Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese with Smoked Gouda

As many of y’all know, I’m still trying to get my Mom to use her Instant Pot. She loves seeing me use it when she’s visiting but then she never actually makes anything with it when she gets home. So when Mom and Dad were here for my (40th!) birthday recently, I tried convincing Mom that it was worth learning how to make Instant Pot macaroni and cheese. And y’all, I might have talked her into it. She couldn’t believe how quickly it all came together and how moist it was. My go-to recipe for years has been macaroni and cheese with smoked gouda (and y’all might have guessed I like smoked Gouda), so it was a no-brainer to try it in the Instant Pot.

This recipe is really very easy to customize. Just keep the ratio of pasta, liquid, and cheese the same and you’re good to go. But I must warn you: not all flavors go well together. Okay, that’s pretty obvious but there are surprising flavor combinations that are just plain terrible. I’ve made so many delicious macaroni and cheese recipes that have had had a little garlic powder and let me tell you: do not mix garlic powder with smoked gouda. I’m not sure how this is possible, but the combination tastes like grape soda.

Another thing to remember when customizing this recipe is to think about how salty your cheese is. Smoked gouda is a pretty darn salty cheese, so I didn’t add any salt to the cooking liquid. It felt weird to make pasta without added salt, but it had to be done.

Last (and this is so important), remember that this recipe (and any decent Instant Pot macaroni and cheese recipe) calls for a weight of macaroni, not a volume. 1/2 a pound of elbow macaroni is going to be about 2 cups, but 1/2 a pound of a different pasta can be a completely different volume. I made this mistake with some medium shells once and ended up with a macaroni soup.

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese with Smoked Gouda

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni, dry 
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth (I used Imagine Organic No Chicken broth)
  • 1/2 cup milk (anything from skim to heavy cream will work)
  • 2 cups shredded gouda

In a small pot, caramelize your onion in the butter. You could do this in the Instant Pot if you really didn’t want to wash a second pot, but I felt more in control doing it this way.

Next, dump the pasta and the broth into your Instant Pot.

Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. As soon as the time is done, quick vent the steam. The pasta won’t have absorbed all the liquid, but that’s okay! That starchy water is going to help make the cheese sauce.

Now, I couldn’t get pictures of the rest of the process because it happens fast. Dump in your milk and cheese and stir! It’s easiest to stir in the cheese if you add it one handful at a time, but if you forget and dump it all in at once you’ll be fine. You’ll just have to stir harder. Once the cheese is incorporated, mix in the caramelized onions.

And it’s done!

instant pot macaroni and cheese with smoked gouda

Instant Pot macaroni and cheese is so easy that you might never go back to the stovetop again!