Instant Pot Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

cauliflower mac and cheese in a white bowl topped with sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic glaze

5 from 3 reviews

Ultra creamy Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with a cheesy cauliflower sauce.


  • 1 pound medium shells or penne pasta
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup water 
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon white or black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (about ½ lemon)
  • 4 cups chopped cauliflower


  • 4 ounces whipped cream cheese
  • 2 cups shredded white cheese (I like 1 cup gruyere and 1 cup sharp white cheddar)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch


Optional extras: Stir in 2 cups chopped spinach or top with chopped sun-dried tomatoes (the kind packed in oil), balsamic glaze, bacon crumbles, grilled chicken or steak, etc


  1. Add pasta, chicken broth, water, butter, kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, nutmeg, pepper, and lemon juice to the pressure cooker pot; stir.
  2. Place a steamer basket on top of the pasta and add cauliflower to the basket.
  3. Secure the lid and turn pressure release knob to a sealed position.  Cook at high pressure for 2 minutes (see note regarding cook time).
  4. When pressure cooking is complete, use a quick release.  If liquid sprays from the valve, close valve, wait 30-60 seconds and try again.
  5. Remove steamer basket of cauliflower and dump it into a blender.  Add cream cheese, shredded white cheese of choice, and cornstarch and blend until very smooth.  If it’s having a hard time blending, add a small splash of milk.
  6. Pour back into the pot with the pasta and stir to coat.  It might be a little runny, but will thicken as it sits.  If adding chopped spinach, stir in now.  
  7. Serve pasta hot, as is, or make it fancy with a sprinkle of sun-dried tomatoes and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.


  • Cook time may vary depending on what type of pasta you use.  I use medium shell pasta that has a stovetop cook time of 8 minutes.  To find the cook time for this recipe, I divide the cook time by half then subtract 2 -3 minutes.  
  • Brown rice pasta is a great whole grain option (try it with penne pasta).  Whole wheat pasta is a little overpowering for the sauce.
  • The pasta will thicken as it sits.  I don’t suggest sauteing it to thicken.
  • If you do not have a steamer basket, you could instead steam the cauliflower in the microwave or on the stovetop while the pasta cooks.
  • Balsamic glaze is not the same as balsamic vinegar.  The glaze is thick and syrupy and can be found near the vinegar.
  • I like to use white pepper instead of black pepper to preserve the pretty cream color.  However, tastewise, both will work. 

Keywords: Instant Pot Pasta, Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, Instant Pot Mac and Cheese