Instant Pot Mac and Cheese (gluten-free)

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This is the easiest mac and cheese you’ll ever make. It’s cheesy, gluten-free, and takes just minutes to cook in an Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese by Ashley of MyHeartBeets.com

Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

I realize that mac and cheese isn’t the healthiest thing in the world, but homemade mac and cheese sure beats the kind that comes out of a box. And sometimes, the fact is that you just want a bowl of warm, cheesy pasta. I’ll be honest, this (gluten-free) mac and cheese has saved me on more than one occasion. It’s the perfect thing to make when your fridge is near empty and you have a toddler and husband who have made it clear that they need food ASAP. I can have this on the table in just 4 minutes – not bad, huh. That’s right, 4 minutes and lunch/dinner is served. While the noodles cook, I just shred some cheese and throw together a side salad. Easy.

Mac and cheese isn’t anything fancy but I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s a simple, no fuss meal that also happens to be tasty and picky kid/husband approved. The funny thing is that currently, my husband is pickier than my toddler… anyone else in the same boat?

Instant Pot Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese by Ashley of MyHeartBeets.com

I know mac and cheese is super easy to make on the stovetop but it’s even easier and faster to make mac and cheese in an Instant Pot.

How to Make Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese in an Instant Pot?

I’ve been experimenting with different types of gluten-free noodles but so far gluten-free Barilla elbow macaroni is the only one that has worked out well for me. I tried black bean pasta and brown rice quinoa pasta but both of those turned to mush and I’ve also tried Banza chickpea flour pasta which turned out okay but still needs some testing.

I’ll update the recipe card with a list of brands that work out well for me and also ones that don’t. In the meantime, trust me and use gluten-free Barilla elbow macaroni. If you do try another brand – please leave a comment to let me know what worked for you!

“I’ve made this several times using both Barilla elbow and penne. Penne needs a little more cook time. LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe and is me easy go to anytime!”

Cynthia
Instant Pot Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese by Ashley of MyHeartBeets.com

Instant Pot Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese by Ashley of MyHeartBeets.com

Instant Pot Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese

4.99 from 50 reviews
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Ingredients
 

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni or gluten-free elbow macaroni I use this brand
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of turmeric optional for color
  • 1 ½ cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup heavy cream or unsweetened coconut cream
  • black pepper garnish

Instructions
 

  • Add the macaroni, water, butter, salt and turmeric to the Instant Pot.
  • Secure lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 4 minutes at high pressure.
  • Quick release pressure as soon as the time is up, then immediately stir in the cheese and heavy cream.
  • Garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and serve.

Notes

  • If using turmeric, only use a pinch! Too much will make the pasta bitter.
  • Make sure to quick release pressure as soon as the time is up. If you wait too long, the noodles will overcook.
  • If gluten-free, I recommend using Barilla gluten-free elbow macaroni
  • Please let me know if you try another brand of gluten-free pasta and if it works for you
Gluten-free Brands that work (will update this as I try more brands or brands that my readers recommend): Barilla gluten-free elbow macaroni, Jovial elbow pasta, Garofalo gluten-free penne pasta
Brands that do not work: Trader Joe’s Brown Rice and Quinoa Pasta; Trader Joe’s Black Bean Pasta
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Instant Pot Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese by Ashley of MyHeartBeets.com

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Comments

  1. Noëlle says

    5 stars
    I made this tonight, in my 3qt instant pot. I used Jovial (organic brown rice pasta) gluten free elbow macaroni (from Whole Foods) & did 2cups of water & 2cups of macaroni. It says on the box, to cook it for 10min. So I set my pressure cook (also) to 10min & then I quick released as soon as it beeps. The noodles, came out perfectly! Everything else I kept the same! This was enough for one meal, for two adults. (I think you could add another cup of water & noodles if you wanted a little more). I also added a little bit of arrowroot (maybe like an tsp? You could add more if you want) along with the cream & cheese at the end to make it a bit thicker. I will be making this again! Thank you! 🫶🏼🫰🏼

  2. Kate says

    I decided to rebel and made this with Trader Joes’ brown rice an quinoa pasta but adjusted cook time to 1 minute with an 8 minute release. It worked!

  3. Ron Black says

    5 stars
    Yeah, I was a bit confused 2 cups Barilla Elbow Noodle and 2 cups water? (plus it was my first time using an instant-pot) The noodles come in a 12oz box (1.5 cups).
    When looking at the bottom of the pot, I thought no way is this going to cover, I adjusted 1.5 water to 1.5 noodle. So I added the remaining 0.5 water. Noodle coverage was just right. BUT I also adjusted everything else down. It still tasted great but was a little dry.

    I added bacon which put it over the top. Next time I will add a little more butter and cream.

    Thanks! Now I have something good, simple, and quick for my gluten free wife.

    Next I need to experiment with gouda and maybe parmesan along with the sharp cheddar.
    And maybe add some Broccoli/Mushrooms 🙂 endless possibilities.

  4. Cynthia says

    5 stars
    I’ve made this several times using both Barilla elbow and penne. Penne needs a little more cook time. LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe and is me easy go to anytime!

  5. Mike says

    How many cups of dry pasta would I need to feed 16 people? Do I triple the recipe? I have an 8 quart Instant pot.

  6. Alicia says

    5 stars
    Great recipe! I tweaked it for myself being dairy-free as well. When using plant based cheese I feel it’s 100% necessary to add a half teaspoon of yellow mustard if you like your Mac & Cheese to have a little sharpness. Here are the brands I used:

    2 cups Aldi LiveGFree brown rice & quinoa Fusilli
    1 cup Kroger Simple Truth Plant Based Cheddar shreds
    1/2 cup Kroger Simple Truth Plant Based Mozzerella shreds
    Country Crock Butter

    The noodles were softer than intended but still delicious. I’ll just make sure to do 3 min instead next time and we’ll see how it goes! Thanks!!

  7. Michele says

    I’m new to gluten free cooking as some in our church group can’t or doesn’t eat gluten. I will be trying this with Barilla’s chickpea rotini so I’m hoping it turns out ok. Curious though how many servings do you get out of the 2 c of pasta? My box is 8 oz and will bulk up when cooked so I feel pretty confident it will feed the 6-8 people that usually make it for the group. Thanks so much!

  8. Abby says

    I used Ronzini brand Rotini style noodle. And noodle consistency is fine at 4 min! I find this brand to be much firmer/closer to wheat noodles so I was pretty sure it’d hold up and it did!

    I like my Mac & cheese on the drier side so I ended up not adding the cream. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Sandy says

    5 stars
    I was diagnosed with Celiac disease about a year ago and have missed a good macaroni and cheese. This was so good! I think next time I might add a minute to it because I like my pasta softer. I was also thinking about cooking some chicken with buffalo sauce first. I love buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese. Thanks for the recipe!!!

  10. Joelle says

    OMG! This was SO good. I didn’t think I would eat really good mac and cheese again since going GF!
    I altered the recipe a bit using a 1/2 C of Velveeta with 1 C of the sharp cheese. It reminded me of Velveeta Shells and Cheese that were my Fav growing up!
    Thank you!!

  11. Preetha says

    5 stars
    My seven year old daughter and I made this together. It’s so easy to make and she said it was awesome! The only thing I would change is more heavy cream but otherwise, it was great! Thanks for the recipe!

  12. Michael Press says

    5 stars
    This recipe is absolutely perfect! You’d have to be crazy to use anything other than the Barilla GF elbows. It works. So don’t mess with it. This is it, the GO TO M&C recipe, thank you!

  13. Cara says

    Do you know if this would work in an Instant Pot mini? Or is it too much liquid? Kinda wish I had purchased a regular size so I wouldn’t have to convert every recipe.

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Cara, I’m sorry – I know you probably don’t want to hear this but all of my recipes are tested with a 6qt. When instant pot first came out that’s the only size they had and so I think that’s the size most of us bloggers use to test recipes – it’d be too hard to test every recipe multiple times with now 3 different sized pots. Hopefully another reader who has experimented will be able to respond.

  14. Marie says

    5 stars
    I used Ronzoni gluten free elbow noodles and the 4 minutes plus quick release was perfect! My husband and I live in a studio apartment that does not have a cook top, so learning I can make pasta in the instant pot is so exciting! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  15. Trista C. says

    5 stars
    This came out so good! My kids loved it! I used Banza chickpea pasta, and subbed water for Chicken Bone Broth. I also added a minute to the cook time! It was perfect! Thank you so much!

  16. Rebecca says

    5 stars
    I’m never going back to boiling the pasta separately and draining it! This is da bomb!!! Thanks a kazillion!

  17. Gargi Bhaduri says

    5 stars
    Followed this recipe with a few tweaks: first I was out of Barilla elbows but had some kraft mac dinner boxes. Used the elbows from that- each box is about a cup. Second, instead of water used chicken broth, hence omitted the salt. Third, added 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and 1/2 teaspoon pepper sauce while boiling the pasta (it did not make it hot). Lastly appears that my cheddar was a bit to tangy, so finished it off with a teaspoon of sugar! Also I transferred it to a casserole dish and added a crumb topping (then bake it at 350 for 20 mins)

    • MEGAN says

      4 stars
      So easy! And better as well as faster than any boxed I’ve tried. I would echo what the prior commenter said and maybe add a minute to the cook time. Also I think I’d use a little more pasta, keeping everything else the same. The sauce was delicious but my dish was like cheese soup with pasta and my husband got actual mac and cheese so the pasta to sauce ratio was slightly off.

  18. Tish Gelineau says

    Made this first June 2019 and it’s now my go to for GF Mac & cheese! My GF granddaughter begs me to make it. ❤️👍

  19. michelle says

    5 stars
    I used Ronzoni as well and is good, but is there a trick to keep it from sticking on the bottom…I added extra water to help with that concern but still had a slight bit stick.

  20. Jill Beaty says

    5 stars
    Used Barilla GF elbows and this turned out great!! So quick and easy! Next time, I might add a bit more cream and some ground mustard. Loved it!!

  21. Carly says

    I made this with the Great Value Gluten Free pasta (penne, as it was all I had), and for some reason there was still water left in the pot after the pasta was done cooking. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, and it resulted in a delicious, yet somewhat runny finished product. Any ideas as to why? (I’m super new to the instant pot world and am just figuring it out as well!)

    • My Heart Beets says

      Hi Carly, all pasta brands can be slightly different and so it’s hard to nail down an exact cook time and ingredient ratios for each brand. Now that you know it’s watery when you use this brand, I would suggest reducing the water by a few tablespoons or even ¼ cup. You can also just press the sauté button to boil off extra liquid/thicken sauce. I hope that helps!

  22. Suellen A Carson says

    5 stars
    Hi, The cheese sauce was so yummy <3 I'd like to point out that the Ancient Harvest Elbows don't work with this timing on the 6 quart Duo Instant Pot. I followed the instructions precisely and ended up with 1/3 goo 1/3 half hardened 1/3 swollen elbows. I'll grab Barrilla next week and try it again 🙂 Thanks so much for the fab recipe!!

  23. Farah says

    Hi there. I am looking forward to using this recipe for a potluck lunch. I guess I missed the serving. How many poeple would this recipe serve? Thank you

  24. Lavinia says

    5 stars
    Delicious! I followed the recipe exactly! Such comfort food and shamefully easy! I used Ronzoni GF elbows because that is all that the store had. They came out just perfect. Thank you for a terrific, easy recipe.

  25. Katie K says

    In our small town, the only brand of gluten-free noodles available is called “bionaturae” elbows. Using this brand, the recipe turned out fantastic! Thank you so much! I look forward to making this on more of a regular basis!

  26. Erin says

    Just found this recipe and it was exactly what I needed!! I’m pregnant and sick and needed comfort food, but I hadn’t been brave enough to try gf pasta. This came out perfectly. Thank you!!

  27. Erin Allison says

    Oh my gosh! So delicious! And I love that i can control the ingredients (and there’s no “powder”). I added some cut up all-beef hot dogs to the first step and it turned out amazing. Served with steamed broccoli for a quick, easy and quick-clean dinner!! Love this!!

  28. Maura says

    5 stars
    I’ve used Banza elbows or shells made from chickpeas and they work well. I substituted paprika for turmeric.

  29. Jackie C says

    Great recipe for many reasons…gluten free and the instant pot! We used Ronzoni Gluten Free rotini pasta and penne pasta and they worked great. I am the only person who must eat gluten free in my family and they often are not fans of me making a gluten free dish for all four of us however this was a hit with everyone. We doubled the recipe and all still worked out perfect. We also added a cup and a half of fresh chopped spinach and a cup of freshly crisped and chopped bacon. We added these when we added the cheese and cream and it blended well. Thank you for the recipe!

  30. Amy says

    If I want to double the recipe, do I need to double everything? It seems like a stupid question but I know some instant pot recipes when you double everything, you don’t need to double the liquid. Thanks!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Amy, yup double everything but keep the cook time the same. I will say I don’t particularly love reheating gluten free pasta – doesn’t come out AS good as the first time you make it imo. You’ll likely need to add liquid when reheating to get it back to being creamy.

  31. Beth McKinney says

    I used Bionaturae organic gluten free penne rigate – It was just beyond al dente but also a bit sticky on the surface. The pasta held together & didn’t turn to mush. Next time I’ll try cooking for 3 minutes on manual (Lux60).

  32. Patrick says

    How’s is the reaheat quality with the gf Mac and cheese? Since switching my kitchen to only gf cooking I have not been able to enjoy reheated pasta because gf pasta texture get weird when it’s nuked up.

  33. Barb says

    5 stars
    I admit, I was dubious about cooking GF pasta in the Instant Pot, but after making this recipe I’m a believer. It was perfect with no sticking at all. I am going to try the base method to cook other GF chunk-style pastas. I used Barilla, but I am going to try Wegmans Gluten Free Pasta as it is also a corn-based pasta and I expect that will work well also.

    I did add a few things to it that are parts of my normal mac and cheese recipe: 1/2 tsp dijon mustard, a couple drops of Tabasco and a couple drops of Worcestershire. Try it — it makes a much richer mac and cheese. My husband got out a spatula to scrape the cheese sauce off the sides of the pot!

    • Barb says

      5 stars
      I haven’t, but in general GF pastas don’t reheat well. They get brittle and crumbly. It’s a nature of the pasta itself, not the cooking method.

  34. Aarann says

    5 stars
    I’ve really missed mac and cheese since my doctor told me to go GF. I made this tonight and I’m so pleasantly surprised! Thank you so much for the recipe and the new pasta recommendation!

  35. Elizabeth says

    5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was amazing! I must admit, I was skeptical…would the noodles be mushy? hard? gummy?….but it was fantastic. Thanks so much!
    Do you have a recipe with Barilla GF spaghetti noodles? I would love to try pasta with meat sauce and wondering about the water to pasta proportion. Thanks for sharing it if you do!

  36. Ellen says

    5 stars
    We absolutely love this recipe and make it every single week. We don’t tend to like to use heavy cream though so we do use half-and-half same amount, and it comes out just like Stouffers macaroni and cheese which is one of my favorite since childhood! And being gluten intolerant it is perfect!

  37. Lisa says

    Tried this tonight when I needed something last minute, and it was delicious! I used Barilla GF rotini (spring macs) and some leftover half and half for the cream and part of the water. Omitted the butter. Used sharp cheddar. BUT in my haste I didn’t read the directions and just threw EVERYTHING in at the beginning, including the cheese! I prayed it would be okay but I didn’t know what to expect because I’ve heard that cheese doesn’t do well in the IP. But guess what — it was PERFECT!! And putting it all in at once makes it even easier! Thanks for a great recipe!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Lisa, I’m so happy to hear that! Thanks for letting me know how the mac and cheese turned out for you 🙂 Also I’m going to try adding it all at once next time – that’s so great to know!

  38. Trisha Wolovlek says

    I find when I cook GF pasta, the water is goey after it cooks and I’ve gotten in the habit of rinsing it. If I cook and toss in all the ingredients, do you find it changes the consistency of the Mac and cheese?

    • My Heart Beets says

      I think it really depends on the type of gf pasta — if you use the one I suggest in the post it should turn out perfectly cooked. Let me know how it goes if you give it a try 🙂

  39. Karen N says

    I used an entire box of Ronzini Penne, used 5 3/4 C water, 5 T butter and cooked it for 4 min in the instant pot. I didn’t drain it and added 3/4 C cream, about two good handfuls of pre-shredded cheddar jack (Kirkland) and 4T Borsain goat cheese and 1/8t nutmeg. It was great!!!

  40. Anne says

    5 stars
    Heartland gf noodles work well too! My family loves this recipe! I leave out the turmeric just because I don’t have it on hand. 🙂

  41. Heather says

    I used Tinkyada brown rice pasta. Copied the recipe to a T and it turned out great. I did add garlic and creole seasoning.

  42. Fatima says

    Made this today with President’s Choice gluten-free pasta (Canadian brand) and it turned out great! The box says to bowl for 3 to 3.5 mins so I pressurized it at 2 mins and was perfectly cooked. Thanks again Ashley for your quick and easy recipes.

  43. Sarah says

    5 stars
    I tried this recipe with the bionaturae brand gluten free elbow macaroni.

    It was on sale for $3 at super one and it turned out perfectly! It was al dente and not mushy at all. I looked for Barilla but they didn’t have any gf elbow at my store.

    I used half sharp cheddar and half smoked Gouda with bacon cheese. I usually never deviate from a recipe but my husband doesn’t like macaroni so I thought if I tempted him with smoked bacon flavor he would eat it. I was right:)

    This recipe is amazing and will keep making this in the future! Thank you!!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Sarah, so happy to hear that it turned out perfectly for you! Smoked gouda and bacon cheese sound delicious! Thanks for letting us know about the brand you tried too 🙂

  44. Au naturel says

    I used Hodgsons Mill brown rice. Some kids liked It but it seemed like it lacked enough water. Maybe the brown rice kind needs more water?

  45. Karen says

    5 stars
    This was so yummy! I left out the cream because I didn’t have any. I used a bag of Mac and cheese blend cheese. I will definitely make this again. Thanks for the recipe.

  46. NG says

    Tried this out with Ancient Grains Elbow pasta and Jovial elbow pasta. Both are gluten-free. Turned out well. Thank you for this recipe.

  47. Onima Bhuchar says

    This was so quick and easy. A little longer than 4 mins because of the time the IP takes to come to pressure, but still much more convenient than the stove top if cooking when watching 3 kids aged 5 and under. My 5 and 2 year olds lapped this up. We used barilla mini penne pasta and it worked perfectly (not the gluten free version). Very easy for a quick indulgent toddler lunch or dinner. Thank you for the recipe!

    • My Heart Beets says

      Onima, I’m so glad your kiddos liked this so much! And good to know about the mini penne pasta – I’m sure that will help others 🙂 Thanks for letting me know how it turned out for you!

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