This super creamy and lush Instant Pot Vegan Mac and Cheese comes together in just 20 minutes with a few simple ingredients and a “hands off” approach. Serve it up as the main course or with a green vegetable and a protein like tofu for a delicious, balanced, family-friendly meal.
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Hey Internet, I thought it was just about time for another vegan mac and cheese on my blog. You see, mac and cheese combines two of my favorite foods: pasta and cheese, and creates what I see as The Ultimate Comfort Food.
I know I usually make a cheese sauce, but since I recently posted this (wildly popular) solid vegan cheddar cheese I HAD to see if it would melt and produce a creamy mac and cheese.
And oh boy, did it ever.
My vegan Instant Pot mac and cheese is SO creamy, and with one addition (tell ya later) can be rich and luscious, or you can keep it light, according to your preferences.
Ever since getting my Instant Pot, I’ve been afraid to make pasta in it. I really dislike overcooked pasta and I was afraid it would be mushy.
It really only took me a couple of delicious test sessions to perfect this vegan instant pot mac and cheese, and it’s SO GOOD.
The mac and cheese cooks in just enough liquid that you won’t need to drain it. Open the lid when the pressure has been released, give it a stir, and voile!
I can’t wait to share this with you… so I won’t! Let’s get into the nitty gritty of what you’ll need.
What You’ll Need
So, let’s just address the big yellow elephant in the room. Cheese.
I usually make a cheese sauce for this kind of recipe (and you can if you like), such as this stretchy & melty vegan cheddar sauce or this bean-based vegan cheese sauce.
But like I said above, I recently created a vegan cheddar block cheese that’s amazing, so I wanted to try it out in a mac and cheese recipe.
I shredded it with a box grater and it turned out perfect!
See the next section if you need a substitution, but I highly recommend trying my cheese recipe. Not that I’m biased or anything…
You’ll also need some pasta of course. Any should work, though I have not tested it with gluten-free pasta.
I used regular elbow macaroni and I’ve also tested it with whole wheat pasta. Both good. (I would not recommend this with spaghetti as it may all clump together.)
You’ll need some water and those are the only ingredients necessary for this, but I like to jazz things up a bit.
I often use vegan chicken broth (water with Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base mixed in is the best!) to flavor things, and I tried it here. The result?
Holy Moly! This was so freakin’ good!
It’s optional, so don’t feel like you need to, but I’m actually not even exaggerating when I say it changed my life.
So much more depth of flavor! And it gave me that coveted “mmmmMMMMPHHH” reaction from my husband when he tried it--eyes closed and everything!
Finally, one more step--at the end, if you want a richer, more luscious taste, add about a half cup of coconut milk (from the can) or a few tablespoons of vegan butter. Absolutely insane. Worth it.
Alright, enough ranting and raving; let’s talk about those substitutions.
What Substitutions Can I Make?
So if you don’t want to make my cheese… sob you can use any store bought vegan cheese.
Both regular and whole wheat pasta have worked well for me in this recipe. I like the flavor of regular better in this, but it’s a trade-off in my opinion.
You should be able to make this with gluten-free pasta but I have not tested it.
I would err on the side of caution and cook it for one minute less than I say to. If the pasta is not cooked enough, you can always turn the “saute” function on and cook it for a few minutes until the pasta is soft.
You could also look up instant pot instructions for the exact type of pasta you bought.
Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base
The vegan chicken broth is optional in and of itself, but if you like the idea of flavoring your cooking water and you can’t get Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Base, you could get a prepared vegan chicken broth (Imagine makes a good one), vegan chicken bouillon cubes, or just try vegetable broth.
Again, this was an optional add-in, though I highly recommend it because it makes the mac and cheese luscious, rich, and decadent. Yeah, decadent, that was the word I was looking for. Yum.
I PROMISE it doesn’t make this dish taste like coconut--at all--but if you’d like, you can use a few tablespoons of vegan butter instead. I don’t use it at home since I don’t use oils, but I’d venture a guess that it would be pretty amazing in this recipe.
How to Make Instant Pot Vegan Mac and Cheese
Note: this recipe will work in any pressure cooker, but buttons may be called by other names on non-Instant Pot brand pressure cookers. Consult your manual for any questions based on your specific brand of pressure cooker.
First, we’re going to start by adding the water, optional vegan chicken bouillon paste (or use vegan chicken broth instead of water), and dry pasta to the pot. Give it a little stir.
Grate your vegan cheese if you made my vegan block cheddar or if you bought a store-bought block. Use the largest hole size on your grater (I use a cheap box grater) and grate it over a bowl or directly over the pressure cooker pot.
If making my block, you’ll need about half the recipe. If not, 2 heaping cups of store bought vegan cheese will work. And if just adding a vegan cheese sauce, leave it out until the pasta is cooked.
Give everything a good but gentle stir, close the lid, set the pressure valve to “sealing,” and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes.
Yup. 4 minutes.
It will take 10-15 minutes for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, and during that time it will also be cooking, so no worries.
When the pot has come to pressure the 4 minutes will reappear on the screen and it will start counting down.
Quick Release: after it beeps that it’s finished, turn it off and carefully switch the pressure valve to venting. I like to use a wooden spoon to release the pressure so my hands aren’t anywhere near the escaping hot steam.
With Instant Pot, it’s safe to release the pressure when there is no more steam or anything coming out of the pressure valve and the safety button switched to down/off position. Please consult your pressure cooker manual to determine how to safely use your pressure cooker.
Give the pasta a good strong stir. It may look dry in parts. It’s not! It will come together within 30 seconds or so of stirring. If you’d like to add a cheese sauce, do it now.
And if you’d like it to be extra decadent, add your coconut milk or vegan butter now, stirring well until it melts and incorporates.
Serve it up, maybe with some air fried broccolini and BBQ tofu, and enjoy!
Other Vegan Instant Pot Dinners
Enjoy using your Instant Pot or pressure cooker to make quick and easy meals? I’ve actually got a bunch for you!
Check out some of my favorite vegan Instant Pot recipes below:
As always, I hope you love this recipe--I know I do, and Mr. Zardyplants does too. We both licked our bowls!
This Instant Pot Vegan Mac and Cheese is:
- And oh so delicious!
Let me know in the comments below if you make this recipe or tag me @Zardyplants on Instagram so I can see your beautiful recreations! If you tag me on IG, I will share your post in my stories :)
Also, one quick request: if you love how this recipe looks or tastes, please leave me a 5-star rating and a nice comment–ratings help more people find my recipes which helps me keep providing them! Thank you!