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Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe

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4.48 from 19 votes

This is the easiest homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe! Made with the creamiest cheese sauce and takes less than 30 minutes to make. Add this to your dinner rotation menu, everyone will love it!

If you love this Stovetop Mac and Cheese, try my Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese and my Chicken Broccoli Mac and Cheese

PIN this Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe to try later!

Stovetop Mac and Cheese RecipePin

Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe

You only need one pot to make this Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese and this quick meal is ready in less than 30 minutes. How amazing is that? This is the ultimate comfort food and even better than boxed mac and cheese. The cheesy sauce gets cooked with the macaroni making this the best Mac and Cheese!

To make this easy homemade mac and cheese, you only need a few basic ingredients you already have at home like pasta, cheese, milk, butter, and a few seasonings. The first time we tried this, we were hooked and I know you will be too. 

The cheese sauce is thick (but not too thick), creamy, melty, and super cheesy. This particular recipe is made in one pot so the cheese sauce cooks and absorbs into the macaroni making them extra flavorful and the creamiest Mac and Cheese out there- promise!

Some of my other favorite 30 minutes meal ideas are: Cheese Enchiladas, Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, and White Chicken Chili

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Key Ingredients

Elbow Macaroni: you can also use shells, macaroni, or any other type of short pasta. If you want to make this recipe glute-free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta.

Cheese: I love using the combination of a good sharp cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese. The two cheeses make a great combination but you can use any of your favorite cheeses (see my other cheeses to use below). 

Milk: whole milk has the most flavor and will add richness. Reduced fat or low fat milk can also be used.

Sharp Cheddar Cheese: I love using extra sharp cheddar cheese because it has the most flavor but you can also use your favorite cheeses (see my suggestions below for the best cheese options and alternatives). 

Cream cheese: adds a richness in flavor and enhances the creaminess. Alternatively, you could use plain non-fat Greek yogurt instead.

Seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper (optional). Add crushed red peppers or paprika if you want to add spice.

All-purpose flour: used as a thickening agent.

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How To Make Stovetop Mac and Cheese

MELT BUTTER. Heat a large pot on medium heat and melt butter. Add flour and whisk together until thickened, about 1 minute.

ADD WATER & MILK. Slowly add in the water and milk. Continue to whisk together until thickened and smooth.

COOK PASTA. Add the pasta, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Stir and let the pasta cook for 12-18 minutes or until al dente (cooked but firm to the bite). Most of the liquid will absorb into the pasta.

ADD CHEESES. Stir in the cheeses and cream cheese continuously until all the cheese has melted. The mac and cheese should be creamy, smooth, and cooked through. Serve and enjoy!

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese on a wooden spoonPin

What To Add To Mac And Cheese

You can enjoy this Easy Mac and Cheese Recipe just as it is or you can spice or jazz it up with some add-in and toppings for more flavor and texture. Some ideas are:

  • Crumbled bacon: make your bacon extra crispy if you want to add a crunch
  • Vegetables: broccoli, peas, carrots, bell peppers, and corn work well
  • Protein: shredded or diced chicken, pulled pork, ham, crumbled sausage, or diced hot dogs
  • Add crunch: sprinkle some crushed cracker crumbs or bread crumbs to the top of the mac and cheese.
  • Spice: add some heat by adding sriracha, tabasco, chili powder, jalapeños, cayenne pepper, green chiles, or your favorite hot sauce to the cheese sauce. You can also add it to the top.
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How To Store & Freeze Leftovers

To-Store: Mac and Cheese makes the best leftovers! Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. To reheat, place in the microwave or warm in the oven for a few minutes until warmed and cheese has melted.

To-Freeze: This recipe freezes well and it’s always a good idea to have Mac and cheese on hand at any time. Prepare the Mac and cheese according to the recipe directions and cool completely. Place in a freezer-friendly dish or airtight container and freeze up to 3 months. 

When ready to bake, bake frozen at 350 degrees F for 70-80 minutes, or bake thawed at 325 degrees F for 20-30 minutes. Make sure the Mac and cheese is warmed throughout. 

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Recipe Tips & Variations

Shred your own cheese. This is a must! Pre-shredded cheese will NOT melt the same way as freshly grated or shredded cheese because store bought pre-shredded cheese has an anti-caking agent that prevents the cheese from sticking together when packaged. This will make your cheese sauce gritty and the cheese sauce won’t be smooth. 

Whisk your sauce thoroughly. You want your cheese sauce to be creamy and velvety. This will help prevent lumps and make the cheese sauce extra smooth and creamy. 

Use your favorite types of cheese. The cheese is the base for the creamy sauce so you want to be sure to use a good quality cheese. Other cheeses to use (as long as it’s a good melting cheese) is Monterey Jack, Colby, American, Asiago cheese, Gruyere, White Cheddar, or Smoked Gouda.

Extra creamy cheese sauce. If you want your cheese sauce even richer and creamier, swap 1 cup of milk for heavy cream.

Add more milk. This Mac and Cheese is on the thicker side so if you want to thin it out, add more milk until desired consistency. 

White Sauce: Swap the sharp cheddar cheese for white cheddar cheese and you’ll instantly have a creamy white sauce.

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Other Cheesy Recipes To Try

a close up view of mac and cheesePin

Can’t Get Enough

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Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe

4.48 from 19 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade mac and cheese recipe, Stovetop mac and cheese, stovetop mac and cheese recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 1/2 cups whole or reduced-fat milk divided
  • 1 pound elbow pasta
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese softened

Instructions

  • Heat a large pot on medium heat and melt butter. Add flour and whisk together until thickened, about 1 minute.
  • Slowly add in the water and milk. Continue to whisk together until thickened and smooth.
  • Add the pasta, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Stir and let the pasta cook for 12-18 minutes or until al dente (cooked but firm to the bite). Most of the liquid will absorb into the pasta.
  • Stir in the cheeses and cream cheese continuously until all the cheese has melted. The mac and cheese should be creamy, smooth, and cooked through. Serve and enjoy!
Find Kathryn’s Kitchen Blog on Instagram!Mention @Kathryns.Kitchen.Blog or tag #kathrynskitchen!

Notes

Recipe Notes:
  • To-Store: Mac and Cheese makes the best leftovers! Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. To reheat, place in the microwave or warm in the oven for a few minutes until warmed and cheese has melted.
  • To-Freeze: This recipe freezes well and it’s always a good idea to have Mac and cheese on hand at any time. Prepare the Mac and cheese according to the recipe directions and cool completely. Place in a freezer-friendly dish or airtight container and freeze up to 3 months. When ready to bake, bake frozen at 350 degrees F for 70-80 minutes, or bake thawed at 325 degrees F for 20-30 minutes. Make sure the Mac and cheese is warmed throughout. 

 

 

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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Mac and Cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods! Love that this was ready so quickly. It really hit the spot after a busy day! Thanks for the tasty recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    This turned out amazingly! I love that you use a roux. I’m team roux when it comes to mac and cheese. There are a lot of recipes out there that claim it isn’t needed but I’ll always disagree—it makes the sauce so velvety!