This unforgettable Mac and Cheese combines two all-time favorites! Creamy mac and cheese inspired by the ever-popular spinach and artichoke dip is the one-pot wonder you need in your life! This pasta dish is luscious, as mac and cheese should be, yet much lighter than the classic version. Instant Pot Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese is simple but elevated and so very satisfying!
Note: Original post published in Dec 2017 has been updated with new photos and a video.
Light and Creamy
Unlike a typical mac and cheese, this recipe uses broth and starchy pasta water to create a heavenly pasta-coating sauce with only a few tablespoons each of parmesan cheese, mozzarella, and cream cheese. No heavy cream, no butter, and no flour needed! The mix of garlic, parmesan, mozzarella, and tangy cream cheese with the veggies truly captures the essence of spinach and artichoke dip–in pasta form!! Yumm!!!!
Eating Your Greens Never Tasted This Good!
Tender baby spinach adds a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and a lovely vibrant green. The fresh spinach and jarred artichokes complement the creamy sauce and pasta amazingly well, adding body and layers of flavor. This is a great dish for getting in those servings of greens for kids and adults!
The Easiest Mac and Cheese
Pasta in the Instant Pot is a game-changer. There’s no need to drain the water as it becomes part of the sauce, making this a great dish for kids learning to cook. A one-pot dish with pasta and veggies that only takes 30 minutes and is worthy of dinner party status? That’s the kind of weeknight dinner the whole family can look forward to! It also makes a stellar side dish!
Elevated and Interesting
Instant Pot Spinach and Artichoke Mac and Cheese is the grown-up mac and cheese we deserve. It’s delicious, interesting, guilt-free, and versatile! From pot-lucks to BBQs, dinner parties, and girls’ night in, everyone will be asking for this recipe! It’s cozy in the winter, but light enough for warmer months and we love a recipe we can enjoy year-round!
Why we love this Instant Pot Pasta
✔️ Quick and EASY one-pot meal
✔️ Loved by Kids and Adults! A delicious way to get in those greens!
✔️ Canned artichokes & baby spinach add so much flavor, little to no prep or clean-up
✔️ Add your favorite cheeses, and as much or as little as you like! We love just the right amount of cream cheese, parmesan, and ooey-gooey mozzarella in this recipe.
- Pasta - Use your favorite pasta shells, you can even use gluten free pasta in this recipe
- Spinach - Triple washed organic baby spinach works perfectly for this recipe. It’s ready to use, simply toss in the pot when the recipe calls for. What an easy way to add essential nutrients and fiber to your meal!
- Artichokes - Marinated jarred or canned artichoke hearts will work for this recipe. Pressure cooking the artichokes with the pasta makes them so tender, they blend right in.
Here is a step by step recipe with photos explaining how to cook the perfect Instant Pot mac n cheese:
- Heat oil, add onion, and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and stir well cooking for a minute. Add artichoke hearts and sauté for another minute. Stir in the uncooked pasta, broth, and water. Mix well and gently push the pasta under the liquids. (photos 1 - 4)
- Close Instant Pot with pressure valve to sealing. Cook on Manual/Pressure Cook mode for 4 minutes followed by a quick release.
- Open Instant Pot, give a quick stir to the pasta. Gently fold the spinach into the pasta and cook on sauté mode for a couple of minutes as the spinach wilts. Add cream cheese, mozzarella, and grated parmesan. Add red pepper flakes and mix everything well until the cheeses blend well in the pasta. (Photos 5 - 8)
How to make perfect Instant Pot Pasta
- Most of the pasta should be submerged under liquids. Depending on the shape and size of the pasta used you may need more or less liquids.
- Each pasta shape has a different cook time. To cook in an Instant pot, pressure cook it for - half the cook time on the package and minus 1 minute - So if the Pasta says 10 minutes, pressure cook it for 4 minutes. This same formula works when cooking gluten-free pasta in the Instant Pot
- Quick-release after pressure cooking cycle is complete
- Always stir in cream, cheese, etc after the pressure cooking cycle
Spinach Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese is perfect for lunch or dinner! Serve it as is or pair it with your favorite salad. We often enjoy it with Arugula Salad or Kale Salad. Serve it at your next get-together, potluck, or Thanksgiving meal alongside green beans, sweet potato casserole, roasted cauliflower, and jalapeno cheese cornbread.
- Add more or less cheese depending on how creamy you like the pasta to be
- All the cheese can be substituted to low fat cheeses for a lighter take
- Add a cup of milk instead of water after the pressure cooking cycle for added protein and calcium
- To make spicy mac n cheese add extra red chili flakes or skip them altogether for non-spicy pasta
To adjust the pressure cook time for the type of pasta you are using, simply half the cook time on the pasta package. The pasta I used in this recipe has a stovetop cook time of 8 minutes. So I pressure cooked it for 4 minutes. If you like al dente pasta or if you are using gluten-free pasta further reduce the pressure cook time by 1 minute.
If you are cooking pasta ahead of time, feel free to pressure cook for only 3 minutes as the pasta continues to absorb moisture and continue to soften over time.
If you are making pasta ahead of time, cook the pasta al dente and add the additional milk and cheeses when you are ready to serve. This also makes it easier to clean up the Instant Pot pasta that will have some cheese sticking to it.
Pasta continues to absorb the liquids as it sits making it dry over time. To reheat simply sprinkle a few spoons of warm milk or water over the pasta and then reheat in the microwave.
The bottom of the Instant Pot can get sticky with all the cheese in this recipe. I would suggest you take out any leftover pasta right away and refrigerate it. Then simply add a cup of hot water, a teaspoon of baking soda, and a teaspoon of dishwashing soap to the Instant Pot, steam for 2 minutes. Dump out all the liquids and then clean the pot with a dishwasher sponge and soap.
Do you enjoy the ease and convenience of making pasta in Instant Pot? Here are some more pasta recipes:
- Pasta Caprese – Pasta tossed with tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar
- Penne Alla Vodka – Italian classic pasta dish made in a creamy tomato, garlic, vodka sauce
- Creamy Tomato Pasta – Incredibly creamy and delicious pasta with an EASY recipe
- Spicy Taco Pasta – Spicy taco pasta with ground chicken, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, and cheese
- Spinach Mushroom Lasagna – Lasagna layered with spinach, mushrooms, garlic, and cheese
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Spinach Artichoke Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- ¾ cup artichoke hearts drained and rough chopped, I like Trader Joe's bottled marinated artichokes
- ½ lb uncooked macaroni shells or any pasta
- 6 oz baby spinach
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 2 oz cream cheese, room temperature room temperature
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese grated
- Set the Instant Pot to sauté mode and heat oil. Add onion and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes with a glass lid on.
- Add garlic and stir well cooking for a minute. Add artichoke hearts and sauté for another minute.
- Add uncooked pasta, broth, and water. Mix well. Make sure that most of the pasta is under the liquids. Note: Each pasta shape is different and you may need more or less water.
- Close Instant Pot with pressure valve to sealing. Pressure Cook mode for 4 minutes followed by Quick Release.
- Open Instant Pot, give a quick stir to the pasta. If the pasta looks dry-ish add another cup of broth, water, or low-fat milk
- Set the Instant Pot to sauté mode and gently fold the spinach into the pasta and cook just until the spinach starts to wilt.
- Add cream cheese, mozzarella, and grated parmesan. Add red pepper flakes and mix everything well until the cheeses blend well in the pasta. Enjoy hot!
- Each pasta shape requires a different amount of water. Make sure most of the pasta is under the liquids before closing the Instant pot.
- Cook time for the elbow macaroni was 8 minutes. Half that cook time for Instant Pot and pressure cook for 4 minutes.
- To adjust the pressure cook time for the other types of pasta, simply half the cook time on the pasta package. If you like al dente pasta or if you are using gluten-free pasta further reduce the pressure cook time by 1 minute.
- If you are cooking pasta ahead of time, feel free to pressure cook for only 3 minutes as the pasta continues to absorb moisture and continue to soften over time.
- Pasta will continue to absorb the liquids as it sits making it dry over time. To reheat simply sprinkle a few spoons of warm milk or water over the pasta and then reheat in the microwave.
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