Mac and Cheese

October 24, 2018

Mac and Cheese made from scratch is a million times better than a box. This macaroni and cheese is perfectly rich and creamy and it’s sure to be loved by people of all ages! This version is made on the stovetop and uses basic everyday ingredients.

Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Mac and cheese is just one of those staple recipes we all grew up eating. The version skips a powder and instead uses real shredded cheddar, mozzarella, and cream cheese for a rich and satisfying flavor.

It’s total comfort food and it pairs well with just about anything. It’s easy enough for weekday dinners but good enough to serve at holiday get togethers.

Mac and Cheese Video

 

Here’s my go-to mac recipe.

Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients Needed for Mac and Cheese

  • Elbow macaroni
  • Salt
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Low-fat milk
  • Dry mustard
  • Garlic powder
  • Cream cheese
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • Mozzarella cheese

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese ingredients elbows milk flour cream cheese cheddar mozzarella butter mustard garlic

How do You Make Macaroni and Cheese?

  • Cook pasta: bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, boil pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.
  • Make roux: while pasta is cooking, in a large saucepan (4 quart) or medium pot melt butter over medium heat then add flour, cook 1 minute whisking constantly.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese making roux in saucepan with butter and flour

  • Make sauce: While whisking slowly pour in milk, add in mustard and garlic powder. Increase heat slightly, then bring mixture to a low boil whisking constantly.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese adding milk to mixture in saucepan

  • Melt in cream cheese: Reduce heat to low add in cream cheese and whisk until melted.
  • Melt in cheddar: Remove saucepan from heat add in the shredded cheeses half at a time, and whisk to melt.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese adding cheese to mixture in saucepan

  • Returning pan to warm heat as needed to melt fully.
  • Season sauce with salt to taste.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese mixing cheese mixture

  • Toss pasta with cheese sauce, thin with pasta water a splash at a time as needed. Serve immediately.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese. Tossing cooked pasta with cheese sauce in pot.

Tips for the Best Macaroni and Cheese

  • Use a blend of cheeses for a nice combination of flavor. Here we go with cheddar, mozzarella and cream cheese.
  • Don’t use pre-shredded cheese or sauce might end up grainy and gritty. Shred it yourself for a nice smooth sauce.
  • If you don’t have mustard powder substitute 1 tsp prepared mustard (regular or dijon).
  • Don’t rinse the pasta. It adds starches and helps thicken up the sauce and keeps the sauce clinging to the pasta.
  • Want a crunch topping? Try sautéing panko bread crumbs in a skillet in a little melted butter or olive oil until golden brown. Sprinkle over individual servings so it stays crisp.

Macaroni and cheese in a large pot

What Should I Serve with Mac and Cheese?

More Side Dish Recipes You’ll Love:

Mac and Cheese

4.82 from 16 votes

A rich and creamy mac and cheese the people of all ages will love! Includes three kinds of cheese - cheddar, mozzarella and cream cheese. Made on the stovetop for a quick and easy side dish. Makes about 9 1-cup servings.

Servings: 9
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 14 oz. dry elbow macaroni
  • Salt
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 1/3 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard, or more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, diced into small pieces
  • 8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Reserved pasta water

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, boil pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Drain pasta and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

  2. While pasta is cooking, in a large saucepan (4 quart) or medium pot melt butter over medium heat then add flour, cook 1 minute whisking constantly.

  3. While whisking slowly pour in milk, add in mustard and garlic powder. Increase heat slightly, then bring mixture to a low boil whisking constantly.

  4. Reduce heat to low add in cream cheese and whisk until melted.
  5. Remove saucepan from heat add in the shredded cheeses half at a time, and whisk to melt, while returning to warm heat as needed to melt fully.

  6. Season sauce with salt to taste.

  7. Toss pasta with cheese sauce, thin with pasta water a splash at a time as needed. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts
Mac and Cheese
Amount Per Serving
Calories 427 Calories from Fat 189
% Daily Value*
Fat 21g32%
Saturated Fat 13g81%
Cholesterol 67mg22%
Sodium 346mg15%
Potassium 235mg7%
Carbohydrates 39g13%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 705IU14%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 342mg34%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Mac and Cheese
Author: Jaclyn

Categorized:

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40 Comments

  • Dave

    Oh my… what a wonderful recipe. I added a package of stew meat to make it more of a main dish. Noodles & Co. make it that way. Thanks so much!

  • Anna

    Do you think this recipe would be ok for a family reunion? It is a 2 hour drive so it would have to be made and then kept warm in the crockpot. Should I add more cheese and cream cheese so it doesn’t dry out?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Without testing I can’t say for sure how well it would work but I would try keeping the sauce warm then adding cooked pasta when you get there. You can keep it from sticking by tossing pasta with a little olive oil.

  • Mary Herrnstein

    Could I use shredded swiss instead of mozzarella ?
    And sour cream in place of the cream cheese?
    i have a family member who does not like cream cheese in anything.
    This recipe looks so good and I would like to try it.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      The Swiss should be fine but I don’t recommend using sour cream for cream cheese, instead I’d just add more cheddar.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      It reheats better than most mac and cheeses but the quality just isn’t as good. Maybe you could just make the pasta in advance and toss with a little olive oil and chill, have cheeses pre-shredded ahead of time then make the cheese sauce when ready to serve and toss with pasta.

  • Cody

    You forgot the crumbled bacon.

    I will be trying this delicious recipe tomorrow.

  • Jennifer

    I assume when the recipe stated cream cheese and in the instructions it stated to cut the cheese into small squares, the cream cheese in the form of a block is to be used for the recipe. Question: Can the cream cheese spread be used for the recipe? Have you used it before? At the time of making the recipe, I did not have flour and neglected to buy some as in my house when frying meat for example, I use pancake mix (I look at it as an all-in-one use type of thing)..At the moment, I don’t have bisquick, which makes for a good substitute, but rather, I have the mix that turns into a pancake just by adding water. I witnessed at the beginning of mixing it with the melted butter to form the roux, it was not going to work. I instead used cornstarch. I mixed a little and added the milk right after to avoid the roux from becoming “chunky.” I will say that measuring all of your ingredients and having them in separate bowls to use as you are putting together is helpful. I tried to follow the instructions to the letter.. from when to have medium fire to low fire.. When I added the cream cheese, it seemed like it took a while to dissolve. I don’t believe it was the roux. I didn’t use a whisk and thought using one with such hot contents wasn’t the absolute safest.. that could be me..When I saw that something in the mixture was taking long to dissolve, I started to stir like I had a whisk.. when I started to see that it melted as much as it could melt, I continued with the rest of the ingredients. I cooked my pasta al dente in a small pot and when I tried to drain it to reserve some pasta water, weirdly, the water had evaporated, but, everything turned out great without it. After adding the cheese to the sauce as instructed and then turning on the heat on the stove for a minute to fully dissolve the cheese, I saw it all coming together. When I did a taste test after adding the pasta, I tasted heavenly pasta.. very authentic.. not too cheesy.. I once attempted to make pasta from scratch with milk, cheese and butter, it was okay, but you are left with just cheesy, sticky pasta.. which doesn’t taste bad, but it lacks quality.. but this recipe is again very authentic. The cook who shared this recipe was also right about serving quickly.. the taste from my pan right after cooking was monumental. Nonetheless, it’s a great stovetop recipe for macaroni and cheese. All ingredients required to make this dish happen as such. I cooked this as a side dish of dinner and it really could have been part of the main dish pair with a meat of your choosing.. Although I cook, I still needed to get such an popular dish down-packed. I tried the oven way and it ‘s alright but you also have to make sure your milk evaporates well and then theres that the cheese on top does not become too hard or burn.. This recipe offers ease, not to mention a great taste.

    • Jennifer

      oh, I didn’t use the mustard powder. My spouse does not like mustard at all and I didn’t think it would affect the recipe and it did not.