Learn how to make vegan macaroni cheese in your Instant Pot in under 30 minutes using savory, flavorful ingredients. This recipe is blender-free, food processor-free and nut free. Makes the perfect fuss-free side!
My Instant Pot and I are pretty close these days. I can’t stop making rice and beans and soup in my IP (it’s just too easy!) and now that I have this vegan mac and cheese recipe I fear I’ll never go back to the stove top.
If you’re new to making pasta in the Instant Pot, welcome! Making macaroni and cheese in your instant pot is a simple process. In this post I share a handful of tips to make the process even easier.
With a few flavorful ingredients and only your Instant Pot you’ll have this classic comfort food recipe ready in no time!
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This Instant Pot Vegan Mac and Cheese is made using my go-to stove-top Vegan Macaroni and Cheese recipe, with a few modifications.
You will love this recipe because it’s flavorful, nut-free, blender and food processor free, and just easy to make.
If you’re looking for a more traditional cashew-based vegan mac you might like this Vegan Broccoli Mac and Cheese recipe.
Ingredients Needed for Instant Pot Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
- Short cut pasta: I use elbow pasta, but any short-cut will do. See notes below for specifics.
- Vegetable broth and water: Just water can be used in a pinch, but I like to use veg broth for added flavor. Choose reduced-sodium for more control over the recipe’s salt content.
- 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 creaaamy.
- 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).
What kind of pasta should I use?
Short cut pasta works best, especially in 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 pastas 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 below).
Calculating Pasta Cook Time
Take the lowest time listed on the pasta box, divide 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 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.
How to thicken vegan mac and cheese
There are a few different thickening ingredients in this recipe, but the slurry is the most important. Don’t skip this step!
Combine the all-purpose flour (gluten free all-purpose flour will work too) and water in a small bowl. Whisk together to combine. Add this mixture to the simmering Instant Pot.
As the cheese sauce simmers it will thicken, thanks to the slurry and the nutritional yeast.
Instant Pot Vegan Mac and Cheese Tips
- 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 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.
My personal favorite way to eat this vegan macaroni and cheese is tossed with sliced up (meatless) Italian sausage or baked beans and whatever veggies I have in the fridge.
Instant Pot Vegan Macaroni and Cheese
- 16 ounces elbow pasta
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon yellow miso
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice from one medium lemon
- 1 can (15 ounces) full fat coconut milk
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 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 1/4 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 4-5 days in the refrigerator.