Have you jumped on the Instant Pot train in the past few years? Do you know you can make Instant Pot boxed mac and cheese?
Affiliate links are used in these posts. See disclosure page for more details.
Before you dismiss the idea (because after all isn’t boxed mac and cheese one of the easiest things to make anyway), let me tell you I prefer this method because the noodles and water go into the Instant Pot and I don’t have to touch it until after the time is up.
There’s no waiting for the water to boil to add the noodles and no having the drain the water after the noodles are cooked.
I actually enjoy making macaroni and cheese from scratch and it’s how I always make it when we have it for dinner.
But boxed mac and cheese has become a fun once a week lunch that the kids look forward to.
Instant Pot Boxed Mac and Cheese Instructions
These are the instructions for an 8 quart Instant Pot. (There’s a recipe card at the end of the post with all of these instructions.)
Take two boxes of mac and cheese. Just your basic size and type.
Place the noodles from both boxes into the instant pot. Cover with 3 cups of water.
Make sure the vent is on sealing. Turn Instant Pot to High Pressure and set the time for 4 minutes.
After the time has completed do a Quick Release and turn pot off.
Open the pot. You will see some water, but that’s okay. Use a wooden spoon to break apart the noodles and stir them.
Pour 3/4 cup of milk over the noodles. Add 4-6 tablepoons of butter. Dump both cheese pouches over the milk and butter. Stir to combine. Add more milk if needed.
(If it happens to be too liquid-y, you can turn the Instant Pot to sauté and cook, while stirring, a few minutes until the liquid absorbs. I do not have this problem when using the amounts listed above, though.)
Isn’t that simple!
Things to Add to Boxed Mac and Cheese
We all know there’s nothing fancy about boxed mac and cheese. Here are some ideas to help you jazz it up. And bonus, all of these would work for homemade macaroni and cheese as well.
My mom was a make it from scratch kind-of person (and I tend to follow her in that – thus boxed mac and cheese and store bought bread being something my kids get excited about) but I remember one time she made boxed mac and cheese and added peas and hot dogs to it. A random childhood memory for you.
Now, let’s get brainstorming!
For each of the ideas, you would just stir it in after noodles have cooked. So when, or directly after you mix in the milk and cheese powder.
- Sliced cooked hot dogs (and some peas if you’d like)
- Leftover, sliced smoked sausage
- Taco meat! You can also stir in some diced tomatoes and cheddar cheese.
- Diced ham
- Crumbled, cooked bacon
- Extra cheese (parmesan, smoked gouda, cheddar, monterey jack etc)
- Cooked ground beef and diced tomatoes (add salt and pepper as well)
- Veggies: leftover steamed (or roasted) broccoli, mushrooms, sautéed onions, fresh spinach etc
- Diced or shredded cooked chicken
- BBQ pulled pork
Basically, there’s an endless number of options.
Look and see what you have available. Try some different combinations that sound tasty. Any of these will take the standard mac and cheese up a notch.
What are you favorite mac and cheese additions?
Instant Pot Boxed Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 2 (7.25 ounces each) boxes of macaroni and cheese
- 3 cups water
- ¾-1 cup milk
- 4-6 tablespoons butter
- Place the noodles from both boxes into the Instant Pot. Pour 3 cups of water over the top.
- Secure lid. Set valve to sealing. Turn to High pressure and put the time at 4 minutes.
- After the 4 minutes are up, do a quick release and turn the pot off.
- Remove lid and use a wooden spoon to break up the noodle clumps. (It's okay if there is extra water, the noodles will continue to absorb it.)
- Pour ¾ cup milk over the noodles and add however much butter you'd like (between 4 and 6 tablespoons). Sprinkle the cheese powder from both boxes over the mixture. Stir everything until combined.
- Add additional milk if needed.
If you'd like to stir in any additional ingredients (as talked about in the post) do so after the final step and set to sauté and stir if needed to heat through.