This protein mac and cheese is made in the Instant Pot with whole wheat noodles, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, and a boost of protein from Greek yogurt!
Cottage Cheese Protein Mac and Cheese
Looking for a quick and protein-packed dinner idea? You will love our protein mac and cheese made right in your Instant Pot. It packs in 17g of protein per serving and you can even up that amount by serving it next to a protein!
We love this protein mac and cheese recipe because it’s made with cottage cheese and Greek yogurt for both extra protein and creaminess.
PS: there is no roux involved like classic mac and cheese!
Why you’ll love it!
Delicious mac and cheese recipe
Ready in 30 minutes
- Noodles: we’re using a classic macaroni elbow noodle in this recipe, but you could also use a whole wheat noodle, too!
- Broth: broth is used in place of water to cook the noodles in the Instant Pot to add flavor.
- Spices: garlic powder, dijon, salt, and pepper are used to add flavor.
- Cheddar cheese: it wouldn’t be a mac and cheese without some freshly shredded cheddar cheese!
- Cottage cheese: cottage cheese adds a great texture along with more protein!
- Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt is our secret weapon for extra creaminess. Plus it adds a decent amount of protein.
- Heavy cream: this adds a bit of richness without going to crazy.
Instant Pot Duo
Looking for a new pressure cooker? Check out 6 Qt. the Instant Pot Duo. It’s the one we use and love!
How to Make Protein Mac and Cheese in the Instant Pot
- Cook Noodles: add noodles, broth, butter, garlic, dijon, and salt into the Instant Pot and mix. Seal the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
- Add cheeses and Greek yogurt: quick release the Instant Pot and then remove the lid. Immediately add the cheeses, heavy cream, and Greek yogurt.
- Mix: stir vigorously until the cheeses melt all the way.
Cottage cheese not melting?
We have some tips for you if your cottage cheese isn’t melting.
Add when hot: we recommend adding the cheeses, heavy cream, and Greek yogurt right after you open your Instant Pot so that the hot noodles can do their job and melt the cheese,
Put the lid back on: simply place the lid back on your Instant Pot so the steam can get trapped and melt the cheeses.
Use saute function: quickly turn the saute feature on so that the noodles get hot again to melt the cheese.
Mac and cheese not enough to float your boat? Here are some serving suggestions to pair with your mac!
- Chicken breast: pretty much any and all of our chicken recipes would be delicious with this mac. Try our grilled whole chicken, air fryer chicken nuggets, or baked chicken thighs.
- Salad: get your veggies in with a quick and simple salad: garden salad, strawberry broccoli salad, or Nicoise salad.
Store leftover protein mac and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Instant Pot Protein Mac and Cheese
- 16 oz. elbow macaroni whole wheat pasta works too!
- 4 cups chicken broth or any broth
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup 2% cottage cheese
- 1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream or whole milk
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Place macaroni noodles, broth, butter, garlic powder, dijon mustard and salt into the Instant Pot and mix well.
- Set your Instant Pot by making sure the pressure valve is turned to seal. Close the lid and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes.
- When the time on the instant pot runs out, quick release the pressure by turning the pressure valve to vent. Be careful, the steam is hot!
- Remove the Instant Pot lid and give the noodles a quick stir. Add the cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and heavy cream. Stir constantly until all the cheese has melted. It might take some time for the cottage cheese to melt.
- Remove the mac and cheese from the Instant Pot and top with freshly ground black pepper.
Tips & Notes
- All of the cheese (including the cottage cheese) should melt easily IF you add all of the ingredients while the macaroni is HOT. Do not wait to add the cheese, Greek, and milk because then it may become grainy.
- If the cottage cheese isn’t melting, turn on the saute function on your instant pot and stir.
- This recipe was slightly modified on September 15, 2022. Click HERE for the original recipe.
Photography: photos taken in this post are by Ashley McGlaughlin from The Edible Perspective.
Has anyone ever tried this recipe with lentil pasta instead of traditional or whole wheat pasta? I’m looking for a way to add a bit more protein. Thanks!
This was a straightforward recipe and easy to involve my 3 year old in its execution. True to rather distracted life with littles, I forgot to get cream/milk, but had everything else except cheddar cheese, subbing in pepper jack. I decided to double it at the last minute and doubled everything but the shredded cheese 😆 I didn’t realize until I was eating it. Honestly, it was fine with just the two cups. More of a drier noodle bake vibe, but that just means it’s less messy for the toddler to eat. My spouse and I weren’t mad about it. I’d say the Dijon mustard is a must for just the right depth of flavor. I served peas on the side, and ended up mixing those in. I’d definitely add tuna and this would take me back to childhood in the early 90s, for sure 💛 For reference, I used 4 cans of chicken broth and made up the slight difference to 8 cups with water. My noodles were the multiple variety pack from Costco, which are slightly over 17 oz each. I used two of those – one 9 minute boil and one 11 minute boil. I like better how the 11 minute boil noodles turned out with the 5 minute cook time.
I took the advice of other commenters and I blended my cottage cheese before adding it to my instant pot and it worked like a charm!! I also poured into a pan and added a thin layer of breadcrumbs to toast on top. This turned out so well and my fiancé couldn’t stop raving about it. Definitely will make again!
I love finding ways to add a little extra protein into meals and saw this recipe on Fit Foodie Finds’ Instagram and knew I had to try it. I used a hand mixer to get rid of some of the cottage cheese lumps while the instant pot did its thing. Not sure if that helped but only saw specks of cottage cheese in the final product and it tasted great. I also added an extra 1/4 cup of shredded cheese. We will definitely be making this again!
Can this be frozen?
I was looking for a Mac & cheese with some better macros and landed here. I’ve been trying to convert some family favorites to some healthier options and sometimes I am met with resistance. I kept my efforts a secret and after the whole gang went in for seconds and told me how delicious it was I revealed my surprise! I did double the cheese but I will cut it back next time. I added a little Cajun season, smoked paprika and extra garlic. I used a blend of Swiss, mozzarella, and sharp cheddar cheese. This is a definite win, especially since my 4 year old will only eat Mac & cheese! Oh I did use a hand mixer on the cottage cheese before adding it to the pot to break down the lumps. Not sure if it was necessary but it didn’t hurt. I also transferred to a casserole dish with a slight sprinkle of cheese on top and baked for a few minutes so that it looked like what my family was used to!
I followed the directions exactly and it came out like soup. After boiling it down and adding another cup of cheese I finally got a closer consistency to mac and cheese but the flavor really lacked. Nobody liked it. I really wanted to like it but it just doesn’t taste like mac and cheese.
I wasn’t looking for a “healthier” Mac and cheese. However I was looking for one that used cottage cheese as I had a small container that was going bad soon.
I followed the recipe, even whole grain noodles, as that’s what I had (:
I did however double the cheese, I used medium cheddar and a small amount of Monterey Jack cheese. And I didn’t have any Greek yogurt and used 1/2 cup of sour cream.
I have to say, this is the BEST macaroni and cheese I have ever had. I have a very picky 3 year old who age it all and even wanted more. He doesn’t normally like homemade Mac and cheese because it’s stringy. This was a hit and I will be making it again!
So glad your little loved this!!
This was delish. I used 4 cups of elbow mac and a cup and a half of shredded cheddar for a little extra cheesiness. Turned out perfectly, not soupy or gummy at all like some of the other comments said. Mac & Cheese you can feel good about!
Easy and creamy and delicious.
I have a question. In Canada we don’t usually use Ounces as a measurement. As I stare at my pot of curd and noodle soup that I made, I am thinking I don’t understand how to use Ounces. On my measuring cup, 16 ounces is 2 cups which is what I used. Should I actually be purchasing a kitchen scale and weighing these noodles? How do you know which of the two measurements to use? Thanks!
Mine also turned into a curd noodle soup
Hi Nicole, for the pasta 16 oz is 450 g. That’s weight, not the fluid oz that your cup is measuring.
I absolutely love this recipe! I discovered it last summer and then rediscovered it this year when I started Weight Watchers and was looking for a low-point mac and cheese! So creamy and delicious! Definitely a keeper!
YAY!! Glad you love it!
Tried this out with chicken burgers for my boyfriend and I. It was creamy and delicious! I was skeptical since cottage cheese is NOT my jam. Aside from the appearance, you’d never know it was in there!
Can I use whole wheat penne?
Hey Bailey, that should work just fine!
I would recommend adding some finely chopped cauliflower with the macaroni noodles, broth, ghee, garlic powder, and dijon mustard into the Instant Pot! It turned out great!
**Maybe just add a teeny bit more broth if you add the cauliflower!
I made this last night, and am so pleased with the outcome! I love how quick it was. I was worried since so many comments said that it came out watery and gooey, but I feel like the author either revised the recipe or those folks didn’t follow the instructions. I know usually with instant pot recipes, you pour everything in at the beginning, but it’s important to note here the cheese goes in AFTER it cooks (that may be where people went wrong). I reduce the broth by about 1/4 cup (but I think it would have been fine with all 4 cups). I also blended the cottage cheese to remove the clumps in advance. Everything melted perfectly without the saute function. In the end, I added some franks hot sauce and spinach. I packed it into containers for meal prep, and ate it cold for lunch and it was still delicious. It’s important to note, I don’t even like cottage cheese! This will be a regular meal prep recipe for me!
Wow!!! This was delicious and so quick! Thank you.
We love this recipe. My older kids can make it themselves too. It’s a great meal with a salad or veggie on the side.
I loved this! I used a box of banza elbows so it was half the pasta this calls for. I added a little more than 3 cups of broth and it turned out runny and I had to strain it, so if you use a box of banza you will need less broth. I also added chopped broccoli. I used all the cheese but due to the lesser amount of pasta noodles I should have used less. I will definitely make this again!
I like this so much! Without an instant pot just make it on stove top?