If you need a quick weeknight dinner, this healthy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is fast and kid-friendly. It’s perfect comfort food for busy nights!
This post is sponsored by Cabot Cheese.
Great news: You are 15 minutes away from a bowl of macaroni and cheese, and there’s no cheese powder mix involved!
Back to school season calls for recipes like this–ones that come together in a handful of minutes and are comforting to big people and little people after a long day. I’ve paired bowlfuls of this with a green salad for dinner. I’ve also made it as a side dish to a larger meal. Either way, it’s been a crowd pleaser.
Ingredients You Need for Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Whole grain bread: You can also use white bread
- Whole wheat elbow macaroni pasta: I like a combo of whole wheat and white, but feel free to use all of one kind
- Enriched elbow macaroni pasta
- Sharp cheddar cheese: Feel free to experiment and use the kind of cheese you like best
- Milk: I typically use 1 or 2 percent
- Fresh chopped parsley, optional
How to Make Healthy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
First, pulse a slice of whole grain bread in the food processor to make the breadcrumb topping. Then switch to the shredding blade and shred the whole block of Cabot cheese with the push of a button. (Thank you, handy kitchen machines!) If you don’t have a food processor, see the recipe notes below.
Add the dry pasta, water, seasonings, and butter to the bowl of the Instant Pot and give it a quick stir.
Place the lid on the Instant Pot, making sure the lever on the lid is turned to SEALING. Set on MANUAL for 4 minutes.
While it’s cooking, toast the breadcrumbs in a skillet, along with melted butter, until browned and crisp.
As soon as the four minutes are done, immediately turn off the Instant Pot and carefully release the pressure (I place a towel or pot holder over my hand when I switch the lever to VENTING).
When the silver float valve has dropped, carefully open the lid of the Instant Pot, add the milk and shredded cheese, and stir well until combined.
Let it sit for 2-3 minutes to thicken up, then serve, topping with sprinkled breadcrumbs if you want a crunchy topping.
Questions about Healthy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
Can I use pre-shredded cheese instead?
Yes. I prefer using a block of cheese for homemade mac, but feel free to save time and use pre-shredded cheese. Cabot shredded cheese comes in many varieties, including Sharp and Seriously Sharp. All of Cabot’s cheddar cheeses are naturally lactose-free (and gluten-free).
I don’t have a food processor, what should I use instead?
If you don’t have a food processor, shred the cheese by hand with a grater. For the breadcrumbs, tear a piece of bread into pieces, place in a plastic baggie, and crush with a rolling pin into crumbs.
Can I use white pasta instead?
After testing this recipe many times, I settled on using a 50/50 mix of whole wheat and white macaroni noodles. I love the extra fiber and whole grains in whole wheat pasta. My family prefers the flavor of white noodles in mac and cheese. So we compromised. But if you’d prefer to use all whole wheat or all white noodles, both will work.
Help! My mac came out mushy!
Be sure to stay close to your Instant Pot while this cooks. If you’re not paying attention and the Instant Pot continue to cook the noodles beyond four minutes, they will turn to mush and everyone will be sad.
About My Sponsor: Cabot Cheese
Whether you already use Cabot products or have just seen it when grocery shopping, you may not know this: Cabot is a co-operative, owned and operated by 1,000 family farms throughout New England and New York–and 100 percent of their profits go back to the farmers. I love that. In addition to cheese, they also make Greek yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, and whey protein. So look for them at the store next time!
- 1 slice whole grain bread
- 1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni pasta
- 1 cup enriched elbow macaroni pasta
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 8-ounce block Cabot Vermont Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 2 tablespoons 2% milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley, optional
- Tear slice in half and pulse bread in a food processor to make breadcrumbs. Place in a small bowl and set aside.
- Switch to the shredding attachment on the food processor and shred the cheese (you can also do this by hand if you prefer). Set aside.
- Place both kinds of macaroni, water, one tablespoon butter, nutmeg, and salt in the Instant Pot and give it a stir. Place the lid on Instant Pot, and be sure lever is set to "sealing". Set on Manual for four minutes.
- While Instant Pot is going, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat, then add bread crumbs, stirring frequently until browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
- When the four minutes of cook time are up, turn Instant Pot off and release the pressure by carefully moving lever to "venting" (always keep hands and face away from the steam as it's releasing). When all of the pressure is released and the silver float valve has dropped, carefully remove the lid. Stir in the cheese and milk, stirring vigorously until fully incorporated and the cheese is completely melted. Allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes to thicken slightly.
- Portion macaroni and cheese into bowls and sprinkle with bread crumb topping and fresh parsley, if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 292Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 48mgSodium: 570mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 13g