Instant Pot Irish Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese.
Instant Pot Irish Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese. Celebrating the Irish today, with a seriously good (and easy) “Irish” Cheddar Pasta. Made completely in the Instant Pot…crisp the bacon, sauté the brussels sprouts, add the pasta shells, butter, and water, and cook for 3 minutes. Then simply stir in some sharp Irish cheddar cheese, and you’re ready to eat. I like to call this the Easiest Mac and Cheese ever. With some bacon on top for extra flavor, and some brussels sprouts mixed throughout for balance, every bite is cheesy, creamy, and perfect.
I’m going to be honest, St. Patrick’s Day really snuck up on me this year. Anyone else? It feels like New Year’s was just yesterday. But then it also feels like New Year’s was a life time ago. It’s been busy and crazy. But after a very productive few days, I’m finally feeling confident and back on my A game. It’s crazy what a couple good days can do for one’s self confidence, I surely needed them! Love ending the week on a strong note, and what could be better than a cozy mac and cheese!
And yes, I do know it’s only Thursday, but we’re so close, and tomorrow’s post is GOOD one too. So I’m just a little excited.
Anyway, in year’s past, I’ve shared many good Irish inspired recipes. Including these 8 ingredient brownies, this over the top Irish whiskey burger, a fun brisket burrito recipe, and even soda bread. But this year it’s all about the instant pot mac and cheese…with some delicious Irish cheddar, bacon, and brussels sprouts too. Why use Irish cheddar? Because it’s extra delicious.
Also because, other than potatoes, corned beef, and Guinness beer, I for the life of me could not think of another good Irish ingredient. Yes, I know they’re out there, and please feel free to share them with me if you happen to be Irish. But the sound of a sharp Irish cheddar mac and cheese just sounded too delicious, so I went for it.
Verdict? It’s really good, really simple, and a new favorite Instant Pot recipe.
If you’ve never had Irish cheddar, you must find some at your grocers and give it a try. Most carry some form of Irish cheddar, it’s just a step above other types of cheddars. Irish Cheddar is made from cows raised in southeast Ireland, also known as the “Garden of Ireland.” Its flavor is buttery with hints of sweetness, and when melted? Ah, it’s the creamiest, most delicious cheese. It’s probably my favorite variety of cheddar, and it’s perfect for a simple mac and cheese.
OK, now on to the mac and cheese details.
First start by crisping up the bacon in the instant pot. I included bacon for a nice salty, rich flavor. I also love the combo of bacon, brussels sprouts, and cheddar. Of course if you’re vegetarian you can simply omit the bacon. Once the bacon is crisp, add the brussels sprouts, and then the pasta, butter, and water. Cook for 3 minutes and let the instant pot do its thing. Release the steam, add some milk, add all that delicious cheese, stir, and DONE!
Instant Pot mac and cheese in under 20 minutes. And honestly, it’s one of the creamiest mac and cheese recipes I’ve created. The cheese adds all the flavor, while the brussels sprouts add a nice touch of green color. It’s indulgent, but not overly so, since we’ve actually made this with way less butter, no flour, and no cream.
So…a kind of healthier mac and cheese? Hey, it’s all about balance.
If you’re not a fan of brussels sprouts, I’d recommend using broccoli or another green vegetable you do love. I think the pop of color is really nice! Or if you don’t do vegetables in your mac and cheese, simply leave the brussels sprouts out!
For those of you who may not own the Instant Pot, I included stove-top directions for you guys too! This recipe is too good not to make, and it would be something fun for St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday. Serve it up as a main, or along side your favorite Irish roast, either way, just make it. I have full confidence you’re going to love this one.
If you make this instant pot mac and cheese, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to also tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!
Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.
Instant Pot Irish Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese.
Sauté the brussels sprouts, add the pasta shells, butter, and water, and cook for 3 minutes. Then simply stir in some sharp Irish cheddar cheese, and you’re ready to eat!
- 4 strips thick cut bacon, diced
- 4 cups shredded brussels sprouts
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 pound pasta shells
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 3-4 cups shredded Irish cheddar or sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Set Instant pot to sauté. Add the bacon and cook until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. If there is an excess amount of bacon grease, remove all but 1 tablespoon of grease.
2. To the instant pot, add the brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute, then turn the instant pot off. Add the pasta, butter, and 3 1/2 cups water. Cover, select the manual setting, and cook on high pressure for 3 minutes.
3. Once done cooking, use the quick release function and release the steam. Stir in the milk, cheddar, garlic powder, and cayenne, stirring until the cheese is fully melted, about 1-2 minutes. Taste, adding salt if needed. Serve immediately, topped with crispy bacon.
1. Cook the bacon in a large pot over medium high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate. If there is an excess amount of bacon grease, remove all but 1 tablespoon of grease.
2. To the pot, add the brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper. Cook 1 minute. Add the pasta, butter, and 3 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for 7-8 minutes, stirring often until the pasta is just al dente. If the pasta needs more time, add a splash of water and continue cooking 1-2 additional minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk, cheddar, garlic powder, and cayenne, stirring until the cheese is fully melted, about 1-2 minutes. Taste, adding salt if needed. Serve immediately, topped with crispy bacon.
Our Favorite Recipes
Roasted Mixed Potatoes with Spring Herbs and Burrata.
I would never have thought of putting veggies in mac and cheese, but… this looks pretty tasty.
Thank you Charlotte! xTieghan
Yum. Other Irish things, lamb stew…maybe in an Instant Pot, Bailey’ Irish Creme in desserts: chocolate cream pie, chocolate truffles, cream cheese brownies, colcanan for a few examples
Thank you Joyce! xTieghan
Yummy and happy for an Instant Pot. other Irish dishes, lamb stew, colcannon, parsnips, Any desserts using Baily’s Irish Cream, chocolate cream pie with Baily’s whipped cream, Chocolate truffles, use in cream cheese brownies, etc. I think a Baily’s chocolate mousse would be great.
Thank you so much! xTieghan
OMGOSH! This creamy dish of mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food and who doesn’t need a little comfort now and then? I love how simple but luscious this recipe is. I can’t remember the last time I had mac and cheese. But you have definitely stirred my hunger desire for it again. Thanks for sharing.
Agreed!! I am so glad you like this Linger, thank you! xTieghan
So easy to make (with a food processor) and plenty of complexity in the flavors. Thanks for another instapot recipe.
Thank you Paul! xTieghan
Can I double the recipe and still follow the instant pot directions?
HI! I don’t recommend that. All of the pasta will not fit well into the instant pot. Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan
St. Patrick’s Day totally snuck up! This mac and cheese looks perfect!
Thank you! xTieghan
Could you please try your hand at making some Irish brown bread next year? And maybe some root veggie soup or stew? Love your recipes!
YES! Thank you Cori! xTieghan
I made this with stove top instructions. Perfect. Used English mature cheddar as I’m in London for work and that’s all I could find. Delicious as written.
Thank you so much Kiara! xTieghan
Cooking isn’t my strong suit, but I made this with ease and it was delicious! This is a great winter warmup meal.
That is amazing that this turned out well for you Sara! Thank you so much! xTieghan
I made this for dinner tonight…holy crap it was delicious! I had to let the noodles cook longer but was so freaking good. Highly recommend!
Thank you so much for trying this Brittanie! I am so glad you loved this! xTieghan
Easiest, yummiest thing I’ve ever made!!
Thank you Emily! xTieghan
I’m pregnant and have been craving Velveeta Mac and cheese with broccoli but resisting the urge to eat all those calories. This was the perfect substitution! I omitted the bacon and did the broccoli substitution the first time to get my fix, but I’ll definitely make this again with Brussels sprouts! So yummy and a great way to pack some extra veg into our family meals!
YES!! I love that you chose to make this instead! Thank you Ileana! xTieghan
This is one of the best Mac and Cheese recipes we’ve ever done. So easy! We’ll be doing this one often.
Thanks so much for sharing your talent with us
I am so glad you loved this Larry! Thank you so much! xTieghan
So, mine came out like mac n cheese soup. It doesn’t say to drain the pasta after cooking in the instructions but I feel like that might have helped? I made it in an instapot and followed the directions but it was not creamy at all, very watery, and the cheese started to congeal.
Hi Maureen, what brand pasta and cheese are you using? You should not need to drain off any water, so I am thinking it might be the brand of pasta and or cheese that is affecting the results. Sometimes different ingredients can affect the outcome of certain recipes. Any details you can give would be helpful! xTieghan
I plan on making this for a baby shower and will have several other appetizers, including sliders. Did you make this in a 6 qt? How would you adjust the recipe for an 8 qt? And how many do you think it would serve as a small side with many other things? 40 people will be in attendance. Thanks!
Hey Liz, I made this this in a 6qt, but you do not need to adjust anything for a large size. It should work great. As for how many it would serve, I would say 8 if you have hungry guest, 10-12 if everyone is just tasting things! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan
So I know that buttermilk and whole milk are completely different…but I already have buttermilk in the fridge and I don’t really want to buy a whole thing of whole milk for this. Could I substitute that?
Hey Kristen, as much I want to say yes, buttermilk will really change the flavor of the mac and cheese and I don’t recommend using it. I also worry it may curdle on you as well. SORRY! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you! xTieghan
Can I omit the Cayenne to make it more kid friendly? Or does the cayenne add flavor to this rather than spice? Thank you!
This was incredibly watery when I opened it. It looks like a soup and I have to dump the whole thing. I triple checked that I followed every direction and had the correct amount of water. I have never had this happen with any instant pot recipe, especially one from Half Baked Harvest.
Hey Belinda, I am sorry you had trouble. It is really hard to know what happened since I don’t have any details. How much water did you use? What version Instant Pot do you have? Any info will be helpful to help me problem solve and figure out what might be happening for you. It’s hard to know without knowing any details. Hope I can help you! xTieghan
Can you use non dairy like coconut milk?
Sure that will work great!! Please let me know if you have any other questions. I hope you love this recipe! Thank you!! xTieghan
I just made this and I put the bacon in the oven to add the pieces last. It was amazing the bacon was crispy and delicious. I love this recipe!
Thank you so much Jasmine! I am so glad this turned out so well for you! xTieghan
I LOVE that you can make the whole thing in the Instantpot! I substituted broccoli since I didn’t have brussels sprouts, and it was a hit. Even my two-year-old loved this! I added half an onion as well, just for some extra flavor. This was only the second HBH recipe I have made, and I will certainly be making more. Thanks!
Amazing!! I am so glad this turned out so well for you!! xTieghan
I just made this tonight, and I have to say it is easy and absolutely delicious. In the past when I’ve made Mac n’ cheese it’s never turned out quite right, so I revert back to buying boxed Mac n’ cheese. This was going to be my last attempt at making Mac n’ cheese if it turned out poorly. But this is SO GOOD!!! I 100% recommend to anyone looking at the reviews, to make this. SO easy, and SO good!
For anyone wondering, I did the stovetop version because I do not have an IP.
I will definitely be making this again!
I am so glad this turned out so amazing for you, Taylor!! Thank you so much for trying it! xTieghan
Made this for my husband and we couldn’t get enough! Made it again to share with friends and they couldn’t stop talking about it. I love the twist of adding brussel sprouts and making this an even more delicious comfort food. I have an annual St. Patrick’s Day party at my house and will definitely be making this to add to the spread!
Love that!! I am really glad you enjoyed this and I hope you love it just as much for your St. Patricks Day party! xTieghan
Hi. I was recently introduced to your website and am obsessed!! I’ve been making 3-4 dishes weekly and we’ve loved everything so far. I’m excited to try making this recipe tomorrow and wondering about using gluten free pasta as I have an allergy. In my experience it sometimes doesn’t hold up as well and gets mushy, so not sure if I should choose pressure cooker (I don’t have instapot brand) or stovetop. Do you have any recommendations? Thanks so much.
Thanks so much for following along and trying so many recipes! I would go with the stove top method for this one. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan
HI! Love your recipes (and books) I plan on making this for Thanksgiving and kinda wanted to add crumpled Ritz on the top and bake it like your other Mac & cheese. Would that be fine or do you recommend just sticking to the original recipe?
That would be fine to do:) I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan
I realize this recipe is almost two years old, but I think I figured out the issue some people were reporting with too much water in the IP and thought better late than never to share! Tieghan lives up in the mountains with higher elevation and lower air pressure, so the extra water cooks off more easily. But if you are down closer to sea level, you should reduce it by half. I am at sea level and made this with 1.75 cups of water in the IP and it came out perfectly!
Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try, I am so glad you enjoyed! Happy Holidays! xTieghan
Hi! I’m wondering if this recipe will work with a combo of sharp and medium tilamook cheddar cheese. I also have fontina cheese.
Yes, those will work well here! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan