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

Description

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.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Instructions

  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!!

Notes

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

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Recipe rating

248 comments on “Stovetop Mac and Cheese”

1 3 4 5
  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.

  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.

  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!