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How to make Instant Pot Boxed Mac N Cheese

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What to know how to make Instant Pot boxed mac and cheese? This is crazy simple to do, and with just a 4 minute cook time, you can have your favorite macaroni and cheese to serve up your family. No straining required for this recipe. 

The instant pot has really opened up my cooking options. I don’t usually make a lot of boxed foods but I know some people need to so they can stretch the budget. I have used boxed mac n cheese many times when my kids were small. Now I will show you how to make Instant Pot Boxed Mac N Cheese.

How to Make Boxed Mac N Cheese


Instant Pot Boxed Mac and Cheese

I also have tried Boxed Instant Pot Hamburger Helper, Au Gratin Potatoes.  It is also simple to make homemade Mac n Cheese in the Instant Pot. Here are the simple instructions on How To Make Instant Pot Boxed Mac N Cheese.

How Much Water Do You Need for Boxed Instant Pot Mac and Cheese 

I found that one cup of water worked great for this recipe. You don’t have to add a ton of water, drain pasta, then mix in the rest. With the one cup it is perfect to stir in the cheese packet and enjoy. Which is so handy, and will save you a step compared to the stovetop. 

I am all about simplifying my life, and this recipe has done that. 


Boxed Mac N Cheese

Do You Natural Release Or Quick Release Instant Pot 

For this particular boxed mac and cheese recipe, you will want to do a quick release. If you did a natural release your noodles would become mushy and overcooked. So make sure once that timer goes off, quick release to prevent your noodles from overcooking. 

Does This Work For Liquid Cheese Macaroni And Cheese 

If you bought a box of mac and cheese that has liquid cheese, you would then need to drain off any excess water once you are done cooking. Then stir in your liquid cheese. If you don’t drain off the excess water it would leave the recipe rather runny. 

Ways to Dress Up Boxed Mac and Cheese 

  • Add in hot dogs, great for little kids. Just slice thin and mix in. 
  • Slice up little smokies for a fun protein twist. 
  • Can of tuna and peas for a cheesy tuna dish. 
  • Sprinkle with a season salt for added flavor 

You can really dress up this mac and cheese to be a main dish or opt for something simple to dress it up for a side dish. Either way, it is a fantastic way to make the boxed mac and cheese you love in a new way.

How to Make Boxed Mac N Cheese

How to Store Leftover Mac and Cheese 

Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge for 3-4 days. Then reheat in the microwave or in a pan on the stove when you are wanting another serving. 

Give this Instant Pot boxed mac and cheese a try the next time you get a craving. Let me know how you like it! 


How to Make Boxed Mac N Cheese

How to make Instant Pot Boxed Mac N Cheese

Yield: 4
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 4 minutes

How to make Instant Pot Boxed Mac N Cheese


  • Box of mac n Cheese
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbs butter


  1. Add butter, water, and pasta.
  2. Place on manual high pressure for 4 minutes.
  3. Do a Quick Release.
  4. Stir in milk and cheese packet.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 341Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 558mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 8g

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  1. Hi there – I am fairly new owner of the Instant Pot and so far, it is amazing. I tried this recipe and found the pasta isn’t cooked as much as we like it to be. I wondered what you would suggest: Leave it it maybe for 5 minutes high pressure or would it be better to do the 4 min. but do a natural release for a couple minutes instead? Thanks in advance.

    1. @Lori, I’ve been experimenting for a bit with this since my pasta also came out undercooked. So far these are the changes I’ve made: spray the pot with Pam. Add a little extra water and cut up butter so it’s dispersed on top of the noodles. Cook for 5 minutes.

  2. Not sure what I did but most of the noodles burned onto pot. I put a cup of water. Do you cook it on high and sealed?

    1. your pressure cooker probably isn’t sealing very well and lost water to escaped steam. clean your gasket and pressure valves and the top rim of your pan, and or experiement with the amount of water.

  3. I used store brand (Kroger) 7.3 oz box in a 6 Qt Duo IP. Noodles were not done (still crunchy, not even al dente) at 4 min. Put lid back on, added 1/4 cup water, set to manual and 1 min +natural release, and they were perfect. So for next time I’m setting for 5 minutes, NPR, with 1-1/4 cup of water.

    1. I also added 1/4 c water as my noodles are thicker… more like real macaroni than KD. Worked perfectly! Very glad I no longer need to strain my noodles lol

      1. Worked for me too. 1.25 cups of water, 5 minute cook time and wait 5 minutes to release pressure. Turned out perfect. Also works for the thick & creamy variety.

  4. I’m going to give this a try tonight instrumental of my usual instant pot Mac & cheese. Then I can teach my kids!

  5. I am doing a cooking project, and it is due tomorrow, do you know what type of butter to use? salted? or unsalted?
    Quick Responses would be nice…

  6. My kids love hot dogs with the mac and cheese, would you add those after the mac and cheese is already done? can you put on warm for a bit to let the hot dogs cook a bit?

    1. Box Mac and cheese with hotdogs is one of my guilty pleasures, even at 30. I’ve always sliced them up, microwaved them for 30 seconds, and added them at the end with the cheese. Tastes great.

    2. do you have a steaming rack you can put above the mac n cheese? that would be a good way to heat the dogs.

    3. @Amy,

      I just made this tonight and added hot dogs! Soono yummy! First, I set my Ninja Foodi to sear/saute to brown/warm the hot dogs. I took them out and added the 1 cup of water, butter, and noodles. I turned the setting to pressure cook, high, 4 min. Once the pressure was released, I stirred in the milk, cheese packet, and (sliced) hot dogs. It was perfect!

  7. I put the water, FROZEN butter, noodles and a pinch of salt in, set it to saute until the butter was melted, shut it off and set it to pressure cook for 4 minutes, than quick release and it was perfect! Also, I did a double batch. FYI I put the milk in my magic bullet cup, heated it in the micro, than poured in the cheese powder, blended it, than added 4 tbsp cream cheese and 1 cup shredded cheese, heated it again in the micro and blended it again, than poured it over the noodles and mixed. Not healthy by and means, but delicious lol

  8. i just made this. i expected to have to adjust everything, since i double boiler everything in the pressure cooker. i hate have to clean the big pot every time, so i use smaller metal containers inside the pressure cooker for the cooking. i put a half cup water in the big container, and a cup water with 2 table spoons of margarine, and set for 4 minutes. i went to water tv for a few minutes, and then remembered what i was doing. checked and it had finished a few minutes before. the pasta was not quite done, with some water still around it. i put the lid back on, waited 2 minutes and it was done. all stuck together. i wish i had immediately stirred it when there was still water. i added diced, cooked chicken breast. good recipe.

  9. Let Me Begin by saying this is the First time cooking mac and cheese in an instant pot. This recipe was straightforward enough, however, while following the recipe I experienced the noodles sticking very badly to the bottom of the instant pot and it was difficult to remove those noodles. I also used 4 minutes time on high pressure and as soon as the time was up I quick vented the pressure and the noodles did not come out Al Dente at all! Cooking macaroni and cheese and having Al Dente noodles is very crucial for me. Everything else about this recipe was just fine however I will reduce my time cooking the noodles and I will make sure that the butter is not who are in the middle of all the noodles without being melted first. I might even try using canola or olive oil.

  10. Basically worked, but not enough water and not enough time. Adding more milk and letting it absorb on keep warm made it a bit better.

    I’m thinking it’s because I’m at 6200 feet (didn’t remember to account for altitude.) Gonna try 20% more time and 20% more liquid…maybe five minutes and 2/3 cup of water and 1/3 cup milk.

  11. I’m not sure why, but I tried this and my macaroni was ruined. It was all stuck together and gummy. I followed the directions to a T. Scratching my head.

  12. Earlier, the website couldn’t load on my smart phone (as I have used this recipe before, I came straight here), so I had to use another recipe that called for other timings! It was horrible and undercooked!

    This is the only way to do Kraft Macaroni and Cheese the right way! Perfectly made macaroni and cheese from the box!

  13. I used your recipe last night everything came out great except for the flavor, it was very bland. Next time I’ll try adding the butter at the end with the milk and cheese maybe that will help the flavor, as you know “Everything tastes better with butter”.

  14. Followed the first recipe from this site, it was a bit underdone.
    Followed the recipe by others with 1/4 cup more water, wait 5min, after 5min cook, release pressure. It was overdone mush.
    Followed a recipe on another site it was burned.
    I think I’m done for a while!

  15. It appears different sized instapots require different amounts of liquid for these posted recipes. When I tried this recipe in my instapot 60 it wasn’t enough water. You have to have a minimum of 2 cups of liquid in any recipe per the owners manual. Using 1 cup of water in my pot caused it to say BURN! I had to cancel the process before the 4 min cooking time was up. Please include the size of your instapot in your recipe directions

  16. It was perfect! I popped this in while i was getting ready for work, to take for lunch. I used 1.25 cups water salted it a bit. Added cheese and milk it came out perfect. A little clumped together but worked out after i mixed in the other stuff.

  17. How long would I cook 4 boxes? Would it still be 4 minutes? Stove top at church camp doesn’t work well, but kids love mac and cheese. I thought I’d try pressure cooker. Thank you.

  18. For those asking about 2 boxes of mac n cheese….I did 2 boxes with 3 cups water, 6 tablespoons of butter, 5 minutes high pressure, 6 minutes natural release and that was perfect….I also did 1/2 cup milk at the end, added shredded cheeses and a splash more of milk and it turned out perfect 😀

    Thank you Adventures of a Nurse for your lovely recipe as it gave me a way to make this with a few adjustments 😀 I appreciate it!

  19. Thank you for this simple and easy recipe. I refer to this page every few months when I get a hankering. I use Annie’s mac and cheese which I think is a couple ounces less pasta per box and I don’t buy milk, so I tweak it with a little extra butter and water.

    Today, I sauteed three pressed garlic cloves in the butter, dumped in the shells + water, and topped it off with a layer of frozen peas. Another favorite variation is adding a generous amount of chili seasoning blend and a can of black beans. Oh, my IP just beeped!

  20. I made this tonight with two boxes of mac and cheese. I should have read the comments first. AND … I forgot to add the butter/margarine so it was stuck to the bottom a bit. I ended up making it work but it took a bit of effort. I added more water and extra milk and sauteed on low for a bit. Next time I’ll be adding 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups of water for each box, will cook it for 5 minutes and use the NPR for a few minutes. We like adding taco seasoned ground beef and salsa to ours which requires even more milk added as the ground beef soaks a fair bit of liquid up. With a bit of adjusting this will definitely save some time from cooking on the stovetop.

  21. I just made this and it was SO DARN EASY! I never thought to toss it in my IP but I’ll never make it any other way again!! I had a value box (double box) so I did a little over 2 cups but not quite 2 1/2.. the called for butter and set it for 5 then QR and add called for milk and the packet. Easy and delish!

  22. I doubled the recipe and it worked perfectly, noodles are al dente and my boys were excited because I haven’t made boxed mac & cheese in awhile! Thank you for posting!

  23. Also tried this and the noodles were still crunchy . Also starchy ! I had to pressure cook mine for another minute , wash them and then re add the butter and milk . If I were to try again I would cook in a little over a cup of water with vegetable oil for 5 minutes on high with a 1 minute natural release , rinse the noodles and then put the pot on sauté and add my butter , milk , cheese (and I like to add a teaspoon of parmesan, a squeeze of ketchup and a 1/8 of a cup of shredded cheese )

  24. I’ve done this twice and I modified it the second time. It seemed like 4 minutes didn’t get my noodles done, but then it occurred to me altitude might be a factor. I live at 4500’ elevation. I did it for 5 minutes and did one minute of natural release before doing the quick and it came out perfectly. I love this way of doing mac and cheese since I don’t have the right size pot to do it on the stove.

  25. Found the recipe is good but needed to add water. 1 cup per box wasn’t enough as the noodles didn’t cook all the way and I received a burn notice. 1-1/4 cup water did the trick though.

  26. Just wanted to say thanks for this. Money has been tight since the pandemics started last spring, but right now it’s extremely tight. The grocery boxes I would receive for several months last year pretty much always came with boxed macaroni and cheese, and while I’m not the biggest fan, I kept them in my pantry, just in case. The time has now come to start eating some of it. Will definitely try a few things to dress it up.

  27. Thank you for posting this! I just made a box in my Instant Pot Duo Mini and it worked perfectly. I also admire your patience in answering the ridiculous questions other readers posted, my goodness!

  28. Hello. This is my first time commenting on here and I have to say that I was skeptical at first but after reading all the comments, I gambled and made this with two boxes in my IP DUO6qt. Here’s what I did: Macaroni from 2boxes of regular Kraft mac n cheese (set aside packets), 4cups water (enough to cover the macaroni), 2tblsp melted butter, stirred well, 4min on high. When it was done, I did QPR, stirred macaroni to loosen it up, added 4 tbslp butter (cut into 4 pcs so it would melt faster), 1/4cup 2% milk, both cheese packets, stirred well to mix all ingredients. I’m at 2,800ft elevation so I thought 4min would be fine. This came out past al dente on the verge of being overcooked so next time I’ll probably do 3min instead of the 4min. Overall, this was still a very good and tasty recipe.

  29. This turned out great!! Thank you for the recipe! I followed the directions as listed. Afterwards I added a can of chili (no beans) and warmed it up for a few on the slow cook setting.

  30. I love this recipe! Never cooking macaroni on the stove again. I use 2 boxes of Annie’s macaroni (shells or noodles) and I double the recipe for the water, milk and butter. BUT I add the butter at the beginning before I close the pressure cooker. I cook for the same amount of time – 4 min – and immediately release. If you don’t watch for the release it will get over cooked. But, I’m in the kitchen preparing other things to add (sausage, bell pepper, broccoli, etc) so it’s easy for me to watch. I add the cheese to the end and it’s perfect. My kids would not eat mac & cheese before I started cooking it this way. Thank you! We love it! Also, I have big 8 qt instant pot.

  31. I followed the recipe as written; parts of the pasta were hard. Next time I will use 1.25 cups water and 5 minutes at high pressure. I used a store brand 3-cheexe with small shells, and afterward added 12 oz. canned tuna, drained. It was a tasty meal for post-dental surgery. Next time I might add cooked peas and carrots as well for color (and veggies).

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