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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”

  1. Made it just as written, and it did have the soupy sauce others have mentioned. As it cooled, however, the sauce thickened, and OMG it is so good! I’ll be trying spicier cheese blends in the future, if it’s just for my husband and me, but this was perfect for grandkids and we all loved it. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is my FAVORITE mac n’ cheese recipe! My kids (especially my youngest) are a little picky when it comes to homemade recipes, but this one is their favorite too. I get asked to make it often. The texture and taste is perfect (although, I do add a little more mustard powder and garlic along with a little white pepper). I love that it is also a one-pot recipe, less mess and hardly any prep-work.

  3. Wow, this was really really easy and amazing! I used the cheese I had on hand and added about a 1/4 cup of cream cheese to the sauce while the pasta was cooking. I added spinach at the end. One of the best recipes for Mac and Cheese I’ve ever tried!

  4. Very yummy :). This mac and cheese was easy to make, and very yummy.

  5. Was yummy, but I followed the recipe to a T and it came out far too soupy. I didn’t cook the pasta separately. Will have to reduce the liquids next time.

    • Yes! The pasta absorbs much of the liquid during the cooking process. Almost to a “T”, but not quite :-)

  6. Best, tastiest, simplest mac n cheese recipe I’ve tried. Tip: Although it’s called “no-bake” I ran it under the broiler until just golden, being careful not to overdo it. It added soooooo much more to the dish.

  7. Omg! This recipe is awesome!!! Made it just for me, but realized after i put the butter and flour in that I was making a family recipe… so i just guessed with my measurements, and it turned out AMAZING!!!! I used a Mexican cheese blend and an Italian cheese blend cause it was all we had, and I used almond milk instead of dairy milk. I also did shell pasta; it’s one of my favorites for mac and cheese! My mom and sister tried it and LOVED it. And whats better? You have an instant pot version!!! I will definitely be testing it in the near future. I love me some homemade mac and cheese! (Oh, and I didn’t have ground mustard, but I did have paprika, so I added that. Perfect!) Thank you so much for this recipe!!! It’s a keeper for me!

  8. This Mac and cheese was absolutely delicious!! Quick, easy and super good to be stove top! Definitely a winner in my book! Thanks so much for sharing!!

  9. So good! A little runny so added extra pasta and it was perfect. Took a little longer than 20 minutes… But worth the wait!

  10. Terrible….wasted so much food trying this recipe. I picked it because it had good ratings, but I’m sitting here looking at a watery cheese soup. So disappointing

    • If you ever use this recipe again, only do three cups milk and three cups water! I promise it won’t be soupy.

    • Being a fellow cheesivore, I love an ooey-gooey-cheesy Mac-n-cheese. And this did not disappoint! I must say, I was a bit nervous cooking the pasta in the roux mixture, but after doing so it all makes sense. I’m not certain where the folks went wrong whose turned out watery and unappetizing. Let mine cook for just a touch more after adding the cheese and waited about 10 minutes- and it set up beautifully. The only modification I made (don’t tell anyone!) was to add my secret ingredient- a spoonful of bacon fat (don’t repeat that!). Otherwise, this is a great recipe that is very easy to make.
      Thank you for sharing!

    • It could’ve possibly been you didn’t add enough cheese! I always and more cheese than it says about 3/4 – 1 cup of cheese and could’ve also been the pasta type I used the shells and it’s always been thick and yummy!

  11. I did my own little thing using this recipe and I’m thankful! Instead I will tell you, I’m happy I only used three cups of milk instead of the four cause it would’ve been too soupy. I also only did 4 cups of cheese as well as some extra pepper and garlic.

  12. delicious!

  13. Just made this!! If it tastes as amazing as it looks I’d give it 10 stars. It took a little longer for me too because I’m not used to cooking pasta in water and milk. Didn’t want the heat too high but was afraid of overcooking my pasta. This recipe has me hooked! I’ll REALLY know what I’m doing next time. I wound up using a store bought Mac n Cheese shredded blend. 2 packages = 4 cups.

  14. So easy, fast and AMAZING!

  15. Loved the one pot! It’s super easy, BUT we thought the sauce to pasta ratio was a little off. We had lots of sauce and needed more pasta. Maybe it depends on the pasta you use. I used a pound of Rotini. It wasn’t soupy at all! I’ll add more pasta when I reheat it. But this is a keeper!!

  16. I didn’t have any milk so I used half heavy cream and half water for the milk…so creamy and delicious! Oh, and I used onion powder for half the garlic powder…I can’t get enough of it…YUM!

  17. really easy and mine turned out amazing- my son loved it
    definitely bookmarking this site

  18. it definitely was good and not soupy at all- the only think i would add would be more cheese! i also added some broccoli and it was amazingg

  19. Delicious!

  20. This was basically bland cheese soup, as written. I couldn’t get it to thicken up, there’s just way too much liquid in this recipe.

  21. Read the reviews about it being soupy and I think that the main reason behind it turning soupy is that people were using non fat or low fat milk. Those for whom it did turn out great I am willing to bet that they used whole milk. From my experience non fat or low fat milk will not thicken when heated.

    I used A2 whole milk and it turned out awesome. It was thick and creamy and cheesy. We ended up eating only half of it as we were using it as a side dish and not the main meal.

    It was quite filling and oh so yummy!!!

    My question is: What is the best way to reheat it? I have saved about half of what we made in the refrigerator and hoping to eat it again in a couple of days.

    • One of my favorite ways to use leftover mac / cheese is as follows. Put the leftovers in an oiled square container. Refrigerate so it sets up in one big block. Turn out the block and slice some thickish slices off it. use egg wash and bread crumbs to coat the slices. Pan fry til golden brown. Enjoy!

  22. I’ve made the stove top recipe many times now, taste and consistency are spot on every time with the recipe as written. Has anyone adapted this to a crock pot? My thoughts are to cook the roux stovetop, add the one cup of water and mix, then move to the crock for the remainder of the steps. Has anyone tried this?

  23. I had a 12oz. bag of bowtie veggie pasta, not a pound. Reduced water to 2c. + milk (1%) to 2c. to avoid soupiness. That wasn’t enough liquid to cook pasta, so added 1/2c. hot water + 1/2c. hot milk to simmering pasta. So, for 12oz. of pasta, use approx. 5c. liquid ( recipe calls for 7c. liquid to 1lb. pasta). I reduced the roux & spices accordingly. Grated a block of super-sharp cheese from a cheese shop to 2c., and it’s plenty sharp for me. Threw in some flax seeds as pasta cooked. Tore up the rest of a bag of salad spinach leaves at the end. Delicious. This mac & cheese recipe is so flexible…you can add any veggies that need to be used, any protein, and whatever spices you like. I have herbs & veggies in our garden now, so I may add fresh cilantro and diced peppers…we’ll see. This will be my staple mac & cheese recipe, many thanks.

  24. Any suggestions? Or what I’m doing wrong? Mine is soupy and curdling, not really melting together.

  25. Excellent but a little tip the cheese won’t separate if you let the pasta cool just a little before adding your cheeses. I also use corn starch instead of flour in the beginning, but that’s just my preference.

  26. Delicious’. Turned out perfect. Made exactly as directed. I was skeptical about cooking in all that water but it was nice and creamy

  27. Very good and SO easy. My family loves it with 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper instead of garlic/mustard combo, but the recipe itself is fast and just one pot to clean (yeah!). Turned out perfectly and everyone wants it again. Thanks, Ali!

  28. This is a great recipe. I ran out of milk so I had to put a little less liquid and it still worked and tasted great! This was so quick, easy and tasty.

  29. This was absolutely the easiest homemade macaroni and cheese on a stove top that I have ever made. I used smoked gouda, cheddar, and fontina cheeses. Since I didn’t have parmesan in the house, I used asiago. And I added bacon. Smoky, creamy… Lovely. It’s going to be the go to in my house!

  30. I’ve tried numerous mac & cheese recipes and could never find just the right one, I stumbled across this one tonight and was really skeptical about five cups of liquid, but it turned out to be just the right amount. I followed this recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly. I found extra large elbow macaroni at the grocery store and also threw in some gruyere and the result was spectacular The flavors, textures, and ratio of sauce to cheese to macaroni is just right, I wouldn’t change a thing. I finally have a go-to mac & cheese recipe that I can haul out whenever I get a hankering.

  31. This was a good recipe, though I tweaked it.

    Observing the reviews left before me, I only did two cups of water, and three cups of milk. Four cups of cheese were used, which for using only marble…was way too much. It made the Mac and cheese super thick.

    I did enjoy this generally though, and feel like once I get an optimal cheese purchased for this…that it will be delicious.

    Ps. This only made 4 servings for me, which with the amount of cheese used…is a lot ;)

  32. I had to change some things up because I didn’t have the parmesan cheese and had to use half bagged sharp change cheese and half Colby cheese that I shredded. It was still perfect YUM! I can’t wait to make it the correct way next time. It was so creamy and delicious!

  33. It was way too creamy for me. I recommend putting 1.5 noodles than what it calls for and maybe trying to thin out the cheese if it is too thick for you.

  34. Not a fan of this recipe. Texture was questionable and not a fan of the overall flavor due to the seasoning choices. Overall wouldn’t make again.

  35. Never buying the boxed stuff ever again- this was as easy if not easier and soooooo much better. I had preheated cheese, fussily, and used mustard instead of the powder and still perfection!

  36. Every year I make Mac n’ cheese. I’ve tried every single recipe, and every year I’m like nope not a home run. Until now, this is it. I added a generous portion of ground white pepper. It’s now a family favorite. So easy too!

  37. Very creamy! Great recipe. Thank you!

  38. Not sure why other commenters had “too soupy” results. I measured everything (halving the entire recipe), cooked the roux for a good 90 seconds till golden before slowly adding liquids/stove temperatures as instructed. I used whole-grain penne pasta (what I had on-hand), fresh-grated sharp cheddar and other cheeses on-hand (plus the fresh-grated parm, of course) and the result was a delectable, beautifully creamy delight. Definitely a keeper recipe! Can’t wait to have it again with some fresh spinach thrown in! YUM!!!! Many, many thanks!

  39. I made this and tweaked it a little. I boiled my pasta first, drained it and set it aside. Then I eliminated the water and made the cheese sauce according to the recipe and it is SO good!

  40. This was amazing. I ran out of regular milk & used evaporated milk instead. A happy lil accident 😁. Also waited until the water/milk mix boiled before adding noddles.Thank you for sharing this recipe! It was amazing!

  41. This was a great recipe! My son is a very picky mac & cheese connoisseur and while he likes most of my cooking, he’s never been a fan of any mac & cheese recipe I’ve tried. I have celiac disease so I used gluten-free pasta and gluten-free flour. In the past, I think due to the gluten-free flour, the cheese sauce has always had a grit to it. I read through the comments and used corn starch instead of a gluten-free flour blend this time as one of the other commenters suggested. I did everything else the same except I only had 2% milk so I used part 2% and part cream. I also used a combination of medium cheddar, sharp cheddar, aged gouda, mozzarella, and parmesan — only because I had bits of each left and so I had to use it all. I thought it was delicious, although my son felt the cheese flavour was a bit sharp for his tastebuds. Next time I might do a mix of medium cheddar, gruyere, mozzarella, and parmesan and see how that goes for him. I find just medium cheddar a bit bland and he finds sharp cheddar too sharp. But unlike some others have found, it was not soupy at all. The only other change I might make next time is to use 1.5 x the pasta, which would likely be a better cheese-to-pasta ratio for us. Anyhow, overall it was a hit for us and that is elusive when it comes to mac & cheese in our house! Thank you!

  42. This is the go-to Mac n’ cheese recipe in our home! We do make quite a few changes (I like to “feel out” a recipe) but the foundation is exquisite.
    We cook this dish in a cast iron skillet. Make the roux the same way, but we start with only two cups milk and water each. We then pour in as much pasta as the liquid can cover. Once it’s simmering, we usually need to add a touch more milk (approx 1/4-1/3 cup) to ensure the pasta cooks properly.
    At this point we add in broccoli florets and season as suggested, but sub onion powder for the mustard. Then we top the creamy goodness with panko and Italian seasoning breadcrumbs (a nice, full layer) and the same amount of Parmesan.
    Pop the cast iron skillet under the broiler on “High” for 3-5 minutes! Then you have an incredibly creamy Mac n’ cheese with an herbed crust.

  43. This recipe saved my life. I had run out of time to make my traditional big Mac and cheese for Christmas Eve and found this recipe. My son and I threw it together very fast and they wiped it completely out. I’m actually up on Christmas morning making another pot so they can carry some back with them. Thank you so much for an easy wonderful and delicious recipe.

  44. This turned out to have the perfect consistency for us…great flavor too!

  45. Tried twice with digged brands of cheese. Followed to a T and I get a “gritty” texture. Not sure what needs to be changed.

  46. Wow, this is by far my absolute favorite mac ever. I do use shredded cheese from the store as well as block cheese, and it works super well. Also, I just use a clove of garlic and a squirt of mustard-probably dijon- instead of the powders, and its super good. It makes enough for everyone. Thanks!

  47. Super yumm. I make this al the time.

  48. I also find it soupy so I reduce the milk and water by 1/4-1/2 cup. If necessary I will add more little by little.

    Important detail about adding mustard! If you don’t have dry and are substituting prepared, do NOT add it till you’re adding the cheese. Adding it in the pasta cooking stage curdles the milk (presumably due to the vinegar in the prepared mustard). Finally figured this out after many rounds of this recipe!

  49. Our favorite mac and cheese recipe. I was wondering if you could freeze it?

  50. I did some weird slight variation on this and it didn’t turn out well. I halved it, but ended up keeping the 2 T of butter and flour because I’ve never made a roux before, so I was afraid that it was gonna be impossible to stir if there was only 2 T of stuff at the bottom of my pot. I also actually used bacon grease instead of butter. It didn’t even taste particularly cheesy despite using sharp cheddar. I think the bacon grease ruined it somehow, and it probably needs the butter to have flavor. When I try this again (still halved), I’ll also probably only use 1 1/2 c milk instead of 2.