Instant Pot Mac & Cheese With Spicy Crust

Last updated on December 16th, 2021

What’s better than Instant pot mac and cheese? How about Instant pot macaroni and FIVE cheeses? I tend to get a little carried away with cheeses sometimes (all the time) and this dish is no exception.

This mac & cheese recipe has Gruyere, cheddar, Parmesan and Gouda. Also Mozzarella. The good stuff. You can of course – swap any of these out with the cheese of your choice, but do you really want to? Top this dish off with a bit of a crispy spicy crust and you’re set.

Tips & Tricks for making the best Instant Pot Mac and Cheese


  • elbow macaroni
  • evaporated milk
  • water
  • onion
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • cayenne pepper
  • cheddar cheese
  • Gruyere cheese
  • Gouda cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • fresh parmesan cheese (not powdered)
  • butter
  • plain panko bread crumbs
  • fresh Italian parsley
  • paprika

One of my firmest beliefs is that you can’t ever have too much cheese in any one dish, although I may have pushed the boundary in this one. Feel free to lighten up or cut back if you feel the need to…

The most time consuming and / or challenging part of this recipe is shredding all of this cheese by hand. Sure, you can buy it all pre-shredded but where’s the fun in that? To be fair, the Gruyere and Gouda I cut into smaller pieces by hand using a sharp knife.

With the exception of the crispy topping ingredients (the panko, paprika and Italian parsley) everything gets dumped into the instant pot and mixed well. Really well. I use a wooden spoon. It’s not a precise science or anything, it’s just what works for me to dig deep and move the cheese…

Moved cheese (see figure below). Mooo-ved cheeses?

Under pressure the Mac & Cheese(s) will take about 4 minutes but allowing for natural release will add 15 minutes to that time, bringing us to 19 minutes.

During that cooking window, we can work on that crispy topping on the stovetop.

If you want this to be a strictly one-pot-Instant-Pot-meal you can totally skip this step and go right to the eating part, but this kicks the flavor up a notch!.

Heat up your skillet or saucepan and melt the butter.

Pour in the panko breadcrumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until they are deep golden brown. For an extra-extra kick here, you can swap out plain panko breadcrumbs for the spicier “Italian Seasoning” or “Parmesan” varieties.

Remove the finished panko breadcrumbs from the heat and add the paprika; give it one last stir.

Serve up your Mac & Cheese, it’s time to eat!

For best results, store your Mac & Cheese in the refrigerator for up to 4 days in a tightly sealed container.
Reheat leftovers in the microwave, if desired.

Related Recipes

Plate of Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese With Spicy Crust

Course: Lunch & Dinner Recipes
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cheese, Instant Pot, pasta
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 300kcal
Kick up your Instant Pot Mac & Cheese with this easy recipe with a spicy crumb topping, all done in under 30 minutes!
Print Recipe


  • 2 cups dry packaged elbow macaroni
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese, shredded (not powdered)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup plain panko bread crumbs* (See note)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika


  • Place the dry elbow macaroni, evaporated milk, water, onion, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cheddar cheese, Gruyere, Gouda, mozzarella and parmesan in a 6-quart Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker) and stir completely together until well incorporated.
  • Lock lid into place and set vent to on. Turn cook setting on high / manual pressure for 4 minutes.
  • Once the timer has gone off, let pressure release naturally for 15 minutes (the timer will count this for you).
  • Carefully release any remaining pressure by turning or unlocking the vent.
  • Carefully open the lid and stir.
  • For the crispy topping: Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt the butter, add panko bread crumbs and cook until a deep golden brown – about 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Stir in the parsley and paprika.
  • Sprinkle the finished bread crumb topping over the macaroni in the Instant Pot to your taste (I got a little heavy-handed with it in the photos above).


  • If you want to kick up the flavor even more, swap the plain panko breadcrumbs with “Italian” or “parmesan herb” or any of the other varieties of panko breadcrumbs available in the grocery store.
  • Nutrition

    Calories: 300kcal
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