Throw away the box and make this creamy, cheesy, easy one-pot stove-top mac and cheese from scratch! Made just as fast as storebought but tastes a million times better, is easily customizable, and is loved by kids and adults alike.
Meet Greyson's favorite macaroni and cheese recipe since he was a little cheesy noodle eating toddler!
I've been making this easy, creamy little mac and cheese recipe since I first got married at 18. Brian wanted boxed mac and I was completely against it, too stubborn to be outshone by powdered milk byproducts.
I wanted to make a classic stovetop mac and cheese like the boxed stuff: easy to make, tasty, fast, and simple. But made with real, wholesome ingredients.
Here's why you'll love it:
- My mac is incredibly creamy and cheesy.
- There's no flour needed, no roux required!
- You can customize it with any cheeses you want --yes, even velveeta!
- It's made in fifteen minutes!
How to Make Homemade Stove Top Mac and Cheese
- Boil + Simmer. Pour the milk, evaporated milk, and chicken broth into a large pot with the uncooked macaroni pasta. Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for the rest of the time allotted on your pasta's packaging. The evaporated milk helps keep the cheese sauce creamy without needing any flour or roux,
- Let soak. Take the pot off the heat and let the macaroni soak in some of that excess liquid for a minute.
- Add that cheese. Mix in all your shredded cheese, and mix it real, real good. If you have harder cheeses like aged cheddars, parmesan, etc, these are harder to melt so make sure you read my tips for the best mac and cheese!
- Add the extras. After it's seasoned to your liking go nuts! Bits of bacon, tiny chopped florets of broccoli, mix in baby spinach, caramelized onions, shaved truffles (if you got it, go ahead with your bad self) whatever you love in your mac, add it!
Tips for the Best, Creamy Cheesy Mac
Flavorful Cheeses + Emulsifying Cheese = Win. Because we aren't using a bechamel we need to ensure that our sauce is creamy, smooth and glossy while also being nice and flavorful. My favorites are classic sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and American if we're going 100% classic.
American cheese has emulsifying properties that help keep the cheeses from separating, especially if you're using cheese with less moisture content like an extra sharp cheddar. But any well-melting cheeses with great flavor like smoked gouda, gruyere, brie, and Havarti are so good when you want a more grown-up mac, so mix and match and play with your food as much as you like.
Season it. Pasta, much like potatoes and avocadoes, needs a good amount of seasoning. We love garlic around these parts so we use a lot of garlic powder.
I also love how mustard and dill weed amplify the tangy 'cheesy' flavor that we know and love in boxed mac. A bit of smoked paprika adds an amazing flavor that I just can't get enough of. Add any spices and herbs you love, but those are the ones I just can't live without. They're so good!
Grate your own cheese. Pre shredded cheese is coated with cellulose, which makes the cheese hard to melt into a silky sauce. Grating a block of cheese is the best way to go. Not only do you get more cheese for your buck, but it ensures you have thin, easily melted strips of cheese for your sauce. Shred it with a box grater or use a shredding tool on your food processor.
Use a great pasta. The best kind of macaroni is the kind that holds a lot of cheese sauce. My favorites are rotini, pipe rigate, and classic elbow, because they have nook and crannies that hold all that cheesy goodness.
What can I Serve with Mac and Cheese?
I always think of mac and cheese as a side, though many people do eat it as a main dish! Here are some of my favorite dishes:
- Cast Iron Spatchcocked Chicken and Potatoes. Great for a weeknight meal, this chicken cooks quickly so dinner is on the table in an hour!
- Thanksgiving Turkey. Of course! What is Thanksgiving without mac and cheese?
- A fresh and easy salad, homemade focaccia bread, and a quick and delicious dessert round it out, too!
Other amazing Macaroni and Cheese recipes:
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- 3 cups (12 oz) elbow pasta
- 2 cups (480 mL) chicken broth
- 2 cups (480 mL) milk or half and half
- ⅔ cup (6 oz) evaporated milk
- 4 tbsp (50 g) butter
- 1 cup (113 g) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ cup (57 g) mozzarella cheese, grated
- ½ cup (57 g) American cheese, grated
- ¼ cup (60 mL) milk, as needed
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½-1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp dill weed
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- In a medium-sized Dutch oven add the pasta, chicken stock, and milk. Bring to a boil.
- Once at a rolling boil, bring the temperature down to medium-low and let the pasta simmer until cooked through by your pasta's package directions.
- Take the pot off the heat and mix in the butter with a wooden spoon. Stir in ½ cup of the cheeses at a time, making sure to melt the cheese down after each addition.
- Season to taste with spices, salt, and pepper.
- Serve hot. Keeps in the fridge for 5 days in an airtight container.
The sauce thickens up when it cools. Stir in a hearty splash of milk and reheat over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 188Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 291mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 9g
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.