As the weather turns crisp and back-to-school routines kick in, comforting dinners are great for helping the whole family get back into the swing of things. Classic mac ‘n’ cheese is always a favorite, but let’s take this up a notch with some chicken and broccoli to make it a complete meal. With the help of the Instant Pot, you can make cheesy pasta, tender bites of chicken, and perfectly cooked broccoli all in one pot so that getting dinner on that table is just that much easier.
Rely on Ranch
The seasoning in this creamy chicken and mac is inspired by an old favorite everyone loves: chicken nuggets dipped in ranch dressing. To mimic this tasty pairing, keep a Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Seasoning & Salad Dressing Mix Shaker in the pantry and season the chicken generously before it goes into the Instant Pot. Zingy with buttermilk, garlic, and herby flavors, it adds big flavor without a lot of fuss.
The best part of the meal prep is that it’s all made in the Instant Pot. Start by sautéeing broccoli florets for just a few minutes, then remove them from the pot to avoid overcooking. In goes the macaroni, ranch-flavored chicken, and water (tempted as you might be, don’t stir at this point!). Just lock the lid on and let it cook under high pressure for 10 minutes.
After it’s done cooking and you release the pressure, stir in lots of grated sharp cheddar until everything’s nice and creamy. Add some Parmesan cheese and, lastly, the broccoli. Cover the Instant Pot and let that residual heat thicken the sauce and finish cooking the broccoli until tender but not mushy. And voilà, dinner is served! This ranchy, creamy pasta dinner is sure to become a family favorite.
Instant Pot Creamy Chicken and Mac
- 2 tablespoons
olive oil, divided
- 8 ounces
- 1 pound
boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon
Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Seasoning & Salad Dressing Mix Shaker
- 3 1/2 cups
- 1 pound
dried elbow macaroni
- 8 ounces
grated sharp cheddar cheese, preferably white
- 1/2 cup
grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Turn an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker on to the Sauté function. Once heated, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, followed by the broccoli. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the broccoli has turned bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the broccoli to a medium bowl.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to the Instant Pot. Season the chicken with the Hidden Valley® Ranch Seasoning and add to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken begins to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
Turn the Instant Pot off. Add 1/2 cup of the water and scrape up any browned bits. Add the pasta and remaining 3 cups of water and do not stir.
Lock on the lid and make sure the pressure valve is set to seal. Set to cook for 6 minutes on HIGH pressure. It will take 10 to 12 minutes to come up to pressure.
When the cook time is done, do a quick release of the pressure. Turn the pressure cooker off. Uncover and add the cheddar cheese a handful at a time while continually stirring. Stir in the Parmesan and reserved broccoli. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and let sit for 3 minutes for the cheeses to melt and thicken the sauce. Spoon into bowls and serve with more Parmesan.
Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
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