Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese with Crispy Bacon

Quick and Easy and all in one pot, this Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese with Crispy Bacon is beyond delicious!

This creamy and delicious Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon is made in the Instant Pot!

Our plan with Progressive Eats is to offer recipes for that are both delicious and easy to make for busy parents who might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. This Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese with Crispy Bacon is a great example; the Instant Pot (affiliate link) and other electric pressure cookers have become all the rage and with good reason.

Not only are they deemed safer than the old stovetop models you’ve heard your parents or grandparents talk about exploding, but the real ease is in the multi-purpose uses. This recipe requires browning of panko crumbs, frying bacon, sautéing onion and garlic, cooking pasta, and then finally the melting of the cheeses and combining everything together.

If I were not taking photos of the final dish, I would have actually served it from the pot; a true one pot wonder. And the pot is easy to clean stainless too. I know friends that have hesitated at first like I did but I’m a convert, through and through. I may not make desserts or use everyday like some but my appliance has taken over some prime space in a lower cabinet that rolls out so that it’s easy to retrieve.

Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese; all made entirely in one pot!

The recipe was inspired from one in ‘The Gluten Free Instant Pot Cookbook‘ written by two women bloggers that I know. One is Jane Bonacci who blogs about eating gluten free and has delicious recipes at The Heritage Cook, and is a member of our Progressive Eats crew, and the other is Sara DeLeeuw, a food blogger at My Imperfect Kitchen who also gives classes, does speaking engagements and much more. Busy women they are!

I don’t have to follow a gluten free diet but I was interested in their book because I’m still learning new and better techniques for using my Instant Pot. I love that they have THIRTEEN pages of basics before they have a recipe index; it’s a nice synopsis of what many of us had to learn from bits and pieces.

From ‘what is a pressure cooking,’ to the acronyms you’ll often see used, what to try first, equipment you can buy for specialty dishes, and so much more. It’s like the CliffsNotes for pressure cooking!

I do have a good friend who is a neighbor though who has to avoid gluten and I’m happy to have a resource on hand to guide me in the right direction if I’m having a neighborhood get together where I know Amy will be attending. She has had her share of pulled pork at my events, time to step up my game a bit!

A Serving of this Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon has Four Cheeses!

I have to be honest though. I ran into quite an unexpected snafu when making this dish. I glanced at the ingredient list a couple of days prior, felt confident I had everything and scheduled accordingly. Unfortunately when I decided to make this dish this past weekend to bring to a street block party of sorts, each of us in our own driveways but close enough to catch up, I almost cried when I pulled out my cheddar cheese blend and ugh there was signs of mold.

One thing I loved about this dish was the combination of different cheeses and all of a sudden the most important one was not to be had. Well, if I can’t punt I shouldn’t be in the kitchen after all these years so I did and honestly we loved the results. Gone was my Mexican blend of cheddar and 3 other cheeses and in their place was Gruyere and Ricotta of all things; along with the recipe’s other original ingredients of Mozzarella and Parmesan.

We loved the warm, melting white cheeses and because of the texture and taste I might have poured in a bit of sherry in lieu of the recommended hot sauce.  This was reminiscent of a fondue…but with pasta topped with crumbled bacon bits and bread crumbs! Oh yeah, I did add some panko to the topping too along with the crumbled bacon because I know that you can get gluten free panko if it’s something you love too.

I LOVE that crispy topping on top of ooey, gooey cheese dishes. Perfection. This was an easy and delicious dish; the ease I give to the appliance but the deliciousness I give to Jane and Sara; I might have changed some things but it was my first macaroni and cheese in an IP…and it won’t be my last. I am SO in the ‘stove-top camp’ of mac and cheese and will now add myself to the ‘instant pot camp’ as well. No oven business needed; I think it just dries it out.

By the way, I’ll include my revisions in the recipe as I made it but will also include in recipe notes what you need if you want to stick to Jane and Sara’s original intent and like something with a cheddar cheese taste. I promise, that’s next for me!

PIN IT! ‘Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese with Crispy Bacon’

Casserole of Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon in an Off White Earthenware Casserole Dish
Progressive Eats

Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month’s theme is Instant Pot Favorites, and our host is Karen who blogs at Karen’s Kitchen Stories.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it’s a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious fiesta inspired dishes!

Instant Pot Favorites

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This creamy and delicious Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon is made in the Instant Pot!
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Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese with Crispy Bacon

A creamy and delicious Macaroni and Cheese made in the Instant Pot and topped with Panko crumbs and Bacon.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Additional Time5 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Pasta, Potatoes, Rice & Grains
Servings: 6 -8 Servings
Author: Creative Culinary

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup panko crumbs regular or gluten free
  • 4 slices bacon chopped, regular or gluten free
  • ½ small onion grated
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 16 ounces uncooked pasta; shells or elbow or small penne regular or gluten free
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1-12 oz can evaporated milk or whole milk
  • 1 tsp dry mustard powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp nutmeg optional
  • 8 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 8 oz shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 16 oz Ricotta cheese
  • 2 oz shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup Sherry or White Wine

Instructions

  • Set sauté on the Instant pot to medium and melt the tablespoon of butter in the pot. Add the panko crumbs and stir to combine; continue stirring until brown. Watch carefully; they will only take a couple of minutes once they start browning. Leave the pressure cooker on sauté but remove the inner pot and scoop the crumbs into a bowl and set aside.
  • Put the inner pot back into the pressure cooker and add the chopped bacon to the pot and sauté, stirring, until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Add the bacon to the panko crumbs, stir, and set aside.
  • Remove all but 2 Tbsps of bacon fat from the pot and add the onion; saute for 5 minutes, add the garlic and continue cooking for one additional minute.
  • To the onion and garlic mixture, add the water, pasta, and salt; making sure the pasta is completely covered by the water. Close and lock the lid and make sure the steam release is in the sealing position. Cook on high for one minute (will take about 15 minutes to come to pressure).
  • When the timer goes off, let the steam release naturally for 4 minutes. Then release the rest of the steam by moving the pressure release valve back and forth a couple of times until all of the steam is released. Use caution, the steam can burn; use a hot pad to protect your fingers.
  • Check the pasta; it should be al dente; if it needs more time to cook, reset the lid and let it rest for a couple of minutes. It will also continue to cook as the cheese is melted.
  • Stir the evaporated milk, mustard powder, pepper, and nutmeg into the cooked pasta. Mix until evenly distributed.
  • Combine the cheeses in a medium bowl and combine; making sure especially to break up the ricotta and have it blended with all of the other cheeses. Add the cheeses, about a cup a time to the Instant Pot and stir to get each addition creamy before adding more.
  • Add the sherry or white wine to the pasta and combine thoroughly. Serve hot with the toasted panko and bacon combination scattered on top.

Notes

This is a very, creamy, cheese dish of mac and cheese when first completed. If leftovers are refrigerated, heat slowly and add a bit of milk or water to the mix to get it creamy again.
For Jane and Sarah's original recipe, make the following adjustments to the directions above:
  1. Eliminate the garlic in the pasta and panko crumbs from the topping.
  2. Use 24 oz of shredded extra sharp Cheddar Cheese instead of the Gruyere and Ricotta.
  3. After all of the cheese is melted, add a bit of hot sauce if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 18

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15 Comments

  1. This is my idea of perfect comfort food. Bacon, of course, is a wonderful way to draw in those who turn up their noses at mac ‘n cheese. But me, I was there from the start. BTW – love Jane and Sara’s book – so helpful and the recipes are great.

    1. Who on earth could turn up their nose at mac and cheese? Ahem, I might? I’ve come to realize this simple truth. If it’s made on the stovetop or now, in the Instant Pot, I’m sold. I have never enjoyed baked versions; always too dry!

      And yes, can’t wait to try something else…definitely got over my IP fear and now always looking for something new and delicious!

  2. I LOVE your changes and can’t wait to give them a try – I love that you were so creative when circumstances required it and thoroughly enjoyed the results!! That is the sign of a great cook! Bravo Barb!!

    1. I normally try to stick close to the recipe if I’m doing something from a friend’s book but normally? I can’t. I just can’t. This is a creative endeavor for me and while I appreciate all of those recipes from my younger years that brought me experience, today it’s almost impossible to not tweak something in some way. Hey…often it’s by adding bourbon. We should be thankful I did not go that route. 🙂

    1. I had two packs in my fridge…clearly I had planned on making more French Onion Soup; so glad I had it for this. It does have a lovely flavor that was a great substitution.

    1. Thanks John, I mentioned to someone else…I loved it so much I gave none away…so not typical of me but macaroni freezes well I’m hoping!

  3. To be honest I love my mac and cheese with gruyere! and umm bacon makes everything beautiful.
    I can’t wait to have shloka check out this recipe for her college cooking adventures.

    1. Shh…don’t tell my neighbors who I am usually so generous with. I only gave away one big portion and kept the rest! That’s what a freezer is for right? 🙂

  4. That topping sold me!!! Way to go with the flow….I love the combo of cheeses you used!! And such a quick way to make mac and cheese.

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