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Stovetop Mac and Cheese

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This truly is the BEST stovetop mac and cheese recipe! It only requires one pot (no extra pot to cook the pasta), it’s ready to go in about 20 minutes from start to finish, and it’s perfectly creamy and cheesy and delicious.

Seriously the BEST Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe! It's ready to go in about 20 minutes, only requires one pot, and is totally creamy and cheesy and delicious. | Gimme Some Oven #macandcheese #pasta #recipe #comfortfood

This weekend, Barclay and I went to a food festival here in Barcelona that was fabulously, deliciously, entirely devoted to CHEESE.

And it was just about the best thing ever. ♡♡♡

Literally everywhere you turned, ooey gooey cheesy dishes were being served. And you’d better believe we took full advantage of them. From freshly-scraped raclette toasts, to the most amazing Korean-inspired mushroom grilled cheese sandwiches, to Spanish (slightly different than French) onion and smoked cheese soup, to vegan Mexican cheesy quesadillas, to the best ricotta I’ve ever sampled, to the most dreamy Italian gyoza-ish dumplings filled with potato and cheese and served in a pecorino-sage sauce…the day was all of our cheesiest dreams come true. And we left feeling so happy. And soooo full, ha.

That said, there was one dish notably missing at the festival. But, it just so happens that I’ve been on a mission this month to nail down my all-time favorite recipe for it. So yesterday, we decided to round out our cheesy weekend by taste-testing a final version of this recipe. And ohhh guys, I think we’ve got it. I’m humbly calling it…

The Best Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe. Ever.

The BEST Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe | 1-Minute Video

Seriously the BEST Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe! It's ready to go in about 20 minutes, only requires one pot, and is totally creamy and cheesy and delicious. | Gimme Some Oven #macandcheese #pasta #recipe #comfortfood

I should probably say right now that this recipe is the real deal. Because on the special occasions when I indulge in creamy mac and cheese, I’m not interested in healthy shortcuts. Gimme all the carbs + all the cheese, please. ?

Even better?

Let’s talk about this delicious recipe that’s ready to go in about 20 minutes from start to finish (seriously!) and only requires one pot.

Seriously the BEST Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe! It's ready to go in about 20 minutes, only requires one pot, and is totally creamy and cheesy and delicious. | Gimme Some Oven #macandcheese #pasta #recipe #comfortfood

For most of my homemade mac and cheese making life, I’ve always done the two-pot method — one for cooking the pasta, and one for making the cheesy sauce — which totally works! But dishes have always been the bane of my existence. AND when I started posting on Instagram about my macaroni and cheese recipe experimenting this month, I heard from many of you who recommended the one-pot method. Because apparently cooking the pasta in the sauce itself releases all of those starches into the sauce…which makes it extra creamy…and also helps bind the sauce to the pasta even better. Also, the entire process only takes about 15 minutes to cook. And also, no need to wash the extra pan.

Sounded like a win-win-win…win…win to me.

Sure enough, after testing a few batches, I’m now a total convert to the one-pot camp. Works like a cheesy charm! ?

Seriously the BEST Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe! It's ready to go in about 20 minutes, only requires one pot, and is totally creamy and cheesy and delicious. | Gimme Some Oven #macandcheese #pasta #recipe #comfortfood

Also, let’s talk about your cheese options here.

I kind of feel like mac and cheese is the savory equivalent to chocolate chip cookies when it comes to people’s Very Strong Food Opinions. Everyone seems to have their cheese of choice (or blend of cheeses) that they prefer with their mac and cheese! So if you have a strong preference here, this recipe is totally flexible when it comes to cheeses, so I say go for it.

As for me? I have always fallen firmly in the sharp cheddar camp. Sharp…because extra cheesy flavor is always a win in my book. And cheddar…because it’s my nostalgic favorite when it comes to mac and cheese. Nowadays, I usually opt for extra sharp white cheddar, mostly because it’s affordable and awesome at Costco (and also at Lidl, our ALDI-ish favorite grocery store here in Barcelona). But feel free to use your favorite brand.

Also, if you want an even creamier mac and cheese, you’re welcome to use half cheddar, and half gouda or fontina (two of my other creamy faves). But 99% of the time, I keep things simple with straight cheddar (plus a handful of Parmesan) and never regret it.

??? That said, I do have one non-negotiable tip that goes for all types of cheeses — always, always, always use freshly-grated cheese for mac and cheese. Most all of the pre-shredded cheeses at the store have a coating on them that prevents them from melting smoothly. So while it’s a bit of extra work, be sure to buy block cheese at the store, and then shred it at home just before using. ???

Seriously the BEST Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe! It's ready to go in about 20 minutes, only requires one pot, and is totally creamy and cheesy and delicious. | Gimme Some Oven #macandcheese #pasta #recipe #comfortfood

As always, feel free to stir in any of your desired mix-ins as well if you’d like, such as:

  • Proteins: cooked chicken, bacon, shrimp, etc.
  • Veggies: I’m obsessed with adding roasted veggies to my mac and cheese! Also, greens like baby spinach, or sun-dried tomatoes, or artichokes are delish.
  • Nuts: Pine nuts, toasted almonds, etc.
  • Seasonings: Some faves include Cajun seasoning, Italian seasoning, a sprinkle of za-atar…you name it.

The sky’s basically the limit here.

But if you’re on the hunt for an irresistible, cheesy, creamy, classic homemade mac and cheese recipe, here you go. Enjoy, everyone!

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The BEST Stovetop Mac and Cheese

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x


This truly is the BEST stovetop mac and cheese recipe!  It only requires one pot (no extra pot to cook the pasta), it’s ready to go in about 20 minutes from start to finish, and it’s perfectly creamy and cheesy and delicious.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 pound uncooked pasta (I used cavatappi)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 45 cups (1620 ounces) freshly-shredded* sharp cheddar cheese (I used sharp white cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup freshly-shredded* Parmesan cheese


  1. Melt butter in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add flour, and stir until combined.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Then pour in 1 cup of the water, and stir (or whisk) until the mixture is completely smooth and begins to thicken.  Gradually pour in the remaining water and milk, stirring until evenly combined.
  2. Stir in the pasta, salt, garlic powder, and mustard until combined.  Then continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the mixture just reaches a simmer.  (Btw, I recommend grating your cheese while the pasta cooks to save time!)  Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain the low simmer.  Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 9-10 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.  (Be careful not to overcook the pasta!)
  3. Remove from heat, and stir in the cheeses until melted.  Taste, and season with additional salt (and black pepper, if you’d like), as needed.
  4. Serve immediately, and enjoy!!


Instant Pot Option: If you would like to make this recipe in the Instant Pot, see my tutorial here.

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300 comments on “Stovetop Mac and Cheese”

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  1. Yum! Definitely making this soon! I just read that Lidl is opening some markets here in the U.S. to compete with Aldi—how does it compare?

    • I hope they bring that to Canada as well – can’t wait!!!

    • I like both of them. They are not quite different in their product range, the prices are very similar. Maybe Lidl has a bigger product range and more brands, but I’m not sure.

  2. This sounds yummy! I’m lazy and learned how to do mac and cheese in the microwave (I use a combo of mild cheddar and feta for that). I’ll have to try this one, though. And oh, do I envy you that cheese festival in Barcelona…

  3. Is there a particular type of milk you would use? Whole milk? I’m a non-fat drinker, but I don’t think that would be ideal for this recipe :)

    • I used almond milk, and it turned out perfectly. I honestly wouldn’t know about any dairy milks; I’m lactose intolerant (not too bad, but dairy milk messes up my stomach more than anything else), and my family doesn’t use dairy milks unless it’s raw milk. But if it worked with almond milk, then it might work the milk that you have! It’s worth a shot!

  4. This Mac & Cheese looks so creamy & delicious! Um! Thanksfor sharing the recipe, Ali

  5. Have you ever tried a few drops of Worcestershire Sauce in the recipe for the sauce? I have, but in the 2-pot method, and it is superb IF you want to amp up the flavour of the cheese a little.

    • Didn’t like the taste( pasta won’t get soft, too chewy. The taste of cheddar is too overpowering.

  6. This looks incredible!!!

  7. Cheesy perfection! I’ve always been skeptical about one-pot pastas (I guess I feel like I have more control over the outcome when I cook the pasta and sauce separately), but now I’m dying to give this a try!

    And you’re so right about freshly shredded cheese–it’s the ONLY option.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    – MAK

  8. I’m not a fan of pastas or cheese, but this recipe makes me want it now and I will defo make it soon! Perfect dish for a lazy night in front of tv :D

  9. A tiny, tiny sprinkle of curry powder…of the bottled, brand name spice manufacturer sort….brings out the sweet notes in the cheese so nicely but doesn’t cause the whole dish to taste of curry.

  10. This recipe is perfect. Just finished eating a bowl for lunch. My mother loves it too.

  11. Delicious looking recipe – it’s one I’ve used for years! Lol!

    I use cream in place of some of the milk (when I want the full flavor version), add a dribble of Worcestershire Sauce, and crumbled mature Rosemary Manchego cheese to change it up a bit. That cheese adds a creamy, salty, rosemary, nuttiness flavor that takes it up a level.

    And, don’t forget, if you use an overproof pot, you can put it under the broiler for a ferw minutes to get that wonderful brown cheese top.

    Now I have to go make some…

  12. Good for you Nancy!

  13. This looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  14. I wish I could post a pic of how creamy this came out. Really delicious, as I knew it would be! Anything I make from you comes out yummy. Thank you!!

  15. I just made this for our Christmas lunch, so easy and delicious!

  16. This was so easy and so creamy!

    • I made this for Christmas and it was a major hit. I added a tablespoonful of black truffle oil, and added a topping of panko, Parmesan, and butter browned in a skillet and then tossed with more truffle oil to each serving. Absolutely delicious.

  17. This is delicious! I easily adapted this to be gluten free with GF pasta and flour. It was amazing! I have tried other recipes before and was disappointed, I no longer need to look for a new recipe! Thank you!!

    • My husband is GF and loves mac and cheese. Would love to hear how you modified, e.g., which GF pasta, whether you changed the proportions of milk, etc.

  18. I made 1\2 batch and added fresh chopped garlic instead of the garlic powder. Must admit this was very good for a stove top Mac and cheese! Very easy to make. Thank you

    • I used skim milk and it came out a little too watery. Tasted good though. Is there any way to make it creamier instead of gritty? Is that the Cheddar or the garlic salt that gives it that texture?

  19. Just made this with what I had on hand: Unsweetened Soy Milk and Smoked Cheddar and Parm.
    It turned out great!! I only made half a batch and it is absolutely an easy recipe for any night of the week, and adaptable to any milk. Thanks for sharing! I added some paprika to amp up the smokiness too.

  20. This was absolutely delicious, and so easy to make. I love that it’s all in one pot. I found that the pasta needed a fair amount of stirring before it came to a simmer to avoid it getting stuck to the bottom of the pot, but that’s no big deal. Thanks for another delicious recipe!

  21. This sounds great. I’m so excited about being able to do it all in one pot so I’ll try it tonight

  22. I followed instructions using sharp cheddar/smoked Gouda/parm for the cheeses. I was nervous about the amount of liquid left in the pot after simmering and once the pasta was al dente. Even after stirring in the cheese, it looked like pasta soup. But after it sat off heat for 20 mins, it was perfectly creamy and delicious! Our family loved it and I will definitely make it again.

  23. OMG the cheese in this baby!! Literally want to dig in NOW! Yum!!??

  24. I made this last night and my husband and I were both big fans – it is definitely the creamiest mac and cheese we’ve ever had! I made it exactly as written (using sharp white cheddar and parmesan cheeses) but my only critique would be that I found it to be a little too sharp overall (perhaps this is just personal preference). Next time I make this, I’m going to use regular cheddar with the parmesan and see if that solves it. My husband requested pepper jack as another option, which I think would be delicious. The possibilities are endless! Thanks again, Ali, for another easy, delicious recipe!

  25. Needed a quick dinner idea tonight so I did a quick google search for stovetop Mac and cheese and this recipe popped up. It was perfection!!! Absolutely delicious and so easy!! And I’m so glad I took your tip and used the cooking time to fresh grate the cheeses I really think it made all the difference. I halved the recipe for my family of four and it made the perfect amount. Being able to make Mac and cheese without having to boil a separate pot of pasta is dangerous for the waste line but awesome when you need a quick dinner on the table! :) I’ve never made a one pot pasta dish before so I was skeptical but It turned out really great. I can’t wait to adapt this recipe in the future by adding veggies/chicken etc. I made your naan recipe last week too and it was awesome. Thank you so much for all of your great recipes!!

  26. Just made this for dinner… ready in 15 minutes and one of the best Mac and cheese dishes I’ve ever had!!! Thank you!!

  27. Oh my goodness! This will now be my go-to mac and cheese recipe; made it last night for supper and it was absolutely delicious and soooo creamy and cheesy! To be quite honest, I was a little bit nervous about cooking the pasta in the base sauce but it turned out perfectly. The only small changes I made based on what I had on hand was I used garlic puree instead of powder and used sharp white herbed cheddar. After the cheese was added I added in chopped smoked bacon which I pre-cooked and fresh chopped scallions to make it even more decadent. Yum!

  28. Hi! This sounds delish and I decided to make it…is 1 pound of pasta 1 cup uncooked? I looked it up online and it was a bit confusing ?‍♀️Seems like I have a pasta soup…I put in a little more than a cup of dry macaroni. Tks!

  29. Made this tonight, and I’m in the middle on it. Overall it had a really good taste, I used 1/2 Gouda and 1/2 sharp cheddar, my sauce turned out grainy so I guess I needed to cook my roux a little longer, but it was really soupy. We had to wait close to 30 minutes for it to completely thicken, by that time it was cold and we had to re heat. Any suggestions for next time? Maybe cut down the amount of liquid in it? Is this problem that you’ve run into?

  30. Hey Ali! I put my own spin on this recipe with different cheese and pasta and absolutely loved it. I will make it again and again because it comes together so easily. I posted about it on my blog and would LOVE if you would check it out.

  31. Very good but now that I know I think 9oz of sharp white cheddar would be suffice. Don’t get me wrong, full cheese is delicious but it doesn’t need all that cheese.

  32. Life changing M&C and a must to keep handy if you have kiddos! My kiddo-critic said this was much better than my previous recipe on rotation. I even indulged! More like this, pls

  33. I’m planning to make this for a family get together as something easy for the kids to grab if they are fussy for dinners! Any idea if this reheats well Ali?

    Thanks for the easy, one-pot, delicious recipe!

  34. Turned out like I just kicked Martha Stewart’s ass outta the kitchen..

  35. So delicious! My husband and I just finished eating. It was perfectly cheesy and creamy! Even my husband liked it!! Thank you for sharing.

  36. Hi, this is a friendly warning!! This dish is dangerous ‘cause you may finish the whole pot before you serve your family and friends. Thanks, this recipe is one step above all the others.

  37. Excellent and easy! Made it two times this weekend. First time for a holiday party and second time for my boy who is visiting for winter break! Easy to mix and match the cheese and add ins like bacon or small bits of veggies.

  38. OMG, this recipe is super simple and absolutely delicious. I have never seen a one pot wonder recipe for Mac and cheese. This is delicious and my family loved it.

  39. Yum! Need to let it sit for about 10 minutes after it done for ultra creaminess. I subbed cream cheese for the parmesan, and added fresh cut scallions into my last stir. Also, in addition to the dry mustard, I added about a 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika. Delicious!

  40. This was fantastic! I did take the suggestion of grating the cheese rather than purchasing pre-grated. I think this did make a big difference. So creamy and easy; will be a keeper in our house!

  41. Found this recipe after realizing I had no boxed mac and cheese, but did have all the ingredients to make this. Love the idea of cooking the pasta in the same pot. I already, randomly, had a bunch of leftover cooked elbows, so just warmed that up in the pot and then added a mix of cheese I had on hand (pre-shredded Italian mix, cheddar, and mexican blend). I’m sure shredding it fresh would be even better, but I had three hungry kids coming in from playing in the snow and had to improvise. They all loved it, including my 4 year old who loves the blue box. :)

  42. My husband and I just finished eating this! Man, that was really great! We added in some colby jack because we didn’t have quite enough sharp cheddar and a bit more fresh parm and it was awesome. My mind is swirling with all the possibilities….I think the base+adding cheese at the end would be great with broccoli for broccoli cheddar soup or potatoes for a potato cheddar soup…thanks so much!

  43. Just made this!! And it is ideed just as quick, easy and absolutely tasty as described!! Thank you! Recipe imprinted into the brain :-D

  44. Awesome! Loved it! So easy too!

  45. This was so delicious and super easy/quick to make! thank you!

  46. This was a good last-minute meal! I broke the recipe rules and used what I had on hand, and it was fine. After the first cup of water, I added a carton (4cups) of low sodium chicken broth, a can of evaporated milk, and for the cheese, Aldi’s Gruyere and Swiss, along with the parm. It melted well despite the anti-caking agent. I added extra Dijon to the cooking liquid, and some turmeric for a golden color. Yum!

  47. Pretty good, but it didn’t come out quite right. Far too much water/milk. I had a soup when I put in the cheese. Also, it didn’t have the cheesiest flavor in the end. After I thickened it up with a few tablespoons of cornstarch, it was pretty creamy and good. My boyfriend had no complaints whatsoever.

  48. Super easy! I halved the recipe and it came out great. Had to add a little more liquid before the noodles were done cooking but I did not accurately measure anything so I’m sure that was due to my estimating ? would make again!

  49. Not very good directions. Turned into soup. Ruined our dinner. Will not use this recipe again.