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!

After you try this homemade one pot mac and cheese, you’ll never turn to the boxed version again. Serve your mac and cheese with roasted broccoli or glazed carrots for a complete meal.

A pot of stovetop mac and cheese with a serving spoon in it.

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.

Mac and cheese ingredients

Bowls of ingredients including macaroni, cheeses and seasonings.

The ingredients in this recipe include butter, flour, water, milk, macaroni, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, pepper, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese and parsley.

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 for extra color and flavor.

Process shots showing how to cook macaroni in a white sauce.

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.
Cooked noodles with two types of shredded cheese on top.

Recipe FAQs

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 include bacon, grilled chicken, chives, broccoli, hot sauce or jalapenos.

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.

A bowl of stovetop mac and cheese topped with parsley.

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.

I hope your family enjoys this dish as much as mine does!

Stovetop Mac and Cheese Video

4.94 from 82 votes

Stovetop Mac and Cheese

AuthorSara Welch
A pot of stovetop mac and cheese with a serving spoon in it.
This stovetop mac and cheese is a one pot dish of tender macaroni in an ultra creamy cheese sauce. The best macaroni and cheese recipe!
Time
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Serves 8

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 478kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 434mg | Potassium: 333mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 985IU | Calcium: 612mg | Iron: 1.3mg

Hello! I’m Sara!

Learn more about Sara

Related Posts

Free Bonus

5 Secrets to Meal Planning + Free Toolkit!

4.94 from 82 votes (32 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I love your crock pot mac and cheese, it is one of my all time favorites! Could you add American cheese to this like the slower cooker one takes?

    Also how would jack cheese affect the taste?

  2. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh! This is the best mac & cheese ever! I have made mac & cheese several times and baked it and it turned out so dry. Where did all that liquid go?
    I did use larger shell pasta and it took longer to cook and more water but still delicious. I didn’t have milk so I put half-and-half in there . I think the gluten from the pasta water makes it even creamier. Thank you for this recipe. Next time I will try gluten-free pasta.

  3. Hello,
    Can I just use sharp pre shredded cheese. ? I dont have any mozzarella. Also, is flour needed in this recipe? Thanks.

    1. The flour is used as a thickening agent, so it is a requirement or you will end up with soupy mac & cheese. Cornstarch can be used in place if necessary, or a gluten free flour if that is why you want to omit the flour.

      If you don’t have any mozzarella, just use more cheddar, or any other type of cheese. The type of cheese is something that is versatile and can be modified to suit your tastes.

      Pre-shredded cheese is coated so that it does not stick together in the bag. This makes it a bit weird to work with when trying to make a homogenous sauce. You can use it, but it will not melt down the same way block cheese will.

  4. 5 stars
    Such a wonderful and easy recipe! Upsized it for a shelter dinner but I’ll be adding it to my mac and cheese rotation. Thanks so much!

  5. I just made it turned out so good but wanted to broil for a bit with Panko breadcrumbs but wasn’t sure if it would ruin it or not since it’s already cooked lol.

  6. 5 stars
    This recipe is a lifesaver!! I tested it out at home and got great reviews and I loved the convenience of not having to boil the pasta. Then, I scaled the recipe up and made it for 135 people at homeless shelters. I’m using it for the second time this week to cook for 120 people – I can’t give enough thanks for a time-saver recipe that turns out great too!!

  7. 5 stars
    Wow, what a great idea to cook everything in one pot! We replaced half the pasta with a head of broccoli and reduced the water by 3/4 cup, replaced half the salt with mustard powder, and used a few “cheese slices” (which have emulsifying salts, a trick we learned from Adam Ragusea along with mature cheddar. We sprinkled with the panko breadcrumb topping from Adam’s recipe and topped it with some grilled chicken to make it an all-in-one main course. It was creamy, the best mac & cheese we’ve ever made. Thanks so much for the awesome technique!

      1. It should reheat fine but the pasta will absorb the sauce as it sits so you may need to add a splash of milk to get a creamier consistency.

  8. 5 stars
    My son is going to love this recipe! He loves mac n cheese! I can’t wait to make this recipe! Looks so delicious and yummy!