This is hands down the best creamy stovetop mac and cheese! This is my one pot go-to and my family’s side dish! It’s has amazing flavor with a silky, ultra creamy cheese sauce and tender macaroni cooked al dente.
Made with simple ingredients like, cheese, butter, paprika, milk, Worcestershire, mustard and a just a bit of onion powder. It’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal. The best macaroni and cheese!
Once you try this creamy stovetop mac and cheese, you’ll kick your boxed version to the curb! It’s so easy and delicious. It’s one of my “in a rut” quick and easy recipes!
The flavor combination in this homemade one pot mac and cheese makes it very irresistible! I’ve tried tons of different recipes like this and I find that seasonings and the right type of cheese truly makes it delicious. This recipe makes a creamy but not gloppy or heavy mac and cheese.
There are tons of ways to make this and everyone seems to have a special way of making their own. For this version, I like to use my favorite ground seasonings and a variety of cheese.
This dish moves quickly, so make sure you have all your ingredient measured and ready to go! In the next paragraph, I will show you how to make this super tasty stovetop mac and cheese.
How do you make stovetop macaroni and cheese?
I love to make this the old fashioned way. Firstly, boil the water and salt it then add the macaroni but feel free to use any type of macaroni but the cooking time may vary.
I used regular elbow macaroni to make this dish. Drain and set to the side. Secondly, in the same large pot over medium heat, add the butter and melt it.
Thirdly, add the flour and cook stirring constantly for about 5-8 minutes. Make sure you cook for the recommended timeframe. I usually cook mine for about 5-8 minutes. Before I forget, the flour and butter mixture is called a “roux”. Cook the roux very well.
To often I hear stories about peoples mac and cheese tasting like flour. You ever taste mac and cheese that tasted floury? Well, the floury taste comes from flour that was not cooked long enough. So most importantly, make sure you cook that flour taste away!
Next, add the milk to the flour and butter mixture. Stir constantly until the milk is thickened about 5 minutes. Next, add the cheese and preserved pasta water. Mix well stirring constantly for about 2-4 minutes.
Add in the seasonings and mix well. Lastly, add in the cooked and drained macaroni. Stir to combine. Garnish with parsley or chives if you like.
I’ve added two photos of how I garnish my mac and cheese. The first picture above with chives and the one below with parsley. You know what would make this mac and cheese even better, breadcrumbs?
Sometimes I’ll brown some bread crumbs that were cooked for 3 minutes in butter with a bit of salt. Then once the bread crumbs are nice and browned, I top the mac and cheese with them.
So delicious. I got that tip from America’s Test Kitchen. FYI, the photos below may look a bit different and that’s because they were taken on different days.
What kind of spices do you add to macaroni and cheese?
Seasonings are a great way to add more flavor to your macaroni and cheese. I grew up eating lots of macaroni and cheese. The boxed kind, stovetop mac and cheese and the baked version.
For this recipe, I used paprika, onion powder, a couple small pinches of crushed red pepper, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, a bit of spicy mustard and parsley.
What goes well with Mac and Cheese?
Stovetop mac and cheese can be eaten as side or a main. We love to have serve our stovetop mace and cheese as a main with a nice caesar salad. Sometimes I’ll serve it with fried chicken and other times, with my best meatloaf. During the spring, I love to serve mac and cheese with southern fried whiting fish or these peach glazed chipotle honey sticky wings. It’s also good with crispy smothered chicken with bok choy.
What type of cheese do you use for Mac and Cheese?
Some people use sharp cheddar cheese or mild cheddar cheese, mozzarella or parmesan. I’m not a fan of strong flavored cheddar so I always use a mixture of cheese.
For this recipe, I used a pack of pre-shredded triple cheddar cheese. It’s a mixture of three cheeses with great flavor and it’s not too strong. Yes, this pre-shredded cheese melts just fine too if you make it right.
As you can see in the how to video the cheddar cheese sauce is so silky and the elbow macaroni is super tender.
Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- 2 cups Barilla macaroni or elbow macaroni
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/4 tsp salt or more if needed
- 1 1/4 cup triple cheddar shredded cheese
- 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp pepper or more if needed
- 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce add more or less
- 1/4 tsp spicy mustard
- 1-2 pinch crushed red peppers up to two small pinches
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- In a large pot of salted boiling water cook the macaroni to al dente then drain and set to the side.
- Melt butter in the same large pot. Over medium high, stir in flour and cook for about 5-8 minutes stirring constantly. Slowly pour milk into the flour and butter mixture and stir constantly until thickened and smooth with lots of big bubbles for about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the cheese and water then stir in the seasonings. Mix well for about 2-4 minutes. Add in the macaroni. Stir to combine. Adjust seasonings if needed.
WATCH ME MAKE STOVETOP MAC AND CHEESE.Recipe Notes: Quick tip: As I stated in the body of the post, the flour and butter mixture is called a "roux". Cook the roux very well. To often I hear stories about peoples mac and cheese tasting like flour. Well, the floury taste comes from flour that was not cooked long enough. So most importantly, make sure you cook that flour taste for the recommended timeframe.
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