Four cheeses, silky sauce, amazing flavor, and made in 30 minutes, this has to be the best mac and cheese recipe ever!
I’ve been trying to create a creamy, easy mac and cheese recipe for forever. I wanted something Kraft texture without powdered cheese or cheese sauce concentrate.
Whatever that is.
I’ve literally gone through so many articles about the precision of the heat of cheese and so many different ways of creating cheese sauce that I’ve literally put it down to a science. I am a Cheeseologist. Non certified.
The magical factor I was missing was so simple. It was just so, so simple.
I don’t use heat at all after I boil the pasta. Like, none. That’s the magic. Screw the cheese-melting-heat science; residual heat melts it all. Just work swiftly and efficiently.
I use cheddars: extra sharp for the flavor, and mild to help carry the cheddar flavor, along with colby jack. I love colby jack because it melts well and gives the sauce a gooey, cheesy texture. The cream cheese smooths out the sauce, giving it not only a creamier flavor but also a creamier consistency.
Creamy mac and cheese in twenty minutes, easy as pie. And no oven!!! This is also a great make ahead dish, just heat up and splash a tiny bit of milk in and boom, it’s like you just pulled it off the burner.
- 3 cups elbow pasta
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup milk (whole milk, skim milk, 2% doesn't matter)
- Cheese sauce:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 oz (or a heaping spoonful) of cream cheese
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar
- 1/2 cup shredded colby jack
- 1/4 cup milk, very warm, but not hot
- 1/2 tsp mustard powder
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder (depending on your tastes)
- 1/4 tsp dill weed (Yes! It sounds crazy, but it's so delicious and tangy)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large, high sided skillet or medium sized soup pot, pour in first four ingredients. Bring the liquid and pasta to a boil; once to a boil, lower to a simmer until cooked through to your liking (al dente, or just past?). Turn off heat. No more heat after this!
- By this time, most of the liquid should be evaporated. Let the pasta sit for a minute or two, to absorb excess liquid. There should still be plenty of liquid in there, but not a lake of it.
- Toss in the butter, let it melt. Add 1/2 cup of cheeses at a time, making sure to melt all the cheese each time but working quickly. I like to add the cream cheese at the end of the cheeses, and then pour in the milk to add a more creamy texture. If you like it the way it is before the milk, leave it be.
- Season to your liking, especially with the salt and pepper. If the sauce seems a little too loose, it will set up as it sits. If you let it sit, and it's still too runny, add a little cornstarch slurry to it.