One of the easiest things to make in the Instant Pot is Mac & Cheese. Since this is often a favorite for children it’s important to make it with whole food. Honestly, making Mac & Cheese in the Instant Pot is faster than making the stuff that comes out of the box.
Instant Pot Mac & Cheese
- 1 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni
- 3 ¾ cups water
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups shredded raw mild cheddar cheese (or your favorite cheese)
- 1 cup cream (you can use milk or half and half)
Place pasta, water and butter in the Instant Pot. Give it a quick stir to make sure the pasta is covered by the water. Push the manual button and navigate to 4 minutes.
After the Instant Pot beeps and is finished cooking, turn the pressure release handle to quickly release the pressure (QR). Then stir in cheese and cream. Stir to melt the cheese and warm the cream. Serve.
A Few Things To Mention About This Recipe….
Cooking Pasta – always be careful when cooking pasta because it can foam and come out the steam release handle. Adding a little bit of fat (the butter in this case) helps keep foaming to a minimum. Never fill the Instant Pot over half way when cooking pasta.
Whole Wheat Pasta – I find that whole wheat pasta take a little more water than white pasta, so if you substitute white pasta then only put 3 ½ cups of water in your recipe.
The Cheese – I used a basic raw cheddar cheese for my recipe but you could really spice things up by using other cheeses or even combine several different kinds of cheeses.
Instant Pot Listener Questions
From Katie: What are the must have accessories?
If you have not purchased or are thinking about purchasing an Instant Pot then I recommend waiting until you get your Instant Pot before rushing out to buy accessories. You might have some things in your kitchen already that will fit inside the Instant Pot and be fine to use.
That being said, the accessories I recommend starting with are the glass lid, an extra pot, the silicone storage lid and then mini mitts.
From Joy: Why an Instant Pot (pressure cooker) over a Slow Cooker?
The Instant Pot is a slow cooker so you don’t have to be without your slow cooker. However, the Instant Pot also has more functions than a normal slow cooker. It can also pressure cook, which will allow you to cook food much fast than using the slow cooking function. Of course, it depends on the food. Pressure cooking is great for a roast, but you’re always going to use the slow cooker for things like apple butter.
From Dana: How do I clean my inner pot?
The best way to clean the inner pot is to put 3 cups of water and 1 cup of vinegar in the Instant Pot and put it on for 5 minutes at HP, then let the pressure come down naturally.
Then if you are using the saute function for browning and need to clean some charred residue off the bottom I recommend using baking soda. You can even pour one cup of water in the Instant Pot and put it on the saute function. Then add 1 to 2 tablespoons baking soda. Heating the mixture and the pot will help remove the residue.
From Heather: Can you cook frozen meat in the Instant Pot?
Yes, you can put frozen meat in the Instant Pot and it will cook just fine. It might take a few minutes longer to come up to pressure, but it will work just fine.
From Stephanie: How do you brown meat in the Instant Pot?
You can use the saute function to brown meat. It’s like using your Instant Pot as hot plate or having a pot sitting on the stove. The bottom of the inner pot gets hot, just like a pot on the burner of the stove will get hot. Then you can go ahead and brown your meat on all sides.
From Kathy: Do things stick in the Instant Pot?
It’s a stainless steal pot so you’ll have to be mindful about using a bit of fat to brown your meat. However, when using the pressure cooker you don’t need to worry about things sticking because all the moisture is trapped in the pot and that’s why you're meat and other things don’t dry out. Remember when pressure cooking you’re always going to have some liquid in the bottom of the inner pot. So when using the pressure cooling function things do not stick.
From Melanie: What size would be the best for a family of 6?
If you want to save space I recommend going with the 8 quart. However, if you do have a little more space you might consider getting two 6 quart Instant Pots so you can cook more than one thing at a time. If you don’t want to quite go that far and buy two, you can get a second inner pot for either the 8 quart or the 6 quart. So there are several different options when trying to decide on which size is best for a larger family.
From Jessica: Will this work for traveling?
Yes, this is a perfect appliance for someone who has an RV. It would probably be the only cooking appliance you would need in an RV.
In a hotel if you did not already have a kitchenette, you’d want to check with the management to make sure that cooking in your room was not against the hotel policy.
From Misty: What kinds of meat to you cook in the Instant Pot?
All meats do really well in the Instant Pot, from roast to chicken to seafood. The best thing about cooking meat in the Instant Pot is that since it’s cooked under pressure all the moisture stays in the Instant Pot and it does not dry out.
From Chris: I see a lot of people putting their Instant Pot on the stove. Why do you say not to do that?
The reason people put their Instant Pot on the stove is to use their stove’s vent when quick releasing the pressure in the Instant Pot. However, the thing is that you or someone else in your house can destroy your Instant Pot if they accidentally turn on the the wrong burner. It could also start a fire. So save your Instant Pot from any potential damage and put it on the counter.
From Pamela: I would like to can small jars of jam in the Instant Pot. Is that possible?
There are two different kinds of canning water bath canning and pressure canning. You should never try to pressure can in a pressure cooker. They are not designed for canning and can not reach the temperature needed to kill the bacteria that causes botulism. Water bath canning is the kind of canning that uses water in a boiling pot. The Instant pot is not big enough for any type of water bath canning, even in small jars. If you want to do water bath canning use a pot on the stove. If don’t have access to a stove and would like to use an appliance made for canning small batches of jam, Ball makes an Automatic Jam & Jelly Maker.
From Mary: What does ENW at the end of my model mean?
The Instant Pot models that have an ENW at the end of the model name are exclusive to Walmart and have the most recent firmware updates. Some of the additions included turning the beeper on and memorizing previous program settings.
Be sure to pick up my FREE Pressure Cooking Quick Start Guide. It just came out and I’m introducing it here on the show today. If you’re new to pressure cooking or just want a quick reference then this would be a great guide for you. This guide goes over pressure cooking lingo like HP and QR. It focuses on the Instant Pot with details about the different models and give tips and tricks to reading pressure cooking recipes. Plus I give you my 14 favorite pressure cooking tips.