Mac and Cheese (Easy Stovetop Recipe) - Cooking Classy (2024)

Published October 24, 2018. Updated April 15, 2020

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Mac and Cheese made from scratch is a million times better than a box. This macaroni and cheese is perfectly rich and creamy and it’s sure to be loved by people of all ages!

Mac and Cheese (Easy Stovetop Recipe) - Cooking Classy (1)

Easy Mac and Cheese Recipe

Mac and cheese is just one of those staple recipes we all grew up eating. This version skips a powder and instead uses real shredded cheddar, mozzarella, and cream cheese for a rich and satisfying flavor.

It’s total comfort food and it pairs well with just about anything. It’s easy enough for weekday dinners but good enough to serve at holiday get togethers.

This easy homemade mac and cheese is made on the stovetop and uses basic everyday ingredients. As much as I love creamy mac and cheese that’s been baked in the oven, this stovetop version is more practical for everyday cooking and is just as delicious!

Mac and Cheese Video

Here’s my go-to mac recipe.

Mac and Cheese (Easy Stovetop Recipe) - Cooking Classy (2)Homemade Mac and Cheese Ingredients

As promised, this stovetop mac and cheese recipe is super simple to make. Here’s what you’ll need to make the silky smooth mac and cheese sauce and pasta:

  • Elbow macaroni
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Low-fat milk
  • Dry mustard
  • Garlic powder
  • Cream cheese
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese

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How to Make Mac and Cheese

  • Cook pasta: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, boil pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
  • Make a roux: while pasta is cooking, in a large saucepan (4 quart) or medium pot melt butter over medium heat then add flour, cook 1 minute whisking constantly.

Mac and Cheese (Easy Stovetop Recipe) - Cooking Classy (4)

  • Make the mac and cheese sauce: While whisking slowly pour in milk, add in mustard and garlic powder. Increase heat slightly, then bring mixture to a low boil whisking constantly.

Mac and Cheese (Easy Stovetop Recipe) - Cooking Classy (5)

  • Melt in cream cheese: Reduce heat to low add in cream cheese and whisk until melted.
  • Melt in cheddar: Remove saucepan from heat add in the shredded cheeses half at a time, and whisk to melt.

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  • Returning pan to warm heat as needed to melt fully.
  • Season sauce with salt to taste.

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  • Toss pasta with cheese sauce, thin with pasta water a splash at a time as needed. Serve immediately.

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What’s the Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese?

Use a blend of cheeses for a nice combination of flavor. Here we go with cheddar, mozzarella and cream cheese.

How to Reheat Mac and Cheese

If you wind up with leftovers of this homemade mac and cheese, I recommend reheating them in a saucepan over low heat. You may need to add a splash of milk to thin out the mac and cheese sauce and prevent the pasta from drying out.

What to Serve with Mac and Cheese

I’ll admit, sometimes this simple mac and cheese recipe gets served by itself when I’m short on time. But I prefer serving it as a side to one of the following main dishes:

Mac and Cheese (Easy Stovetop Recipe) - Cooking Classy (9)

Tips for the Best Mac and Cheese

  • Don’t use pre-shredded cheese or the sauce might end up grainy and gritty. Shred it yourself for a nice smooth sauce.
  • If you don’t have mustard powder, substitute 1 tsp prepared mustard (regular or dijon).
  • Don’t rinse the pasta. It adds starches and helps thicken up the sauce and keeps the sauce clinging to the pasta.
  • Want a crunchy topping? Try sautéing panko bread crumbs in a skillet in a little melted butter or olive oil until golden brown. Sprinkle over individual servings so it stays crisp.

More Easy Side Dish Recipes You’ll Love:

16 Quick & Easy 30 Minute Recipes! (plus weekly recipe updates)

Mac and Cheese (Easy Stovetop Recipe) - Cooking Classy (10)

4.91 from 42 votes

Mac and Cheese

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A rich and creamy mac and cheese the people of all ages will love! Includes three kinds of cheese - cheddar, mozzarella and cream cheese. Made on the stovetop for a quick and easy side dish.Makes about 9 1-cup servings.

Watch the video

Servings: 9

Prep10 minutes minutes

Cook15 minutes minutes

Ready in: 25 minutes minutes

Ingredients

  • 14 oz. dry elbow macaroni
  • Salt
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 1/3 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard, or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, diced into small pieces
  • 8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Reserved pasta water

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, boil pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

  • While pasta is cooking, in a large saucepan (4 quart) or medium pot melt butter over medium heat then add flour, cook 1 minute whisking constantly.

  • While whisking slowly pour in milk, add in mustard and garlic powder. Increase heat slightly, then bring mixture to a gentle simmer whisking constantly.

  • Reduce heat to low add in cream cheese and whisk until melted.

  • Remove saucepan from heat add in the shredded cheeses half at a time, and whisk to melt, while returning to warm heat as needed to melt fully.

  • Season sauce with salt to taste.

  • Toss pasta with cheese sauce, thin with pasta water a splash at a time as needed. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Don't use pre-shredded cheese or the sauce might end up grainy and gritty. Shred it yourself for a nice smooth sauce.
  • If you don't have mustard powder, substitute 1 tsp prepared mustard (regular or dijon).
  • Don't rinse the pasta. It adds starches and helps thicken up the sauce and keeps the sauce clinging to the pasta.
  • Want a crunchy topping? Try sautéing panko bread crumbs in a skillet in a little melted butter or olive oil until golden brown. Sprinkle over individual servings so it stays crisp.

Nutrition Facts

Mac and Cheese

Amount Per Serving

Calories 427Calories from Fat 189

% Daily Value*

Fat 21g32%

Saturated Fat 13g81%

Cholesterol 67mg22%

Sodium 346mg15%

Potassium 235mg7%

Carbohydrates 39g13%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 4g4%

Protein 9g18%

Vitamin A 705IU14%

Vitamin C 0.1mg0%

Calcium 342mg34%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

Course: Side Dish

Cuisine: American

Keyword: Mac and Cheese

Author: Jaclyn

Mac and Cheese (Easy Stovetop Recipe) - Cooking Classy (2024)

FAQs

How does Gordon Ramsay make the best mac and cheese? ›

Preparation
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the pasta and milk. ...
  2. Once the pasta is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper. ...
  3. Divide between serving bowls and top with the bread crumbs.
  4. Enjoy!
  5. All your favorite recipes, stored in one place.
May 4, 2023

Can you cook easy mac on the stove? ›

While the point of Easy Mac is that it can be made in the microwave and is therefore "easier" to make than standard mac n' cheese, you can make Easy Mac in a pot on a stovetop. You can cook the pasta from a package of Easy Mac using boiling water just like any other pasta.

What to add to macaroni and cheese to make it taste better? ›

8 Ways to Elevate Your Macaroni and Cheese Dinners
  1. Add extra cheese to your dish.
  2. Mix in some hot sauce and chicken to make buffalo chicken mac n' cheese.
  3. Add in vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.
  4. Sprinkle some bacon bits or breadcrumbs on the top of your dish.
  5. Add spices and fresh herbs to your dish.
May 21, 2022

What are the 3 best cheeses for mac and cheese? ›

What Is the Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese? Sharp cheddar is the overwhelming popular choice, but for extra-creamy results, we think medium cheddar is even better. Other delicious options include Gruyère, smoked Gouda, and Monterey Jack.

What does Gordon Ramsay put in his mac and cheese? ›

Gordon Ramsay's mac and cheese is a simplified recipe. Just boil pasta in milk and then, add butter, cheese, salt, and pepper to it. Merge all the elements and Gordon Ramsay's mac and cheese will be ready in no time.

How to keep mac and cheese creamy? ›

If you want a very creamy mac n' cheese, you can add Velveeta processed cheese or American cheese (from the deli) to your melted cheese base mixture. The American cheese provides the creaminess you are looking for, and when reheating the mac n' cheese add a little bit of milk.

How to make Kraft Easy Mac on the stove? ›

Instructions
  1. Bring water to boil in medium saucepan. Add Macaroni; cook 7 to 8 min. or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Drain. (Do not rinse.) Return macaroni to pan.
  3. Add margarine, milk and Cheese Sauce Mix; mix well.

How long does it take for macaroni to cook on the stove? ›

In a large kettle, bring water to a boil. Add macaroni; return to boil. Cook, uncovered, for 6-8 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Rinse and drain.

Why does my homemade mac and cheese taste bland? ›

Bland almost always means things need more salt. A teaspoon or so of dijon mustard does wonders to mac & cheese. Edit: since this is the top comment, I will also add that dijon mustard is widely considered a pantry staple, so it's something that you should have in your fridge at all times.

Why add sour cream to mac and cheese? ›

Sour cream is the perfect ingredient to substitute for milk when making mac and cheese, giving it a rich and creamy flavor without sacrificing texture. It's easy to add in, and you can adjust it to your liking — add extra sour cream for more creaminess, and counter with extra cheese for more cheesiness.

What keeps mac and cheese moist? ›

There are a few different ways to keep your macaroni and cheese moist, from adding a solid layer of shredded cheese on top to holding back on the cream when making your sauce.

Can I use yogurt instead of milk in mac and cheese? ›

Finally, using a plain yogurt is one of the best options for replacing milk in kraft mac and cheese! A plain whole milk yogurt or a greek yogurt would work well. Mix it in the same way you'd mix in sour cream, until it is well incorporated. This may have a slightly tangier flavor, but that is a personal preference.

How do you moisten homemade mac and cheese? ›

Add 1 tablespoon of milk per cup of mac and cheese and mix to incorprate as much as possible.

Why do you add flour to homemade mac and cheese? ›

You can thicken cheese sauce further by adding more flour or even using a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch or flour with a cup of water. The cold water will create a slurry. Stir the slurry into the cheese sauce over medium heat, and let the sauce boil and thicken.

What is the most perfect cheese to use on Mac & cheese? ›

Gruyere is a classic addition because it melts much like Cheddar, but has a lovely nutty flavor. Other classics include Gouda, Muenster, Parmesan, fontina, Havarti and Monterey Jack. Brie works well too, just make sure you remove the rind before mixing it in.

What are the top 7 cheeses to use in mac and cheese? ›

7 Best Cheeses for Macaroni and Cheese
  • Cheddar. Cheddar is a staple for countless recipes. ...
  • Parmesan. Parmesan is a salty cheese with complex flavors. ...
  • Gruyere. Update your mac and cheese recipes to something more mature with Gruyere. ...
  • Brie. ...
  • Smoked Gouda. ...
  • Monterey Jack. ...
  • Fontina. ...
  • Sausage Mac and Cheese.

What is the best cheese according to chefs? ›

A Cheese Expert's Guide to 10 Essential Cheeses to Know and Love
  • Brie de Meaux-Style Brie.
  • Pyrénées Sheep.
  • Comté
  • Clothbound Cheddar.
  • Aged (Goat) Gouda.
  • Bleu d'Auvergne AOC/PDO.
  • Époisses de Bourgogne PDO.
  • Le Chevrot.

References

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