This stovetop mac and cheese is a one pot dish of tender macaroni simmered in an ultra creamy sauce with two types of cheese. The best macaroni and cheese recipe of all time!
There’s nothing better than homemade mac and cheese, and there are so many different ways to prepare it. I have a really great slow cooker mac and cheese that the family loves, but when we want dinner in a hurry, I turn to this stovetop mac and cheese recipe.
How do you make stovetop mac and cheese?
Start by whisking flour and butter together to make a thickener. Add water and milk to the pot, then stir in uncooked pasta and a variety of spices. Let the pasta simmer until it’s tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Add two types of cheese, then stir until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately, with a sprinkle of parsley if desired.
Tips for the perfect dish
- You can use any type of short pasta, just be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly. If you use a larger pasta such as penne, you may need to add more liquid to the pot.
- Skip the bags of pre-shredded cheese and grate your own. The prepared shredded cheeses often contain preservatives and anti caking agents and do not melt smoothly.
- This is a thick and cheesy mac! If you prefer a thinner sauce, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time until you’ve reached your desired consistency.
- The dish will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave.
What is the best cheese to use for stovetop macaroni and cheese?
Cheddar cheese is my favorite choice for macaroni and cheese. It’s flavorful, melts great and gives the mac and cheese its traditional orange color. That being said, make sure you’re using a regular mild, medium or sharp cheddar cheese and not a cheddar cheese that’s extra sharp or aged. The aged cheeses can separate when melted and you won’t get a smooth and silky sauce. I often add in small amounts of other types of cheese for extra flavor, like parmesan, jack cheese or mozzarella. For this recipe, I’ve added some mozzarella because I love the creamy flavor it adds to this dish.
What can you add to mac and cheese to make it better?
I am a purist, and I love my mac and cheese simply with the noodles and cheese sauce, with a little parsley for garnish. But there are countless ways to dress up your macaroni and cheese. Some suggestions are:
- Crumbled bacon
- Grilled chicken
- Fresh herbs
- Hot Sauce
What spices go well with mac and cheese?
Spices are a great way to accentuate the flavor of the cheese sauce. I typically add salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika to my macaroni and cheese. You could also use regular paprika, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper, garlic salt, or chili powder.
What goes with mac and cheese?
I typically serve this stovetop mac and cheese as a side dish, but my kids often eat it as a main course! Here are some entree and side dish suggestions to go with your mac and cheese.
- Slow Cooker Whole Chicken
- Brown Sugar Pork Chops
- Baked Lemon Chicken
- Honey Roasted Carrots
- Parmesan Roasted Broccoli
- Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
I hope your family enjoys this dish as much as mine does!
Stovetop Mac and Cheese Video
Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups water
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 1 pound elbow macaroni uncooked
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour, then whisk until combined, about 30 seconds.
- Pour in the water and whisk until smooth and just thickened.
- Add the milk and whisk until combined.
- Stir in the macaroni, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and pepper, then bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is done.
- Turn the heat to low, then stir in the cheeses. Keep stirring until the sauce is smooth. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
This post was originally published on April 23, 2018 and was updated on October 12, 2020 with new content.