Instant Pot Jalapeno Mac & cheese is your favorite comfort food pasta recipe made mostly hands off using your Instant Pot.
This creamy, rich, homemade mac and cheese is ready in less than 15 minutes!
Mac and Cheese in your Instant Pot is a right of passage when becoming and Instant Pot guru!
This version is made a bit more bougie, and I have no shame.
Brace yourself for rich, comforting Mac & Cheese - in under 15 minutes!
Looking for more Instant Pot Pasta Recipes?
Easy (No Burn) Instant Pot Spaghetti & Meat Balls
Instant Pot Chicken Parm Penne
Ingredients (and swaps!) for the best ever Instant Pot Mac & Cheese
- Cavatappi pasta is a fun corkscrew pasta that I love for mac and cheese, but you can easily swap this out for an elbow macaroni if you wish!
- Cream or Milk - I prefer to use a heavy cream, but whole or 2% milk would be a good option too. I don't suggest using evaporated milk.
- Jalapenos - this is going to be your call, ultimately. Jalapenos can vary dramatically in their intensity. If I have peppers that are not all that spicy, I will use 2, and if they have bit, I use only 1.
- Bacon - to make this a vegetarian dish, you can easily omit the bacon. OR, for the ultra carnivore option, you can load it up. This is one of those ingredients that you can play with and add or subtract as much as you prefer.
- Bouillon / broth - I love to use roasted garlic (Better than bouillon brand), but you could just as easily use chicken broth or even just plain water.
- Butter - you can omit it but it will affect the overall texture of your mac & cheese.
- 3 cheeses - I use old/sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and parmesan reggiano. I grate them all. It is worth it. If you want that gooey feel, don't use pre shredded bags of cheese (they have cellulose added and don't melt as well).
Only a few easy steps to this Instant Pot Mac & Cheese
(1 )Use the saute feature to cook your bacon and jalapenos. Remove them from the instant pot when done. Be sure to get all of the bits off the bottom or you will get a burn message.
- You can skip this step and saute the bacon and jalapenos on the stove while the pasta cooks - as an alternative. This will make the overall process quicker (but dirty an additional pan)
( 2 )Add the pasta, bouillon/water OR broth, and butter to the pot. The water just be just barely covering the pasta.
- Place the lid on, set to seal, and set to 4 minutes (or half the time on the box if you choose a different pasta).
( 3) Once the pressure cycle is complete, carefully release the pressure. Add in all of your cream, and add the cheese one handful at a time, stirring (gently) until all melted. Do not discard any remaining pasta liquid! This starchy liquid helps tighten it all up!
- Fold in the cooked jalapenos and bacon.
Why is it foaming when I do pressure release?
This can happen because the pasta is a starch. If you get foamy spewing as you release the pressure, so an intermittent pressure release. This means release the pressure for 2-3 seconds and close it for 3 seconds, and repeat.
Not a fan of stingy, gooey Mac & Cheese?
That is a shame! But, I get it. If you don't want the stringy gooey texture, omit the mozzarella and use just the cheddar and parm.
Want a thicker, creamier version?
That is ok, too. You will want to add about 4 ounces of cream cheese. This will mac this mac and cheese much more rich.
Instant Pot Jalapeno Bacon Mac & Cheese
- 1 large jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
- 1 cup raw bacon pieces this is about 5-6 pieces
- 1 pound cavatappi pasta or elbow macaroni 450-500g pasta
- 4 cups water or broth (I use Better than Bouillon roasted garlic for this recipe, but chicken is good too)
- ½ cup butter
- 2 cups shredded sharp/ old cheese
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup parmesan reggiano cheese
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- ¾ cup heavy cream OR whole milk OR 2%milk
- to taste salt and pepper
Bacon & Jalapenos
- Press saute feature and once hot, add the bacon.
- Once the bacon is ½ cooked, add in the diced jalapeno.
- Stir often and cook until jalapenos have softened and the bacon is fully cooked.
- Press cancel, and removed cooked bacon and jalapenos from the Instant Pot.
- Ensure all brown bits are removed from the bottom of the pot.
- You may skip this step and saute the bacon and jalapenos in a pan, separately, while the pasta is cooking.
Mac & Cheese
- Place the pasta, water (or broth), and butter in the Instant Pot. Ensure the pasta is just barely covered.
- Secure the lid, set to sealing, and set on high pressure 4 minutes.
- When the pressure cycle is complete, carefully release the pressure.
- If there is liquid left in the pot, have no fear. This starch water is perfect to help tighten everything up - which will happen as it all cools.
- Add the cream and Dijon mustard to the pot and stir to combine.
- Add the cheese in handfuls and mix after each handful until all cheese is melted.
- Fold in your cooked Jalapenos and Bacon.
- At this point you can play with it a bit to get to your desired texture. If you want creamier and smoother, add more cream or milk. If you want it cheesier, add more cheese. If you want a really rich and thick mac and cheese, add 4 oz cream cheese.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
Kaley Mackenzie says
Hi Steph, Awesome recipe. Thank you. For freezing what's the best way to thaw?
overnight in the fridge is best, but I do microwave with a tsp of water in the microwave, too.