Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is cozy and cheesy: the ultimate comfort food! It’s fast and easy to whip up in a pressure cooker. There’s nothing more comforting than a good bowl of mac and cheese. Ever tried it in your pressure cooker? Turns out, Instant Pot mac and cheese is layer upon layer of cozy. The way the Instant Pot cooks pasta makes it soft and supple, which has a down-home sort of vibe to it. It’s not al dente, but it almost feels like an elevated version of box mac and cheese. The big selling point here? The method is very hands off: throw the ingredients in the pot and press Go! Nothing better than that. Here are all the cozy secrets to this method. Ingredients for this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe might even better easier than cooking from a box. (Maybe?) You need only a few ingredients, and assuming you stock cheese and pasta: they might already be in your pantry. Here’s what you need: Short pasta: Sure, you can use macaroni. But our favorite pasta shapes for mac and cheese are any other short type […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is cozy and cheesy: the ultimate comfort food! It’s fast and easy to whip up in a pressure cooker.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

There’s nothing more comforting than a good bowl of mac and cheese. Ever tried it in your pressure cooker? Turns out, Instant Pot mac and cheese is layer upon layer of cozy. The way the Instant Pot cooks pasta makes it soft and supple, which has a down-home sort of vibe to it. It’s not al dente, but it almost feels like an elevated version of box mac and cheese. The big selling point here? The method is very hands off: throw the ingredients in the pot and press Go! Nothing better than that. Here are all the cozy secrets to this method.

Ingredients for this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe might even better easier than cooking from a box. (Maybe?) You need only a few ingredients, and assuming you stock cheese and pasta: they might already be in your pantry. Here’s what you need:

  • Short pasta: Sure, you can use macaroni. But our favorite pasta shapes for mac and cheese are any other short type of pasta: shells, penne, fusilli, bowties, orecchiette and more. See below!
  • Sharp cheddar cheese: make sure it’s not aged
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • Milk
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (optional)
Mac and cheese Instant Pot

Pasta cooks to soft, not al dente in an Instant Pot

Over here, we’re sticklers for getting the perfect al dente when we cook our pasta. But here’s what to know about mac and cheese in the Instant Pot:

  • Cooking pasta in the Instant Pot comes out with a soft texture, not al dente. But here’s the thing: it’s still delicious! Cooking the pasta to a softer texture helps it to soak in sauces and it has more of a “down-home” cozy comforting vibe. Think of it as a totally different way to make a pot of pasta!
  • Leftovers of this Instant Pot mac and cheese work too. Even though the pasta comes out soft, leftovers work too! Add a splash of milk and reheat it in a skillet, and this tastes almost as good as new.

How to make Instant Pot mac and cheese: basic steps

There’s barely 5 minutes of hands on time here! It takes about 25 minutes to complete, but most of this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is hands off. That’s what makes it great as a quick weeknight meal, or to whip up for kids or as a side dish for a stunning main. Here are the basic steps to this recipe:

  • Pressure cook the pasta for 4 minutes. Remember that there’s a “preheat time” of about 10 minute before the Instant Pot gets up to pressure. This part takes about 15 minutes total.
  • Quick release! If you’re an Instant Pot pro, you’ll know: quick release recipes are the best! This means you don’t have to continue to wait for a natural release.
  • Switch to slow cooker mode and stir in the milk and cheese. Stir until they form a creamy sauce, just a minute or two.
Instant pot mac and cheese recipe

Bread crumbs optional!

If you’re a mac and cheese purist, there’s something so satisfying about topping this gooey, cheesy mess with crunchy breadcrumbs. The contrasting texture is extremely satisfying. But of course it’s not necessary! We like using seasoned Italian breadcrumbs because it adds a little nuance of herbs. They’re easy to find at the store, or you can make your own breadcrumbs and add Italian seasoning.

Best noodles for mac and cheese in the Instant Pot

You can use macaroni for Instant Pot mac and cheese…but what’s the fun in that? In fact, our favorite pasta for this comfort food is anything but macaroni. We love using a unique pasta shape to keep things interesting. Shells are a favorite around here: and while they aren’t unexpected, there’s something that’s even more homey about them than the typical mac. Here are our favorite types of short pasta for mac and cheese, in order of preference:

  1. Conchiglie (shells): what we used here
  2. Cavatappicork-screw shapes
  3. Orecchiette: ear shapes
  4. Gigli (Campanelle)lily shapes
  5. Penne: long thin tubes with diagonal ends
  6. Gemelli: twisted tube shapes
  7. Rigatoni: long thicker tubes
Instant Pot mac and cheese

Sides to serve with Instant Pot mac and cheese

If the idea of using your Instant Pot for mac and cheese is to not do any cooking: let’s stick with the theme! There are lots of ideas for adding nutrients and fiber to round out this pasta into a meal. Here are a few no-cook side dishes to serve alongside:

  1. Spinach salad: This Spinach Apple Salad is full of good-for-you ingredients and topped with a tangy dressing.
  2. Veggies & ranch: Go simple with this Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip and carrot sticks. Perfect for kids (and adults, really).
  3. Coleslaw: Try this Best Coleslaw with a tangy, creamy dressing.
  4. Celery salad: This Celery Salad with Apples is unexpectedly refreshing and a great counterpoint to pasta.
  5. Citrus salad: This Simple Citrus Salad is gorgeous, with beautiful colors and a citrus zing.

More Instant Pot pasta recipes

Want to keep cooking up pasta in your pressure cooker? Here are a few other ideas to try outside of this Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe:

Instant pot mac and cheese

A note on pressure cookers

All pressure cooker brands vary! Here’s the brand we use: the Instant Pot 6 Qt Programmable Pressure Cooker. We also have 2 Instant Pot sealing rings and use one for savory recipes and one for sweet recipes. This recipe is customized for a 6 quart pressure cooker. We also can’t speak to using other brands and types of pressure cookers for this recipe. Use them at your own risk!

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is…

Vegetarian.

Print
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 to 8 as a main, 10 to 12 as a side
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe is cozy and cheesy: the ultimate comfort food! It’s fast and easy to whip up in a pressure cooker. Stovetop variation below.*


Ingredients

  • 1 pound short pasta (shells, macaroni, penne, etc)*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) sharp cheddar cheese (not aged), grated
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (or plain breadcrumbs, optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the dry pasta in the Instant Pot and stir in 4 cups water and the kosher salt, onion powder and garlic powder. Lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Place the pressure release handle (vent) in the “Sealing” position.
  2. Cook on High Pressure for 4 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button, making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected, and set the time. Note that it takes about 10 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure before it starts cooking. (During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
  3. Quick release: Vent the remaining steam from the Instant Pot by moving the pressure release handle to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. Open the pressure cooker lid. There will be water remaining, which is what is intended. 
  4. Slow cook and make the sauce: Switch to the “slow cook” setting on the Instant Pot. Stir the pasta, then stir in the grated cheese. Add the milk and continue to stir for a minute or two until the cheese melts to form a creamy sauce, adding more milk if necessary. Serve warm, topped with breadcrumbs.

Notes

*Stovetop variation: Cook the pasta to al dente in boiling water. Drain and return to the pot. Stir in the remaining ingredients and heat on low heat until the cheese melts and forms a creamy sauce.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, Instant Pot mac and cheese recipe, mac and cheese Instant Pot

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, & Vegetarian Recipes

Mulled Cider

Mulled cider is the very best cozy drink! Infused with spices like cinnamon and cloves, you can make it in a slow cooker or on the stove. Here’s a recipe for gray days and chilly evenings by the fire: mulled cider! Not only will it lift your spirits, it makes your kitchen smell like a candle shop. Alex and I made it for friends the other day, and instantly everyone gathered around the pot, chattering and cupping their hands around the warm mugs. Yes, it cultivates community too! Mulled cider is great for entertaining (like Thanksgiving and Christmas), and it’s easy to make on the stove or a slow cooker. Ready to get started? What are mulled cider spices? Mulled cider is made with whole spices, which infuse the entire drink with that signature cozy flavor. If you taste straight apple cider, you’ll find the flavor is crisp and apple forward. But after simmering with mulling spices, the flavor blossoms into something warm and spiced. Because dried and ground spices would end up making the drink cloudy, you’ll use whole spices for the simmering. Mulled cider spices include: Cinnamon sticks Cloves Allspice berries Whole nutmeg Star anise Star anise is the […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes

Mulled cider is the very best cozy drink! Infused with spices like cinnamon and cloves, you can make it in a slow cooker or on the stove.

Mulled cider

Here’s a recipe for gray days and chilly evenings by the fire: mulled cider! Not only will it lift your spirits, it makes your kitchen smell like a candle shop. Alex and I made it for friends the other day, and instantly everyone gathered around the pot, chattering and cupping their hands around the warm mugs. Yes, it cultivates community too! Mulled cider is great for entertaining (like Thanksgiving and Christmas), and it’s easy to make on the stove or a slow cooker. Ready to get started?

Mulled cider

What are mulled cider spices?

Mulled cider is made with whole spices, which infuse the entire drink with that signature cozy flavor. If you taste straight apple cider, you’ll find the flavor is crisp and apple forward. But after simmering with mulling spices, the flavor blossoms into something warm and spiced. Because dried and ground spices would end up making the drink cloudy, you’ll use whole spices for the simmering. Mulled cider spices include:

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Cloves
  • Allspice berries
  • Whole nutmeg
  • Star anise

Star anise is the most unique of all these mulled cider spices. It’s star-shaped and is available at most grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can also buy star anise online.

Mulled cider spices

Tips for making the best mulled cider

While mulled cider isn’t rocket science, there are a few things to keep in mind when making this cozy drink. Here’s what makes this recipe your new go-to:

  • Toast the spices first. Toasting the spices for a few minutes in the pot or a skillet helps to release even more of their flavor during the simmering time. (This kick starts the incredible aroma!)
  • Garnish last. If you cook mulled cider with fruit like orange slices and apple slices, they’ll fall to the bottom and the color will fade. Instead, use them as a garnish after cooking: it looks beautiful for serving!
  • Strain if desired. Some brands of apple cider have some particulate in the bottom of the jug. This is completely expected! You can strain off any particulate that rises to the top, or just stir to re-incorporate it.
Mulled cider

Three methods: Stovetop, Slow Cooker, Instant Pot!

There are a few different ways to make mulled cider: each have pros and cons! Here’s a breakdown:

  • Stovetop method: The quickest! Only takes 1 hour. The only thing is you’ll have to watch to make sure that it stays on the lowest warming setting: it shouldn’t even come to a simmer.
  • Slow cooker method: Takes 3 hours. Totally hands off, it’s great for times when you can throw ingredients in the slow cooker while you prep other foods. Also, you can leave it on the warm setting and serve it right out of the Crock Pot.
  • Instant Pot method: Same advantages as above! Use this version if you have a pressure cooker and not a slow cooker.
Spiked mulled cider

Step it up: make spiked mulled cider!

This mulled cider is fabulous on it’s own, but you can step it up by stirring in rum at the end! The rum adds a bit of warmth and takes it to another level. Spiked mulled cider is the perfect party drink! If you’re serving a party where not everyone is drinking, you could also leave out the rum and let guests add a splash to their own drinks. The quantity in the recipe below adds only 1/2 tablespoon rum per glass: so all you need is a small swig!

Mulled cider

More cozy drinks

Looking for more cozy drinks like this one? Some of our favorite warming drinks for the season are:

  • Vegan Hot Chocolate or Gingerbread Hot Chocolate: No need for pre-made packets! Homemade hot chocolate is easy to make and turns out creamy and chocolatey.
  • Apple Cider Sangria: This cozy sangria pairs sparkling apple cider with red wine, orange and cinnamon. In a word: wow.
  • Mulled Wine: Why not make mulled wine, too? Simmer red wine with orange zest, cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice and honey. This cozy drink will warm you from the inside out!

This mulled cider is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, plant-based, vegan, and dairy-free.

Print
Mulled cider

Best Mulled Cider


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8

Description

Mulled cider is the very best cozy drink! Infused with spices like cinnamon and cloves, you can make it in a slow cooker or on the stove (and enjoy that aroma!).


Ingredients

  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 10 allspice berries
  • 10 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 gallon apple cider*
  • 1/4 cup rum, optional
  • 1 small orange, for garnish
  • Whole cranberries, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Toast the spices: Add the nutmeg, allspice, cloves, star anise and cinnamon to the bottom of a pot (or to a skillet for Slow Cooker instructions). Toast over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
  2. Stovetop cooking instructions: Turn the heat to low. Pour in the apple cider and bring to below a simmer, just barely bubbling. Warm for 1 hour on low heat (don’t let it simmer). Skim off any particulate if desired, or stir to re-incorporate it.
  3. Slow Cooker & Instant Pot instructions: Place the apple cider in the slow cooker or Instant Pot (pressure cooker) with the spices. Cook on low for 3 hours OR Normal using the Instant Pot “Slow Cooker” setting.
  4. If using, stir in the rum. Garnish with orange slices and cranberries, then serve.

Notes

*Doubles easily, and fits into a standard slow cooker or Instant Pot.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stovetop / Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Mulled Cider, Hot Mulled Cider, Mulled Cider Spices, Mulled Cider Recipe

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes

Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes

Making Instant Pot sweet potatoes is fast and easy! Pressure cooker sweet potatoes come out perfectly every time; use them for lunches or weeknight dinners. Confession: cooking with an Instant Pot is not something I ever expected to do. Alex and I are wary of adding new gadgets to our kitchen—and especially if they’re trendy! We want to know that a gadget will be useful in the long term before we’ll commit cabinet space. So, we were on the fence for years about the Instant Pot. Until one day, a friend mentioned you can make Instant pot sweet potatoes. Now, we eat lots of sweet potato recipes around here, so we thought we’d give it a try. Still skeptical, we put in the raw sweet potatoes…and poof! Out came perfectly moist sweet potatoes with little effort and faster than an oven! The pressure cooker is now our go to method for cooking sweet potatoes. So without further ado, here’s how to cook sweet potatoes in an Instant Pot! First a video, then scroll down for the recipe! Video: How to make Instant Pot sweet potatoes  What’s an Instant Pot? An Instant Pot is basically a programmable pressure cooker. The […]

A Couple Cooks – Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes

Making Instant Pot sweet potatoes is fast and easy! Pressure cooker sweet potatoes come out perfectly every time; use them for lunches or weeknight dinners.

Easy Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes

Confession: cooking with an Instant Pot is not something I ever expected to do. Alex and I are wary of adding new gadgets to our kitchen—and especially if they’re trendy! We want to know that a gadget will be useful in the long term before we’ll commit cabinet space. So, we were on the fence for years about the Instant Pot. Until one day, a friend mentioned you can make Instant pot sweet potatoes.

Now, we eat lots of sweet potato recipes around here, so we thought we’d give it a try. Still skeptical, we put in the raw sweet potatoes…and poof! Out came perfectly moist sweet potatoes with little effort and faster than an oven! The pressure cooker is now our go to method for cooking sweet potatoes. So without further ado, here’s how to cook sweet potatoes in an Instant Pot! First a video, then scroll down for the recipe!

Video: How to make Instant Pot sweet potatoes

What’s an Instant Pot?

An Instant Pot is basically a programmable pressure cooker. The one we have is Instant Pot brand: here’s the Instant Pot we have. However, there are many other brands of electric pressure cookers. The concept is to cook foods at high pressure, which dramatically cuts down on cooking time.

Pressure Cooker Sweet Potatoes

Why cook sweet potatoes in a pressure cooker?

Cooking sweet potatoes in an electric pressure cooker has a few advantages over baking them.

  • It’s faster. Baking sweet potatoes takes nearly 1 hour when accounting for the oven preheat and 45 minute cook time. In a pressure cooker? It takes about 35 minutes total!
  • They come out perfectly cooked. Instant Pot sweet potatoes come out with a perfectly moist, velvety interior.
  • It’s totally hands off. Cooking sweet potatoes in a pressure cooker is totally hands off! Baking requires more steps (rubbing with oil and salt and pepper, checking for doneness, etc).
Easy Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes (Pressure Cooker Method)

How long does it take to cook sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot?

The cook time for Instant Pot sweet potatoes is 16 minutes. Wait, 16 minutes?! But hold on for one second. The Instant Pot requires about 10 minutes for “preheating” to come up to pressure before cooking. Then this recipe requires a 10 minute Natural Release for “cooling down”, where the pressure cooker releases the steam inside naturally.

What’s the total time for pressure cooker sweet potatoes? The total time for this recipe is 35 minutes. That’s pretty good compared to about 1 hour for baked sweet potatoes!

A final note: the timing for how to cook sweet potatoes in an Instant Pot does depend on the size of the potatoes. This recipe is for medium to large potatoes, about 10 to 12 ounces each. For very large sweet potatoes, use about 18 minutes. Smaller potatoes could use less time, about 14 minutes.

Instant Pot Thai Sweet Potatoes

Top 3 ways to serve Instant Pot sweet potatoes

How can you serve Instant Pot sweet potatoes? Let us count the ways! We created our Thai sweet potatoes recipe especially for the pressure cooker method, and we get lots of messages on Instagram and from readers that they love it! Here are our three favorite ideas:

  1. Topped with Thai peanut butter sauce: These Sweet Potatoes with Thai Peanut Butter Sauce feature a crunchy cabbage and pepper slaw and lots of cilantro. They’ve become a fan favorite.
  2. Loaded, Mexican style: These Mexican Sweet Potatoes are topped with black bean salsa and creamy cilantro sauce.
  3. With Moroccan lentils: Try Healthy Sweet Potato with Moroccan Lentils, a warm-spiced mix of lentils drizzled with our best tahini sauce.

This recipe is…

This Instant Pot sweet potatoes recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar-free.

Last updated September 2019

Print
How to Cook Sweet Potatoes in an Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) | A Couple Cooks

Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (7 votes, average: 4.43 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes (preheat)
  • Cook Time: 26 minutes (including natural release)
  • Total Time: 36 minutes
  • Yield: 4 large sweet potatoes

Description

Making Instant Pot sweet potatoes is fast and easy! Pressure cooker sweet potatoes come out perfectly every time; use them for lunches or weeknight dinners.


Ingredients

  • 4 medium to large sweet potatoes, about the same size (10 to 12 ounces)*

Instructions

  1. Scrub the sweet potatoes. Place the stainless steel trivet into the Instant Pot, then place the potatoes on top. Add 1 cup water.
  2. Lock the lid of the Instant Pot. Place the pressure release handle (vent) in the “Sealing” position.
  3. Cook on high pressure 16 minutes: Press the Pressure Cook button, making sure the “High Pressure” setting is selected, and set the time for 16 minutes. It takes about 10 minutes for the pot to “preheat” and come up to pressure before it starts cooking. Wait while the Instant Pot cooks. (Note: During cooking, avoid touching the metal part of the lid.)
  4. Natural release for 10 minutes: After the Instant Pot beeps, wait for another 10 minutes to let the Instant Pot naturally release pressure. (Tip: We set a timer for this part so we don’t forget!) After 10 minutes, vent any remaining steam by moving the vent to “Venting”, covering your hand with a towel or hot pad. Never put your hands or face near the vent when releasing steam. (The pressure indicator in the lid may drop on its own after 10 minutes, meaning that there is no remaining steam in the pot.)
  5. Open the lid and carefully remove the hot sweet potatoes with tongs. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

Notes

*Important: this Instant Pot cook time was optimized for 4 medium to large sweet potatoes: do not use less than 4 sweet potatoes in the pot! (Promise: we tried it!)

  • Category: Pantry
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: instant pot sweet potatoes, instant pot recipe, how to cook sweet potatoes in instant pot

Looking for more healthy Instant Pot recipes?

When we first heard about the Instant Pot, we thought it was mainly helpful for cooking meat quickly. However, since we’ve learned that it’s helpful for vegetarian recipes too, we’re starting to build up some Instant Pot vegetarian recipes. For example, you can make rice, quinoa, dried beans, dried chickpeas, mashed potatoes, and even soups. Here are some of our favorites. What other Instant Pot vegetarian recipes would you like to see?

A Couple Cooks - Healthy, Whole Food, Vegetarian Recipes