pressure cooker macaroni and cheese recipe
This recipe is the Roman version of  Mac ‘n Cheese – fresher, lighter and well… Italian!  Even though you add the “sauce” after pressure cooking, this recipe takes advantage of the boiling pasta water to melt the cheese (a step that would ordinarily be done separately with the pasta cooking water).

Original versions of this dish only has Percorino Romano cheese and pepper.. lots of it!  So much that the result is very spicy (like many dishes from this region). But the last couple of generations of Roman housewives have upgraded this dish without making it any more complicated with the addition of Ricotta cheese and a dash of  fresh herbs.

Since Ricotta is such a dominant flavor in this dish… buy the good stuff or make it yourself from a gallon of whole milk!

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
5 L or larger none 4 min. Low (1) Quick or Normal

4.5 from 2 reviews
Italian Mac and Cheese Pressure Cooker Recipe (Pipe Cacio e Pepe)
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 16 oz. (500 g.) Pipes, Elbow Macaroni, Penne or short tubular Pasta that can scoop up the cream sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 8 oz (250 g). Sheep or Cow Milk Ricotta
  • 1 sprig of Parsley or Basil, finely chopped
  • Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
  • ½ cup Pecorino Romano , grated
  1. In the pre-heated pressure cooker, add a swirl of olive oil, pasta, salt and enough water to just cover the pasta. Smooth the pasta out with a spatula to get an even layer and submerge as much pasta in as little water as possible.
  2. Set the pan to cook on LOW pressure. Turn the heat up to high and when the pan has reached LOW pressure, lower the heat and count 4 minutes (or the recommended time).
  3. When time is up, open the cooker by releasing the pressure.
  4. Pour out about half of the cooking water from the pressure cooker into the sink. Mix in the ricotta cheese and parsley or basil.
  5. Top each bowl with abundant Pecorino Romano cheese and pepper and serve immediately.

pressure cooker pasta step-by-step photos in magefesa ideal pressure cooker
Pressure Cooker Mac and Cheese Italian Style!

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  1. This looks super tasty! Yum, what a great dish, and so easy! :)

  2. cooking pasta in preasure cooker, I was thinking of over cooking the pasta. but this turn so great and easy.

  3. OK I made this twice and first time used low pressure and pasta was al dente and 2nd time used high pressure setting and 4 min and pasta was perfrect. So it depends on the pressure cooker maybe. Either way both times it came out great. Just steam with lead covered but not locked for a minute or two longer if the pasta was undercooked. Ika

  4. Oh, hello pasta. You had me at: Mac ‘n Cheese!


  5. Sara, come back and let us know how you like it!

    Raquel, thanks for the confirmation!

    Anonymous, usually, if you’re pressure cooking for such a short time – the end result is similar at high/low pressure. For example, my risotto recipe comes out almost the same if made at high or low pressure (had to test it for my Italian reader with old clunky low-pressure cookers). I don’t like risking that my pasta come out floppy and overcooked, so I always do it on Low!

    Larry, hahaha! Thanks for the smile.



  6. This looks delicious and easy! Much fresher alternative to cooking out of a box. Thanks :)

  7. Hi! This is similar to a recipe in your cookbook, but with half the cheese. Is there any reason to choose one over the other, or is it more a matter of personal taste?

    I love your website and cookbook. Everything I’ve made so far has been great and a big hit with my wife and kids. Thanks!

    1. The correct amount should be half a pound of ricotta! But you can add as much as you like, to taste. Thanks for letting me know about the type-o in the Everything Healthy Pressure Cooker cookbook!



  8. Add this to the list of Hip Pressure successes! A rush hour snow squall set everything back, but this was so fast and filling. Perfect.

    I used whole wheat elbows and added some frozen green peas. Otherwise, followed the instructions. I’m still tweaking pasta cooking times for my electric cooker, but at 6:15 on a snowy cold Minnesota evening, the family just are and ate without comment on the texture of the noodles. I’ll shave off 1 minute next time, otherwise it is a winner.


  9. I have never cooked pasta in the pressure cooker and I have an Insta Pot so I don’t know how to set it for low versus high pressure. Can someone let me know if this is possible in the Insta Pot and how to set this.

    Thanks -Joan

    1. The Instant Pot DUO has a button called “Pressure” that you can push to switch between high and low pressure. I recommend calculating your pasta’s cooking time and then shaving off an a minute from that if your model does not. I’ve had mixed luck with tomato-based pastas in Instant Pot and I think I’ve narrowed it down to pasta shapes: tubular shapes like in this recipe (also penne and rigatoni) seem to do well using my just-cover with water technique; but, flatter farfalle or fusilli probably need an extra dash of water.



  10. Tonight was clean-out-the-fridge night. I had a great need to use up a huge head of an heirloom variety of cauliflower and a tub of whole milk ricotta, so I made a low carb, gluten free variation – Faux Mac & Cheese. It was a hit with the entire family. I never would have thought of this if I hadn’t seen Laura’s recipe while googling for inspiration.

    Instead of pasta, I used the head of cauliflower cut into medium sized florets, pressure steamed in a steamer basket in the Instant Pot for 3 minutes at High pressure, natural/quick release. After opening the lid, I transferred the cauliflower to a warmed dish, drizzled EVOO generously over the hot cauliflower, followed by some grey sea salt and lots of freshly ground pepper. I also added a generous sprinkle of Whole Spice’s dried vegetable flakes* for a little savory flavor and a dash of color, and 8 oz of ricotta that I had set out for a while to come to room temperature. After gently stirring to mix, I added what I had left of some grated parmigiano reggiano (only a couple tablespoons, and 1/2 cup of finely minced fresh basil and young arugula leaves, then stirred to mix again.

    I put the dish in a warm oven while I made a salad and finished cooking some diced bacon (when I tasted the dish for seasoning I was reminded a little of Spaghetti a la Carbonara, so I thought a little bacon would be a nice garnish).

    I served the Faux Mac & Cheese with a salad and some room temperature creamy giant Corona lima beans marinated in EVOO, fresh lemon juice, and a custom herb salt. Even the teenager had seconds of the Faux Mac & Cheese, without complaining about the lack of meat as a main dish.

    *Whole Spice has a store in the Oxbow Market in Napa, CA as well as a website for online orders, but I buy many of their seasoning ingredients by the pound (or 5 lbs so I can save more and split with friends and family) through’s Subscribe & Save program for added savings and convenience. The Whole Spice dry mixed vegetable flakes and the dry diced roasted red bell peppers are two of my most often used seasonings.

    1. Wow, I love this. It made my mouth water to read it. Thanks for sharing it!!



  11. Can this be halved? A pound of pasta is way too much for just me and my husband. If I cut the pasta amount in half, would I also use half the Ricotta? thank you.

    1. Well, being the impatient person that I am, I couldn’t wait for your answer and realized that you would probably say “yes” anyway. I made this for lunch and it was fabulous. I used 8 oz. Rotini and probably 6 oz. of Ricotta. I also mixed the 1/2 cup of Romano right in with everything else. It came out so creamy and reminded me of an Alfredo sauce. My husband said this is going on his “favorites” list. Thank you for this web site, for your cookbook that I love (and bought one to send to my brother), and all of your advice and tips.


      1. I’m glad that you just went for it – you were right! Isn’t mixing fresh ricotta with hot pasta the EASIEST sauce EVER??!?

        You’re soo welcome! : )



  12. I tried this for the first time tonight. Good but not great. I think perhaps I drained the home made ricotta too long. As it did don’t melt do wn properly in not a sauce. Either that or I drained too much water away. Still it was quite tasty. And Pam said it was yummy. High praise indeed from her.

    1. Well, ricotta doesn’t exactly “melt” in the traditional sense it kind of spreads around and makes some of the liquid milky. ; )



      1. Ricotta is not something I cook with often. It usually just gets spread on toast or celery. I was looking at the photos above and the comment about “easiest sauce ever” and took them to mean that it dissolved/melted in the hot pasta. Mine stayed pretty much in the lumps I broke it into. Which in turn made the dish a bit gluggy for my taste. Tasted great. Just not a fan of the texture. I will try again though. Pam will kill me if I don’t. Actually thinking about it now, I must try it with Boursin. My favourite omelet filler ever.

        1. Greg, did you leave about half of the pasta cooking water in the pot? The extra-hot water works on breaking down the ricotta and makes the “milky sauce.” Ricotta in this dish should be at max softly grainy. I’m starting to think that your homemade ricotta was over-drained.



  13. Maybe because I didn’t use homemade ricotta, mine melted perfectly into a sauce. And, I added the Romano directly into the pasta and melted it into an even cheesier sauce. I have made it twice now and it has come out very creamy and not lumpy at all.

  14. I tried this again last night. This time with a commercial ricotta. It was much softer. Almost double cream (60%) consistency. It “melted” much better. So I think my home made ricotta was draining too long.

  15. So cook penne or elbows in just water to cover, no more? I would use a 4.5qt pan usually n fill it 3/4 full for a lb of pasta.

  16. Looks tasty might have to try this.

  17. I thought I made this before with garlic. Made it delicious. Am I imagining?

    1. Maybe you did. : )

      We have not changed or updated the recipe – I either post an update on the page or I leave a comment to let readers know if a change is made.



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