So simple, cheesy, and delicious, and on the table in about 15 minutes, this mac and cheese is an easy, kid-friendly comfort food that you can adjust to your own taste preferences.
This recipe works well in your Instant Pot. If you like a little bit of a browned top, you can always transfer the cheesy goodness into an oven-safe casserole dish and bake or broil until you get the browning you like, or use the Mealthy CrispLid, which is compatible with the Instant Pot, to do the browning. On this go-round, I used my Ninja Foodi for a true one-pot meal, using the Air Crisp function at the end for a nicely browned crumb topping.
If you’ve been pressure cooking for awhile, you might notice that your food can handle a little more spice than when you are cooking in your oven or stovetop. Foods like chicken and pasta can sometimes seem very bland coming out of your Instant Pot, so you might find you need to add a bit more spice and salt to the mix to get the flavor you want. I’ve only had one colossal seasoning failure so far, and that was when I followed a recipe from the cookbook that came with my Ninja Foodi. The recipe called for a whopping two tablespoons of kosher salt to a pound of pasta, making the end product nearly inedible (along with some other weirdness in the recipe, like lemon juice. No, just no). Instead, adding just a few drops hot sauce to the mac and cheese can be magical. It won’t make things spicy, but just kicks things up a notch. I like a little Cholula, but you can use any hot sauce you like, or none at all.
To add extra flavor, I use chicken stock instead of plain water to cook my pasta. I prefer Better than Bouillion Organic Chicken Base. It’s low in sodium, completely delicious, and convenient for all kinds of foods. I steam my vegetables in it, and add it to all kinds of other dishes.
Let’s get started. Add one pound of elbow macaroni (or whatever pasta you like) to the pot, and stir in four cups of water with a tablespoon of Better than Bouillion. Cook at high pressure for five minutes (this is half of the shortest time of the range given on the package, so if your pasta says to cook for 10-12 minutes, cook it for 5 minutes. If you like a softer paster in the end, add another minute or two. I’m an al dente fan. Release all the pressure after the cooking time is finished.
While the pasta is cooking, whisk cornstarch into the milk, and add all seasonings. Once pasta is cooked, remove the lid. Give the milk mixture a quick whisk, and stir into pasta.
Turn your pot to Sauté, and allow the milk to bubble and thicken a bit. Stir in cheese, and mix until melted. Go ahead and use pre-shredded cheese if you like–it’s what I often use to save time, and the end product is always smooth and creamy.
Once the mac is thickened to your liking, you can stop and eat. But if you want to take it to the next level, mix your panko crumbs with melted butter, and spread over the top of the mac. Broil in oven for a few minutes, or use your Ninja Foodi Air Crisp function at 360 degrees for about 7 minutes to brown.
Don’t like the crumb topping, but you still want your mac browned a bit? Sprinkle a little extra cheese on top, and then follow the above instructions. You will have to check on it if you’re using the Foodi, to make sure you don’t burn the cheese.
Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 pound elbow macaroni (or pasta of choice)
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon Better than Bouillion Organic Chicken Base (or replace water with four cups low-sodium chicken broth)
- 2 1/2 cups cold milk
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- A few drops of hot sauce (optional)
- 1 lb shredded cheddar cheese (I prefer sharp cheddar)
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (optional)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons butter (optional, to mix with panko crumbs)
- Add water, Better than Bouillion (or chicken broth) and pasta to pot, and stir.
- Cook at high pressure for five minutes (or half the cooking time shown on package)
- After cooking time is finished, release all pressure and remove lid.
- Whisk cold milk and cornstarch together until smooth. Stir in remaining spices and add hot sauce, if desired. At this point, you can serve it, or…
- Combine panko breadcrumbs with melted butter. Spread on top of pasta. Set Ninja Foodi to AirCrisp at 360 degrees for about 7 minutes.
- Alternatively, place pasta into an oven-safe dish, top with crumbs, and broil until browned.