How to Make Elbow Macaroni in the Electric Pressure Cooker

It’s funny how much my cooking style changed as I approached the middle of my third trimester of pregnancy.

Vertical image of a large white bowl full of plain elbow macaroni, with text on the top and bottom of the image.

I really thought I would be cooking as I usually do, delightful meals I would carefully craft with all the extra time I anticipated having on my hands.

Pretty hilarious, right?

The truth is, my energy was nearly gone during that time. I remember struggling to get through a normal workload, and did my best to cut back wherever I could, including in the kitchen.

It’s amazing how being 33 weeks pregnant can totally zap your will to get anything done, let alone cooking fancy recipes. My energy was zapped by about 1 p.m. each day, though I wished I could muster up more.

As a result, I found myself turning to my pressure cooker even more than usual.

It’s just so convenient to use. I can cook a pork shoulder in less than a couple of hours, soups in just 20 minutes, and noodles in less than 10 minutes.

Vertical image of a large white bowl filled with plain pasta with a metal spoon inserted into the bowl.

That last one really won me over as soon as I tried it. My first attempt was actually with elbow macaroni like you see here, because I was craving mac and cheese.

When I added the noodles to my Instant Pot with water and a touch of salt, I was shocked to discover it would only require a couple of minutes to cook.

I thought that was too good to be true! When you cook it on the stovetop, you usually have to wait for what feels like an eternity for the water to simply come to a boil. Now, you don’t have to bother with any of that nonsense. It’s a perfect method for any kind of plain shaped pasta, from rigatoni to farfalle.

This method will become your new favorite way to cook macaroni.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this helpful guide:

Should I Do a Manual or Natural Release?

No, I’m not talking about C-sections here. I’m talking about the built-up pressure in your electric appliance!

Vertical image of a spoon holding up pasta over a large white bowl, with a large appliance in the background.

Whenever you are cooking any type of pasta, you should manually release the steam as soon as the timer goes off.

If you choose to do a natural release instead, the appliance will very easily overcook the pasta, so it ends up gummy and mushy.

Be sure to keep an eye on things!

Serving Suggestions

If you aren’t sure how to use those noodles you just cooked, I’ve got some simple and straightforward ideas for you:

  • The easiest and best option in my book is to make some macaroni and cheese. All you need is a cheese sauce, like our delicious homemade mornay, and you will be ready to devour a bowl of your favorite comfort food.
  • For something a little different, use it in a baked pasta dish like this mac and cheese with crispy bacon. You can also use it as a substitute for other pasta in casseroles, like a penne bake.
  • They’re also the ideal size to use in soup. This hearty and healthy vegetable pasta soup is the first recipe you should try.

Really, you can use these noodles in whatever you would usually use short pasta in.

How to Make Elbow Macaroni in the Electric Pressure Cooker

Elbow macaroni is a simple variety of pasta to make, and it comes out perfectly every time with this cooking method.

Step 1 – Measure Ingredients

Horizontal image of a bowl of salt, a measuring cup of water, and a bowl of dried pasta.

To begin, you will need:

  • 1 pound uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Measure out the ingredients as listed.

Step 2 – Cook

Horizontal image of water and dried pasta in a pot.

Add the macaroni, water, and salt to the insert of your electric pressure cooker. Stir together well.

Set to Manual and cook on High pressure for 3 minutes.

Horizontal image of a pot of elbow macaroni and a spoonful hovering over the pot.

Manually release the pressure when done. That’s it!

What If I’m Not Using the Noodles Right Away?

If you are working on a recipe that you need to chill the noodles for, or perhaps you just need to set them aside for a minute, I recommend adding a little olive oil. Using about 1 teaspoon should do it.

Horizontal image of a large bowl full of elbow macaroni with a spoon in front of a towel and a kitchen appliance.

Simply drizzle it over the noodles, and stir it up to keep them from sticking to each other. It’ll make things easier as you proceed to other steps in the recipe, for whatever you’re making.

How will you use these quick-cooking elbow macaroni noodles? Tell us in the comments below.

And for different types of pasta prepared in the electric pressure cooker, check out the following how-to’s next:

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.

About Meghan Yager

Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.

3 thoughts on “How to Make Elbow Macaroni in the Electric Pressure Cooker”

  1. I found a recipe for mac n cheese in the IP that called for using milk/cream in the liquid for cooking, along with some garlic powder, salt and white pepper. The idea was to cook the macaroni first then aggressively (lol) stir in the grated cheese (I think it was cheddar, mozzarella, gruyere and parm but I could be wrong!) after the cook was done in the same pot. It was so delicious BEFORE the cheese was added I just wanted to stop there! I can’t find the same recipe again…boo! And the macaroni was perfectly cooked. I just can’t remember the ratio of milk/cream and water to pasta and there was no draining involved. The leftover “pasta water” was absorbed when the pasta was stirred. Got anything in your wheelhouse to fit the bill here?

    Your recipes are awesome!


  2. I was craving cold tuna salad my mom used to make. Problem is it’s 93 outside. No way am I boiling water. So I looked it up, and guess what? I’ve had the salad 3 times in the last month.


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