What could make a belly more happy than a big warm serving of cheesy, creamy, mac and cheese?? This easy Instant Pot Little Smokie Mac and Cheese thrills my family to no end and I’m a happy camper because it only takes 5 minutes to cook in my Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker)! #easy #comfort food #pasta #weeknightmeal #cheesy #InstantPot #MacaroniAndCheese #SpeedyMeal #LittleSmokies
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Howdy. Chef Alli here. Let’s Get You Cookin’!
Sooooo. Have you made mac and cheese in your Instant Pot (aka electric pressure cooker) yet?? I hope so, because it’s unbelievably rich, creamy, warm, and satisfying…..and ready in just 5 minutes!! No joke.
My boys are always begging me to make mac and cheese and I like to take it a step further by adding some meat to the mix, in the form of kielbasa sausage. I definitely try to keep Kielbasa sausage and Little Smokie Sausage on hand in the freezer at all times. I also like to stir in some cooked broccoli to the mac and cheese, but that’s not always as well received by my guys. 🙂
What Ingredients Will You Need to Make Little Smokie Mac and Cheese?
Don’t feel like elbow macaroni is your only option when you make mac and cheese in your Instant Pot. Nearly any pasta shape you choose will work just fine. I personally like to use rotini pasta or small shell pasta because both of those shapes hold more sauce to them/in them due to the way they are shaped. My advice? Use whatever you’ve got in your cupboard – your family is going to be thrilled no matter what, I promise. Everybody LOVES mac and cheese!
I find that I cook way more things using broth than water….such as pasta, grains, beans, potatoes, and vegetables. Broth lends more flavor than water, without a bunch of calories, either. I like keeping a jar of Better Than Bouillon in my fridge so I can just mix up a cup or two of broth whenever I need it. It’s super handy, and that stuff comes in a myriad of flavors. You’ll find it in the soup section of your favorite grocer, usually on the top shelf near the other broth that’s available in a carton, or the bouillon cubes.
I really like to use sharp cheddar in my mac and cheese because I personally like strong cheese flavors. However, because my guys aren’t as keen to that, so I usually wind up using mild cheddar in this mac and cheese.
Campbell’s Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup
I must admit, when I first saw a recipe that called for this ingredient, I was a little put off….and I don’t even know WHY, really. I guess because it seems like fake cheese somehow?? Anyway, after I thought about it for a bit, I realized that condensed cheddar cheese soup in a can PROBABLY isn’t a whole lot different than processed cheese like Velveeta, and we use that stuff like it’s going out of style. Good grief. The cheddar cheese soup in this recipe absolutely makes it AWESOME!
- Egg and sour cream
The egg acts as a binder in this recipe, helping the sour cream (and cheese) become super thickened and creamy.
- Spicy brown mustard
This will give your mac and cheese a bit of zing. If you don’t have spicy brown mustard in your fridge, you can substitute 1 tsp. dried mustard.
Easy Recipe Tips for Making Instant Pot Little Smokie Mac and Cheese
Why is cooking pasta in the Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker) such a big deal?
Yup , it IS a big deal, and here’s why: You can cook the pasta in just 5 minutes, AND, there’s no draining of the pasta required! Once you’ve cooked the pasta (which absorbs all the liquid as it cooks) all you do is remove the Instant Pot lid, and stir in your remaining ingredients. Easy peasy….lemon squeezy.
How do I that really “stringy” cheese experience from my mac and cheese?
Great question! If you are longing for stringy cheese, shred your cheese from a block as you get ready to use it, instead of using bagged shredded cheese. Bagged shredded cheese like you purchase at the grocer is great for convenience, but it’s also coated with anti-caking agents and that’s what won’t let the cheese be stringy as some of us enjoy as it melts.
Why do the Little Smokies or Kielbasa sausage need to be browned before being added to the mac and cheese?
This extra step really makes a big difference in how the meat tastes in this mac and cheese. You can brown the little smokies in a bit of oil or butter using the saute setting on your Instant Pot/electric pressure cooker, before cooking the pasta in the broth. Don’t skip this important step!!
Can I substitute other kinds of meat in this mac and cheese?
Totally….just as long as it’s fully cooked. Pulled pork, grilled steak or salmon, shredded rotisserie chicken, cooked Italian sausage, cooked, sliced and browned kielbasa sausage…..any of these are delicious in this recipe and also a great way to use up leftovers!!
Shouldn’t I be uncomfortable adding a raw egg (beaten into the sour cream) at the end of the recipe once the pasta has been cooked in the Instant Pot?
I get this question all the time regarding this mac and cheese recipe. Here’s why you don’t need to worry: when you remove the lid from the Instant Pot after cooking the pasta, the contents are PIPING HOT. Any ingredients, including the beaten egg/sour cream mixture, that’s added right after you remove that lid will be cooked through in a matter of seconds!
What if I want to add broccoli or other veggies to this mac and cheese?
I hope you do! I love this recipe with the addition of broccoli. If you are adding frozen broccoli, keep in mind that frozen veggies are already par-boiled before they are packaged, so you can simply stir those frozen broccoli florets into the mac and cheese at the end as you are adding the remaining ingredients to finish it. The broccoli will cook quickly when it gets stirred into the hot pasta.
Can I make this mac and cheese in a slow cooker if I don’t have an Instant Pot?
Surely, and it works just great. I’ve added the slow cooker instructions into the recipe directions below.
What’s the purpose of the evaporated milk as an ingredient in this mac and cheese?
Great question. Evaporated milk (not to be confused with sweetened condense milk!) adds to the creaminess and richness of this mac and cheese. I love keeping a couple of cans in my pantry at all times for when I’m making mac and cheese, sausage gravy, or creamed eggs on toast.
If you’re new to Instant Pot cooking, you may find our Instant Pot Free Printables helpful, and also our Instant Pot Guide for Beginners. Print these off and secure them to the inside of a cupboard door for quick reference when you’re needing help with what’s cookin’ in your Instant Pot!
And for more of my favorite Instant Pot Recipes, click right here!
Printable Directions for Making Instant Pot Little Smoke Mac and Cheese
Instant Pot Little Smokie Mac and Cheese
- 3 cups rotini pasta, or your favorite pasta of choice
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar (or any cheddar cheese you prefer)
- 10 3/4 oz. can Campbell's Condensed Cheddar Cheese Soup,, may substitute 10 oz. cubed Velveeta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cups sour cream
- 1 Tbs. spicy brown mustard
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1 lb. Little Smokie all-beef sausages, browned off in a bit of oil first (may also substitute slices of kielbasa sausage that have been browned off a bit)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- your favorite bbq sauce, for drizzling over the top of each serving, if desired
Instant Pot Cooking Method
- Place the broth into the Instant Pot; use the saute setting to get the broth boiling, then stir in the pasta. Lock the Instant Pot lid into place. Using the manual button, choose High Pressure for 5 minutes, bringing the Instant Pot to full pressure.
- When the timer sounds, use a quick release to remove all pressure from the Instant Pot. Carefully remove the lid and give the pasta a quick stir; you will notice that the pasta has absorbed all the broth (or nearly all of it), so therer's no need to drain it.
- Add the beaten egg to the sour cream, then stir this mixture into the hot pasta. Add the cheddar cheese soup, shredded cheddar cheese, spicy brown mustard and the evaporated milk, mixing to combine all the ingredients together. To serve, place the mac and cheese into serving bowls; drizzle with your favorite bbq sauce, if desired, and enjoy.
Slow Cooker Cooking Method
- Combine macaroni and chicken broth in a large pot; bring to a boil over medium high heat and cook for 5 minutes. Do not drain water from macaroni! Stir in the cheese, soup, and sour cream/egg mixture, and spicy brown mustard; combine well, then fold in kielbasa; season macaroni and cheese to taste with salt and pepper. Place macaroni into a pre-heated slow cooker and cook on low for 2-3 hours, until the pasta has absorbed most of the extra liquid the pasta is tender. To serve, place the mac and cheese into serving bowls; drizzle with your favorite bbq sauce, if desired, and enjoy.
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