Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with Chicken and Peas

A one-pot dinner in 15 minutes.

Macaroni and Cheese
This looks a lot better than that orange stuff I used to eat.

Everyone loves macaroni and cheese, the ultimate comfort food. What’s better than home made?

I’ll admit it: for most of my life I’ve been hooked on Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese dinner. For years, it was almost a special treat to whip up a box of this unnaturally orange stuff at home. But with the rise of good mac and cheese and its popularity in restaurants, I started looking outside that blue box. And, after making this dish, I can’t see going back — ever.

This recipe is based on one I found in the Pressure Cooker Perfection cookbook by the folks at America’s Test Kitchens. It’s a great cookbook with nice color finished food photos — I’m a sucker for that in cookbooks — but it predates the Instant Pot I and so many of my friends have. Since I modified the recipe a bit for my own version, I figured I’d rewrite my version of it with Instant Pot-specific instructions. Here it is.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (2 cups) elbow macaroni. I used large elbows but I suspect you could use small ones or any other similarly sized/shaped pasta.
  • 2 cups water. I used cold water because the recipe didn’t specify otherwise.
  • 1 teaspoon salt.
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. You can omit this is you prefer not to have the spice.
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard. I used the full teaspoon and could really smell it when it was first cooking and wondered whether I should have cut back. But I couldn’t taste it in the finished product.
  • 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk. I used whole milk, although the original recipe says 2% is okay. Use fat free at your own risk. Please remember that evaporated milk is not the same as sweetened condensed milk, although they’re usually together on supermarket shelves.
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, chopped. I occasionally buy roasted chickens at the supermarket and, because I usually can’t eat a whole one by myself in two days, cut up the breast meat and freeze it in a vacuum-sealed packet. It’s perfect for recipes like this.
  • 1/2 to 1 cup frozen peas. I love peas and aways have a bag in my freezer. I didn’t measure; I probably used a whole cup!
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded. I bought it pre-shredded.
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) Monterey Jack cheese, shredded. I couldn’t find it pre-shredded so I had to shred it myself. In hindsight, I realize I could have bought a pre-shredded mild cheddar/Monterey Jack mix the supermarket offered in 8-ounce packages.

Instructions

  1. Mix macaroni, water, salt, pepper, and mustard in Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker).
  2. Cover and seal pot for pressure cooking.
  3. On Instant Pot, press Manual and set for 5 minutes. (On another pressure cooker, heat and cook at high pressure for five minutes.)
  4. When cooking is finished turn pressure cooker off, do a fast pressure release, and carefully remove lid.
  5. Stir pasta thoroughly. It should be mostly cooked with some water left in the pot.
  6. On Instant Pot, press Saute. (On another pressure cooker, heat to medium high.)
  7. Stir in milk, chicken, and peas.
  8. Cook until liquid is mostly gone and pasta is tender.
  9. Turn pressure cooker off and remove from heat.
  10. Stir in cheeses and serve.

This makes four good-sized servings, perfect for dinner.

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