Instant Pot Bacon Mac—cheesy, smoky macaroni and cheese with big, crispy pieces of bacon. It so fast and easy to make in the Instant Pot.
Get the SLOW COOKER Bacon Mac recipe
Instant Pot Bacon Mac
This Instant Pot macaroni and cheese is brought to a whole new level with the addition of crispy bacon, liquid smoke and smoked paprika. The pasta has a smoky flavor and tastes like it came out of a barbecue joint. I went with the Ben and Jerry’s philosophy on chunks…big spaced out chunks of goodness in ice cream are better than tiny chunks equally distributed. No, I didn’t add chocolate chips to the macaroni and cheese. But the bacon pieces are large instead of crumbling them up. When you take your first bite your eyes will roll back into your head and an audible moan of pleasure will escape your lips. I promise.
What kind of pasta can I use to make mac and cheese? I was all set to make this Instant Pot bacon mac when I checked the pantry and learned I didn’t have any elbow macaroni. I ended up using rotini. You can use all sorts of different types of pasta for this recipe successfully. Try cavatappi, penne, rotini, macaroni, farfalle or shells.
What is liquid smoke? Liquid smoke is a natural product made from condensing the smoke from burning wood. You can find it by the BBQ sauces at your grocery store. Some other recipes that use liquid smoke are Instant Pot Smoky Pulled Pork, Instant Pot BBQ Brisket Sliders, and Instant Pot Shells And Cheese.
How do you cook bacon? Usually we cook it outside on our Blackstone Griddle or I cook it in the oven. This article talks about different bacon cooking methods and the pros and cons to each…We Tried 8 Methods of Cooking Bacon and Found an Absolute Winner. Now I’m convinced I need to cook my bacon in the oven on parchment paper!
What kind of cheese is best to use for macaroni and cheese? My favorite is a block of sharp cheddar that you grate yourself. Sharp cheddar has the right balance of flavor and meltability. Pre-grated cheese is coated in cellulose. When melted it doesn’t come out as creamy as cheese grated off the block.
What is half and half? Half and half is half cream and half whole milk and can be found in a carton in the dairy aisle next to the heavy cream. I started out by using 1 cup of half and half and then when I needed to loosen up the mac and cheese after it had sat on warm for a while I used almost another whole cup.
Can I use regular paprika instead of smoked paprika? You can, and although it will add a beautiful color it won’t have the same intense smoky flavor. It’s better than no paprika but smoked paprika is the best if you can find it! I get it from the bulk bins at Winco.
More Amazing Instant Pot Pasta Recipes…
Instant Pot Shrimp Scampi Pasta
Instant Pot Tuscan Chicken Pasta
Instant Pot Spinach and Ravioli Lasagna
Instant Pot Creamy Chicken Primavera
Instant Pot Chicken Stroganoff
Instant Pot Olive Garden Chicken Pasta
Instant Pot Italian Chicken Pasta
Instant Pot Chicken Florentine Pasta
Instant Pot Next Level Bacon Mac
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 minutes (plus 10 minute NPR)
- Total Time: 18 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
Cheesy, smoky macaroni and cheese with big, crispy pieces of bacon.
- 4 cups water
- 1 (16 oz) package elbow macaroni (or other pasta)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1–2 cups half and half
- 12 oz (3 cups) grated sharp cheddar (or other cheese like Colby and Monterey jack)
- 1 (12 oz) package of bacon
- Add water into Instant Pot. Sprinkle in the pasta in a single layer. Press to submerge pasta as much as possible. Sprinkle in salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and liquid smoke.
- Cover Instant Pot and secure the lid. Make sure valve is set to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 3 minutes.
- While pasta is cooking cook the bacon until crispy and drain on paper towels. Cut each piece into thirds.
- When time is up on Instant Pot let the pot sit for 10 minutes and then move the valve to venting. Remove the lid.
- Stir in the half and half (I started out with 1 cup) and the cheese.
- Once cheese is melted and creamy stir in the bacon.
- Taste test and sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste.
- Scoop into bowls and serve.
I used my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo 60 7 in 1*. Use the same instructions when using the 3 or 8 quart pot.
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Instant Pot
*Karen Petersen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
I just replied to a comment and realized I haven’t commented on this recipe. This is SO good! I previously believed Macaroni and Cheese wasn’t enough for dinner, more of a side, but this recipe is easy and delicious! My family loves it!
So glad to hear it! This is comfort food to the max!
Bill E-B says
Awesome! Although at our house we can never do a recipe to the tee, so for the liquid we used a can of diced tomatoes and a cup of chicken broth. Used only one cup of half and half with two cups of old cheddar. Turned out great. Thanks. Nice no fuss meal.
Next time I’ll be useing ramp powder I made instead of the garlic powder.
what’s ramp powder?
I literally just said the same!
For those that need to use gluten free macaroni….I had to look up how many cups of dry pasta in a box and the Internet said there’s 4.5 cups dry in a standard box…unfortunately there’s only 3.33 cups in the gluten free box…so I pulled out my calculator and got 3.75 cups of water for the recipe! Worked perfectly! I used Barilla. Also I used sour cream and milk instead of half n half and it gives it a nice flavor! We’re eating it now…my hunter husband just returning tonight from a hunt and it’s delicious!
Good work Pam! Helpful information to know. Thank you.
Ok so I couldn’t find Barilla GF macaroni so I used the brown rice kind. MAJOR FAIL! If possible, only use Barilla!
I don’t have half n half around, but could I sub sour cream mixed with whole milk for the richness?
Yes that would be tasty!
Mary Cheek says
Could the recipe be cut in half and how much do i change the times?
Yes you can and do not change the cooking time. https://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/how-to-halve-instant-pot-recipes/
Mary Cheek says
OMG! Made it last night and it was wonderful! How can you go wrong with cheese and bacon?! I did half the recipe, kept the same cooking times, and still had leftover! I love your recipes! Do you have a book of just the dump and go dinner recipes?
I don’t have a book but you can check out this post of all dump and go recipes: https://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/20-dump-and-go-instant-pot-and-slow-cooker-recipes/
Laurie Patton says
You comment to use the same instructions for a 3 qt. Do you reduce quantity on anything? because how do you get a single layer of the pasta in a 3 qt?
Just add the pasta in into the pot and tap the pot so that is in an even layer.
What is liquid smoke please
What is liquid smoke? Liquid smoke is a natural product made from condensing the smoke from burning wood. You can find it by the BBQ sauces at your grocery store.
I just made this tonight and it is really good. Everyone in family liked it. We served it with slightly steamed fresh green beans and this may be our new favorite meal combo for a while. Thank you!
I love the idea of green beans with it! Balances it all out.
Harry Wagner says
could you substitute bacon crumbles instead of bacon strips?
Yes you can!
Is this freezable?
Karen Redlin says
As a general rule of thumb, cooked pasta does not freeze well.
I do have to agree with Karen. This will not freeze well. It is really best served right away.
Judith Michelsen says
Do you have any general kind of rule that applies to how long to cook gluten-free pasta versus regular pasta? I love your pasta recipes, but I often wonder, because I am gluten-free, how to estimate the cooking time. Thanks so much!
I’ve heard that because gluten free pasta tends to get mushy to cook less time. I am not sure because I haven’t tried it myself.