Instant Pot Shells and Cheese

  • Author: 365 Days of Slow and Pressure Cooking
  • 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
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground mustard
  • ½ 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


  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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