Loaded Mac and Cheese (Instant Pot)

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Loaded mac and cheese made in an Instant Pot pressure cooker is perfect, with creamy cheese sauce! Make this recipe for your comfort food cravings!

Loaded mac and cheese made in an Instant Pot  served in a bread bowl


Recipes like Loaded Mac and Cheese

If you’re a fan of mac and cheese, you will definitely want to check out a few of my other recipes.

Shrimp macaroni and cheese is rich and crazy creamy loaded with juicy cajun shrimp and a panko topping.

Or, my lazy mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food made simple for your busiest night.

Beer bacon mac and cheese goes from plate to prep in just 25 minutes. I can’t stop at just one bowl.

Finally, slow cooker mac and cheese is made with 4 types of cheese and easily made in your crockpot.

Instant Pot mac n cheese step by step

Loaded Mac and Cheese Ingredients + Substitutions

This loaded mac and cheese is a decadent side dish that is full of bacon, jalapenos, and three types of cheese.

You will need cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese to make this Instant Pot mac n cheese recipe.

It has a crunchy topping of panko bread crumbs.

If you don’t have all of the ingredients I’ve listed here, you can still make this loaded mac and cheese recipe.

Instead of bacon, you can substitute cubed ham.

If you want to try a different type of cheese, a few other suggestions that taste good in pressure cooker mac and cheese are Gouda, Monterey Jack, and cream cheese.

And, if you do not have jalapenos, you can add chopped green onions or chives instead. This is also a good substitution for people who don’t like food that is spicy.

If you want to make this loaded mac and cheese recipe in the oven, you can do that as well. Take out the 4 cups of water and the uncooked elbow macaroni.

Cook the macaroni on the stove and drain it. And, proceed with the recipe as written. Bake at 350F for 40 to 45 minutes until it’s bubbly all around.

loaded mac and cheese step by step

Recipe tips

Will any type of pasta work for this recipe? 

You can easily substitute shells or another type of pasta for elbow macaroni in this recipe. It requires no other changes to the recipe.

A few popular pasta substitutions in loaded mac and cheese are farfalle (bow ties), rigatoni, and penne.

But, almost any medium-sized macaroni with nooks and crannies for the sauce will work as well.

pressure cooker mac and cheese in bowl on white plate

Best cheese to use for mac and cheese 

Almost any type of cheese that melts well will work for mac and cheese.

A few of my favorites are cheddar, Monterey Jack, Gouda, cream cheese, Parmesan, mozzarella, and Gruyere.

Avoid using cheese that is extra sharp. That can result in an oily cheese sauce due to the change in protein as it ages.

Instead, look for a mild or regular sharp cheddar cheese.

When making this recipe, you will get a much better final result if you shred it yourself rather than purchase cheese that is pre-shredded.

Many pre-shredded types of cheese have a powder coating on them that prevents them from sticking together. And, it makes your cheese sauce grainy which doesn’t result in a good final product.


How to store leftovers

If you have leftovers, you can easily store loaded mac and cheese to enjoy another night. Just place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

They will stay good for 3 to 5 days that way. If you want to store them for a longer period, you can put it in the freezer in a freezer container.

It will be good for up to 6 months if you freeze it.

To reheat your leftovers, thaw the mac and cheese overnight in the refrigerator.

Then, place the leftovers in an oven-safe dish. Add one tablespoon of milk for every cup of leftovers. Stir it up if possible.

Cover the dish with foil and bake it for 20 to 30 minutes at 350F. This recipe is just as good reheated as it was the first time you enjoyed it.


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loaded mac and cheese close up photo

Loaded Mac and Cheese In Bowl

Loaded Mac and Cheese (Instant Pot)

Donna Elick
Loaded mac and cheese made in an Instant Pot pressure cooker is perfect, with creamy cheese sauce! Make this recipe for your comfort food cravings!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Method Instant Pot
Servings 6


  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup diced uncooked bacon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 jalapeños, diced (reserve a few thin slices for serving)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 tablespoons panko crumbs


  • Turn instant pot on to SAUTE. Add 1 tablespoon of butter, bacon, diced jalapeños, and garlic. Saute for 4 minutes.
  • Turn off the instant pot.
  • Add 4 cups of water, elbow macaroni, and salt and stir.
  • Set instant pot to manual pressure and cook on HIGH for 3 minutes. It will take about 10 minutes to pressurize.
  • After completing the quick release, remove the lid of the instant pot. Add 4 tablespoons of butter, whole milk, basil, paprika, and cheese and stir to combine and melt the cheese
  • Mix panko crumbs with remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and sprinkle evenly on top of macaroni. Remove macaroni from the instant pot.
  • Top with jalapeños slices. Enjoy!


Serving: 1 | Calories: 674cal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 654mg | Sugar: 7g | Fiber: 3g | Calcium: 559mg | Iron: 2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Originally published August 2020

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