You can make creamy and delicious Instant Pot vegan mac and cheese in under 30 minutes using savory, flavorful ingredients. This recipe is made without nuts and doesn't require a blender or food processor!
If you're new to making pasta in the Instant Pot, welcome! Making vegan macaroni and cheese in the instant pot is surprisingly simple.
The pasta actually cooks in the Instant Pot and the dairy-free cheese sauce is added after. It's rich, velvety, smooth and so delicious
With a few flavorful ingredients and only your Instant Pot, you'll have this classic comfort food recipe ready in no time.
This Instant Pot vegan mac and cheese is based on my go-to stove-top vegan macaroni and cheese recipe, with a few modifications.
- Texture and flavor: Rich, creamy and filled with savory, cheesy flavor.
- All you need is an Instant Pot: This recipeis made without a blender or food processor.
- Quick & easy: Ready in less than 30 minutes! The best part? It only requires 5 minutes of active time.
- Made without vegan cheese, but can easily be made extra cheesy by adding your favorite vegan shredded cheese.
If you're looking for a more traditional cashew-based vegan mac you might like this vegan broccoli mac and cheese.
- Short cut pasta: I use elbow pasta, but any short-cut works.
- Vegetable broth and water: Just water can be used in a pinch, but I like to use veggie broth for added flavor. Choose reduced-sodium for more control over thesaltiness of the cheese sauce.
- Seasonings and lemon: Mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and freshly ground black pepper provide those classic mac flavors. Lemon adds a touch of acidity.
- Nutritional yeast: This gives a "cheesey" flavor and helps to thicken the sauce.
- Full-fat coconut milk: Arguably the most important ingredient, this gives a slightly nutty/sweet flavor to the cheese sauce. It also makes it extra creamy.
- Yellow miso: Another umami ingredient, miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made by fermenting soybeans. It can be found refrigerated in most "natural food" sections or at your local Asian supermarket (it is also much cheaper at these stores).
Type of pasta
Short-cut pasta works best in instant pot mac and cheese. I prefer to use elbow pasta because it makes me think of that classic box of mac and cheese.
You can use white, whole wheat, bean*, or gluten-free pasta.
*I haven't personally tried cooking bean-based pasta in my Instant Pot. Many other people have on the internet and it seems to work fine. Gluten-free pastas can cause more foaming (tips on how to deal with this are below).
Calculating pasta cook time
Take the lowest time listed on the pasta box. Divide it in half, then subtract 2 minutes.
For example, if a box says 8-10 minutes you will take the lower number (8 minutes) and divide it in half to get 4 minutes. Subtract 2 minutes = 2 minutes cook time.
For odd numbers, I round down to the nearest even number. For a cook time of 7-9 minutes, reduce 7 minutes to the nearest even number (6 minutes). Divide 6 minutes in half to get 3 minutes. Subtract 2 minutes = 1 minute total cook time.
Side note: YES, you can cook pasta for 0 minutes. The Instant Pot will come to pressure and turn off as soon as it reaches pressure.
Tips and variations
- Foaming: When doing a quick pressure release (QPR) with the pasta you may find that foam starts coming out of the pressure valve instead of steam. If this happens, do an intermittent release (IR) by carefully close the valve for 30 seconds (I always use tongs or a safely mitted hand here). After 30 seconds, reopen the valve and try again.
- Oil: Oil is added to this recipe to decrease the amount of foaming during pressure release. Note that omitting oil may make the pressure release a bit messier.
- Thickening: There are a few different thickening ingredients in this recipe, but the slurry is the most important. Don't skip this step! As the cheese sauce simmers it will thicken, thanks to the slurry and the nutritional yeast.
- Cheese: For an even cheesier result, add in your favorite vegan shredded cheese after the sauce thickens.
- Serving ideas: For a balanced meal, pair mac and cheese with panko tofu and roasted broccoli or meatless Italian sausages and okra.
For best quality, keep refrigerated in a closed container for 3-4 days.
Yes, vegan mac and cheese freeze well. Freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Let thaw completely in the fridge before reheating.
The thick texture of the coconut milk is very important to the recipe, so I don't recommend replacing it with non-dairy milk.
Looking for more Instant Pot recipes?
If you're new to cooking vegan and vegetarian recipes in the Instant Pot, don't miss my Instant Pot guide.
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Instant Pot Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
- 16 ounces elbow pasta
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon yellow miso
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice from one medium lemon
- 1 can (15 ounces) full fat coconut milk
- ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup water
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Add pasta, vegetable broth, water, olive oil and salt to the Instant Pot. Stir to combine. Put the lid in place and set vent to "sealing". Select "high pressure" and set timer to 2 minutes (see notes to determine cook time for your pasta). It will take about 15 minutes to come to pressure.
- When the timer is up, do a quick pressure release. If the vent starts to spurt foam, close the valve and let sit for 30 seconds before releasing the pressure again.
- When pressure is completely released, remove the lid. Do not drain the pasta!
- In a small container, mix miso with lemon juice to thin. Add the miso, lemon juice, coconut milk, mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder and nutritional yeast to the Instant Pot. In a small bowl, mix together the all-purpose flour with ¼ cup water to make a slurry. Add to the Instant Pot, using a whisk or wooden spoon to combine all ingredients.
- Select "saute" and adjust the heat to "less". The mixture will start simmering. Stir occasionally with a silicon whisk. The mac and cheese is ready when the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Taste for salt. Served topped with freshly ground black pepper. Keeps for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
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Can I sub white miso for yellow or is the flavor really different?
You can substitute it, the flavor will be only slightly different. Enjoy! 🙂