The instant pot has been a real life saver over the past few months. It really makes dinner fast and easy. I can be sure to get a healthy dinner on the table with little to no planning or work. I created this recipe to satisfy my 3 year olds request for macaroni and cheese. I originally had made this on the stove top, which took about 35 minutes. I have adapted my recipe for the Instant Pot which took total time down to only 20 minutes. Any time saving techniques with two small children can be a HUGE help. I have included directions for both the Instant Pot and Stove top directions in case you do not have an Instant Pot.
This recipe is a healthier rendition of mac and cheese compared to the boxed/pre-packaged varieties that are high in sodium, dyes and other additives, and a big plus is that it does not take long to prepare. My toddler, as well as the adults in our home, loves this recipe and I am sure you will too!
I love how you are able to use the Instant Pot in a variety of ways to help develop flavor. The first step in this recipe is to sauté the carrots with a few spices prior to pressure cooking them. I then mash the cooked carrots with a potato masher directly in the Instant Pot to help develop the sauce. The carrots provide a natural and beautiful bright orange color to the pasta as well as provide added nutrients. Carrots are a great source of vitamin A, and they provide a good dose of fiber.
This recipe has a lot of flavor thanks to the added spices. Spices also provide a variety of phytochemicals and nutrients to your dish.
I use a potato masher to puree the carrots. I do this directly in the Instant Pot. For the stove top directions you will need to cook the carrots on the stove and either puree in a food processor or mash with a potato masher.
Once the carrots are mashed you add in the pasta and water and pressure cook for another 4 minutes.
The picture above is prior to the last step of this recipe. The final step is to stir in the milk and cheese and you’re left with a creamy and delicious bowl of pasta! Your toddler will not miss the boxed version with this recipe and you will be happy that creating a healthier version is just as easy!
For those with kidney disease you may need to monitor your potassium and phosphorous intake depending on your lab values and stage of kidney disease. This recipe is considered “Kidney Friendly” compared to other macaroni and cheese dishes that use a large amount of cheese and dairy products, which are both high in potassium and phosphorous. This recipe uses smaller amounts of these ingredients which keep the potassium and phosphorous levels within target range. The average goal of potassium intake for a meal for those trying to limit their potassium intake is 500 mg or less. This dish as is provides 226 mg of potassium per 1 cup serving.
If you would like to cut back on the potassium and phosphorus even more you can substitute milk with either: soy, rice or almond milk. See the chart below for a comparison of different milks.
**Nutrient Analysis is derived from the USDA Nutrient Database.
Instant Pot Carrot Mac & Cheese
Author: Brittany Sparks
Makes: 12 (1 Cup Servings)
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 15 min
Total Time: 20 min
1 lb Dry Pasta (454 g)
3 Cups Carrots, Peeled & Roughly Chopped
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Onion Powder
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
½ Tsp Ground Turmeric
½ Tsp Dried Oregano Leaves
½ Tsp Mustard Powder
1 Tsp Salt
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 ½ Cups Grated Low Fat Cheddar Cheese
½ Cup Fat Free Milk or Milk Substitute (Rice, Soy or Almond Milk – See Notes Above)
4 ¾ cups Water
Sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese
Instant Pot Directions:
Turn the Instant Pot setting on sauté. Add the chopped carrots, olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric, oregano, mustard powder and salt. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in ¾ cups of water and place the lid on.
Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook high setting and set for 6 minutes. When complete, use the quick release to release the pressure.
Use a potato masher to mash up the carrots to a pureed consistency. They should be really soft and easy to mash.
Now add in the dry pasta and 4 cups of water. Give a quick stir. Place the lid on. Set for pressure cook high setting and set the time for 4 minutes. When complete, use the quick release to release the pressure.
Stir in the milk and cheeses and serve. Garnish with chopped parsley and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
Stove Top Directions:
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Prepare the carrots. You want to chop them into ½ inch pieces. If your pieces are uneven they may take longer to cook. In a large skillet with a lid, add the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the carrots, salt and all the spices. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add ¾ Cup water and cover. Cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender.
Puree the carrots in a food processor or mash with a potato masher.
Fill a large pot with water and cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and set aside.
Add the carrot puree, milk, and cheese to the pasta. Stir to combine. Add about ½ cup of the reserved pasta water to the pot to help create a sauce. Add more as needed. I usually end up using about ½ cup.