Instant Pot Mac And Cheese
The Chunky Chef03/23/2020
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This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is ultra creamy and rich with a velvety smooth sauce! Ready in about 20 minutes, its always a family favorite. Perfectly cooked, every time, and no need to babysit the pasta, or even drain it! Made with no canned milk and no Velveeta.
This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is the perfect comfort food! Recipes like my Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa and Instant Pot Sausage Tortellini Soup are great for when you want an ultra-comforting family meal thats ready incredibly fast. This is one of my Pressure Cooker recipes youll definitely want in your recipe box!
INSTANT POT MAC AND CHEESE
Youve been asking for it, and Ive been working on it this is the Instant Pot Mac and Cheese that will make your mouth completely water, and have you reaching for seconds.
The lusciously creamy cheese sauce, enveloping every noodle so full of flavor, yet so simply made.
This mac and cheese is just as easy as making that macaroni in the blue box but is SO much better for you. No preservatives and other hard to pronounce ingredients. Just pure cheesy goodness!
When I was developing this recipe, I used cheeses that I found melted really well, and gave a good classic mac and cheese flavor, however, Ill also be detailing different cheeses you can use if you prefer another mixture.
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Can Mac N Cheese Be Made Ahead
This is really best served immediately, but if you need to make it ahead, here is what I recommend:
If you need to buy yourself a little extra time, keep it warm in the oven on the lowest possible setting.
You *could* assemble it and keep it in the fridge or freezer, but I find the above method preferable because the macaroni will absorb a lot of the sauce as it sits.
Make Ahead And Freezing Instructions:
To make ahead: You can make this recipe 1-2 days ahead of time. Prepare the mac and cheese through step 10, just before baking. Allow it to cool, cover it tightly, and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
To freeze: Make the entire dish but freeze before baking. Allow it to cool completely in the 8×8 pan, cover it well with plastic wrap and tinfoil and store it in the freezer for 2-3 months. Allow it to thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake until warmed through and the cheese is bubbly on top.
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Is Mac And Cheese Unhealthy
Mac and cheese isnt necessarily unhealthy, but it depends on the recipe some recipes are worse than others. Macaroni and cheese does have a good amount of protein from all the milk and cheese. However, the calories can add up quickly, so its important to keep your portion size in check.
I also added spinach, which is another good source of fiber. Not to mention, spinach is packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals. The reduced fat cheese and skim milk help keep the calorie count down. A one-cup serving of this healthy mac and cheese comes in at just under 300 calories.
Variations Of This Recipe
- PROTEIN Feel free to add in some shredded chicken, pulled pork, or some crispy bacon for an extra protein punch.
- VEGGIES Trying to get your veggies in? Stir in some steamed broccoli or cauliflower.
- TOPPINGS If you love a topping on your mac and cheese, transfer the cooked cheesy mac to a baking dish and top with either some extra cheese, buttered panko breadcrumbs, or buttered crushed Ritz crackers. Broil a few minutes until crispy.
- COOKING LIQUID If you prefer to use all chicken broth, or all water feel free to do that. Just make sure there are 4 total cups of liquid.
- DIFFERENT CHEESES Gruyere, Gouda, Fontina, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Colby, or all Cheddar. These are all good melting cheeses and will give you a smooth sauce. However, feel free to play around with different combinations that you like!
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Easy Macaroni And Cheese
What Is The Best Cheese To Use For Macaroni And Cheese
For this mac and cheese recipe, I use 3 different types of cheese: sharp cheddar, Velveeta cheese, and Parmesan cheese.
You can mix and match the type of cheese that you put into your macaroni and cheese. Every combination will produce a slightly different flavor.
Some great cheeses to add to your macaroni and cheese are: Colby jack, mozzarella, mild cheddar, or even pepper jack for a spicy kick.
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How To Make Baked Mac And Cheese
Its a straightforward recipe, starting with a basic butter-flour roux that is used to thicken milk to make the cheese sauce. For first timers, I think the short video below will help give you the confidence that youve got this!
The simple trick to avoid lumps in the Mac and Cheese Sauce is to pour the milk in slowly while constantly stirring, then just switch to a whisk if needed to remove any stubborn lumps!
My Love Affair With Mac And Cheese
I have a mini love affair with mac and cheese. As a child, I would take it any way I could get it out of a box or made from scratch by Mom. Wait what am I saying, I do that now Mounds of cheese melted into a velvety, creamy sauce and tossed with pasta. Yes, please!
There are lots of recipes for macaroni and cheese in the world and to be completely honest, Id probably love most of them. That said, I do think there are a few key elements for the best mac and cheese.
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How To Make Oven Baked Mac And Cheese
Its just about a requirement that all Americans love macaroni and cheese in some form and at some time in their lives, Im no different. Growing up, my mother made a creamy homemade mac and cheese with a sauce that was smooth as silk and permeated every particle of perfectly cooked macaroni. It was my brothers favorite so she usually made it every Sunday.
Special Equipment Used To Make This Recipe
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How To Make Oven
Here are a few kitchen tools I recommend to make this recipe easier:
- KitchenAid Mixer with shredder attachment this will shred the blocks of cheese in a fraction of the time.
- If the KitchenAid and attachments are outside of your budget, this Hamilton Beach food processor is a great option!
- Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven Any heavy-bottomed pot will do, but I love my Tramontina dutch oven set. Its a budget-friendly option that really stands up against the test of time. Weve used ours for years!
- 3 Quart Casserole Dish must be oven safe!
Much like my Chicken Divan Casserole, this recipe has a creamy cheese sauce as the base, which means you need to make a roux!
What I Love About This Recipe:
That crumb topping: the panko bread crumb topping give it the perfect taste and texture youd find at your favorite restaurant.
The homemade sauce:You know what I love most about the sauce for this mac and cheese? It uses every-day pantry ingredients butter, milk, flour, half and half, cornstarch, mustard, and spices once combined, they make the BEST, creamy, cheesy homemade sauce for mac and cheese.
Family favorite: this is a huge crowd pleaser that I serve year round! Anytime Ive served it at a part, everyone raves. You can bring it as a side to serve along steak or chicken, Or serve it as a main dish with a side of green beans or roasted veggies.
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Cooking Tips For Crock Pot Mac And Cheese
Ive tested this recipe more times than Id like to admit, and through all those trials and errors, Ive come up with a few helpful tips.
- Spray the crockpot. I know it might sound weird, but it really helps keep the pasta from sticking too much to the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Use the right liquids. For most of my attempts, I was using regular, whole milk, and every time it would thicken way too much and sort of seize up on me. Ive found that a mixture of chicken broth, evaporated milk, with a little heavy cream for richness, yields the best creamy sauce.
- Grate your own cheeses. I know I know. Its SO tempting to open a bag of pre-shredded cheese from the store and Ive done it on occasion. But most commercial pre-shredded cheeses are coated in cellulose, which essentially keeps the cheese from all clumping together in the bag. Ever noticed how bags of pre-shredded cheese that are coming up on their expiration date usually have clumps of cheese stuck together inside? Its because the cellulose is just about gone from the cheese. That coating prevents the cheese from truly melting down into a gloriously gooey cheese sauce, and can leave your sauce a bit on the gritty side.
Best Cheese For Mac And Cheese
A combination of Gruyere and mozzarella cheese. Gruyerefor the most superior flavour with the best melting qualities for creamy sauces such as this theres no contention in my view. And mozzarella for stretch nothing does the cheese pull like a good mozzarella!
But honestly, any cheese that melts well works is excellent with Mac and Cheese, such as cheddar, tasty, Colby, Swiss, Pepper Jack, Emmental.
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What Type Of Cheese
This classic mac and cheese recipe is made with cheddar cheese. I particularly love medium or sharp cheddar cheese but any type will do. If you want a more luxurious mac and cheese or youre really trying to impress a crowd, you could use a combination of different cheeses. Just be sure to select a type of cheese that is good for melting, like white cheddar, smoked gouda, gruyere, brie, goat cheese, mozzarella, or fontina.
Do You Cover Your Mac And Cheese In The Oven
You may also be wondering if it is necessary to cover your Macaroni and Cheese in the oven. I personally love the crispy bits of cheese that form on the top layer that result from NOT covering the mac and cheese. Since the noodles are pre-cooked, you are really just popping it in the oven to get all bubbly and thick throughout and brown and crispy on top, but ultimately, the choice is up to you.
As youll see in this recipe, Ive added a few extra optional flavor boosters to keep things interesting. But I must say, the garlic powder is an absolute must! For years, people have asked me what I put in this mac and cheese that makes it so good. Well, guess what? The garlic powder is my secret! Recently, Ive begun adding a little nutmeg and mustard powder to the sauce as well. While these are most definitely optional, I dont think youll regret adding them in the slightest. I also love serving the finished product with some sriracha, for an added kick. My kids arent fans, but my husband and I sure love it.
So, the next time youre looking for a fairly simple and extra delicious weeknight dinner for your family or guests, I highly recommend whipping up this easy Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Youll make a lot of tummies happy! If your time is limited you could always opt for this 4 Ingredient Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese or this Slow Cooker Mushroom Macaroni and Cheese.
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How Long To Bake Mac And Cheese
There is only one rule that you need to remember when baking mac and cheese: dont bake it too long otherwise youll bake away the sauce leaving you with a dry mixture.
Baking it at around 20 minutes at 375 degrees F guarantees you that same stretchy cheesy baked mac and cheese with all the heart-melting sauce. Or you can also bake it at 30 minutes at 350 F
Although weve tried a couple of Mac and Cheese recipes, nothing compares to this one which has a smooth silky sauce that permeates every inch of elbow macaroni there is.
Youd fall head over heels with the brimming Southern flavors of what this baked mac and cheese has to offer. Its got a note of heat and smokiness. Youd need a bigger a spoon, for sure!
This would be delightful at any time. Oh, especially during these cold winter months. So dont wait for special occasions to whip up a pan of this.
Heck, you could even make this on the daily. You can also explore different southern comfort food ideas to prepare every day! Go ahead, take a bite, nobodys looking.
Want more recipes like this? Try my Ground Beef Casserole here, my mac and cheese the Caribbean way Trinidad Macaroni Pie and my heartier and meatier Chili Mac and Cheese.
The Best Pasta Shapes For Macaroni And Cheese
Macaroni is, obviously, the classic when it comes to a good macaroni and cheese, but there are plenty of other pasta shapes you can use. I like elbows, fusilli and orecchiette for something different.
The key is to remember that using shapes which are much larger or smaller than macaroni will affect how the sauce coats and cooks with the pasta.
Pasta is starchy stuff and very small shapes like risoni or stelline have the effect of gumming up your lovely creamy cheese sauce . Very large pasta shapes like rigatoni mean you need to bake your macaroni and cheese in a larger dish, so the sauce has to go further and tends to make the finished dish a little dry.
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