ingredients
Bacon Bits & Scallion
  • 4 – 8 strips bacon
  • 2 stalks scallion, finely chopped
Buttery Crispy Breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup (31 g) panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Crispy Bacon Bits: Place bacon on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place it on the middle rack of a preheated 400°F oven. Bake bacon until crispy and golden-brown. Set a timer for roughly 18 - 20 minutes. Place them on a paper towel to absorb the excess fat. Cut into bacon bits.
  2. Pressure Cook the Elbow Macaroni: Add 16 ounces (454 g) of elbow macaroni, 4 cups (1 L) of water, and a pinch of kosher salt into your pressure cooker. Close the lid and pressure cook at High Pressure for 4 minutes. Do a gradual quick release. There is a slight chance that a tiny amount of foam will come out with the steam. Have a towel handy just in case. Open lid carefully.
  3. Prepare the Crispy Breadcrumbs: While the macaroni is pressure cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon (15 g) of unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil, and ½ cup (31 g) of panko breadcrumbs to the skillet. Toast the breadcrumbs until golden brown. Taste and add kosher salt for seasoning.
  4. Mix Wet Ingredients: In a medium mixing bowl, beat 2 large eggs and mix in 1 tsp (2 g) ground mustard, 1 tsp (5 ml) Sriracha, and 12 ounces (355 ml) evaporated milk. Mix well.
  5. Make the Mac & Cheese: Keep heat on low or medium low (Instant Pot: use the keep warm function). Give it a quick stir and see if there is excessive liquid in the pot. Drain if necessary. Place 4 tablespoons (60 g) of unsalted butter into the pressure cooked macaroni. Mix well with a silicone spatula and let the butter melt.

    Pour in the wet ingredients and mix well. Add in the grated cheese ⅓ portion at a time and stir constantly until the cheese fully melt.

    If the mac and cheese is too runny, turn the heat to medium (Instant Pot: Use Sauté Less function - Click cancel, Sauté and Adjust button twice) to reduce it down.
  6. Taste & Season: Taste and season with kosher salt and ground black pepper. You will probably need quite a few pinches of kosher salt to brighten the dish.
  7. Serve: Generously sprinkle crispy breadcrumb, bacon bits, then scallion over a bowl of macaroni & cheese and serve immediately!
Notes
How to Avoid Graininess in Instant Pot Mac and Cheese?
1. Use freshly grated cheese instead of pre-shredded cheese.
2. Replace mild cheddar with American cheese.
3. Use low heat to melt the cheese instead of high heat.
*see above tips in the post for further details

Got leftovers?
Reheat Instructions: Place macaroni and cheese in a cold pan. Pour in some milk and reheat over low heat. Stir constantly with a silicone spatula.

This recipe was inspired by the Macaroni and Cheese recipe in the cook book – The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. KENJI LÓPEZ-ALT. His work and dedication to food truly inspires us.
Loaded Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe: Piping hot elbow macaroni swimming in creamy cheddar cheese sauce. Sprinkled with buttery toasted golden breadcrumbs, smoky crispy bacon bits, and crunchy scallions. Indulge in this ultimate kid-friendly comfort food.
Food Lovers in our 30s who worked directly with Instant Pot CEO, Manufacturers, and 35+ Restaurants. Culinary Families & Food Magazine Publishers.
  1. Hi I’m just wondering Bour the eggs, does it heat and cook long enough so that the eggs are cooked? I’m worried about raw egg? Thank you!

  2. My family and I live in New Hampshire, and we occasionally visit Boston for fun/entertainment. One of the things on our “must-do” list is to stop by Faneuil Hall market place, specifically, mmmac-n-cheese. But, now that you have shared this AMAZING recipe, that rivals what we get when we travel to Boston we can enjoy this at home.

    Thank you for all your hard work, Amy+Jacky! I just signed up on the e-mail distribution list. So, I look forward to all the upcoming recipes you so generously share with us.

  3. I made this but made a change. I used 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese along with Colby jack and cheddar. Once I served it no one would stop eating it. Had to make more !

  4. So tasty. Used jalapeño sharp cheddar instead of plain old shard cheddar for an extra kick. Also sprinkled with sautéed broccoli. Boyfriend and roommate both loved it. Thanks!

  5. Hello again Amy + Jacky!

    This was a wonderful recipe! Definitely one of my best mac & cheeses ever. I did play with the recipe a little; instead of bacon bits I added some ham cut in small cubes at the end along with some sun-dried tomatoes, and they were both great additions. (Guess I was making up for leaving out the sun-dried tomatoes in the Tuscan chicken!) I used a combination of cheddar and Gruyère, and my dirty little secret for making it extra creamy was Velveeta. Yes, Velveeta. It’s even creamier than regular American cheese, but the flavor was fairly subtle with the cheddar and Gruyère taking the lead. Absolutely delicious, and the scallions are a great touch.

    1. Hi Cheryl,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      Gradual quick release means to turn the venting knob from the sealing position toward the venting position until a little steam is releasing. Keep it mostly in that position until released.

      Please take care & have a wonderful Christmas holiday!
      Jacky

  6. I could only get American cheese slices. Don’t think this will work too well. Could I use Gouda in the recipe with the sharp cheese?

  7. Amy and Jacky-
    This recipe for the mac and cheese in the Instant Pot sounds very much like Guy Fieri’s Mac Daddy Mac and Cheese. Is it?
    I LOVE cooking in my Instant Pot! I am constantly searching recipes that I can convert to the IP, thus getting a better tasting meal!

    1. Hi Mike,

      thank you for your kind words and question 🙂

      Just checked out his version and it has some similarity.

      Try making both of them and see which one you like more!

      Please take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  8. I made this for the first time last night and it was such a hit that I would like to make it for a larger family weeknight dinner that includes our little grandkids who are KD aficionados. I am new to IP cooking. How would I go about doubling this recipe?

    1. Hi Judy,

      thank you so much for your kind words on the recipe 🙂

      If you are using a 6 quart IP, doubling the recipe will be too much.

      On the safe side, I recommend cooking the macaroni on stovetop and follow the rest of the recipe.

      Take care & have fun cooking!
      Jacky

  9. I want to try this tonight, but I don’t have any American cheese, only the sharp cheddar. Can I just replace the amercain cheese with extra cheddar in the recipe?

    1. Hi Joanne,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      You can use the extra cheddar as substitute, but the amount will be different.

      Please taste and adjust accordingly.

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  10. I was wondering, would it be a terrible idea to put the finished mac n cheese into a baking dish to broil some extra cheese and bread crumbs on top?

  11. This looks delicious. I really want to give it a go tonight but I only have medium cheddar on hand. Will this turn out if I use just that?

    1. Hi Kristy,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      The flavor profile will change a bit, but medium cheddar will work just fine.

      Make sure to taste and adjust the amount accordingly.

      Take care & have fun cooking!
      Jacky

  12. We love this recipe. We think it’s a winner. We’ve always made it with mild and sharp cheddar but am interested in trying it with American. What kind of American are you referring to? Probably not Velveeta since it says shredded. Just curious. I’m only familiar with Velveeta and Kraft singles for American cheese!

    1. Hi Stevi,

      Thank you so much for your kind words 🙂

      Velvveta is a kind of American cheese.

      It will work if you shred them.

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  13. Would you recommend any alterations if I double in the 8 quart besides the venting mentioned previously? Thank you!

    1. Hi Jane,

      Good to hear from you again.
      thank you for your question 🙂

      I would reduce the cooking time by a minute.

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

    1. Hi Claire,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      I would add the bacon, panko, and green onions the next day.

      The Mac and cheese on it’s own will reheat well. Simply add a little milk and reheat on stovetop to bring it back to life.

      Have a great week!
      Jacky

  14. Love your site. Thank you. It’s made all difference in getting my Instant Pot out of the box and onto the counter to use! Going to try your Mac and Cheese tonight. Why do recipes (and this one) call for unsalted butter?

    1. Hi Heather,

      thank you for your kind words and question 🙂

      Unsalted butter gives you more control on recipes when compared to salted butter.

      Happy New Year to you and your family
      Jacky

  15. This turned out very mushy. This is the first time I’ve used noodles in my IP. Did I do something wrong? How can I prevent it from being mushy again? My husband and daughter liked it but the mushy texture bothered my son and myself. The taste was good though.

    1. Hi Chris,

      Thank you for your question.

      Mushy comes from overcooking.

      Make sure to do a gradual quick release as soon as the pressure cooking has finished. If you are increasing this recipe, you will have to decrease the cooking time by 1 minute to avoid overcooking it.

      Happy New Year to you and your family!
      Jacky

    1. Hi Cindy,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      Yes, this can be frozen. I would keep it basic and skip the breadcrumbs, green onions and bacon.

      Happy New Year to you and your family
      Jacky

    1. Hi Lawrence,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      This recipe uses the old recipe format so the nutritional valve are missing.

      Hopefully we can convert to the new format this year.

      Happy New Year to you and your family
      Jacky

  16. Quick Question! Wanting to make this for dinner but I have a thing against elbow macaroni from a bad experience as a kid haha – Would the water ratio and cook time be the same for Rotini style pasta?!

  17. Hello Im new to Instantpot.
    i read the recipe and watched the video but when do you add the breadcrumbs?
    at the time the wet ingredients to in? also i have a 5 quart instantpot will this recipe fit?
    how do I know when im looking for recipies that it will fit in mine if it doesn’t specify this in the recipes?
    sorry for all the questions, and thanks in advance

    1. Hi Pearl,

      Congrats on your new Instant Pot 🙂

      The recipes are developed in a 6 quart Instant Pot so 99% of them will fit the 5 quart without any problem.

      The breadcrumbs are added at the end. In step #7.

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  18. This is the best Mac and cheese I’ve ever had. Used some homemade smoked maple bacon. Incredibly decadent and a calorie bomb, so not something to cook all the time. But, man is it awesome.

  19. I cut this recipe in half because I have the 3 qt mini pot. I actually found it too rich and cheesy, even though I left out about 1-2 oz of the shredded cheddar, as it seemed to have enough cheese before I finished stirring it in.

  20. My husband and I love all your recipes I’ve tried so far and I’m looking forward to preparing this. Would I need to make any adjustments when using whole wheat macaroni noodles? I also want to halve the recipe. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Tracy,

      So happy to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words 🙂

      Some of our readers have made whole wheat macaroni noodles without any adjustment to the cooking time.

      You can halve the recipe and the cooking time will be the same!

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  21. I made this and at first, I thought things were off because it came out kind of soupy. I started cooking a pot of extra macaroni to add to it. By the time the pasta on the stove was almost done the IP pasta had thickened up and was perfect. Everyone loved it. I think it’s better fresh than the next day. Will make again and maybe add some chopped fresh tomatoes.

  22. Hi,
    This came out perfectly! I also wanted to add that I absolutely love all your recipes. Your website is my go-to for everything food related. 🙂

    Kindly,
    Tracy

    1. Hi Donna,

      thank you for your question and comment 🙂

      If you are using a 6 quarts pressure cooker, I would recommend only increasing the recipe by 1.5x.

      You may want to reduce the pressure cooking time by 1 minute.

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  23. Hi Amy and Jacky,

    Will this recipe work if I make this ahead and reheat the next day in the microwave before adding the toppings?

    Thank you!
    Nina

    1. Hi Nina,

      It’s great to hear from you again 🙂

      You can make this ahead. For best result, place macaroni and cheese in a cold pan. Pour in some milk and reheat over low heat. Stir constantly with a silicone spatula.

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  24. Thank you for another delicious recipe. I’ve made this twice for summer gatherings with excellent results. After making the mac and cheese, I put it in a baking dish, covered with foil, and kept it warm in the oven until ready to serve. I sprinkled the breadcrumbs on top right before serving so they remain crispy. I doubled the breadcrumbs so I can cover the whole surface of the mac and cheese in the baking dish. This is a keeper!

  25. I made this tonight with gluten free pasta and it is delicious! I have a question: I have never made macaroni and cheese with eggs. How do I know if they’re tempered safely? I ended up putting the pot on saute and cooking for a while, but wanted to see if there’s a general rule of thumb. Thanks!

    1. Hi Megan,

      thank you so much for your kind words and question 🙂

      Egg pasteurization starts at 140°F and keeping them at that temperature for three and a half minutes will kill any bacteria. The full pot of Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese should be between 158°F – 170°F and the eggs will be fully cooked and pasteurized in it!

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  26. Hi, I would like to double this recipe, but I only have the 6 quart IP. Could I simply double this and make on the stovetop, since the only pressure cooking component for this recipe is in cooking the pasta?

  27. This did not turn out
    Seemed to be alot of water still after cooking macaroni and when i added the other ingrediants it got really runny , so i kept it on keepwarm but it wouldnt thicken up and then it curdled and went lumpy ????

    1. Hi Jm,

      Thank you for your comment and question.

      Sounds like the water and macaroni ratio was not correct or the macaroni was not as absorbent as the usual ones.

      If you decide to give this recipe another try, and it still comes out with a lot of water. You can drain off the water first before adding the other ingredients in step 5.

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

    1. Hi Heather,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      Velvetta is a type of American cheese.
      A block of Velvetta will be a great choice!

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  28. I made this recipe and it was delicious! I used gluten free noodles and cut the cooking time to 2 min. It was perfect! Wonderful flavors!

    1. Hi Earlyn,

      thank you for sharing your experience with us on the gluten free noodles and your kind review on the recipe 🙂

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  29. When cooking pasta I’ve noticed recipes always recommend quick release. Is there a reason behind this? If the pasta causes foaming could we just reduce cook time and natural release?

    1. Hi Charmagne,

      It’s great to hear from you again. Hope you have been doing well.

      For this mac and cheese recipe, it will be hard to reduce the cooking time and do a natural release as natural release will take roughly 10 – 12 minutes for this recipe.

      Using the gradual quick release will allow us to quick release without any problem 🙂

      take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

    1. Hi Julie,

      thank you for your question 🙂

      Heavy cream will work as a substitution. It should take 3/4 cup – 1 cup.

      Please taste & adjust accordingly

      take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

    1. Hi Elena,

      Great to hear from you again 🙂

      The egg helps the cheese sauce to bind & stick onto the pasta better so you can actually skip it!

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

    2. Thank you for asking this! I myself am allergic to eggs and was wondering if there would be an alternative! Thanks also to Jacky for answering the question.

  30. Can you let me know how spicy the Siracha sauce makes the Mac and cheese? My daughter complains if things are spicy. So want to make sure she will enjoy as well.

    1. Hi Courtney,

      thank you for your question.

      You should be able to double the recipe in a 8 quart duo 🙂
      Do use gradually pressure release method to avoid foam from shooting out of the venting knob when pressure releasing.

      How to Release the pressure gradually from one of our articles

      You don’t have to turn the Venting Knob all the way to Venting Position to release pressure.

      The initial release is usually the strongest. So, release the pressure gradually by turning the venting knob just a little with your hand or wooden spoon until you hear a hissing sound. Hold it at that position to release the pressure gradually.

      Take care & have fun cooking
      Jacky

  31. If I don’t have evaporated milk, can I substitute with regular whole milk, heavy cream, or half and half? Should I just cook down my regular whole milk? I read that 1 cup of evaporated milk can be substituted with 3/4 c whole milk and 1/4 cup half and half. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks.

  32. Hi Jacky – Thought I would write a review after making your Mac ‘n Cheese. It was totally yummy. A definite repeat and going into our list of fave recipes. I did make half the recipe using your suggestion and it was perfect. Thank you for your prompt reply. Next up chili and your cheesecake, or both! – Midge – Ontario- Canada

    1. Hi Midge.

      thank you for your question and kind words!

      Yes you can cut the recipe in half, the cooking time will stay the same 🙂

      Take care & Have fun cooking!
      Jacky

  33. Is there any replacement for evaporated milk? I’d like to make this lactose free (with hard aged cheeses that are naturally without lactose) and have Lactaid milk, but I know it’s not quite the same. Would something like sour cream work?

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Great to hear from you again 🙂

      Evaporated Lactaid milk can be made from Lactaid milk by simmering/stirring with a spatula on stovetop for about 30 minutes. (Obviously a lot of work)

      Evaporated milk can probably be replaced with Lactaid milk, but the mac&cheese may not come out as smooth and a bit runny! Adjust accordingly 🙂

      Have fun cooking!
      Jacky

    1. Hi Gene,

      If everything are measured precisely, most of the liquid would have been absorbed by the macaroni in the pressure cooker. You do not have to drain them afterward 🙂

      See you around!
      Jacky

  34. How do you feel about adding a bit of oil to the pot while pressure cooking the macaroni? I have been taught that a teaspoon or so of oil will lessen any foaming.

    1. Hi Gene,

      An additional layer of oil will reduce the foaming.
      If you don’t want to add more oil, you can always gradually release the pressure by slowly turning the venting knob 🙂

      Happy New Year & Have fun cooking!
      Jacky

    1. Hi Justina,

      Thank you for your question 🙂
      This recipe cannot be double safely if you are using the Instant Pot DUO 60.

      Do Not Overfill – Overfilling may clog the Pressure Release Valve and develop excess pressure.
      All Pressure Cooking Programs: Do not fill the unit over 2/3 full.
      For Food that Expands During Cooking (i.e. grains, beans, and dried vegetables): Do not fill the unit over 1/2 full.

      Have fun cooking!
      Jacky

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