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Hidden Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese

This Mac n’ Cheese is a quick & easy weeknight dinner with a sneaky serving of cauliflower in each bite. I love how you can make it in the Instant Pot, without using any other special equipment for the creamy cauliflower sauce. (Normally you would have to use a blender, too!)

cauliflower mac n cheese

This recipe comes from The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook, which is out in stores today.

You can find it at Target, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and everywhere else that books are sold. I’m so excited for you to have it in your hands!

healthy instant pot cookbook

If you love photos in cookbooks, get excited!!

There is a photo for EVERY recipe in this book, as well as nutrition information and tons of tested substitutions for any dietary needs you might have. (There’s even a whole substitution section in the front of the book so you can feel confident making your own modifications, too.)

All of the recipes in this book are free gluten-free, or include a tested alternative, refined sugar-free, and there is a vegan and dairy-free option for nearly every recipe, too. (Even the ones that call for meat are made with vegan sauces, so swapping out the protein is easy!)

Instant Pot Mac n’ Cheese

Today I wanted to share with you my Hidden Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese because it was one of my more brilliant moments while writing this book. I noticed that the Instant Pot had the tendency to over-cook vegetables, so I took advantage of that in this recipe. I added a pound of cauliflower directly into the sauce, and voila– it basically dissolves into the cooked pasta when you stir it after the cooking cycle. How amazing is that?

This is the perfect recipe for kids and picky eaters in your family. They get to eat a delicious Mac n’ Cheese, and YOU get to sneak a serving of veggies onto their plate. It’s a win-win! If you don’t feel like chopping up fresh cauliflower, you can even use a bag of frozen cauliflower (or try butternut squash for a fun Fall twist) to make the prep process as quick as possible.

healthy instant pot cookbook with coffee

5 from 3 votes
cauliflower mac n cheese
Hidden Cauliflower Mac n' Cheese in the Instant Pot!
Prep Time
7 mins
Cook Time
3 mins
Pressurization
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

This healthy Mac n' Cheese makes an easy weeknight dinner, ready in about 30 minutes. I love how you can sneak an entire pound of cauliflower into this pasta, because it practically dissolves when you give it a stir after cooking it in the Instant Pot. Vegan & gluten-free variations are included!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: gluten free, instant pot, mac n cheese, pasta, vegan
Servings: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound whole wheat macaroni (see gluten-free option, if needed)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari, for gluten-free)
  • 1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 pound cauliflower florets (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan (or other choice, like Gruyere)
Instructions
  1. Pour the pasta into the Instant Pot and add the water, soy sauce, mustard, and salt. Stir well to combine, then add the cauliflower on top without stirring, making sure that the cauliflower layer completely covers the pasta for even cooking.

  2. Secure the lid and move the steam release valve to Sealing. Select Manual or Pressure Cook to cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. While the pot is coming to pressure, shred the Cheddar (you should have about 1 cup).

  3. When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes (so don't touch the pot until 10 minutes has passed), then move the steam release valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure.

  4. When the floating valve drops, remove the lid and stir the pasta well, using a spatula to break up any pasta that has stuck together or stuck to the bottom of the pot. (A little sticking is to be expected, but it will loosen up when you stir.) Use the spatula to mash any intact cauliflower florets against the side of the pot to help them dissolve into the pasta sauce.

  5. Add the Cheddar and Parmesan and stir well. Adjust the seasonings as needed and serve warm. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days.

Recipe Notes

All of the recipes in The Fresh & Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook are gluten-free or include a gluten-free modification, and there is also a tested vegan modification for most recipes, too. Other than this Mac n' Cheese recipe, all of the sauces are all naturally vegan and dairy-free, to make swapping out the protein easy.

Make it Vegan: Use store-bought vegan cheese, or make a cashew “cheese” sauce. Soak 1 cup raw cashews for 1 hour, then drain and rinse. In a blender, combine 2 cups of the water with the cashews, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast. Blend on high speed until smooth. Add the blended mixture to the Instant Pot, along with the remaining 2 cups water and the rest of the ingredients. Cook as directed. Stir in an additional 1/2 cup water after cooking for a creamier sauce.

Make it Gluten-Free: Omit the macaroni and soy sauce, and use gluten-free pasta and tamari instead. Use only 3 cups water and cook on high pressure for
0 minutes (see page 17). Let the pressure naturally release for 8 minutes, then continue as directed above.

Per Serving: Calories: 305, Fat: 10g, Carbohydrates: 43g, Fiber: 7g, Protein: 18g

Recipe Notes:

  • Check the recipe above for gluten-free and vegan modifications. I include these for almost every recipe in the new Instant Pot Cookbook, too. There’s also a vegan & gluten-free Instant Pot Mac n’ Cheese already here on the blog. It’s one of my favorites!

No Instant Pot? No Problem!

Stove Top Method: Combine all of the ingredients into a large pot over high heat on your stove, and add an extra 1/2 cup of water to account for any evaporation that might occur. Bring the water to a boil and give the mixture a stir to make sure your pasta doesn’t stick together, then cover the pot with a lid and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package, about 10 minutes for pasta that isn’t too al dente. (My kids don’t like any “bite” to their pasta, and I don’t either.) Remove the lid and test the pasta. The cauliflower should be tender, and you should be able to press it into the side of the pot, using the back of a spoon to help any big chunks dissolve. If the pasta has too much liquid, raise the heat on the stove and simmer it until the sauce has thickened a bit. Stir in the cheese and adjust any seasoning to taste. Serve warm.

best healthy instant pot cookbook

I can’t wait to see what you cook from the new book. Make sure you tag me @detoxinista or use the hashtag #freshhealthyinstantpot so I can find your posts on social media and cheer you on!

Reader Feedback: What other comfort foods would you like to make in your Instant Pot this Fall?

This healthy Mac n' Cheese packs a sneaky serving of cauliflower into each serving, so it's kid-friendly and perfect for picky eaters! The Instant Pot makes it as EASY as possible for a fast weeknight dinner, but there are stove top instructions and a vegan option, too. #instantpot #macncheese #easydinner #weeknightmeal #fastmeal #detoxinista

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Comments

Ashley

Do you think you could happen the recipe successfully? Wondering if it would burn/not come to pressure…

    Megan Gilmore

    As long as there is a cup of water in the Instant Pot, it should come to pressure. When you cut a recipe in half, the cooking time stays the same but it will come to pressure faster due to less volume in the pot.

Lisa

I am making this tonight! AND my copy of the cookbook is currently ‘in transit’ so I should gt it today!! Very excited!! Thanks Megan!

    Megan Gilmore

    YAY!!! Thanks, Lisa. Hope you love the new recipes!

      Lisa

      I made the Mac and cheeses exactly to recipe (Gluten free version) and it was a hit! I was skeptical as I thought it might be mush, but it was great, No signs of cauliflower at all (though we all love cauliflower so it wouldn’t have been a problem). My 10 year old loved it so that is a bonus!! I also got my book yesterday and so more good eats to come. Thanks again Megan!!
      Also I plan to eat the leftovers today and I will heat them up in a glass dish in my toaster oven. I am sure it will be great as that is my go to reheat method.

GB

It looks delicious. If I make this ahead of time, how can I reheat the mac and cheese?

    Megan Gilmore

    I would reheat it on the stove top, maybe with an extra splash of water to help it re-hydrate and not stick to the pot as you stir. Make sure you keep stirring it frequently so that it doesn’t stick or burn to the bottom, and then add any extra seasoning you might need right before serving it!

Ann Taylor

Hmmm this one is really delicious Megan! I don’t have an instant pot yet so I prepared it on the hob in a saucepan, worked well and is really very tasty. I can’t wait for my recipe book to arrive to France in a few days time 🙂

Deepa

Hi
Will this work in a 8 qt IP?
Thx!

    Megan Gilmore

    Yes, it should! I tested all of my cookbook recipes using both the 6 quart and 8 quart to make sure they’d work for either size.

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