Instant Pot Shells and Cheese—creamy cheesy pasta shells (or macaroni) with slices of smoked sausage. An easy and delicious dinner that is kid-friendly and adults love it too!
Related: 10 Instant Pot Mac and Cheese Recipes
Instant Pot Shells and Cheese
When I was a kid I was always jealous of the kids that got foods like fruit roll-ups, sugar cereal and Velveeta shells and cheese. My mom was more of a homemade mom. For breakfast we would get “mush,” homemade pancakes or if we did have cereal it was cornflakes or plain cheerios. We would get homemade bread sandwiches in our lunches and real fruit, like and apple, and then maybe a homemade cookie. For dinner my mom would make homemade dinners. Looking back I realize that I was lucky that my mom didn’t use processed convenience foods like many of my friends.
However, I can still picture the television advertisements of the Velveeta Shells and Cheese that looked oh so tasty! The cheese look creamy and glossy and it enveloped the shell pasta noodles. That was what I was going for with these Instant Pot shells and cheese. I also wanted to make it more of a meal by adding the smoked sausage. If you don’t like smoked sausage you could add in chunks of uncooked chicken breast, brats or a can of drained tuna. Get creative!
These Instant Pot shells and cheese have a subtle smoky flavor thanks to the smoked sausage, liquid smoke and smoked paprika. This gives it a little more of a grown up flavor profile than normal macaroni and cheese. Having said that, my kids both exclaimed how much they liked this particular recipe and were sad when the leftovers were gone.
I used 3 different types of cheese: cheddar, monterey jack and colby jack. This gives a variation of flavor. You can also just use cheddar if you prefer. Or you can play around with different types of cheese.
I wanted to stir the broccoli into the pasta but Greg put the kibosh on that idea! He is NOT a fan of broccoli intermingled with other foods. If you are, like I am, than try my Instant Pot chicken broccoli mac and cheese recipe.
Try these Instant Pot shells and cheese out for dinner this week! You’ll love it!
More Cheesy Instant Pot Pasta Recipes…
Instant Pot 3-Cheese Mac and Cheese
Instant Pot Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese
Instant Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni and CheesePrint
Instant Pot Shells and Cheese
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes (plus 5 minute NPR)
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 4–6 servings 1x
Creamy cheesy pasta shells (or macaroni) with slices of smoked sausage. An easy and delicious dinner that is kid-friendly and adults love it too!
- 1 (12 oz) package of pre-cooked smoked sausage, sliced into quarter inch pieces
- 2 cups water
- 8 oz uncooked pasta shells or macaroni noodles
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground mustard
- 1/2 cup half and half (or cream or milk)
- 4 oz (about 1 cup) grated cheddar
- 4 oz (about 1 cup) grated monterey jack
- 4 oz (about 1 cup) grated colby jack
- Optional: cornstarch
- Place the smoked sausage evenly on the bottom of your Instant Pot. Then pour in the water. Dump in the pasta in an even layer. Add the butter, liquid smoke, kosher salt, paprika, pepper and ground mustard. Don’t stir.
- Cover the Instant Pot and secure the lid. Make sure the valve is set to sealing. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 5 minutes. When the time is up let the pot sit for 5-10 minutes and then move the valve to venting. Remove the lid.
- Stir. It will seem like there is a lot of liquid, don’t worry. Slowly stir in the half and half and cheeses. The cheese will get melty and the sauce will thicken up. If it is still too runny you can thicken with a cornstarch slurry. In a small bowl stir together 1 Tbsp of cornstarch with 1-2 Tbsp of water, until smooth. Then pour the mixture into the Instant Pot. Turn your Instant Pot to the saute setting. The cornstarch mixture will thicken up contents of pot quickly.
- Serve the pasta and sausage with broccoli or another favorite vegetable.
To make I used my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo 60 7 in 1*. You can also make this recipe in the 8 quart or 3 quart pot with no changes.
You can make this without the smoked sausage. Leave it out and follow the recipe otherwise.
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: American
Want more tried and true Instant Pot recipes?
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*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 hope your children realize what a treasure & blessing it is to have a mother that enjoys cooking and is willing to share it with all of us. My mother and grandmother were excellent cooks from raw/basic ingredients with the ability to make meals out of whatever was affordable or in season at the time. I never fully appreciated their talents/abilities until I retired from work and was able to concentrate on cooking for my grandchildren & family. I think of Mom every time I cook. I have a whole list of “favorite” recipes that we use which you’ve shared with us. I really appreciate it. Thank You!
What a nice comment! Thank you so much Michael 🙂
Great Recipe for my 3qt Instant Pot. Since there are only two of us, I cut the ingredients in half, keeping times the same. Oh, and because my hubby is on low-sodium, I drop the salt considering the cheeses have enough sodium for him.
I’ve used with ‘grownup’ cheeses and ‘childhood’ cheese (processed brick, starts with ‘V’).
I’ve used sausage, smokies, wieners, or no meat at all.
Thanks for recipe!
So glad you like it Barb! My son thinks this is the best thing I’ve ever made 🙂
Did you sauté the kielbasa first?
Oops, email was wrong above.
No I didn’t saute but you sure can if you want!
Cheryl christian says
How do I get the sound to come up on videos? I see see videos read them but cannot hear person speaking !!!! I am new to instant pot and love lawns 365 recipes!!! Cheryl Christian Titus alabama!!! Thanks for your help!!!
Hi Cheryl, Welcome! My little videos don’t have sound because I realize many people will be in a public place while looking at my recipes. So you’re not missing a thing!
Delicious! Kids loved it. I followed instructions adding only 8oz cheese.
Thanks Sarah! Glad you all liked it 🙂
Janis Olson says
Hi Karen, I’m making this tonight for dinner and I only want to double the pasta to 1 pound. Do I have to use additional water?
I made it before and it was delicious!
Yes double the water! It gets all used by the pasta so you’ll need more water for more pasta.
Liz P says
I’m sorry to keep bothering you, but I am confused. The recipe says 4oz (1 cup). Am I wrong, but isn’t 8oz equal to one cup? I’m really trying to figure out what I did wrong because I’ve made a TON of your recipes with no problem, except this one. and is it actually ‘grated’ cheese or do you mean shredded? I’ve never even seen grated cheese, other than parmesan.
thanks for your help!
Hi Liz, what I did was cut an 8 ounce block of cheese in half (so it weighed 4 ounces) and then grate that amount with a cheese grater. I like to grate the cheese off the block because it melts creamier than the grated/shredded cheese in packages at the store.
Jessica McKinley says
Has anyone tried to triple or even quadruple this recipe? I have an 8 quart and when I doubled it there was a ton of space still. We are hosting large event and I would love to make a triple or even quad batch!
I bet you could easily! I would reduce pressure cook time by 1-2 minute if you double/triple it!
Liz P says
ok, so as I was adding the cheese, I thought, wow, this is really a LOT of cheese. I doubled the recipe and instead of ‘grated’ cheese (which i didn’t even notice it said grated until it was too late) I used shredded. Sooooo, basically, I put 6 cups of cheese onto one box of shells. Needless to say, it was actually TOO cheesy. The IP and the bowls we ate out of were a nightmare to clean. lol It tasted good still, but just way too much cheese. My own fault for not paying attention. I just wonder how much difference 6 cups of grated cheese would make?
Oh how funny! I bet it was super cheesy. That’s why I like measuring out 4 ounces because they you know you’re getting the right amount. I use a digital scale and so that makes it so easy.
Carrie Cummings says
Karen, does pre-shredded packaged cheese work okay in this recipe?
I imagine it may get clumped up. Sometimes that happens with the pre-shredded cheese because of the powder coating on it. Having said that I bet it would still taste good, maybe not as creamy of a texture though.
Hi Karen could you please tell me what smoke sauce is, I live in N.Z. And have never heard of it
Liquid smoke is a natural product made from condensing the smoke from burning wood. The flavoring is used in a variety of dishes to contribute a smoky taste without cooking in the smoker. Most brands of liquid smoke are inexpensive. You can leave it out and it will still be wonderful!