Instant Pot Mac & Cheese with Lemony Garlic Breadcrumbs

I like a excellent baked mac and cheese, but sometimes a mac and cheese craving strikes and I don’t have the time to place all that together. When that’s the case, this Instant Pot Mac & Cheese recipe is the perfect solution.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese With Lemony Garlic Breadcrumbs

Using a blender, the sauce comes together in a matter of moments. It’s a rich mix of butter, cream cheese, milk, cream, garlic, mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper. The sauce and dried pasta are then cooked under high pressure for just 7 minutes in an Instant Pot. Once the lid comes off, you stir in sharp cheddar cheese. The mac and cheese is finished with fresh parsley and golden breadcrumbs infused with lemon and garlic.

Each bite of this simple dish is rich, creamy and so comforting. The breadcrumbs add contrasting flavor and texture while the parsley provides pops of freshness. If you’ve got an Instant Pot, then you need to give this a try! Continue reading for the recipe.

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Ingredients

Aside from the cream cheese, most of the other ingredients needed for this recipe are pretty standard. Just make sure the cream cheese is at room temperature, so it blends nicely into the sauce.

The spices (mustard, cayenne and nutmeg) are not very pronounced in the final mac and cheese. They hang out in the background, amping up the cheese flavor of the dish.

Mac and Cheese Animation

Normally with a mac and cheese recipe, you would start by making bechamel, a white sauce thickened with flour. But we’re skipping that step here. On the plus side, that cuts down on some of the time and effort needed to make the mac and cheese. On the down side, the sauce won’t hold together as well. That just means that this recipe is best loved shortly after it comes out of the Instant Pot. If it sits for too long, the sauce will start to separate.

The breadcrumbs are optional here, but I would highly recommend making them. You can really prepare the crumbs while the mac and cheese is cooking. Everything comes together in around 15 minutes.

One last note. When you first open the Instant Pot after the mac and cheese is done cooking, it’s gonna look like hell. Don’t worry though! After you fold in the cheese, everything will smooth out into a tasty, creamy sauce.

Lemony Garlic Breadcrumbs

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese With Lemony Garlic Breadcrumbs

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese with Lemony Garlic Breadcrumbs

Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

Servings 4 servings
Author Brandon Matzek


For the mac and cheese:

  • 2
    unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 1/2
    whole milk
  • 1/4
    heavy cream
  • 6
    cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1
    garlic clove
  • 1
    dried mustard
  • 1
    kosher salt
  • 1/4
    freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8
    cayenne pepper
  • Pinch
    of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 12
    dried pasta
  • 8
    sharp cheddar cheese, grated

For the breadcrumbs:

  • 3
  • 2
    garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4
    (about 2 1/2) cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon

Chopped parsley, for serving


  1. Using a paper towel, grease the bottom of the Instant Pot with 1 tablespoon butter.

  2. Add milk, cream, cream cheese, garlic clove, 1 tablespoon butter, mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne to a blender, and blend until smooth. Add milk-cream cheese mixture and macaroni to the Instant Pot, stirring to combine. Cover and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes.

  3. While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the breadcrumbs. Warm butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the breadcrumbs to the skillet along with a pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of black pepper, tossing to coat the crumbs in the butter. Cook until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown (5 to 7 minutes). Take the skillet off the heat, stir in the lemon zest and season to taste with salt and pepper.

  4. Release the pressure manually, then stir in grated cheddar cheese. At this point, check to see if the macaroni is al dente. If it’s still a small too firm, cover and keep the pot on warm for 5 minutes. Stir again before serving.

  5. To serve, divide macaroni and cheese between 4 bowls and top with garlicky breadcrumbs. Delight in immediately!



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