whole wheat mac and cheese in bowls on white plates with steamed broccoli on the side

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

By Rachel Tiemeyer
May 12, 2022

This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe takes just 18 minutes from start to finish, dirties only one pot, and tastes creamy and delicious! Plus, it’s made with all real food ingredients.

mac and cheese in bowls on white plates with steamed broccoli on the side

It was 5:30 p.m. and my kids were starving. I was finishing up a work project and hadn’t even given dinner a thought when I began hearing the low-grade whines from the next room. “I’m hunnngrrrreeee!” The Instant Pot to the rescue. I happened to have some whole wheat pasta in the pantry, along with the other few ingredients in this recipe.

macaroni, butter, and water in a pot

In fact, we love the Instant Pot so much around here, that our second cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, is filled entirely with Instant Pot and slow cooker recipes! We tested 100s of recipes over the years and can confidently say that you can trust this mac and cheese recipe, along with all our other Instant Pot recipes on Thriving Home.

from freezer to cooker cookbook

Ingredients Needed

Woo hoo, this recipe only requires only a handful of ingredients! That means this dinner is cheap, easy, and fast. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Whole wheat elbow pasta (I prefer whole wheat because it’s healthier but the kids will never know)
  2. Shredded cheddar cheese
  3. Yellow mustard (just a little bit!)
  4. Butter
  5. Milk
  6. Half and half

You’ll also need some salt and pepper out of the pantry and water from the tap.

How to Make Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot

How Long Does It Take to Cook Mac & Cheese in the Instant Pot?

Within 2 minutes I had dumped in my beginning ingredients and locked the lid. It took about 10 minutes to come to pressure, 2 minutes to cook, and another 2 minutes to release the pressure. I ended by stirring in the milk and cheese for another 2 minutes. Voila! An 18 minute recipe from start to finish!!!

whole wheat mac and cheese in the instant pot

Side Dish Ideas

Serve up one of these simple and healthy side dishes for a well-rounded dinner.

More Healthy Instant Pot Recipes You’ll Love

If you like this simple recipe, we think you’ll love these other recipes…

P.S. If you’re wondering the best way to clean your pot after making this dish, follow these instructions from Clean Mama.

cheesy pasta in a bowl with broccoli on the side

This super easy recipe is a perfect, no fuss weeknight meal and makes enough to serve an army. Plus, it’s a little healthier than traditional mac and leftovers make a Great Packed Lunch Idea for Kids!

whole wheat mac and cheese in bowls on white plates with steamed broccoli on the side

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

  • Author: Rachel from Thriving Home
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American


This mac and cheese recipe takes just minutes to pull together, dirties only one pot, and tastes creamy and delicious!


  • 1 pound whole wheat elbow pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup half and half
  • 34 cups shredded Colby Jack or Cheddar cheese (or Gruyere for something fancier!) (Here’s how to shred your own cheese.)


  1. Add pasta, butter, mustard, salt, pepper, and water to the pot and stir.
  2. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for half the pasta cooking time on the package, minus 1 minute. (So, if the directions say 6 minutes: Half is 3 minutes, minus 1 minute, means you’ll cook it for 2 minutes total.)
  3. Use a quick release of the pressure when cooking time is through. Be sure to cover the spout with a dish towel to minimize splatters.
  4. Stir in the milk and half and half. Then, slowly stir in the cheese 1 handful at a time. Taste and adjust salt and pepper amounts, if needed. Enjoy!


A spoonful of mac and cheese

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11 replies
  1. Kacee says:

    We LOVE this mac & cheese! Do you know if it would freeze well for individual portions later on? I don’t want to waste my extra half and half before it goes bad.

  2. Beth says:

    Looks delicious! I am using whole wheat pasta, like the recipe calls for. Your pictures look like you used regular (not whole wheat) pasta. Does the cooking time formula work the same for whole wheat pasta? I am assuming so but wanted to check since the pictures didn’t show WW pasta.

  3. Kelly says:

    I made a version of this, and it was so good! I used broth instead of water, dijon instead of regular mustard, omitted salt, and added a can of diced green chiles with the pasta water. I used sharp cheddar (half white, half yellow), grated romano, and added maybe 6oz of leftover marscapone at the end. Then I sprinkled aleppo pepper on it to serve. Creamy, spicy and interesting mac and cheese. Cheers!

  4. Katrina Kim says:

    This was so delicious, simple, and fast. My kids just loved it. I am embarrassed to say I probably had at least 4 servings myself!