The BEST Instant Pot Mac and Cheese (with Evaporated Milk)

This is the BEST Instant Pot Mac and Cheese! Made extra creamy with evaporated milk plus delicious cheddar & parmesan cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food and can be made in just 4 minutes with your electric pressure cooker.

This post was originally published in 2019. It was updated in 2022 to add new information. The recipe remains the same. Enjoy!

I’m obsessed with my Instant Pot… I can honestly say that I use it at least a few times a week.

For example:

But, my excitement reached a new level when I found out that I could make Instant Pot Mac and Cheese in under 15 minutes from start to finish!

Side view of spoon pulling mac and cheese out of instant pot.

This is a great recipe for first time instant pot users since it’s super simple and easy! This mac n’ cheese cooks up even easier and in less time than the boxed version.

And this creamy instant pot mac is good!

I’m just going to throw the statement out there

This is the most perfect mac n’ cheese ever.

🙌🏻 Why is this the BEST Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese

  • I’m using a secret ingredient in this recipe – evaporated milk. Evaporated milk is essentially thickened milk, which means there’s less liquid in your dish and instead it’s just really, really creamy.
  • I love how it blends right in and thickens this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese to the perfect consistency, along with the medium cheddar and parmesan cheese that lend the perfect tangy, cheesy flavor.

Other than that, I kept the seasonings really simple… I added in a couple teaspoons of yellow mustard (we all have some of that sitting in the refrigerator door, right?) and some nutmeg. The flavor is really subtle and I made it that way for a couple reasons: 

  1. I wanted the flavors of those amazing cheeses to shine through – You can really taste the delicious cheddar and the parmesan in this dish.  
  2. I figure that a lot of you may be cooking this dish for your kids. They won’t be able to pick out any crazy flavorings going here and they’re going to love it. This is just plain and simple (and the BEST) Instant Pot Mac and Cheese.

One of my brother’s favorite dishes, and basically the only thing he ate growing up (besides my Nana’s Sunday Gravy) was mac and cheese from the blue box. But, sneak some black pepper in there and he wouldn’t even touch it.

So, I say, if you’re cooking this for kids, feel free to mix things up a bit. Maybe they won’t like the parmesan… So use all cheddar instead. Maybe they’ll even balk at the mustard and nutmeg. You can totally leave them out too.

But, for my adults eating (and loving) this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, be sure to pour yourself a glass while you’re diving into this mac & cheese. Elevate your occasion – Even if it’s only a Tuesday night on the sofa with a good Netflix series. 

The boxed stuff has got nothing on this delicious recipe!

Overhead close up of mac and cheese noodles.

🛒 Ingredients needed

  • Macaroni – Or, use your favorite shaped noodles (more on that below ⬇️).
  • Yellow Mustard – This gives the cheese sauce a good tang, but it’s totally optional.
  • Evaporated Milk – Evaporated milk is most often sold in the grocery store in the baking aisle. It’s sold in cans.
  • Cheddar Cheese – I most often use medium cheddar cheese. But sharp is also delicious. Or, change up your cheese and swap in gruyere, fontina, gouda, etc.
  • Parmesan Cheese – You can also leave this out and use only cheddar cheese.
  • Butter
  • Nutmeg – Optional. But, I love the warmth it gives to the dish. You could use other spices too, like garlic powder, onion powder, or cumin.
  • Water
  • Salt + Pepper

📋 How to make it

  1. Add macaroni, water, mustard and salt to the inner pot. 
  2. Lock lid and set the valve to the sealing position.
  3. Cook on MANUAL high pressure for 4 minutes (or half the time of the cooking time on the box instructions). 
  4. When time is up, quick release the pressure and stir in evaporated milk, cheese, butter and nutmeg. 
  5. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy! 

ℹ️ Can I use another pasta shape?

  • Yes! You can use any shape of pasta for this mac & cheese. The traditional recipe is made with elbow macaroni, but I like a pasta with lots of nooks and crannies like shells, bowties and rotini. You will want to adjust your cook time based on the pasta cooking directions on the box. Simply set your Instant Pot for half the amount of time of the pasta cooking directions. 

Tip: Feel free to play around with any combination of cheeses. Mozzarella cheese, sharp cheddar cheese, monterey jack and pepper jack are all great options.

Overhead shot of bowl of mac and cheese.

ℹ️ FAQ

Why use evaporated milk in mac & cheese?

Evaporated milk is essentially thickened milk, which means there’s less liquid in your dish and instead it’s just really, really creamy.

What is the best cheese combination for mac and cheese?

I love the combination of cheddar and parmesan in this recipe. But there are so many great options! Try gruyere and fontina for a nuttier dish. Or, use pepper jack cheese and cream cheese for a spicy and ultra creamy version.

How do you keep mac and cheese from drying out?

If you find that your mac & cheese becomes too dry, you can add a splash of chicken stock or milk and reheat it over low heat.

🌟 Variations

  • Veggies: Add in some small chopped broccoli or cauliflower before cooking. Or, after your mac and cheese is finished, stir in some frozen peas.
  • Spicy: Stir in some chopped chipotle peppers, hot sauce or cayenne. Or, use pepper jack cheese in place of the cheddar cheese.
  • Meat: Stir in some browned ground beef, Italian sausage, or kielbasa sausage. Or, top your dish with some crumbled bacon.

🍷 Wine pairings

  • Try a Sauvignon Blanc. Its tart flavor balances out the salty cheese and its bright acidity refreshes your palate.
  • Looking for red wine to pair with mac and cheese? Try a Red Blend. Look for a light-bodied red wine. They won’t overpower this dish, and their ripe, juicy flavors, make a great match for this rich, cheesy dish.

🍽 Side dishes

✔️ More instant pot recipes

⭐️ More mac & cheese recipes

Did you try this instant pot mac & cheese?

If you loved this instant pot macaroni and cheese I would appreciate it so much if you would give this recipe a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.

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Overhead shot of mac and cheese in speckled bowl with spoon and grated cheddar scattered about.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipe

This is the BEST Instant Pot Mac and Cheese! Made extra creamy with a secret ingredient plus delicious cheddar & parmesan cheese. It can be made in just 4 minutes with your electric pressure cooker.
4.99 from 162 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 people


  • 1 pound macaroni
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 ounce can evaporated milk
  • 8 ounces Tillamook medium cheddar cheese (grated)
  • ¾ cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)


  • Mix the macaroni, water, mustard, and salt in your Instant Pot.
  • Close and lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Press “Manual” and adjust the timer to 4 minutes (or half the time on the macaroni cooking directions). Check that the cooking pressure is on “high” and that the release valve is set to “Sealing”.
  • When time is up, open the Instant Pot using “Quick Pressure Release”.
  • Stir the pasta to break it up. Add the evaporated milk, cheese, butter and nutmeg; stir until completely incorporated the and cheese has melted and coated the pasta.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, then serve immediately.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Pressure cooker


Calories: 598kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 939mg | Potassium: 393mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 740IU | Vitamin C: 1.1mg | Calcium: 580mg | Iron: 1.5mg

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122 thoughts on “The BEST Instant Pot Mac and Cheese (with Evaporated Milk)”

    • I was in a similar situation, all hyped to get an InstaPot, but when I did I’m really not that thrilled. Its OK for making blue-box mac and cheese, and the various blue-box take off recipes like this one, but my family prefers my traditional (and very basic) bechamel mac and cheese a hundred to one. They often ask for my “real” mac and cheese, but have never asked me to remake this recipe.

      If you ended up getting one, I hope you enjoy it, but for me… Its another kitchen novelty that I keep out in the pantry.

  1. 5 stars
    Worked perfectly! I halved it cooked same time and only used cheddar. Do you know the reasoning for using evaporated milk vs regular milk? I don’t always have evaporated milk on hand so wanted to know if I could sub regular milk in that case? Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hi Erin – You could definitely sub in regular milk, but maybe use a but it will be a bit more watery, and not so creamy. I would maybe start off using a bit less of the regular milk and see how that works, then add more as needed. Hope this helps!

    • Hi Melinda – I’ve found that it’s not necessary to drain the water. Once the cheese is added, the consistency is perfect! However, if you feel there’s too much water, feel free to drain it before adding the cheese.

  2. I’ve been looking for a good Instant Pot Mac & Cheese recipe, and yours looks yummy! Quick question, do you need to drain any of the water prior to adding the milk/cheese/spices? Some recipes I’ve been reading with similar ingredients specify draining the water and others do not. Thanks!

    • Hi Katie – I found that the amount of liquid left at the end of cooking was just right, especially once the cheese was mixed in. However, if you feel that there may be too much liquid, feel free to drain that out before adding the other ingredients. Hope this helps!

  3. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was super good! My boyfriend suggested we put some of the boxed crispy fried onions on the top to add some texture and is was amazing. We will definitely make this recipe again. Thanks.

  4. 5 stars
    This was delicious!! My kids said best mac and cheese I’ve made yet! Can you clarify if it is mustard like the condiment or ground mustard? I used the “condiment” mustard and it came out fine, but just wondering. Thanks!

  5. 5 stars
    Made this today (I’m scarfing it down as we speak) and it is awesome! Mine ended up more watery than I would have liked, so I just set my pot to saute and stirred for a minute or so after adding the cheese and evaporated milk (otherwise it would have stuck-had to watch it very carefully) until it thickened to where i wanted it. This is only my 4th meal in my brand spanking new Instant Pot and I’m hooked! Made it exactly as written and the family loved it! Thanks for such a great recipe! 🙂

  6. I’m going to double this recipe tomorrow in my 8qt pot. Do you think I need to add another minute of time. Seniors lunch tomorrow and we have 8 pre schoolers coming too. We are having pizza, mac and cheese and a big salad. Covering everyone I hope. Will let you know how it goes over.

  7. 4 stars
    Mine came out too watery too, even after adding the cheese it wa too soupy. So I put the Instantpot on sauté and kept stirring (no walking away) and then added a cornstarch slurry. Thickened it right up so its creamy but not soupy. It was really tasty!

  8. Tried making this with chickpea pasta. No bueno! Just FYI for others trying this recipe! When I took off the cover to add milk and cheese, it looked like hummus! LOL

  9. 5 stars
    Loved it! Instead of 4 cups of water I did 2 cups water, 2 cups chicken stock, I used Dijon instead of yellow mustard and added a dash of cayenne. SO flavourful. It was a hit in our house!

  10. 5 stars
    This is my favorite instant pot recipe! I have made it several times now and it’s always delicious! I made it as written at first and have tweaked it to my families liking. We leave out the nutmeg (found it was too strong a flavor for my kids) and use velvetta instead of cheddar. (Far from healthy, but oh so CREAMY!) I’ve tried it with ground mustard as well as whole milk and both are equally as good! I’ve also doubled this recipe and it was awesome. Just add two more minutes and a little less than 2 cans of milk. Thank you for such an amazing recipe! It

  11. 5 stars
    This recipe really nailed it! At first, I couldn’t understand why yellow mustard in the cooking water? Thank you for sharing that little secret! Truly kicked up the flavor, without any taste of mustard. I had a little bit of liquid after cooking the pasta, but I didn’t drain because I always add 1/2 cup pasta water to my old recipe. Did I just write old? You bet I did, because I’ll never make it again! It’s this recipe from here on out.
    Thank you for sharing ❤️

  12. 5 stars
    I keep messing up one thing. Do I wait for the Instant Pot to warm up? I am so new that I let off the steam too soon. What are the things I need to look for before I actually let the steam out?

    • Hi Susie – The timer should go off after the time is up. It will take a while for the pressure to build, then the steam valve will pop up. Then the countdown timer will begin. When the time is up, you can release the pressure. Hope this helps!

  13. 5 stars
    Just made this. I thought it looked like a lot of liquid after cooking but once I stirred in the cheese and let it sit for a minute or two it was nice and creamy. This recipe is a keeper.

    • So glad you liked it Connie – Yes, there does seem to be quite a bit of liquid at first, but the cheese melts in and then it thickens a bit as it sits.

    • You should notate for users with a 3qt that you need to use the natural release and not quick release because of the high starch content…. I had to put the valve back to sealing after thick liquid started spraying everywhere with the steam. Hope the recipe turns out okay.

  14. This sounds great and I want to make it tonight! How much cooking time should I add if I want to add diced chicken to it?

    • Hi Leslie – I think you would need to cook the chicken first, otherwise the pasta will become way overdone. I would sautee the diced chicken in the pot, until it is good and browned. Then add the pasta and cook for the 5 minutes. I’d also do 10 minutes natural pressure release rather than immediately releasing the pressure. Hope this helps!

  15. 5 stars
    Made this today with a bit of a tweek as I had no nutmeg, and Kraft Cheddar & Swiss mix cheese. My husband says it is quite possibly the best Mac N Cheese He’s ever had! Thanks! I will be printing this recipe out and adding it to my Go-To IP recipes!

  16. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe. I didn’t use nutmeg (not a fan) and subbed in dijon mustard, but otherwise made as directed. It’s so easy and just as good as my old go-to recipe (which involved making cheese sauce, boiling the pasta, baking, etc.). I love that this takes only one dish and is super fast. Thank you!

  17. Is there a rule of thumb for adjusting the time based on the type of pasta? For example, if I use einkorn whole wheat pasta (which would take longer than regular white elbow pasta to cook the traditional way) how much time would I need to add in the IP? Thank you! Looking forward to trying this!

  18. 5 stars
    This was delicious! Definitely not an everyday meal if you’re watching your calories, but a great treat and good old comfort food. Also — super quick and easy. I didn’t have any yellow mustard so I used about a teaspoon, maybe a teaspoon and a half, of ground mustard. Yum yum! My six-year-old had four bowls. I may try to adapt this to make it with cauliflower instead of noodles for a (slightly) lighter version. Thanks for the recipe!

  19. 4 stars
    This macaroni is good as is, but takes it to a whole other level if you cook up some diced bacon and onion before hand, and then stir that in when you mix everything else together.

  20. This looks delicious! I need to make Mac and Cheese for 25 teachers. How do you think this would reheat? I am not sure I could make enough at one time for 25 people so I would have to make it in batches. Maybe triple the recipe in the Insta then transfer it to a crockpot on low while I make more tripled recipes?? What would you do?

  21. 5 stars
    I doubled the recipe in my 8 qt Instant Pot, as written, for a family gathering. It turned out great! So little hassle, and great flavor. Its definitely best when served immediately.

  22. This was the first recipe I tried in my new IP and it was a total bust😫. I didn’t realize that in order to cook on manual (mine button doesn’t say that so after much research learned it is pressure cook) the pot has to first reach pressure. It took 5 minutes to teach pressure before starting the 4 minutes. I used quinoa noodles which still weren’t done after the timer released, so I put it in for 1 minute. It took 7 minutes to reach pressure this time! The whole process took 17 minutes and my noodles were mush. Even without having to cook it a second time, it still would have been just as fast to do it on the stove top right? Is this user error? I’m confused since I thought a 4 minute meal was only 4 minutes!! I’m sure your macaroni is amazing but I’m making it on the stove top now.

  23. 5 stars
    This was amazing!!! I actually used shredded Grueyer that I had on hand (a lifetime ago I worked at The Melting Pot and that’s what we used for all the fondue) and I added Garlic paste as well. It was all perfect! I was nervous about having excess water, but there wasn’t any. I served it with shrimp! It will definitely be a regular in our house!

  24. 5 stars
    Hi! I making this on the 4th of July and would like to leave it on Keep Warm mode so people can just come and eat when they want. Do you think I should add more of a liquid? Also, I do plan on tripling this recipe if that helps.

  25. Hi there! I’m planning to make this for a pot-luck, and was wondering if I could double the recipe in a 6-qt instant pot. Will it fit??

    Thanks so much!

  26. 5 stars
    Hi! I am tripling this recipe for fourth of July and wan t to keep it on Keep Warm so people can eat whenever they want. Do you think I should add more liquid??
    Thank you!

    • Hi Natalie – I don’t think you’ll need to add more liquid, but I have found that unfortunately the macaroni tends to loose its “bite” when it’s left in the Instant Pot for an extended period. I definitely prefer it freshly prepared, but I think you’ll be OK. Hope that helps!

  27. 5 stars
    Hi Erin. I never got to make this Mac and cheese for the grandkids when they were here, so Grandpa is having it tonight! It’s Hatch green chili time in Four Corners, so I chopped up several fire roasted Chile’s as our grownup addition.

  28. WHEW! Too sharp and too cheesy for us! First time ever using IP for mac n cheese. I will just use the standard, no mustard, no fresh parmesan and just one cup of shred cheddar next time and see if it is bland enough for us old folks. I like old fashioned southern baked mac n cheese but don’t know how to make it. Every attempt with out new IP is like a science experiment.
    Krystal Blue Persuadedd

    • Sorry you didn’t like it Krystal! I don’t find the sharp cheddar to be overpowering in this mac and cheese, and definitely don’t taste the mustard… I hope you are able to find a recipe that you love… Perhaps you could just swap out the sharp cheddar and parmesan in this recipe for colby jack or mild cheddar?

  29. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! It’s been a staple for our house since school has started. Have you ever tried freezing it? I’m wondering if it would keep?

  30. Just made. But for my pot I think I’m gonna need 5-6 minutes. My elbows weren’t done and quite a bit of water left. But I was following directions so broke up the clumps and added everything. I’ve put it back on sear for a few and will go check. But the flavor is great

  31. 5 stars
    Annie’s organic Mac and Cheese made with chicken broth instead of water., add a diced
    1/2” squares thick Ham steak and throw in the Instant Pot you can add your extra cheddar, evaporated milk to thicken. And in 8 minutes or so Man (and child) pleasing Mac and Cheese
    I use the Ceramic insert for pasta. Provides
    even heat and easy cleanup.


  32. I just made this and it was amazing! Definitely not overpowering and the nutmeg makes it DELICIOUS! I’ve seen in the comments that others have found it soupy/watery but I feel that it is the perfect consistency. It is definitely not a creamy recipe but the longer I left it on the warm setting of my IP I noticed it became thicker (15 minutes warm setting). Personally, I love my mac and cheese as a thinner consistency so this recipe was perfect!

  33. 5 stars
    We love this Mac &Cheese. I have probably made it 10 times over the last 6 months. Sometimes we’ll fry up a pack of bacon and throw it in after the cheese is melted. It’s super good as well.

  34. Is this the same instant pot Mac and cheese recipe that you had posted a few months ago? I noticed this one looks more orange where the one before was more white:) It’s the best recipe!

  35. Hi! I made this recipe the 2nd time Iade IP Mac and cheese. I had some problems and I would love to hear your thoughts
    I cooked for 4 minutes and when I opened it, there was still quite a bit of water. I did use penne instead of elbow macaroni but the cook time felt like it would be the same. The other difference is that I had caramelized onions right before and deglazed the IP pan when I added the water for the Mac and cheese to add flavor.
    I made the mistake of just adding the evaporated milk, butter and cheese to the watery pasta and it was super watery. I was able to fix it by adding a cornstarch slurry and sautéing in the pot until it thickened but what should I have changed?
    1) When I opened the pot and there was still water, should I just have closed it again and cooked for another minute?
    2) Did having the pot already warm from caramelizing onions hurt the noodles cooking because it took less time to come to pressure and so less water evaporated?

  36. 5 stars
    This is my go-to for mac n cheese now. I never make any other recipe! Perfect every time, even using whatever combo of cheese I have on hand. Thanks!!

  37. 5 stars
    I had to jump on this morning to share. Last night we ended up with an impromptu group of 5 adults and 6 kids at our house for dinner. I had everything for this Mac and Cheese on hand ( I had double bought last time for just this reason) and was able to whip this up with a side of broccoli super quick. I didn’t have enough of one cheese so I threw together all the ends of random cheese I had in the fridge. It makes plenty for a big group which was perfect for this situation! Keep it all on hand! You never know when you might have 11 for dinner on a Thursday!

  38. 5 stars
    I did this recipe, and it was absolutely amazing. A hit with the entire family. The second time making it, I omitted the Parmesan, and added Gruyère and Havarti, along with the cheddar. I also added caramelized onions and chopped fresh bacon. Needless to say, this is officially my “go-to” Mac & Cheese recipe.


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