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Better than Boxed: Instant Pot Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Posted November 19, 2018 by Stephanie

The first time I had boxed mac and cheese, it was at a friend’s house. We were starving after an intense afternoon of playing with our My Little Ponies and her mom made us some pasta out of a bright blue box. I was hooked! What were these magical tube-y noodle covered in orange sauce!? They were so good and made such a big impression on me that I went home and told my mom about it immediately. I begged her to go to the grocery store so we could buy our own boxes.

Better than Boxed: Instant Pot Pumpkin Mac and Cheese | www.iamafoodblog.com

We didn’t end up going to the store, but she was was impressed that I wanted to eat something that wasn’t cereal or plain rice so she decided to make her own version of mac and cheese. It was good, but it wasn’t the boxed stuff. I kept begging and begging so she ended up buying some. After I broke her, we always had boxed mac and cheese in the house. It was little kid heaven. Thanks mom!

Now that I’m grown up, I never eat the boxed stuff. It’s just so easy to make mac and cheese from scratch. So why would I even think of making mac and cheese in the Instant Pot? I’ve seen a bunch of pressure cooker mac and cheeses floating around the internet but I didn’t really see the point. I mean, it doesn’t take much time to bring a pot of water to a boil and make a simple white sauce. But, hey, I’m down to try new things so, why not?

Better than Boxed: Instant Pot Pumpkin Mac and Cheese | www.iamafoodblog.com

I’m glad I gave it a try because it ended up being so GOOD. So creamy, so cheesy, and so fast. All you do is pressure cook the pasta and then stir in all of the other ingredients. Pressure cooking the pasta gets it perfectly al dente and leaves enough starchy pasta water in the pot to combine with butter and milk to form a quick and silky smooth sauce. The heat of the pasta gently melts the cheese and a bit of pumpkin stirred in gives this mac fun autumnal feels. It’s the perfect side dish for your Thanksgiving table.

Are you guys ready for Turkey day? Are you excited about December? I’ve already been tempted to listen to All I Want for Christmas is You. I’m so ready for the holiday season!

Better than Boxed: Instant Pot Pumpkin Mac and Cheese | www.iamafoodblog.com

5 Ingredient Instant Pot Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Recipe
serves 4

  • 1/2 lb short pasta of choice
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2.5 cups shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

Put the pasta and water into the insert of the Instant Pot. Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes then quick release. Stir in the butter, cheddar, milk, and pumpkin until the cheese is melty and everything is gooey. It will be quite saucy but will thicken up. Season with salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Note: Because this mac and cheese doesn’t have flour in it, it’s perfect for people who want to make a gluten-free mac and cheese – just sub out your pasta for gluten free pasta.


  1. This looks so good – the fact that it’s easy and quick to cook makes it all the better!

    Rebecca | http://www.peppermintdolly.com

  2. Joanne Casey says:

    Could I use a regular pressure cooker for this recipe and would the amount of water change?


    1. Stephanie says:

      hi joanne,
      yes it should be the same, just use high pressure. that being said, i haven’t tried it but an instant pot is just a regular pressure cooker so i think it’ll work!

  3. Laura says:

    Does this recipe serve 4 as a side or as a main? Thanks

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi laura,
      most pasta recommendations are 2 ounces per person, this recipe makes 8 ounces, but i usually eat more than the recommended >_< so i'd say as a side, but it really depends on your appetite!

      1. laura says:


  4. Sarah says:

    Can I use fresh pumpkin or butternut squash?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi sarah,

  5. K says:

    How can I make this if I don’t have a pressure cooker? Should I leave some of the cooking water or drain and follow the rest of the instructions?

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