Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese

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Get ready for a weeknight winner with our quick and easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese! Picture perfectly cooked macaroni noodles swimming in a creamy cheese sauce that’s pure comfort on a plate. In just under 20 minutes, you’ll have a delightful one-pot dish that outshines any boxed version. Once you’ve experienced the cheesy yumminess and flavors of this creamy stovetop mac, you’ll kick the blue box to the curb!

I grew up eating a box of Kraft Macaroni and cheese whenever my Mom served stovetop Macaroni, I think that’s what most of us did. But there’s nothing quite like the comforting goodness of homemade macaroni and cheese. The combination of rich and creamy sauce with pasta cooked al dente, creates a dish that is pure cheesy goodness! This recipe takes the classic mac and cheese to the next level, offering a quick and easy solution for those seeking a delicious dinner option. Serve it as a main course or as a delightful side dish on busy weeknights, and watch as your whole family savor every creamy and cheesy bite.

If you’ve never experienced the joy of homemade Mac ‘n cheese, get ready for a treat like no other. The creamy sauce made from scratch, using real cheese, elevates this dish to a whole new level of deliciousness. The depth of flavor and richness simply can’t be matched by any boxed stuff. Both parents and picky eaters will agree that this classic recipe is the epitome of comfort food perfection. Prepare yourself for a taste sensation that will have you hooked from the very first cheesy bite.

What you’ll love about this Creamy Mac and Cheese Recipe:

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • EASY – Made on the stovetop and ready in 15 minutes!
  • CREAMY– Cheese melts over cooked pasta, yum!
  • FAMILY FAVORITE – Everyone loves Mac and Cheese, seriously, everyone!

Ingredients you’ll need:

Ingredients you’ll need for this recipe

  • Elbow macaroni
  • Butter
  • All-purpose flour
  • Milk- I used whole milk
  • Cheddar cheese- I used sharp cheddar cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Dijon mustard

Find the FULL Printable Recipe Card with exact measurements below

Step by Step Instructions:

Step 1: Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

Step 2: In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour to the butter and whisk to combine, cooking for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is smooth and bubbly.

Step 3: Slowly whisk in the milk and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens

and comes to a boil.

Step 4: Reduce the heat to low and add the shredded cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, salt, black

pepper, garlic powder, and Dijon mustard to the saucepan. Stir until the cheese is melted

and the sauce is smooth.

Step 5: Add the cooked macaroni to the saucepan and stir to coat the noodles with the cheese

sauce. Cook over low heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni and cheese

is heated through and the sauce has thickened to your liking.

Frequently Asked Questions for best stovetop Mac:

Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe? Absolutely! While elbow macaroni is the traditional choice, you can experiment with other pasta shapes like shells, penne, or use your favorite Mac. Adjust the cooking time accordingly based on the pasta you choose.

 Can I make this recipe ahead of time? While Macaroni and Cheese is best enjoyed fresh, you can prepare the sauce in advance and refrigerate it. When you’re ready to serve, cook the pasta separately and combine it with the reheated sauce for a delicious meal.

Can I use different types of cheese? Yes! If you prefer a milder flavor, you can use mild or medium cheddar instead of sharp cheddar. You can also use different kinds of cheese such as Gouda, Monterey Jack, Fontina, or even Gruyère.  Those are all good melting cheese. 

Can I add additional ingredients to the Macaroni and Cheese? Of course! This recipe serves as a fantastic base for customization. You can add cooked bacon, sautéed vegetables, or even a sprinkle of hot sauce to personalize your mac and cheese. 

Can I freeze the leftovers? Macaroni and Cheese can be frozen, but keep in mind that the texture may slightly change upon thawing and reheating. For best results, store the leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer and consume within a month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat gently on the stovetop or in the oven.

 How can I make this recipe gluten-free? To make this Macaroni and Cheese gluten-free, use your favorite gluten-free pasta and replace the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend or cornstarch as a thickener. Ensure that all other ingredients, including the seasonings and cheese, are also gluten-free.

Substitutions:

Pasta: If you don’t have elbow macaroni, you can substitute it with other pasta shapes like penne, fusilli, or rotini. Just adjust the cooking time according to the instructions on the pasta package.

Flour: To make the recipe gluten-free, you can use a gluten-free flour blend or cornstarch as a substitute for all-purpose flour.

Milk: Feel free to use any type of milk you prefer, such as 2% milk, reduced-fat milk, or plant-based milk like almond milk or oat milk. Keep in mind that the choice of milk may slightly alter the taste and creaminess of the dish.

Cheese: While the recipe calls for sharp cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, you can explore different cheese options to suit your taste preferences. Consider using a combination of cheeses like Gruyère, mozzarella, Colby Jack, or Swiss cheese for unique flavor profiles.

Dijon Mustard: You can substitute dry mustard powder in place of the Dijon mustard, I would use 1/2 teaspoon, taste, and adjust accordant to what you prefer.

Additions:

  1. Crispy Bacon: Cook some bacon until crispy and crumble it over the finished mac and cheese. It adds a savory, smoky flavor and a delightful crunch.
  2. Sautéed Veggie Medley: Freshen things up by sautéing a mix of veggies like colorful bell peppers, onions, earthy mushrooms, or vibrant spinach. Toss them into your mac and cheese for an extra pop of flavor and some delightful texture. 
  3. Herbs: Take your mac and cheese to the next level with a medley of herbs and spices. Sprinkle in some dried or fresh parsley, thyme, or chives for a burst of freshness. For a touch of heat and complexity, add a dash of paprika, chili powder, or cayenne pepper.
  4. Diced Ham or Chicken: Boost the protein content by adding cooked and diced ham or chicken. It adds heartiness to the dish and transforms it into a more substantial meal.
  5. Bread Crumb Topping: For a crispy and golden topping, mix bread crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle it over the mac and cheese before baking or broiling. It adds a nice contrast in texture.
  6. Hot Sauce: If you enjoy some heat, drizzle your mac and cheese with a few dashes of hot sauce or sprinkle with red pepper flakes. It adds a spicy kick to the dish.
Our Favorite

What to serve with Mac and Cheese:

close up image of macaroni and cheese

Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Vicky
Cooked macaroni noodles swimming in a creamy cheese sauce that’s pure comfort on a plate ready in just under 20 minutes!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 371 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Instructions
 

  • Cook the macaroni in boiling salted water according to package directions until al dente.Drain and set aside
  • In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour to the butter and whisk to combine, cooking for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is smooth and bubbly.
  • Slowly whisk in the milk and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and add the shredded cheddar and Parmesan cheeses, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and Dijon mustard to the saucepan. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
  • Add the cooked macaroni to the saucepan and stir to coat the noodles with the cheese sauce. Cook over low heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the macaroni and cheese is heated through and the sauce has thickened to your liking.

Nutrition

Calories: 371kcalCarbohydrates: 52gProtein: 12gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 525mgPotassium: 326mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 434IUVitamin C: 0.01mgCalcium: 168mgIron: 1mg
Keyword macaroni and cheese, pasta sauce, sides
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