This classic stovetop mac and cheese is easy to make and ready in just 15 minutes. Using real cheese and basic pantry ingredients, you will never use a boxed macaroni and cheese again.
Macaroni and cheese is an all time comfort food. It is creamy and cheesy and just so delicious. It is also incredibly easy to make yourself without using any boxed or powdered cheese mixes.
Here are the basics to mac and cheese
Mac and cheese is pasta, milk and cheese. That’s about it. If all you had in the fridge were these three ingredients it would be entirely possible to make yourself some homemade Mac and cheese, and it would be good. For this recipe I’ve added a few extra things to really make the flavours shine, but it is still super simple and, in my opinion, absolutely delicious.
Do you want to know the best part about homemade Mac and cheese?
It really takes no longer to make it from scratch than it does from a boxed kit. Not only that, you can make it as creamy and cheesy as you want. If you want it spicy you can add some chilli powder or use jalapeño cheese. If you want it super rich, you can use cheeses like gouda, havarti, and asiago. Or, if you just want a very basic mac and cheese you can stick to using cheddar.
For this recipe I’ve used the traditional sharp cheddar cheese and a bit of monterey jack for added creaminess. Regardless of what you choose, I know you will love it.
This recipe is perfect as a quick meal all on its own, but it is also a fantastic side dish. Because it is so quick to make, it’s easy to whip up a pot if you need something in a hurry to accompany your favourite meal. Some of my favourite things to eat it with is this grilled bone-in lemon pepper chicken or this dutch oven pulled pork.
HOW TO MAKE CLASSIC STOVETOP MAC & CHEESE
- Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil
- While the water is heating up, grate the cheese
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, once it is melted add the flour and whisk until smooth
- Add the milk and seasoning to the butter, whisk to combine and bring to a gentle simmer
- Add the pasta to the boiling water
- Once the milk is simmering, add the cheese. Heat and whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce has slightly thickened
- Remove the pasta from the heat, drain and return to the pot
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir it together
- Serve and enjoy!
THINGS TO KNOW & HELPFUL HINTS
- Can I make this gluten free? You absolutely can. If you want to make this simple mac and cheese recipe without flour, you can leave that out. The sauce will be slightly thinner, but it will taste the same. Then simply use gluten free noodles and you’re good to go.
- Can I use different pasta? Yes. Use any pasta you have on hand; penne, fusilli, or even small shells work great.
- Can I bake this dish? If you want to take the extra time to bake it, you absolutely can. It’s great with a crunchy breadcrumb top, or some added chopped bacon. If you are going to bake it I suggest reducing the pasta by a third as the sauce will continue to thicken and absorb into the pasta as it cooks.
More Easy Pasta Recipes
Classic Stovetop Mac & Cheese
- 3 Cups Elbow macaroni uncooked
- ¼ Cup Butter
- 2 Tbsp Flour
- 1 ¼ Cups Milk
- 1 teaspoon Dried mustard
- 1 tsp Paprika
- ½ teaspoon Garlic powder
- ½ tsp Onion powder
- 2 Cups Grated cheddar cheese
- 1 Cup Grated monterey jack cheese
- Chopped parsly, green onion or crumbled bacon optional
- Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil. While the water is coming to a boil, grate the cheese.
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk until smooth.
- Add the milk and seasonings and whisk to blend.
- At this point, you can add the noodles to the boiling water.
- Continue heating the milk until it just comes to a simmer, then add the cheeses and whisk well.
- Continue whisking while heating on medium heat until the cheese is completely melted and sauce is smooth and heated through.
- Once the pasta is cooked (6-8 Minutes), drain and return to the pot.
- Add the cheese sauce to the pasta and stir to combine.
- Serve immediatly with chopped parsley, green onions or bacon
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.
Sunday 22nd of January 2023
This was very thick and stringy due to the amount of cheese to milk I think. Cheesy is good but I need this to be more saucy.
Monday 23rd of January 2023
Thick and stringy can happen if you have used pre-shredded cheese, or the heat is too high on the stove. You want to make sure not to go above a simmer. Different cheese can produce slightly different results as well. If you find it too thick you can whisk in a bit more milk until you are happy with the consistency.
Wednesday 12th of January 2022
So good. Used heavy cream and water in place of milk. Sharp and white cheddar.
Saturday 28th of November 2020
My daughter and I tried this recipe. Just kind of thrown off how my cheese sauce came out grainy.
Saturday 28th of November 2020
Sorry it didn't work well for you. Grainy cheese sauce can be caused by a couple of things. It can be caused by using packaged shredded cheese. The other cause is generally melting it over too high of heat. You want to make sure it never goes above a simmer, keeping it on medium heat.
Saturday 23rd of November 2019
Oh my! This looks delicious. Can’t wait to try! Yes