Soup meets mac n cheese in this Instant Pot Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese recipe! Incredibly flavorful cheddar cheese and paprika sauce is made right in the Instant Pot with elbow macaroni and hidden carrots and broccoli. A true 1 pot, 30 minute kid-friendly dinner for soup and mac and cheese lovers everywhere!
My little darlings are obsessed with mac and cheese, like most other kids. But they are particularly in love with Knorr's cheddar broccoli pasta side. They love the creamy sauce and little bits of broccoli. So I came up with my own broccoli cheddar "mac and cheese" recipe right in the Instant Pot!
I am huge fan of simple, quick dinners. Quick dinners that can be made in 1 pot are like heaven on earth. And that is where the Instant Pot comes in.
Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese is a creamy, cheddary soup and mac and cheese lovers dream. It's a 2 in 1 dinner that's packed with cheesy flavor and lots of veggies. This quick Instant Pot dinner is lovely on a chilly evening. Craving soup? Kids want mac and cheese? Turn them into 1 with this recipe.
🧒🏼 Kid-Friendly Tips
This easy dinner hides lots of nutritious vegetables inside the broth making it a dream come true for parents with picky little ones.
By shredding the carrots and chopping them into little pieces and then cooking them inside the sauce, they turn into tiny soft bits that are barely recognizable to kids.
The same goes for the broccoli. Chop it into tiny pieces, and the Instant Pot turns it into soft tiny bits that are spread throughout the sauce, barely noticable by the little ones.
♨️ Instant Pot Benefits
I had my Instant Pot for almost 1 year before starting to really make good use of. What's all the fuss about, I thought?
Silly me. This week alone I've used it 4 times. And it is AMAZING! I know better now, so we'll be making lots of Instant Pot meals this busy holiday season.
Did you know this magical kitchen gadget can also cook pasta right in the same pot that you're making sauce? This is how I made this Instant Pot Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese. And it saved me so much time when making Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce!
Before I tell you how it's done, let's have a quick chat about what makes the Instant Pot so amazing and a must-have kitchen appliance.
There are many reasons why I love mine. I have the Instant Pot Duo Nova 7 in 1, 6-Quart Pressure Cooker. It's big enough to make a full dinner for a family of 6 or side dishes and snacks for large parties. But it's not too big that it's hard to store or that it takes up too much room on the counter.
With school back in session, the Instant Pot is a must have! Just like my favorite kitchen gadget the Crock Pot, the Instant Pot can be left on in the background while you work from home, school your kids, or otherwise enjoy your day.
The Instant Pot is also awesome when you have small kids, especially ones like mine who love to watch what's going on in the kitchen and tug at my pants when I'm at the stove. My littlest one loves to put her hand on the oven door to see if it's "hot". These are all very dangerous things for a toddler with no fear to be doing! But if I use the Instant Pot, I can move it back far enough on the counter so she cannot reach it.
There are no long handles for her to pull on and knock down onto herself. Because the Instant Pot is deep, I don't need to worry about hot sauce, broth, or oil splattering out and burning her.
And of course, what the Instant Pot is widely known for: cooking foods in much shorter times by using the pressure cooker feature.
I've cooked chicken from frozen in my Instant Pot in only 20 minutes.
Rice comes out perfectly every time, and you don't have to worry about it sticking to the bottom of the pot or it boiling over the side.
Pasta is cooked perfectly in 5 minutes using the pressure cooker feature and broth or water. Let's go into more detail about how to make perfect pressure cooker pasta!
To make Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese, you need:
- macaroni (elbow pasta is always perfect for mac and cheese)
- chicken broth (ready to use or bouillon cubes plus water)
- milk (whole or reduced fat)
- evaporated milk
- white cheddar cheese
- yellow cheddar cheese (extra sharp gives the best flavor)
- salt + pepper
Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese uses lots of cheese! For the absolute best tasting recipe, use a combination of white cheddar cheese and extra sharp yellow cheddar.
I also use evaporated milk and whole milk for extra creaminess. You can use reduced fat or low fat milk too, without compromising the taste. But don't skip the evaporated milk.
- The first step is to prep the vegetables, which takes about 5-10 minutes. Use a vegetable peeler to grate the carrots into thin pieces. This reduces cooking time and makes them softer for picky vegetable eating children. Then chop the grated carrots further so you have thinly diced carrot shavings. Chop the broccoli into small ½ inch pieces. Then dice the onion and garlic cloves.
- Next, add the butter, onion, garlic, carrot, and broccoli to the Instant Pot. Set to saute for 5 minutes.
- Now, add the water, chicken broth (or bouillon cubes and water), paprika, salt and pepper. Give it a good stir and set to pressure cook on high for 5 minutes.
- Do a quick release of the pressure. Add the milks and set to saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the cheeses 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat and continue stirring until cheese is fully melted.
And last, taste the sauce and season it with additional salt and pepper if desired (but I don't think you'll need to!).
Serve Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese immediately, with extra cheddar, carrots or chives as toppings.
If the sauce seems watery, don't worry. It will thicken upon standing. It takes about 20 minutes to obtain a consistency more like that of traditional mac and cheese.
Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese (Instant Pot Recipe)
- Instant Pot
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 large onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 carrot
- 2 cups broccoli
- 2 cups chicken broth (or 2 bouillon cubes + 2 cups water)
- 3 cups water
- 16 oz elbow macaroni
- 2 ½ tsp paprika
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 cups milk
- 1 ½ cups evaporated milk (1, 12oz can)
- 2 cups extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2 cups white cheddar cheese, shredded
- Grate and chop the carrot into small pieces. Chop the broccoli into ½ inch pieces, and dice the onion and garlic cloves.
- Add butter, onion, garlic, carrot, and broccoli to the Instant Pot. Saute for 5 minutes.
- Add the broth, 3 cups of water, macaroni, paprika, salt and pepper. Set to pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Do a quick release of the pressure when finished.
- Add milk and evaporated milk and saute for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and add cheeses 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly until melted. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired.
🍲 Serving and Storing
For the "soupiest" version of Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese, eat it immediately after it's finished. As the meal sits, the sauce will thicken up and absorb into the pasta a bit. The longer it sits, the less soupy sauce there is. Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese is still incredibly delicious even when enjoyed a few days later. Just know that the consistency will be more mac and cheese like.
To easily make more "broth" add milk, salt and paprika to the pasta. Mix 1 cup of milk, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp paprika and add it to the broccoli cheddar mac and cheese if you'd like more of a soup-like consistency when reheating.
This meal is even more delicious topped with a little extra cheddar cheese and shredded carrots. A sprinkle of chives and a dollop of sour cream is another option. I served broccoli and cheddar mac and cheese with crusty bread and a salad for a complete, comforting dinner during the cold fall and winter months.
That's all there is to it! I hope you enjoy this easy Instant Pot dinner. If you've made Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese, I'd love to hear how it turned out! Let me know in the comments below.