This 21 Day Fix Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is so creamy delicious thanks to our secret ingredient: cauliflower puree! This post contains affiliate links to products I’m obsessed with.
I’ve been wanting to make-over my mom’s baked Mac and Cheese recipe for awhile now…you know, the one with the crispy breadcrumbs on top?
I could eat that meal every day for the rest of my life.
Anyway, I have been having WAY too much fun with my Instant Pot, so baked casseroles have taken a back seat for now.
For those of you who don’t have an Instant Pot yet, I’m sorry…but I am serious when I say put in on your wish list because it is LIFE CHANGING!
Anyway, this Mac and Cheese makes a hearty side dish and couldn’t be quicker or easier to make. I love the creaminess of Cauliflower Puree in dishes like this, so I used it in place of heavy cream or milk and for me the end product was the perfect texture and cheesiness.
I tried my best to make the serving size as large as possible, but it’s tricky to balance the right amount of blue with the right amount of yellow. You could bulk this up by adding additional veggies or protein, but I am picky when it comes to my Mac and Cheese…I have no problem adding things in, but then let’s call it something else. Like Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Pasta Bake.
Ooooh – that sounds good, doesn’t it?
But if it’s actual Mac and Cheese I’m after, this dish really does the job. Like lick the bowl clean kind of deal.
For all of you non- Instant Pot users, I promise to get you a baked and Fix friendly Mac and Cheese before too long, so stick with me!
If you give this Instant Pot Mac and Cheese a try, be sure to let me know what you think
How do I cook Gluten Free pasta in the Instant Pot?
I have learned to cut the stovetop cook time in half, then subtract 2 minutes. This was after having to throw out several batches of pasta…and gluten-free can be even trickier, but Barilla GF seems to work the best! If you have any IP pasta tricks, please share!
What if I have leftover cauliflower puree?
Use it in another recipe! Try one of these-
Healthy Instant Pot Shepherd’s Pie [21 Day Fix| Gluten and Dairy Free]
Healthy Shepherd’s Pie (Stovetop/Instant Pot)| 21 Day Fix Shepherd’s Pie
21 Day Fix Secret Ingredient Queso Dip and Homemade Chips
21 Day Fix Loaded Potato and Cauliflower Soup (Stove-top/Instant Pot)
Instant Pot Loaded Cauliflower Mash (21 Day Fix | 2B Mindset)
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- 1 head cauliflower cut into florets
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth divided use, can sub water
- 2 cups water
- 3 cups elbow pasta I used a 12 oz box of gluten free Barilla
- 4 teaspoons vegan butter, butter, or ghee
- 2 1/2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons pecorino romano optional, but highly recommended!
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
- Place the steam basket at the bottom of your Instant Pot. Add cauliflower florets and 2 cups of water. Set IP to 3 minutes on manual setting. After cook time is through, carefully set to quick release and wait for steam to stop before opening the lid. Drain the cauliflower and puree in a food processor with 1/2 cup of the chicken broth. Measure out 2 cups of the puree for the Mac and Cheese. Freeze extra puree to use later.
- Add pasta, 2 cups of broth, garlic powder, butter, salt, and dry mustard into the IP. Set to manual for 2 minutes. After cook time is through, place a kitchen towel over the steam vent and switch to quick release. Wait for the steam to stop before opening the lid.
- Stir cheese and 2 cups of cauliflower puree into the pasta and mix well. Serve immediately!
Holy kamoly! This one is GOOD! I followed the recipe using GF Barilla noodles but some came out a bit crunchy, but definitely still edible. I would probably add more broth to cook in…maybe 2 1/2 cups as the noodles weren’t all submerged in the liquid to start (used 8 qt IP). This is my first recipe doing noodles in the IP, so still some trial and error to get them all cooked evenly. But nonetheless this recipe was so good and I love using cauliflower vs cream or a roux. Will definitely make again!
OOH yes! In the 8 qt it might need a little more liquid. Try just adding 1/4 cup more to start. I also just tap the noodles down a little bit into the broth before putting the lid on. You can also pop the lid back on for a couple minutes after releasing the pressure and stirring, and allow the steam to soften those little crunchy bits on the stubborn noodles! 🙂
Amber Boynton says
all I can say isOMG!!! this is so yummy..I used a plant based pasta instead… didn’t affect the taste!! OMG so good! TY
Great news! Thank you!
Could I replace the whole wheat pasta with cauliflower to make a cauliflower mac?
I can only give this recipe 3 stars, however (full disclosure) I am a mac and cheese snob. As I was looking for a healthier alternative for my family and my diet I wanted to give this a go. This is the first recipe I have tried of Nancy’s that was not a hit for me or my family. Typically the cauliflower is hidden enough in taste that it goes unnoticeable, for me, not in this case. This tasted like pasta and cauliflower. Maybe adding additional ingredients (broccoli, bacon, chicken, etc) would distract from the fact this “hidden” veggie is present? This will unfortunately not be a repeat recipe for me. I would direct people reading these comments to look at some of the other recipes in this blog that sneak in veggies for your kiddos – like cheeseburger soup, that everyone has enjoyed in my house.
Hi Erin – I appreciate your honesty and I am sorry this didn’t work for you! Thanks for mentioning the other recipes that have been successful for you! Question…did you use all of the puree or just the 2 cups? Just checking 🙂
Sue B says
I’m from the South where Mac and cheese has eggs in it. Do you think I could add an egg or two to make it more in keeping with what my husband is accustomed to?
Yes!!! Please let me know how that works for you!!
This is the best healthy Mac and cheese recipe I’ve ever tasted! It’s so creamy, and delicious. Comfort food at its finest! Thank you for this fantastic recipe.
Dawn Smith says
Hi! Love the mac and cheese IP. Do you have a breakdown of the nutritonals?
Hi! The most accurate way to get this would be to plug it into my fitness pal!
Ann Andreshak says
I have to have the nutritional information or I can not try the recipe. My husband has severe heart disease newly diagnosed despite normal lab tests. The reasons do not matter. We have to follow the Dean Ornish diet which is 3gm fat or less on ingredients and I have learned a lot of substitutions but I can not start until I have the nutritional information.
Nutrition information was just added for this recipe 🙂
I’m making this tonight for dinner, but I was just wondering about leftovers and reheating them the next day. How would you reheat it? In the microwave with a little extra water? In the instant pot?
This recipe was fantastic! It was my first time cooking in my IP and my first time doing 21 day fix. I am a huge pasta addict, so the idea of turning one of my all time favorite comfort foods into a somewhat healthy option was a nice way to ease in. I’m going to toss in some broccoli just to make the servings a little more generous, but I could use more veggies anyways. Thanks for a great recipe!
That’s AWESOME, Kristin! Keep kicking butt on the FIX!
Tami Kaminsen says
I have a 3 qt IP, do you think I could leave amounts and cooking time the same?
Hi, I don’t have a steam basket for my IP. Can you just cook it the same in the water and then drain the water off before blending the cauliflower?
Thank you Nancylynn for the quick response. I made your Mac and Cheese tonight for dinner and it was delicious!!!!! Cooking the cauliflower without the basket worked fine. Tomorrow night is cream af broccoli soup using the left over cauliflower purée. Thank you again for the fantastic recipe. I’ve added it to my favorites.
Awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know, Cindy – it means a lot!
I followed the directions until the end with one exception. I added 12 oz box vanilla GF macaroni with 2 broth, then mistakenly I added the puree, cheese, butter etc… cooked it all together. I did manual “3” . I was afraid for the end since every other recipe I reviewed cooked the pasta in a seperate step. Any way I opened it up and it looked scary, the noodles were stuck to the bottom, cheese and liquid at top. I had to scrape bottom of pot at with wooden spatula to free the pasta. Once I mixed everything well it was perfect.
Ahhhh!!! I am SO happy to know that it worked out!!!
The water is not in the directions? Or did I miss it? I assume you add to noodles?
Nevermind, I found it for steaming cauliflower!
Sounds delicious. Can’t wait to try this recipe. Can you tell me how many carbs are in this recipe? Thank you
I don’t count carbs, so I am not sure…but you could try putting it into my fitness pal to check!
This is legit comfort food. Honestly amazing. Thank you for this recipe!!!! I puréed the cauliflower in my blender and the result was a smooth and creamy base. A small cauliflower yielded exactly 2 cups for me. I would cook the pasta an extra minute next time as well. I wasn’t using an InstantPot brand of pressure cooker, which could be the reason my pasta was a bit too al dente. This is making its way into my regular rotation of dinners. SO GOOD.
This is AWESOME!! I’m so happy you enjoyed it!!
Debbie Rotenberg says
Any thoughts on if this recipe would freeze well? I’m looking to make my celiac daughter some quick grab n go lunches.
Hmmm…I want to say I think it would, but I haven’t tried it.
Rachel H says
So… I’m new the IP world. I LOVE it, but I’m still learning how to use it. I did not use gluten free pasta because it’s what I already had. Do you happen to know if it would need more liquid or a longer cook time using whole wheat pasta? Some of the pasta came out VERY al dente. Also, when you take the cauliflower out, are you supposed to drain the IP and then add the 2c broth for the pasta?
Yes – gluten-free noodles are a whole other ball game…I’m sorry!
Rachel H says
It’s ok! The flavor of it was delicious. We will definitely be making it again! I think I might not have put enough water in and that was rh problem.
Patricia Selvaggio says
How did I miss this one Nancylynn ?!? Anyway … when the weather gets cooler I’ll give this a try. I’m certain it will be delish as you never disappoint!!
Yay!!! I hope you love it!! Miss and love you, Auntie!!
I don’t know what I did wrong- we ended up with mush and it was still soup- I think it was just too much liquid for my pasta. I started it on manual 2 minutes but it was still mushy at the end of that. How much pasta did you use? Mine seemed like less than a normal box of pasta but it was gluten free elbow. I’m guessing my box had less then yours so it absorbed too much?
Ugh! I am so sorry – this is a total bummer :(. My Barilla pasta was 12 oz…what kind did you use?
Could you please update the recipe the correct amount of gf pasta to use? ty
Jennifer Doschadis says
I don’t know if my original comment posted or not so I will try again! Your website has been such a huge help and inspiration! Thank you so much for your time and energy put into this blog!!
Jennifer!! I am so thrilled to hear that – you have no idea!! Thank YOU for taking the time to write…it means so much to know the blog is helping you on your journey!! <3
Let me just start off with that I have never left a comment about a recipe before, but this was Awesome!!! Followed directions exactly and it came out perfect. Will be making this again a lot.
Wait – was this your original comment??? How did I miss this??? <3 <3 <3 It's only Monday and my week is made!!!!
I’m excited to try this this week! I can’t seem to find how many servings this makes though. I see that the serving size is 3/4 cup, but how many servings of that size does this recipe make? I’m using it for my meal plan.
I’m sorry – it’s 4!
I’m so excited to try this tonight! I did just realize that it makes quite a large amount of servings. Do you think I could freeze half of it?
I’m sure you could!
This is an amazing recipe, thank you! I’m a huge fan of macaroni and cheese so I was excited all week to splurge on yellows at night for this meal. We had our neighbors over for dinner and they went back for seconds – they were so impressed that it was healthy and had cauliflower in it! Some of my pasta was crunchy on top but that’s just an instant pot fail on my end but I’ll be making this recipe again and again and again. I’m making some up for my mom whose going to be laid up from surgery – total comfort food! I made it with whole grain big shells, ghee, and your perfect cheese mix. I’ll be making it again tomorrow with whole grain penne. Again, many thanks.
That is SO wonderful, Cara!!! I am thrilled to hear that it worked for you guys and your company…and I hope that it helps your mom feel better after her surgery. Thank you for making my day with your sweet note!!!
Janine M Walsh says
So I am becoming really good at posting comments to your blog……..I don’t normally do this but I have to compliment you once again for a yummy recipe! This was my second instant pot meal that I made and everyone loved it! My husband just said how much he liked the mac and cheese and that he normally doesn’t like mac and cheese! I did use wheat pasta and might have to add another minute because the pasta was a little hard but still edible and there were no complaints! My youngest loved it and wants to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow! Thank you again for sharing your recipe and I look forward to trying more of you recipes!
This is SO wonderful to hear! Thank you! Pasta in the IP can be tricky until you figure out the cook time for your favorite brand/shape and I was really nervous posting this one, but I just loved the flavor so much, that I hoped even if the pasta didn’t cook perfectly, that it would still be yummy! I am so happy that this was the case! Thank you for taking the time to write…it honestly means more than I can say!