Today , I want to show you how to make instant pot mac and cheese .
The right way .
I called the folks over at instant pot and I learned a lot of tips and tricks so that it'll come out creamy and delicious every time .
Not gloopy , not stringy .
None of the common problems that we hear about when it comes to instant pot , mac and cheese .
It's just going to be delicious .
Hi , sweet friends .
I'm Mary and welcome to Mary's Nest where I teach traditional cooking skills for making nutrient dense foods like bone broth , ferment , sourdough and more .
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Now this is for a very basic recipe of mac and cheese .
You can certainly add in different herbs and spices to your liking , but at least you'll have the basic recipe to start with .
Now , the ingredients are very simple .
Four cups of water , £1 macaroni , a teaspoon of salt , two teaspoons of dry mustard powder and four tablespoons or half a stick of butter .
And you're also gonna need one cup of heavy cream and of course , you're gonna need the star of the show , the cheese .
Now , here , I've got some sharp white cheddar and then over here I've got some Monterey Jack .
This gives a lot of flavor .
This gives a nice melted creamy texture .
And I'm gonna grate this and we're gonna need a cup of each .
And I highly recommend that you buy whole cheese or a whole piece of cheese and grate it yourself because a problem that you can run into with the pre grated cheese is that it's dusted with various things to keep it from sticking together in the package .
And those things , whether they're corn starch or whatever the case may be , can create a very gummy and gloopy type mac and cheese .
So you want to avoid that and just take the time to grate your own cheese .
Now , optionally , you may also want to have some cream cheese on hand and we'll discuss why a little bit later .
Now , for the macaroni that I'm using , I'm just going with the traditional elbows .
You can certainly use the small shells or any type of pasta that's good at holding a cheese sauce .
I wanna share a little tip with you that I learned from the folks at instant pot when it comes to cooking any kind of pasta in the instant pot .
You may be wondering , well , how long should I cook it for , say you're just cooking some spaghetti .
You're not necessarily making mac and cheese because we'll talk about the times of , uh for making that in a minute .
But what if you're just wanting to cook some spaghetti ?
Well , they shared something very interesting with me .
What you do is look at the directions on the box , like for example , for these elbows , it says al dente perfection in 7 to 8 minutes .
Well , all you need to do is look at the directions on the box of pasta that you wanna make and then cut that time in half .
So if the Spaghetti box says cook for 10 minutes , then cook it in the instant pot for five minutes because the traditional way would be bringing the water up to a boil and then cooking it for the 10 minutes till al dente , straining it so on and so forth .
But in the instant pot , it'd be five minutes .
If it said 12 minutes , it'd be six minutes .
So you , you can always use that as a guide that it's half what the traditional cooking instructions would be .
Now today , I'm using an eight quart instant pot .
This is the duo , but you can use any instant pot you have including the six quart .
And the first thing you want to do is take out the rack .
I know that's very basic and some of you are going Mary , we know to take out the rack but I just want to be very clear with beginners .
Take out the rack .
The next thing you want to do is take your four cups of water and go ahead and pour that right to your instant pot liner .
And next you want to take your four tablespoons of butter and put that right in two and then you wanna take your salt and your mustard powder .
Now , as I mentioned , this is a teaspoon of salt .
It's a sea salt , a fine ground sea salt and I've got the two teaspoons of mustard powder .
Now , there's some flexibility on this .
Uh the teaspoons of the mustard powder will help this to really taste very similar to what you would get uh from the mac and cheese in the box , from the grocery store .
And whenever you're making a transition from making prepared foods or as my mother always called them prepared foods , processed foods to traditional foods .
It's , it's nice to have things taste as similar to what you or your family and friends may be used to eating in the processed food realm .
Now , I'll go ahead and add in this salt and this mustard powder .
Uh And if at this point , you want to jazz things up a bit , this is when you can add your garlic powder or your onion powder or any other season that you want to put in , do it .
Now , now the next thing you want to do at this point , you want to stir everything up in the water and you want to stir it .
Well , now the butter certainly is gonna stay solid , but you just want to distribute your salt and whatever other seasonings that you've added in .
And the reason is this is another tip that I got from the folks at instant pot .
Once you put your pasta in your macaroni , whatever you're using , you want to just make sure that it's submerged under the water , but you don't want to stir it .
If you start putting your pasta in and then stirring it , there's more of a chance that it will become gummy and then that will make your final product of mac and cheese , kind of gloopy and gummy .
Now I'll go ahead and I'll add in my pasta and we'll just sort of circle it all around like this to just get it nicely .
Sorry about that , get it nicely distributed .
And then all you wanna do is just gently tap it down so that every , every bit of the pasta is under the water , but don't stir it .
Now , as I mentioned earlier , these elbows take from 7 to 8 minutes for an Alden texture .
And the folks at instant pot said that they recommend cooking elbows for four minutes and that's four minutes on high .
And they also shared some very interesting tips with me as to what to do at the four minute mark .
Once the pasta is done cooking , whether to do a quick release or a natural release .
And that is really important to the final finished product of your macaroni .
And so I want to explain that once we get to that point , what we need to do , but for right now we'll get this cooking .
And I just want to mention if you're new to instant pot , there's a uh steam release valve on the top and at one side , it says venting at the other side , it says ceiling .
And if you've never used this before , there's really no major click or anything like that , which is what I was expecting when I first worked with the instant pot .
It really is just a little higher when it's on venting and it's a little lower when it's on ceiling .
That's it .
There's really no big fanfare .
Now , you may have a very new instant pot and some of those have a little different valve .
Uh It , I believe it may seal automatically and then you have some options as to how you allow it to vent .
But if that's the case , it'll be a little different than what I'm showing you here .
When you put the lid on , you'll hear like a little music , hear that and then when you lock it , you'll hear some more music and then you want to take your vent and make sure that you put it on ceiling and then you're going to look and see that it says off now I have the Duo plus .
So I have a pressure cook option .
You may have a manual uh button option .
Uh Both are , are what you're going to .
Either one is what you're gonna want to use .
So I'm gonna put pressure , I'm going to press pressure cook and I've already got it set for four minutes and it's already on high .
And so now it'll just take care of itself .
Now , I just , I want to mention something about the panel on the instant pot because mine was already set to the four minutes and it was already set for high .
If you are new to this and I'll overlay a picture .
Uh You just want to use the plus or the minus to adjust the time and you want to use the pressure level to adjust the pressure , either high or low .
Now , I just want to mention where the cream cheese fits into all of this .
I'm not gonna be adding cream cheese to my macaroni and cheese .
However , if you decide that you want that little bit of extra creaminess , a little bit of extra tangy flavor , you can add in cream cheese and you'll just want to do it towards the end after you've added in the amount of grated cheese that you find to be making a nice cheese sauce along with your heavy cream and everything looks good and it's nice and creamy and nice and melted .
At that point , you can add two ounces of cream cheese or maybe four ounces of cream cheese .
What I've got here is an eight block , uh , an eight ounce block of cream cheese .
Um , so if you wanted to add two ounces , you would just add a quarter of an eight ounce block or four ounces would be half of an eight ounce block .
But if you do decide to start using cream cheese in your macaroni and cheese , I highly recommend that you start with two ounces just a quarter of an eight ounce block .
See if you like the consistency and if you like the flavor .
But I really advise waiting till the very end to add the cream cheese because I think with the right types of cheeses and the nice mixture with the heavy cream , you're gonna find that it does make a nice cream sauce and it creates a nice creamy mac and cheese and you may not find the need for adding a little bit of cream cheese .
Now , this has come up to pressure and it's cooking the pasta .
And now I wanna talk to you about the natural pressure release or the quick release instant pot recommends that whenever you cook pasta or anything that's foamy , then you want to do natural release .
And the reason is two fold .
The reason you want to allow this to come down to pressure naturally and not do the quick release is because the pasta at four minutes may still have some water that's not been absorbed into the pasta yet .
And by allowing it to come down to pressure naturally , the pasta will continue to absorb that little bit of water that's in there .
So that when you open your instant pot , the pasta is cooked perfectly .
If you do a quick release and open it , you may find that your pasta is still sitting in some water and your pasta may not be cooked fully .
And when you use it to go and make a mac and cheese , as we're going to make , you may get a very watery cheese sauce .
The other reason , instant pot doesn't want you to do a quick release when you cook pasta , which creates a lot of foam inside the vessel is because if you do the quick release and the steam comes out , it's going to be filled with all of that foam .
So you're going to get a mess and a sputtering of the foam all over the place .
Now , you might say to yourself , well , I want to do a quick release and I'll just cover this with a paper towel and then I don't need to worry about all the sputtering .
Instant Potts says that's a no , no .
They say that don't cover this vent when you do a quick release and especially don't cover it when you do a quick release with something that's a foamy item because this vent can easily become clogged and this can become a real problem .
So if you're cooking something that is foamy like the pasta , just let it come down to a natural lease , your pasta is gonna be cooked perfectly and you're not gonna have a kitchen mess .
Now , when your pressure cooker , your instant pot , pressure cooker is cooking and under pressure , there's a little red valve here that will rise up and that's how , you know , it's come up to pressure .
I'll take a picture and overlay it so you can see exactly what I'm talking about .
But once this comes down to pressure , naturally , that little red valve will drop down and you'll know that it's no longer under pressure and for it to come down from pressure , it can take anywhere from 10 minutes or longer .
It really depends on how much food you have in the instant pot .
Now you may be thinking , oh my gosh , this is like kind of involved and what not .
I can just boil some water and throw the pasta in it and be done .
But the nice thing about the instant pot is you can put your water and your pasta in , set it and basically forget it in many ways .
It's similar to the slow cooker , not for making pasta in the slow cooker , but it's similar in the concept of just being able to put it in , forget about it and know that it's gonna come out perfect .
You don't have to worry about you know , babysitting it as you would if you were boiling it on the stove .
Now , if you're in a , a bit of a rush and you want it to come down to pressure naturally quicker than it may be .
If you're just ignoring it , instant pot recommends that you can put a wet towel on the metal part of the lid .
But remember if you do that , don't they specify ?
Do not cover the vent , only put the wet towel on the metal part of the lid and hopefully that'll help cool it down a little and the pressure come down naturally a little faster .
So this has come down to pressure naturally .
And the instant pot once it stops cooking has automatically clicked on to stay warm , which is perfect .
That's all we need for it to be on , stay warm as we continue with the rest of the steps to turn this uh macaroni into macaroni and cheese .
Now , when you open your lid , uh I highly recommend recommend that as you turn it and then open it , open it away from you because a lot of steam does come out after cooking pasta .
Well , this looks wonderful and I'm gonna overlay a picture so you can see how the , the elbows look all cooked up .
And I'm gonna put a few on a plate here and we'll take a taste to see how they are .
You know , these have a nice al dente feel to them , which is how I like it .
Not overcooked at all .
Wonderful texture .
Now , as I mentioned earlier , you're gonna wanna have two cups of cheese .
I highly recommend a nice sharp cheddar for flavor and then a Monterey or something like that .
That's a nice melting cheese to give a nice creamy texture .
Now , you're best off avoiding cheeses like mozzarella because that can make your sauce more stringy than creamy .
And we're trying to mimic basically here , a stove top , Mac and cheese , which always tends to be more creamy versus your oven baked , which tend to be a little more uh richer in texture .
Uh but drier and sometimes have a little bit more of a uh the cheese will have a little , little bit more of a of a stringy texture to it .
When you take it out of the bowl , you know , out of your baking dish .
It reminds me the oven baked mac and mac and cheese is remind me very much of uh what I grew up with uh more like a baked Z .
Now , two cups of cheese is a good amount of cheese to get a nice creamy cheese sauce .
However , you can add up to 2.5 cups , but I really wouldn't go any more than that .
Uh because then you're going to get something that's just very heavy laden with cheese and not so much a cheese sauce because as I said earlier , we're trying to create uh or mimic the stovetop , uh , mac and cheese , but we're not making a beam or a white sauce with flour and butter and milk and then bringing that up to a boil and then removing it from the heat and adding our cheese and making a traditional cheese sauce .
What we're trying to do here is through some cheese and some cream to try to as closely as possible , recreate the concept of a cheese sauce without actually making an official cheese sauce .
Now , the best way to do this is to put in a little bit of the sharp cheddar , a little bit of the Monterey and about half the cream .
And then we're gonna give it a stir and continue adding in the cheese and give it a little chance to melt along with the , along with the cream already , that cheese is melted nicely and blended , uh , quite lovely with the cream .
I'll take a picture and overlay it so you can see what it looks halfway through .
And now we'll go ahead and put in a little bit more of this sharp cheddar and a little bit more of our Monterey .
I'm just gonna hold back a little bit and let me go ahead and add in this cream just a little bit more .
Hold back a little , we'll finish it off with this .
Oops , lost my spoon .
I gotta get a new spoon already .
I got a clean spoon and now we'll just go ahead and mix in this cream and this cheese and we'll continue to get this nice and creamy .
Well , that's coming along perfect .
I think there's definitely enough cheese in there .
So I'm just gonna save this a little bit for another project , but I'm gonna go ahead and add in the rest of this cream .
Well , this looks perfect .
I'm gonna spoon some into this bowl and we'll give it a taste .
And I just want to mention we were talking earlier uh about the baked macaroni and cheese in the oven .
And if you like that type of macaroni and cheese , my friend Denise over at this and that with Denise is like the queen of baked macaroni and cheese .
And she's got some wonderful uh videos with recipes for making that .
And I'll be sure to link to her channel in the description below so that you can go check out her baked macaroni and cheese recipes .
But my husband loves the stovetop type macaroni and cheeses .
And uh I have a recipe where I show you how to make a traditional stovetop mac and cheese .
And I'll be sure to link to that in the I cards .
And in the description below , if that's something that you'd like to see , I made that uh last year .
But uh my husband loves the stovetop .
And so I was anxious to try this in the instant pot to see how it would come .
So let's give this a taste .
Oh , see , that's nice .
Oh , it's nice and creamy .
I'll take a picture and overlay it .
It's not stringy , it's not gloopy .
This is perfect .
Um , boy , that's really good .
I have to admit , I'm impressed .
Not making a bechamel .
You know , a white sauce and then turning it into a cheese sauce and just doing it like this in the instant pot with the grated cheese and the cream .
It's really good .
I highly recommend this .
Well , I hope you'll give this instant pot mac and cheese a try .
And if you'd like to learn more about traditional cooking , be sure to subscribe to my channel and then click on this video over here where I have a playlist of all my instant pot recipes and I'll see you over there in my Texas Hill country kitchen love and God bless .