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Why Stovetop Mac and Cheese Is So Much Better Than Baked

Why Stovetop Mac and Cheese Is So Much Better Than Baked

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Forever creamy and rich, stovetop macaroni and cheese is the way to go


Say no to unnecessary breadcrumb use.

Macaroni and cheese is undoubtedly one of the greatest foods ever created. For better or worse, it’s the cheesy goodness you crave; after a long day, breaking up with bae, or even acing that ridiculous trig exam, mac and cheese is how you deal with life.

But there are two very different types of mac and cheese: stovetop and oven-baked. I'm here to tell you that stovetop is the unrivaled best macaroni and cheese option.

It’s Faster. When you hear the call of the siren that is mac and cheese, faster is better. Boil water, cook pasta, make roux, add cheese, and combine the two for happiness in a bowl. What's the point of doing all that and then sticking this perfectly cooked masterpiece in the oven? There is none. This step was created by masochists.

It's Velvety Smooth. That roux you just whipped up? It pretty much guarantees rich, creamy, and smooth macaroni and cheese. BRB, drooling.

No Fillers. I'm looking at you, breadcrumbs. You're a waste of space and get in the way of the smooth, melted cheese we worked so hard to create. Even worse, you tear up the tops of mouths everywhere.

Go forth and make mac and cheese the right way. Find our most popular macaroni and cheese recipes here.

Julie Ruggirello is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal and spends a good portion of her work day daydreaming of stovetop mac and cheese perfection. Follow her on Twitter @TDMRecipeEditor.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

This stovetop Macaroni and Cheese is a perfect classic – and it just happens to be made in one pot. Butter, flour, pasta, milk, cheese and a few seasonings is all you need to make this epic classic that’s on the table super quick!

Baked vs. stovetop Mac and cheese?

I was always a baked mac guy, but I was being lazy and just made stovetop and realized how much creamier it is with the right amount of bite in my pasta. Baked has the browned taste and that breadcrumb topping, but stovetop I feel I have way more control of the final texture. Both good for different things I suppose, but where do you guys land on this?

You could take a Searzall and get the best of both worlds. Make it on the stovetop and then top with extra cheese/breadcrumbs/etc. and blast with the Searz.

Second this, but just do it under the broiler.

Another option is to make the topping separately in the oven then sprinkle on top. This won’t give you that crispy cheese top but will give you the crunch factor.

I prefer stovetop mac and cheese. I like the creaminess to it. I’ve never really enjoyed baked mac and cheese due to me showing up later to parties with a cold crusted top lol.

I prefer baked. While stove top is creamier, I like the texture of a baked macaroni and cheese. It takes longer but to me it's worth it.

I’m split. Sometimes I want baked, sometimes I want creamy. They’re two slightly different dishes.

Baked just feels more substantial. I love that. I haven’t heard of bread crumbs on it, but when the cheese on top is nice and browned, that’s great.

You're missing out, melt some butter and mix it with breadcrumbs and parmesan and sprinkle over the top before you bake it.

Stovetop only. Maybe I've never had a good baked mac, but the gritty texture from the breadcrumbs on top, the pasta feeling like it was overcooked (probably was), cheese that ends up grainy with little hard crispy bits. it's everything I abhor in mac & cheese concentrated into a single dish.

I prefer stovetop. Baked always feels too dry or too cheesy and not enough creamy. Plus, almost all baked macs I’ve had are the standard southern kind with just a bunch of cheddar and american in them. Stovetop seems better for the fancier cheeses.

If you get good quality sharp cheddar and you season with a small amount of salt, pepper, onion powder, a bit of paprika, and ground mustard or a squirt of Dijon in the sauce, it really doesn't need any other cheese, depending on the flavor you're going for. Cheddar is the flavor you're going for with traditional Mac and cheese honestly, at least in the U.S.

The recipe I'm talking about in the OP is just sharp cheddar and a couple handfuls of leftover parm.

Ingredients You’ll Need

The normal ingredient list for box mac and cheese is butter, milk, and the cheese powder. We are only adding a few more ingredients to make the creamiest box mac and cheese that you’ll ever make.

  • 1 box Kraft macaroni and cheese- you can use any regular box mac and cheese of your choosing!
  • Pasta water– You set aside a little bit of the pasta water that you boil your macaroni noodles in. It helps to thicken up your mac and cheese sauce.
  • Unsalted butter– You can’t skip the butter! It adds a little fat and flavor to the cheese sauce.
  • Greek yogurt- The greek yogurt in this recipe really creams this mac and cheese sauce to perfection and adds a delicious tartness.
  • Hot sauce– A little kick enhances this cheese sauce so much!
  • Black pepper– Sprinkle black pepper into your cheese sauce to round everything out perfectly.

All Natural

Do you remember the food you survived on in your University/College/flatting days? I missed the 2 minute noodle bandwagon but our go to my first year living in the halls at Uni was Easy Mac. The nasty, single serve packets that involved teeny macaroni and a flavour sachet being stirred into boiling water and microwaved for 2 minutes. They were so bad but so good! Nothing like a bowl of orange Easy Mac at 3am after a big night out! I guess it's not so hard to see why I gained that "first year 5".

I still may not be an amazing cook but I sure like to think I've come a long way since my Easy Mac days. I still eat macaroni cheese but I like to call this the extended version - fully homemade, sans neon orange colouring!

As much as I love a classic baked mac & cheese, complete with breadcrumbs on top and bacon stirred through, there is something so comforting about this plain and simple cheesy version. Not to mention it's on the table in 30 minutes and only uses 2 pots. That's what I'm talking about!

Boiling the macaroni only takes 20 minutes, and while that's happening you can focus on the cheese sauce. And focus you will. This cheese sauce is the business. Cheese sauce gets a bit of a rap as being something complicated, but it really isn't. As long as you have the quantities right it is hard to go wrong. Some people like to melt the butter first then whisk in the flour, I prefer to add them at the same time and let them melt together, but it's up to you. As long as you keep whisking it so that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot and burn, either will work.

You can also skip the step of heating up the milk first, but this really cuts down on the cooking time and is easy to do. Then it's just a matter of cooking for 5-8 minutes until the sauce is nice and thick, removing it from the heat and stirring in the cheese, nutmeg and salt & pepper.

Mix the sauce through the cooked macaroni and dinner is served!

You are more than welcome to add cooked bacon bits, peas or any other add ins, but I like to keep it simple. As Josh likes to say, it's called mac and cheese for a reason!

The Best Cheeses to Use for Mac and Cheese

The type of cheese you use can make or (literally) break your mac and cheese sauce.

Related To:

By Heath Goldman for Food Network Kitchen

Take a moment to think about the best mac and cheese you’ve ever had. Perhaps you’d describe it as ooey-gooey, creamy or cheesy. At its worst, mac and cheese is grainy, stringy or greasy. The type of cheese you use can make or (literally) break your sauce. But perhaps the name itself is a misnomer. The ideal mac and cheese needs more than one kind of cheese.

When you’re cruising down the cheese aisle, two factors to consider are meltability and flavor. Generally, young and processed cheeses (think: cheeses you can easily slice with a butter knife) melt smoothly but taste bland when they’re mixed with a few pounds of pasta. Aged and funky blocks are tricky melters but add a lot of complex ‘cheese’ flavor to the dish. This dichotomy explains why mac and cheese recipes often call for not one, but several types of cheese.

But there is one go-to that you'll almost always see. An overview of Food Network’s mac and cheese roundup reveals that most recipes have one type of cheese in common: sharp Cheddar. Sharp Cheddar —especially the inexpensive, mass-market block you can buy at the supermarket —strikes just the right balance between meltability and flavor. Consider it your base cheese. If you don’t want to buy three different types of cheese and rack up the grocery bill, it’s completely fine to use Cheddar on its own. Just stay away from the pre-shredded kind, which often contains additives like cornstarch that interfere with silky melting.

Because customizing your mac is half the fun, from here, it's time to mix in the different flavorful cheeses based on your taste preferences. Gruyere is a classic addition because it melts much like Cheddar, but has a lovely nutty flavor. Other classics include Gouda, Muenster, Parmesan, fontina, Havarti and Monterey Jack. Brie works well too, just make sure you remove the rind before mixing it in.

Once you have your cheeses, you have to decide: to béchamel, or not to béchamel. Traditionally, mac and cheese recipes instruct you to mix cheese into a béchamel sauce (made from butter, flour and milk) because the starch in flour stabilizes melting cheese, preventing it from breaking or turning into a stringy mess. While the béchamel route certainly requires a bit of work, the great news it that it ensures silky results every time — and allows you to push the envelope on cheese. Blue cheese? You betcha.

If your go-to recipe skips the béchamel (maybe it’s a simple one-pot number or perhaps it comes together in your Instant Pot) you should consider incorporating a processed cheese. Think: American cheese (from a block, not singles), cream cheese or Velveeta. These varieties were engineered to melt well, no roux necessary. While plain Cheddar might break, a couple ounces of processed in the mix guarantee a gorgeous glossy sauce.

And now, because we’re all craving you know what, here are a few Food Network favorites to start cooking.

Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

Why is it that I am so ashamed to order macaroni and cheese at a restaurant? Is it because it is almost always exclusively on the kid’s menu? Or maybe I am worried that the people that I am eating with will judge me so hard. I mean, how sophisticated is this “food blogger’s” palate if they are ordering mac and cheese?

So I have been reduced to only ordering mac and cheese when I am eating with John who judges NO ONE, and at home.

No one can judge my for eating homemade mac and cheese, right?

By homemade, I mean made from scratch. No Kraft Dinner for this girl. I ditched those boxes of pasta and powdered cheese years ago. My go to has always been my baked macaroni and cheese which, even though it uses CRAZY amounts of cheese, I wouldn’t change the recipe for the world.

But when I don’t want to wash up 5 different pots and pans and I have less time on my hands, I will make this stovetop version.

Made with a lot less cheese, but still so good.

The cheese sauce is really the star of this recipe. It is so creamy, I seriously could eat it all with a spoon.

Even though I make this mac and cheese countless times a month, when I was making it for this photo shoot, I totally screwed up the order in which I add the ingredients to the cheese sauce. I added everything to the saucepan at once, causing the cheese to curdle and the milk to separate. I was going to take a fail photo of it, because it looked like a disaster!

But one of the best things about this recipe is that it is seriously no fail. I thought I would need to throw the whole thing out after that disaster, but I continued to cook the cheese sauce on low, stirring constantly. Eventually, the cheese melted, the milk mixed in fully, and the sauce came together into a thick and creamy mixture.

After making this homemade stovetop mac and cheese, I can’t imagine you would want to go back to the box mixes. This one is only made with 6 ingredients, and ready on your table in under 30 minutes.

Let’s take mac and cheese off of the kids menu and onto our dinner plates. If you sprinkle paprika on top, it makes it fancy enough for the adults table, right?

If you make this recipe, let me know how you liked it! Rate it, leave a comment and tag me with #atasteofmadness on Instagram! I always love seeing what you are creating!

15-Minute Ultra-Gooey Stovetop Mac and Cheese | The Food Lab

Here's another exclusive excerpt from my book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, which is apparently now a New York Times best-seller. Wow!

I hope you enjoy the excerpt (and the mac and cheese!), which comes from the chapter on Tomato Sauce, Macaroni, and the Science of Pasta.

No matter how much culinary training I've gone through, and no matter how many high-end ingredients I cook with or fancy restaurants I eat at, few things in the world can compete with the sheer deliciousness and childish pleasure of stovetop mac and cheese. Who doesn't love gooey, cheesy, creamy, salty pasta, even when (or especially when?) it comes out of that blue box? For me—and I presume for many of you—it's a built-in taste memory, and a powerful one at that.

It's the texture that does it for me. No other mac and cheese I've had has been quite so velvety smooth as the Kraft original. That said, in absolute terms, it does leave a bit to be desired in the flavor department. The ultimate goal? A cheese sauce with the creamy, gooey, oozy consistency of the blue box version but all the complex flavor of real cheese.

Gimme a Break!

Cheese melts, right? So why not just throw some cheddar cheese into a pot with the pasta and heat it until it's at perfect sauce consistency? Anyone who's tried it can tell you: the cheese breaks, greasy slicks forming over a watery layer, with clumps of tough, rubbery cheese strands stuck together. It's not a pretty picture.

In order to understand why that happens, let's take a closer look at exactly what cheese is made of:

  • Water is present to varying degrees.Young cheeses like jack, young cheddars, and mozzarella have a relatively high water content—up to 80 percent. The longer a cheese is aged, the more moisture it loses, and the harder it becomes. Famous hard cheeses, like Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, may contain as little as 30 percent water after several years of aging.
  • Milk fat in solid cheese is dispersed in the form of microscopic globules kept suspended in a tight matrix of protein micelles (more on those in a second). Under around 90°F, this fat is solid. Because of this, and because of their suspension, these tiny globules don't come into contact with each other to form larger globules: cheeses stay creamy or crumbly, instead of greasy.
  • Protein micelles are spherical bundles of milk proteins. Individual milk proteins (the main ones are four similar molecules called caseins) resemble little tadpoles with hydrophobic (water-avoiding) heads, and hydrophillic (water-seeking) tails. These proteins come together headfirst in bundles of several thousand, protecting their hydrophobic heads and exposing their hydrophillic tails to their watery surroundings. These micelles link together into long chains, forming a matrix that gives the cheese its structure.
  • Salt and other flavorings make up the rest of the cheese. Salt can have a profound effect on the texture—saltier cheeses have had more moisture drawn out of the curd before being pressed, so they tend to be drier and firmer. Other flavorful compounds present in cheese are mostly intentional by-products of bacteria and aging.

In a well-aged cheese, all of these elements are in careful, stable balance. But heat throws the whole thing off. Everything may seem to be going all right at first—the cheese gradually softens, turning more and more liquid. Then, suddenly, at around 90°F, the liquefied fat comes together into greasy pools and separates from the water and proteins. As you continue to stir the melted cheese, the proteins— which are suspended in whatever water hasn't yet evaporated—glue themselves together with the help of calcium into long, tangled strands, forming the stretchy curds that you find in string cheese or stretched mozzarella. What was once whole and well has now completely separated into fat, protein, and water, and unless you've got a $5,000 homogenizer on hand, it ain't coming back together.

Cheese products like American and Velveeta have stabilizers added to them, along with extra liquid and protein, to keep them stable. I microwaved a small chunk of American cheese on a plate next to a block of extra-sharp cheddar. The American stayed smooth, while the cheddar broke. Perhaps we can learn some lessons from the former.

To get a cheesy sauce that's shiny and smooth, not greasy or stringy, requires three things:

  • Keeping the fat globules from separating out and pooling
  • Adding moisture to thin the texture
  • Figuring out a way to keep the proteins from breaking apart and rejoining into long strands

Well, how the heck do you do all that? Luckily for us, all of this has happened before, and it will all happen again. In this case, I didn't want cheese that would go rapidly from solid to liquid. I wanted cheese that softened linearly over time, which meant that a starch should be my thickener and stabilizer of choice.

Some cheese sauce recipes call for béchamel— a flour-thickened milk-based sauce—as the base. I don't like how it works out both in terms of texture (a cheesy béchamel is smooth and creamy but not gooey) and flavor (you can taste hints of the flour in the finished product). A purer starch like cornstarch is a definite step in the right direction, while replacing the regular milk (or heavy cream) with evaporated milk seals the deal.

Check out the difference between a béchamel-based sauce and one made with pure starch and evaporated milk:

See, as the evaporated milk and starch mixture cooks, the starch molecules swell up, thickening the sauce, while the evaporated milk adds a concentrated source of milk proteins. This helps the entire mixture stay smooth and emulsified, resulting in a creamy sauce. The easiest way to incorporate the cornstarch is to toss it in with the grated cheese. That way, when you add the cheese to the pot, the cornstarch is already dispersed enough that the cheese can't form annoying clumps. Want to get your sauce even shinier? Cutting your flavorful cheese with just a bit of American will introduce some full-strength emulsifying agents that'll get the sauce shiny enough to see your reflection in.

The sauce was great on its own, but when added to pasta, it didn't quite cling to the noodles the way I wanted it to. To fix this, I added a couple of eggs. Now, as the sauce cooks, the long, twisted proteins from the egg white begin to denature, unraveling and interconnecting with each other, thickening the sauce into what is essentially a very loose custard. The difference the eggs make in the sauce's coating ability is quite astonishing.

The best part? You don't even have to make a separate cheese sauce. Once the pasta is cooked, you can add all of your other ingredients directly to the pot and just stir over the burner until the sauce comes together on its own. What we've got here is a stovetop mac and cheese recipe that's only about 10 percent more cumbersome to make than the blue box (the only extra step is measuring a few ingredients) but tastes far, far better.

Why Won't My Mac and Cheese Reheat?

Mac and cheese is notoriously bad for reheating. Rather than a smooth, creamy sauce, you end up with a grainy, curdled, broken, unappetizing mess. It's all the pasta's fault. As we know, creating a stable cheese sauce requires the careful balance of fat to moisture, along with some emulsifying agents to help keep that fat and water getting along nicely together. Even though the pasta is completely cooked when it goes into the sauce, it has such a loose, sponge-like structure that it can continue to absorb water as it sits overnight in the refrigerator. This throws off the balance of the sauce, and the result is a sauce with too much fat that breaks out when you reheat it.

So is there a solution? Yes: just add back the water, duh. I've found that the best thing to do is add a few tablespoons of milk, which is essentially water with a bit of fat and a few proteins and sugars mixed in. The water content of the milk fixes the ratio, while the proteins help ensure that the sauce gets re-emulsified, as long as you stir while you reheat. Your pasta will always be mushier than it was in the first place, but sometimes mushy pasta can be a good thing.

Cheese Chart

The meltability of various cheeses can be affected by a number of factors, including their manufacture and their chemical makeup, but the most important thing is age. Young, moist cheeses tend to melt a whole lot better than older, drier ones. But what exactly happens when cheese melts? Most cheeses are made by adding bacteria and rennet* to milk. The bacteria consume sugars, producing acidic by-products. Aside from lending tang and flavor, these acids, along with the rennet, cause the proteins in the milk (mainly casein) to denature. Imagine each protein as a tiny spool of wire that gets slowly unwound. The more it unwinds, the easier it is for it to get itself tangled up with other bits of wire. This is exactly what happens in cheese. The kinked wire-like proteins tangle up with each other, forming a stable matrix and giving the cheese structure. Trapped within this matrix are microscopic bits of solid fat and water.

*Rennet is an enzyme derived from the lining of calves' stomachs or, increasingly common these days, from vegetarian sources (yes, most cheese is not vegetarian).

As cheese is heated, the first part to go is the fat, which begins melting at around 90°F. Ever notice how a piece of cheese left out in the heat for too long forms tiny beads on its surface? Those are beads of milk fat. Continue to heat the cheese, and eventually enough of its protein bonds will break that it'll flow and spread like a liquid. Depending on the type of cheese, this takes place at anywhere from around 120°F, for super-melty high-moisture process cheeses like Velveeta, all the way up to 180°F and higher, for super-dry cheeses like well-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano. Once the protein structure breaks down too much, individual micro-droplets of fat and water coalesce, breaking out of the protein matrix and causing the cheese to completely break. Some cheeses, like feta or halloumi, have a protein structure so tight that no amount of heating will cause them to break or melt. Others have emulsifiers added to them to ensure that they melt smoothly at low temperatures without breaking (here's looking at you, American!). Still others need a bit of assistance from a recipe to remain stable.

Here's a chart of some of the more commonly available cheeses, along with their melting properties and best uses.

Editor's note: The chart in the actual book is much longer and more comprehensive, listing country of origin, animal type, flavor, and a few other characteristics. It was compressed to make it fit on a web screen.

Quick, essential stovetop mac-and-cheese

A couple years ago, at my second home (the grocery store, alas, not, like, the shore) I was passing through the boxed macaroni and cheese section and realized my son, then five, had grown up so far without ever trying it. I realize some people pat themselves on the back about this, but I’m more skeptical about things. Realistically, by the time my kids grow up, I will have inundated them so with so many kale caesars, farro salads and wholesome slaws, sweet potatoes, and homemade from-scratch birthday cakes they’ll have no choice but to rebel with a steady diet of sugar cereals, frozen pocketed foods, and frosting from a can. Maybe leveling things up earlier on will help avoid this outcome? So I bought a box, made it for dinner that night (with the requisite steamed broccoli on the side, nobody ever tells you how much broccoli you’re going to steam when you become a parent) and oh, I’m sorry, were you waiting for me to call it terrible? A disappointment? A memory from childhood that did not hold up? It was anything but. I love orange cheese powder and I do not wish to keep it to myself any longer.

I understand that the internet can supply me with orange cheese powder but I promise, that’s not where I’m going with this. I want to talk about why we like it and what I — an adult who doesn’t want to make a habit of the boxed stuff, nor live a life devoid of the dish it creates — do when I’m craving stovetop pasta with a sauce of melted cheese intensely* and nothing else will do.

Please note a perfect recipe for a decadent, show-stealing, centerpiece casserole of macaroni and cheese with baked buttery crumbs on top already exists and we’ve been making it for years. A miraculous hack (you don’t even pre-boil the pasta or make a sauce) of a rich, bronzed macaroni-and-cheese also exists in the archives, but it spends a long time in the oven. This isn’t for those times. This is for 15 minutes from now, all in one pot, from ingredients you already keep around. And it’s a single serving, so when your craving has passed, you can return to a life of leafy greens, or, you know, do it again tomorrow.

* often on days I thought I’d be fine just eating, like, a hard-boiled egg for breakfast after going for a run and roar into the kitchen an hour later ready to tackle any food that isn’t already dead


Quick, Essential Stovetop Mac-and-Cheese

A few other tips: I find using smaller quantities of water than usually recommended for pasta is fine for mac-and-cheese, where we want a starchier effect. I like to season mine with a good amount of black pepper for a cacio e pepe vibe. For pasta, you’ve probably noted that no “mac” or macaroni was used in the making of this dish, but you can use it here. I am forever weak in the face of an unusual pasta shape, however, and used something called “sagne a pezzi” which looks like broken pieces of ruffly lasagna edges. I also love this with medium shells. Finally, and I forgot to mention this initially, but sauces like this can be great with a touch of finely grated garlic — just half a small clove, Microplaned, would be ideal for this volume.

Previously: I shared this quick recipe on Instagram Stories last month using 1 tablespoon butter and flour for 1/2 cup milk, which had always been my formula here, but have tweaked it since after finding the sauce a little thick and dry, and now use less I find this just right. Do not go crazy measuring two teaspoons of butter from a stick, just use a little shy of the tablespoon mark.

  • Kosher salt
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) dried pasta, such as macaroni or another small twisty shape
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) salted or unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons (6 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) low-fat or whole milk
  • Many grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (1 ounce or 30 grams) finely grated parmesan or pecorino cheese

** I talk about my cheddar cheese fixation here, actually, and a few other favorite things.

According to my hubby, this is THE BEST mac ‘n cheese he’s ever had! A win-win for me, because it’s the EASIEST mac ‘n cheese I’ve ever made! Completely made in one pot, on the stove, an easy-peasy no béchamel, no-fuss recipe that will immediately become your go-to for a simple, rich, creamy and super-cheesy, lick-the-pot, game-changing mac ‘n cheese that the entire family will LOVE!

Yeah. This is some SERIOUSLY creamy, rich ‘n cheesy, mac ‘n cheese! The kind you want to just eat straight from the pot! NO-fuss, entirely made in one pot, and NO béchamel to fret over, so easy that anyone can make it! What’s not to absolutely LOVE, right?

And guess what? For those who want even MORE cheesy fun, you can always ladle some into an oven-safe dish, top it with some shredded Mexican blend-style shredded cheese, and pop it into the oven until it’s gooey melted on top!

This also thickens the sauce quite a bit for those who prefer the “oven-baked” style! Now how’s THAT for a triple win?!

Okay. Some here’s some tips for you. Any good mac ‘n cheese has to start with a great noodle. I’ve tried so many pasta brands it’s ridiculous. If you’ve found “the one” that you love, go ahead and stick with that, but for those still searching, this is the brand and type I’ve found that works best for us.

The noodles have small ridges in them to boot, which helps to grab the cheesy sauce so you get more cheese in every single bite! Plus they always cook up so nicely every single time!

The other trick is simply this. I have NEVER had good luck using expensive cheeses, especially sharp cheddars as they either refuse to melt at all, or separate into a greasy, yucky mess, pooling oil on top. Yuck, yuck.

I’ve found that simply using plain ol’ regular American cheese slices works best. Just tear them up as you add them!

And here’s the best part, it’s all made in ONE. POT. You boil the noodles right in the milk, cream, (and a few other goodies for an extra boost of flavor), to cook them!

No flour and butter roux to fuss with! No boiling water to drain!

Once they’re all done, and the cheeses have been melted in, just let it sit for a few minutes, and it will thicken up all on it’s own.

(I could stick my whole FACE in that.)

Now, as I said, I prefer to just ladle a nice scoop of this right into a bowl and dig in!

But my hubby prefers his topped with MORE cheese and baked.

So, I simply did that for him, and he was in mac ‘n cheese HEAVEN.

I had a bag of Sargento’s shredded Mexican blend cheese in the fridge already opened, so how easy was THAT to make us both happy with literally NO fuss.

Not too shabby for a quickie mac ‘n cheese, eh.

And if you like it the super old-fashioned old school way, you can add a buttered crumb topping, or even simply finely crush some regular potato chips and sprinkle them on top for a fast and easy topping!

What do I prefer them with? A nice “order” of my very own WINGS! Below are my newest, “Nashville Hot Chick-fil-A-Style Wings“! But I have tons of awesome

Okay, so who’s going to make THIS for lunch? …supper? ….tonight.

Or, okay, breakfast is fine, too. I won’t tell.

(I admit, I had a bowl of ice cream for breakfast the other morning. It was coffee-flavored, it had cream and milk, it was frozen, and it was GOOD. I don’t judge.)

So, if you’ve had a string of bad luck making fancy-pants mac ‘n cheeses that dirtied too many pans for the result, this is one you’ll certainly want to try!

It’s easiest enough for anyone to make, it doesn’t COST an arm and a leg, and most likely uses ingredients that you don’t even have to trek to the store for. Great as a side dish. But also a meal in itself for an easy weekday lunch!

This Best Easy One Pot Stovetop Mac and Cheese is just too delicious to pass by! So, be sure to PIN this to your favorite Pinterest Boards for safe keeping! This is one awesome mac ‘n cheese you don’t want to miss out on!

Have a wonderful week, STAY SAFE, wear those masks, please! We are far from out of the woods, Toto!!

Best Easy One Pot Stovetop Mac and Cheese


3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. Premium Better Than Bouillon Roasted Chicken Base
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. dry mustard powder
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni, I used Barilla
3 Tbl. butter, cut up
8 oz. (12 slices) American cheese
4 oz. grated monterey jack cheese, do not use pre-shredded
1/4 cup lightly packed freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. regular or coarse ground black pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp. regular table salt, or to taste
(shredded Mexican Blend Cheese, optional addition and step, but good!)

In a large pot, (or medium-sized stockpot), on medium to medium-high heat, stir together and gently heat the milk, heavy cream, chicken base, garlic powder, and mustard powder to a simmer. Add the elbow macaroni. Cook until the pasta is al dente according to package directions, or tender to your own preference. Watch the pot so that it isn’t boiling over. Lower heat if needed, and stir now and then.

Turn off the heat but leave on still-hot burner to keep warm, and stir in butter until melted. Add cheeses, a little at a time, folding in to melt, creating a cheesy, creamy sauce. Taste test, and add regular salt and pepper to your own taste.

(*If mac ‘n cheese starts to cool too much, you can turn the burner back on to low, if needed, to get all of the cheeses melted in.)

Let rest a bit so it can cool down from a molten lava-state and thicken up a bit. (Stir gently now and then.)

Now serve, or ladle into oven-proof serving-sized bowls placed onto a baking sheet, top with a Mexican blend-style shredded cheese, and bake in a preheated 375º oven just until cheese on top has melted. Only about 10 – 20 minutes, depending on doneness preferred such as “just-melted”, or “lightly browning”. Just watch and remove when the cheese on top is done to your liking.


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