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close-up overhead view of a white bowl filled with Instant Pot Mac & Cheese garnished with pretzel bacon and a small sprig of fresh thyme a metal vintage fork is digging in to the pasta the background is blurred with a white bowl with a large dark metal vintage spoon

Instant Pot Mac & Cheese with Pretzel “Bacon”


Instant Pot Mac & Cheese with Pretzel “Bacon”! Dinner in under 30 minutes! It’s creamy, cozy, cheezy, and packed with flavor! Crunchy pretzel pieces baked with smoky spices top off this bowl of yum! 



Mac & Cheese:

2 Tablespoons butter

1 clove garlic, minced

2 cups cold water

8 ounces Shellbows {see notes for cook time for other pasta shapes}

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

black pepper, to taste

2 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened

1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1/23/4 cup evaporated milk {cans of this are found in the baking aisle}

Pretzel “Bacon”:

2 Tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

dash ground chipotle powder

1 1/2 cups salted pretzels, broken into small pieces


For Mac & Cheese:

  • Melt the butter using Saute function on the Instant Pot.
  • Add the minced garlic. Turn the Instant Pot off.  Stir the garlic a few times. 
  • Add the cold water.
  • Stir in the salt, mustard powder, onion powder, black pepper, and pasta.
  • Seal the Instant Pot with the vent closed.
  • Use the Manual setting on High. 
  • Set the cooking time for 5 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is done, IMMEDIATELY release the pressure.
  • Turn the Instant Pot off.
  • Open and add the cream cheese, stirring until melted.
  • Stir in the cheddar cheese and evaporated milk until the cheese is completely melted.
  • Place the lid back on the Instant Pot and turn it on Warm. After 3-4 minutes, lift the lid and stir.
  • While the Mac & Cheese cooks, assemble and bake the Pretzel “Bacon.”

Pretzel “Bacon”:

  • Preheat the oven to 325°.
  • Combine the melted butter with the spices and Worcestershire sauce in a medium-size bowl.
  • Add the broken pretzel pieces. Stir to coat thoroughly.
  • Place on a small baking tray.
  • Bake for 10 minutes until dry. 

    Serve the Mac & Cheese topped with Pretzel “Bacon.” Enjoy!


  • If using a pasta shape that has a stovetop cook time of 6-8 minutes. Set the Instant 
    Pot cook time for 4 minutes.
  • If you like a super creamy Mac & Cheese, use the 3/4 cup of evaporated milk. So yummy!
  • To quickly soften cream cheese, place it in the microwave on defrost for 45 seconds.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: mac and cheese, instant pot, vegetarian