Quick Macaroni and Cheese

Mac and Cheese, Made Quicker in the Pressure Cooker!

Mac and Cheese Plate

There is nothing better than a big pan of macaroni and cheese, made with a roux and then baked in the oven until the cheese on top is crusty and the breadcrumbs are nicely browned.

But what if you need the comfort of mac and cheese on a weeknight and you don’t have a couple of spare hours to make dinner? What then, huh?

There is always the dreaded “Blue Box”, but you can do better than that, a lot better.

Mac and Cheese Ingredients

I based this recipe on Alton Brown’s Stovetop Mac-n-Cheese, but made it even quicker by cooking the pasta in the pressure cooker. I used the Instant Pot, which is perfect for this recipe. I also doubled it from Alton Brown’s recipe and added a little garlic powder. Of course, nothing is as good as good old baked mac and cheese, but this is much, much, much better than the blue box.

Pasta and Water

Start by cooking the pasta. Dump the pasta into the inner pot of the electric pressure cooker and pour in enough water to cover. 4 cups was the right amount for me. Since you are going to drain it, it doesn’t have to be an exact amount. Salt the water as you would when cooking any pasta.

For the timing, whatever time the package states for al dente, divide that in half and that is the time you should use for your pressure cooker. Set at LOW pressure and set time (it was 6 minutes for my pasta).

Grated Cheese

While the pasta is cooking you can get the cheese and sauce ready.

Grate about a pound of cheese, whatever kind you like. I find sharp cheddar and pepper jack to be a good combo. Set this aside and put the sauce together.

In a large bowl, combine 4 beaten eggs, a can (12 ounces) of evaporated milk, some salt, pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder and some hot sauce. Stir until blended.

Mac and Cheese Liquid

When the time is up for your pasta, do a quick release and drain the pasta.

Replace the inner pot in the pressure cooker and change to the sauté mode set to medium. I tried low, but it wasn’t quite hot enough once I started adding the cheese, so you will have to be diligent with your stirring responsibilities to prevent burning.

Pasta Draining

Dump the pasta back into the pressure cooker and plop in the stick of butter. Yes, I know what you are thinking, “A whole stick of butter!!!?”. Yes, that’s right. We are making macaroni and cheese after all. If this makes you squeamish just chuck the whole thing and go steam some kale.

Pasta With Butter

Stir frequently until the butter is melted.

Pour in the egg and milk mixture and stir frequently until it just reaches a simmer.

Now, add in the cheese a handful at a time and as it melts drop in another handful. Keep stirring until all the cheese is melted and it looks smooth.

Mac and Cheese Finished

Stir for another minute or so after all the cheese is incorporated and melted, then turn off the pressure cooker and remove the inner pot so that it stops cooking.

Like most mac and cheese, this is best served right away. Spoon on plates and add a vegetable on the side to appease your conscience.

I happened to have some corn chips so I put a few on top to add a little crunch.

So, next time you go reaching for the Blue Box, remember that you could have some creamy, tasty, gooey homemade macaroni and cheese instead, Sure, it won’t have that radioactive orange color, but the flavor will more than make up for it!

Quick Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
A quick version of the favorite, adapted from Alton Brown's Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe
  • 1 pound macaroni (any tubular or shell pasta will work)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 pound grated cheese (I used a combination of sharp cheddar and pepper jack)
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt (plus a little for the pasta water)
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (I used Habanero Tabasco)
  1. Put pasta in the pressure cooker pot and cover with water (about 4 cups)
  2. Sprinkle some salt in the water
  3. Lock the top on the pressure cooker
  4. Bring to LOW pressure and set time for half the cooking time listed on the pasta package (mine said 12 minutes, so I set the time for 6 minutes)
  5. While pasta is cooking, grate the cheese and set aside, then whisk together the evaporated milk, eggs, salt, dry mustard, pepper, garlic powder and hot sauce
  6. When time is up on the pasta, do a quick release
  7. Dump the pasta in a colander and drain
  8. Put the inner pot back in the pressure cooker and set sauté mode to medium
  9. Add butter into the pot and stir into the pasta
  10. Add the milk mixture into the pot and bring just to a simmer, stirring often
  11. Add the cheese, a handful at a time, stirring constantly until it is melted into the milk mixture and smooth
  12. Continue stirring for another minute or so
  13. Turn off pressure cooker and remove inner pot from the pressure cooker
  14. Serve immediately


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